Bar Botanico is the Cocktail Bar that Lawrenceville Needs

I know what you're thinking- another bar in Lawrenceville?!

For the longest time, we thought this neighborhood was already at its max of bars. But it wasn't until we were able to get in and experience Bar Botanico that we realized Lawrenceville was missing one specific kind of bar that we thoroughly enjoy- a higher-end cocktail bar. And if there is anything you know about us, we love good cocktail bars in Pittsburgh.

From the drinks to the vibe and the food (presently provided by Troy Hill-based Scratch & Co), Bar Botanico really knocked things out of the park- not just on drinks, but the entire package.

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The Wheel Mill is a Stellar Indoor Bike Park in Pittsburgh

You may know that we are avid bikers and explore our local Pittsburgh bike trails as much as we possibly can. As we generally prefer flat rides, we haven't really tackled any of the area mountain biking trails to date.

Thankfully, I was able to visit The Wheel Mill as part of an event where I got to learn the basics of mountain biking and apply them out on the trails at Frick Park via a private lesson. In the process, I was also able to check out some of the insane BMX and mountain biking setups this venue in Homewood West has to offer.

If you like to hit the ramps and jumps or simply want to learn the basics of mountain biking, a trip to The Wheel Mill should be on your radar!

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Linn Run State Park is a Quick Stop in the Laurel Highlands

Normally when we think of state parks in the Laurel Highlands, we think about them in terