A Shopping and Eating Guide to Pittsburgh’s Strip District

Posted By Jeremy in Things To Do | 20 comments


The Strip District is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Pittsburgh for a number of reasons.  It is home to a large assortment of international grocery stores and retailers, boutique shops, independent merchants, and several of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh (many of which feature international cuisine as well).

Although we’ve been down to the Strip District hundreds of times over the years, it seems like every time we visit we discover a new business worth exploring and shopping at.

To share some of our own personal favorites, this guide to the Strip District was born!

It is worth noting that the following is not a collection of every business in the Strip District.  This article only features businesses that we personally visit when we explore the neighborhood.  As such, it should only be taken as a starting point and is certainly not a list of every establishment.  If you see an interesting store while walking around the Strip District, do yourself a favor and go inside!

Strip District History and Map

Old Wholesale Signs in the Strip District

In the early days of the city the Strip District was an industrial neighborhood with foundaries, mills, and other production shops in abundance.  Produce merchants also moved in, as did wholesalers and grocers thanks to the access to the nearby train lines.  Over the years these merchants and industries went into decline, and most of them moved out of the neighborhood entirely.

A recent revival in the district saw an influx of specialty stores, international retailers, and critically acclaimed restaurants moving in to the available (and iconic) spaces, transforming the Strip District into one of the most popular shopping neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
 


 

The Strip District is located just outside of downtown Pittsburgh on the banks of the Allegheny river.  The generally accepted boundaries are between 11th Street and 33rd Street, with the river marking the northern border and Liberty Avenue marking the south.

Under the Strip District Bridge at Night

As you can see from the above map, most of the popular businesses are located between 16th and 25th street, with the bulk of the establishments being located on either Smallman Street or Penn Avenue. A few additional shops are located outside of these areas that are worth checking out; however, you will also likely want to drive to these instead of walking.  (For more visiting logistics, skip to the end of this article for more details.)

All of the businesses featured below are included in the above map.  To read our review or visit the shop’s site, either click the link in the map above or in our post below when available!

Map pins used via Creative Commons by Maps Icons Collection

International and Specialty Grocery Stores

One of the most unique aspects of the Strip District is that it is home to Pittsburgh’s international grocery community.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better collection of international shopping in the city, and if you’re seeking out a specialty item from abroad, these are the first places worth checking out.

Lotus Noodle in the Strip District

  • WFH Oriental Food Market –  The Strip District has a high concentration of Asian grocery stores, and WFH Oriental Food Market has one of the most impressive selections from east Asia.
  • Lotus Noodle – Located on the opposite end of the Strip District, Lotus Noodle boasts an incredible produce selection and unique Asian items with prices that handily beat most big box grocery stores.
  • Sambok Korean – Sambok grocery store may be slightly smaller than the previously mentioned grocery stores, but its focus on Korean items makes it a perfect stop for those cooking this delicious cuisine.
  • Labad’s Mediterranean Grocery – If you need to stock up on your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, Labad’s is the grocery store for you as their selection is rivaled by none.

Penn Mac Cheese Counter

  • S&D Polish Deli – As a city that prides itself on its pierogi consumption, it should be no surprise that the Strip District has a grocery store completely dedicated to all things Polish.
  • Reyna Foods – Walking into Reyna’s is like walking into Mexico. The smell of fresh made corn and flour tortillas fills the store (a must buy), and the bins of dried peppers will make any food lover drool.
  • Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. – Affectionately known as Penn Mac, this one is home to just about every Italian product you need (and then some) and one of the most beautiful cheese counters in the country.
  • Stamoolis Brothers Co. – Although the products here are very similar to those found in Penn Mac, Stamoolis is also home to many unique items from Greece and Eastern Europe you can’t find anywhere else.

International Cuisine, Specialty Restaurants, and Street Food

As a natural extension of the international grocery scene, the Strip District is home to many international restaurants that are among the best in the city.  The neighborhood has also seen a rise in many chef-driven restaurants as well as street food carts that are guaranteed to have you coming back time and time again.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina in Pittsburgh

  • Kaya – This Caribbean inspired restaurant has a broad menu and is home to an incredible burger and the best happy hour in Pittsburgh.  (Kaya is currently Discover the Burgh’s #1 rated restaurant.)  Reservations are recommended.
  • Chicken Latino – This Peruvian restaurant serves up a wide array of cuisine from Latin America and prides itself on its delicious rotisserie chicken.
  • Gaucho Parrilla – Gaucho Parrilla is all about Argentinian meats, and offers a spectrum of perfectly executed sandwiches and platters.  Just remember to bring your own alcohol for the free BYOB!
  • Casa Reyna – Casa Reyna is Reyna Food’s annexed Mexican restaurant.  Although we were let down by the food served in this one, the tacos served in their outdoor food cart are simply perfect.
  • Edgar’s Tacos – A competitor to Casa Reyna, Edgar’s Tacos have gained an incredible following despite being located right next door to a Mexican grocery.  Do yourself a favor and try one of each!
  • Lucy’s Banh Mi Cart – Lucy is most often found by Bar Marco in the summer months, serving up her Banh Mi sandwiches from Vietnam.  Trust us when we say that she has earned her cult following.
  • Sambok Korean Food Cart – The Korean grocery store Sambok offers its own food cart and the mung bean pancakes are definitely worth seeking out.
  • Wholey’s – Although known as a meat and seafood grocery store, Wholey’s offers street side lobster rolls, a sushi bar, and a dining counter where you can try delicious seafood dishes like fish sandwiches and soft shell crab sandwiches (in season).
  • Mancini’s Bakery – Most visit Mancini’s for their bread; however, we like to stop at their outdoor food cart to pick up one of their famous pepperoni rolls when we need a quick snack.
  • Smallman Galley – Described as an incubator restaurant, Smallman Galley is a food hall featuring four amazing chefs each with their own unique menus. Each chef is working towards launching his or her own restaurant, and after 18 months new chefs will come in with new concepts and flavors!

Pamela's Pancakes in Pittsburgh

  • Bar Marco – Some of the best bartenders are at this one, and the food (albeit small and overpriced) is some of the best we’ve had in the city.  Visit during weekday happy hour for 50% off all food and a daily cocktail special! Reservations are recommended.
  • Penn Avenue Fish Co. – This restaurant and seafood market has a large menu of gourmet offerings as well as specialty sushi rolls that won’t break the bank.
  • Peppi’s Old Tyme Sandwich Shop – Peppi’s is your neighborhood hoagie shop and offers a wide selection of sandwiches including the meat-loaded #7 named for Big Ben himself (our personal favorite).
  • Eleven – Eleven is big Burrito’s critically acclaimed fine dining restaurant and is worth the visit if you have cause to celebrate.  Reservations are recommended.
  • Pamela’s P&G Diner – Pamela’s is one of Pittsburgh’s favorite diners thanks to their thin, crispy pancakes that we can’t get enough of.  Just be prepared for a line at this location, as it is one of the most popular establishments in the Strip District.
  • DeLuca’s – DeLuca’s diner is just as popular as Pamela’s and is known for its massive portions and filling breakfast burritos.  Like Pamela’s, be prepared for a line.
  • Thin Man Sandwich Shop – If you take a standard lunch sandwich, put it on fancy, delicious bread, and add gourmet ingredients with unique flavor combinations, what you get are the sandwiches at Thin Man Sandwich Shop.
  • Primanti Brothers – Finally, we end with Primanti’s. It is no secret that we only eat Primanti’s after a night out drinking, because to be honest the sandwiches aren’t that special. If you must eat at this famous restaurant (and we certainly wont fault you for it if you’re a visitor), take our word for it and stop by the Strip District location. It is the original, open 24 hours a day- none of the other locations stack up. Add a fried egg onto your sandwich, with a side of Smallman Street fries, and thank us later.
  • Lidia’s – A popular Italian restaurant run by a national celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. Be prepared to go hungry as the portions are large!

Wineries and Distilleries

Maggie's Farm Rum in the Strip District

Pittsburgh’s wine and spirit scene has been soaring in recent years, and many of the newcomers to the scene are winning awards left and right with their exceptional products.  Naturally, several of the best have chosen to call the Strip District their home.

  • Pittsburgh Winery – This winery imports their grapes from all around the world and makes some of the finest wines you’ll ever enjoy.  We were hesitant at first, but now we are converts.
  • Maggie’s Farm Rum – Maggie’s Farm Rum is located on the outskirts of the Strip District (much like the above winery) but is worth the visit for their national award winning rum and selection of boat drinks.
  • Wigle Whiskey – Wigle is named after an 18th-century whiskey rebel, and is currently one of the most awarded distilleries in the USA.  Although their whiskey is delicious, be sure to try their gin- it is one of our favorites!
  • R Wine Cellar – Located right in the heart of the Strip District, R Wine Cellar shares their passion for wine made from grapes from all over the world.

Coffee and Tea

Prestogeorge Coffee

The Strip District is home to an impressive collection of cafes featuring coffee, espresso, and a wide selection of tea.  No matter what kind of pick-up you’re looking for, one of the following are sure to offer it.

  • 21st Street Coffee and TeaIf you’re in need of a break after a long morning of shopping, this is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a latte or a pourover coffee. The coffees served are from Chicago-based roaster Intelligentsia, and the baristas are very knowledgeable about the different beans on offer.
  • La Prima Espresso BarFor the most Italian espresso you’ll ever have in Pittsburgh, head to La Prima. They roast their own beans and their shots are always smooth and rich.
  • Allegheny Coffee & Tea ExchangeDozens of different barrels full of in-house roasted coffee beans line the back half of the store, along with a huge selection of teas. For something different, try the nitro coffee at the cafe at the front half of the store.
  • Prestogeorge Coffee & TeaAnother great option for buying freshly roasted coffee beans and loose leaf teas. Check out their coffee of the month club where you can get a pound of coffee delivered right to your door every month for a year!

Specialty Stores

Wholey's Seafood in Pittsburgh

  • In the Kitchen – From common kitchen items to more obscure specialty items, In the Kitchen has an impressive collection of cookware and gadgets.  They are also one of only a few hosts of the semi-annual All-Clad Second’s Sale featuring All-Clad products at significantly reduced prices.
  • Penn Avenue Fixture and Supply – As a bulk kitchen supply store, this one usually caters to local restaurants; however, every item in the store features individual pricing, making this one the first store you should visit for kitchen shopping.  (This one is located slightly outside the main section of the Strip, but has free parking for customers and is truly worth the extra effort.)
  • Penzey’s Spices – Although a national chain, Penzey’s Spices is worth a stop if you have any specialty spices or seasoning mixes on your mind that one of the international grocery stores above does not stock.  There is a price premium, but odds are good they will have what you’re looking for.
  • Roxanne’s Dried Flowers – Check here for all things decorative based on floral and natural components.  If you’re looking to decorate your house with natural items, Roxanne’s is for you.
  • Art of Steel – If you’re looking to decorate your house with art made from metal, Art of Steel is for you.
  • Robert Wholey & Co. – If butchered meats and seafood are what you are after, look no further than Wholey’s, one of the jewels of the Strip District. Be sure to try their lobster bisque!

Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop

  • Mon Aimee Chocolat – Chocolate lovers, rejoice!  Mon Aimee Chocolat features a selection of imported chocolate bars and chocolate-based candies from around the world.
  • Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop – For those who love candy that isn’t chocolate, Grandpa Joe’s has you covered with bulk candies and throwback candies that are hard to find anywhere else.
  • Peace, Love and Little Donuts – The scent of this store will entice you in before you even notice the sign, and the selection of gourmet donuts will keep you coming back. Try the maple bacon donut for a truly indulgent treat.
  • Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor – Klavon’s is an old time ice cream parlor offering up delicious ice cream sodas, floats, and sundaes using ice cream from Penn State’s Creamery.
  • Stan’s Market – For fresh produce at affordable prices, check out Stan’s Market.  Although many of their items are seasonal (especially when prices are concerned), a good deal can always be found here.
  • Strip District Meats – Looking for more unusual meats?  Strip District Meats has what you are looking for whether it be alligator, camel, or simple cuts of beef and chicken.
  • Parma Sausage – Parma Sausage has very limited operating hours, but when they are open you will do well picking up a few pounds of their homemade sausages and other cured meats.

Heinz History Center

Pittsburgh History at the Heinz History Center

As the resident museum of the Strip District, the Heinz History Center focuses on the rich history of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.  With exhibits ranging from the early settlements in the region to all of the modern day inventions and personalities that have come out of the city, there is no better museum in the city to learn about Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.

If you have the time, be sure to visit the Fort Pitt Museum in Point State Park before making your way to the Strip District to visit the Heinz History Museum.  By presenting your ticket from the Fort Pitt Museum (on the same day) you’ll receive half-off admission, which amounts to visiting both museums for less than the cost of visiting the Heinz History Museum alone!

Information for Visiting the Strip District

Parking in the Strip District

When it comes to visiting the Strip District, there are several things worth considering.

The first, and perhaps most important, is that the Strip District is most vibrant in the late-morning to mid-afternoon on weekdays and especially weekends.  This means that the most businesses will be open, but the crowds can also be quite large. Outside of these hours many of the businesses will be closed although some restaurants, bars, and night clubs will have extended hours well into the night.  If you visit after 3pm, do not be surprised if most of the businesses have closed for the day.

The second issue visitors to the Strip District have is parking, as during popular visiting hours street parking is nearly impossible to find and lot pricing can range from $5 to $10 for flat rate parking. Our favorite parking lot is located on 21st street right next to the river (just after the intersection at Smallman near Thin Man Sandwich Shop and the church- illustrated with the “P” on the map at the start of this guide). This lot is typically $6 unless there is an event, and always has ample parking even on the busiest of days. Save yourself the trouble of navigating the congested, one-way streets and head here first if you know you’re going to stay more than two hours. (Note: As of November 2016 this lot is under construction and has reduced parking meaning it may not be easily accessible moving forward.)

For those who are staying less than two hours, the parking lot at the Cork Factory (right next to Wigle Whiskey) charges an hourly rate that is typically a few dollars less than the previously mentioned lot for short stays. This one is perfect for those who don’t mind walking a few extra blocks to get into the heart of the Strip District, but if you plan on staying longer then a fixed price lot is likely a better choice.

It is worth noting, however, that if you are visiting businesses close to the 33rd Street end of the Strip District (such as Pittsburgh Winery or Maggie’s), free street parking can be found with limited duration (often 1-2 hours) during normal business hours. Select stores, such as Penn Mac, Wigle Whiskey, Wholey’s, and Penn Avenue Fixture & Supply have their own complimentary parking lot for customers, but often fill up fast and are only available for short-term parking- so don’t plan on parking in these if you are spending a day in the Strip District!

Old Warehouses in the Strip District

Another issue visitors often have is finding public bathrooms.  Although they probably wouldn’t like us mentioning it, Wholey’s (in the basement), Smallman Galley, and the Society for Contemporary Craft (located near the parking lot above) are all spots with easily accessible facilities.

Hotels in the Strip District

Finally, for those looking to stay overnight in the Strip District, Homewood Suites has a location within walking distance of all of the businesses.

Additional hotels, such as the Hampton Inn and Suites and Courtyard Pittsburgh Downtown are also located nearby; however, are closer to downtown Pittsburgh than they are to the sights in the Strip District (but are still an easy walk for most).

Now that we’ve shared all of our favorite spots in Pittsburgh’s iconic Strip District, it is your turn to head down there and check it out for yourself!  Find a spot we didn’t feature in this list that you love?  Comment below to let us know about it!

Are you a local business in the Strip District that would like to be featured in this guide?  Please email jeremy@discovertheburgh.com for more information.

For more Pittsburgh neighborhood guides, check out our guides to the North Side, Squirrel Hill, or Mount Washington!

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20 Comments

  1. You left out Salonika Imports located in the outskirts of the Strip. They are a Greek market and also sell delicious food and pastries.

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    • Oh that is a new one to us! I’m a huge fan of Greek and Bulgarian food so I’m going to have to check it out. Although, I would probably say that one is in Lawrenceville and not the Strip District.

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  2. Fun read! Do check out Kelly O’s diner (across Stallman from Marty’s Market) and Enrico Biscotti’s Cafe (adjacent to the bakery).

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    • Yes! We see Kelly O’s all the time but haven’t made it in yet. Looking forward to trying it out.

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  3. Sadly missing from the restaurant list is LittleBangkok, right next door to Roland’s. It is our favorite Thai in the whole area and we have tried them all.

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    • We’ve been wanting to eat there for quite some time. Will have to check it out!

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  4. Will you, or have you run articles on live entertainment venues? Thanks

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    • Yep! We are planning on visiting all the concert halls and performing arts venues in the city in the coming months. We’re just getting started with this one now though so we’ve only featured Mr. Smalls Funhouse in Millvale and Heinz Hall downtown. They are at the links below. On our interactive map we have a special map pin for performance venues which is blue with a saxophone on it so when things get added you’ll be able to find them there!

      http://www.discovertheburgh.com/mr-smalls-funhouse/
      http://www.discovertheburgh.com/heinz-hall/

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  5. Didn’t see Enrico Biscotti, Carlos Garage Cafe or winery. Land mark in the strip… Twenty+ years.” You gotta get in there”.

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  6. You didn’t meantion Roland’s for the best fish sandwich, lobster roll or raw bar. Or Luke Wholey’s. Or Pittsburgh Popcorn Company which always has lines out the door. Or the novelty and tshirt shops that line both sides of the streets. The Strip has so much to offer.

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  7. Pittsburgh Popcorn!!! 🙂

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  8. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! At last someone has the courage to call out Primanti’s for the awful food they serve. I have always found it a source of extreme embarrassment that that slop shop is presented to visitors as emblematic of Pittsburgh food.

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  9. Hi there – Good list, but Salonika Imports is a big omission; it’s a little out of the way, but definitely has excellent-quality Greek products (probably the best Greek cheese and olive selection in the city).

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    • We’ve received this recommendation a lot when sharing this post, but I do have to point out that by most standards Salonika Imports is technically in Lawrenceville. We’ll be featuring it in that guide when it comes out!

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      • Hi there – I think the confusion stems from the fact that -although technically on the fringe of Lawrenceville – Salonika is definitely a part of the working Strip (wholesalers, trucks, etc), largely made up of Penn & Smallman Streets. Lawrenceville is just a surrounding neighborhood. Most people who shop regularly in the Strip for Greek products include Salonika as part of their “rounds”. You might want to include it in both guides.

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  10. Though outside of the Strip, for out of towners, Nicholas Coffee and Tea in Market Square is located less than a mile from the Strip. They have been the standard from which ALL other coffee and tea emporiums are judged in Pittsburgh. And for a cultural stop, the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is architectural genius.

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  11. I discovered this site while looking for a way to describe The Strip to out-of-state friends. Unfortunately I am now out-of-state, too, and cannot describe how “homesick” I am for Pittsburgh after reading this. Okay, the ocean is 10 minutes away, but after living a half hour drive from downtown Pittsburgh for 30 years, I MISS PITTSBURGH!!!!
    *whew!* Got that off my chest!!!
    There.is.nowhere.like.the.Strip

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  12. I really enjoyed reading through your guide. It was very informative and enjoyable to read.

    I live in Pittsburgh and shamefully have not visited the Strip District in many years. Your guide has given me many reasons to take advantage of this wonderful resource again. There is so much more there than I realized.

    Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful tips and general information about this special part of the city.

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  13. I did not see Rolands on the list – one of the oldest restaurants in the strip and still very good and going strong

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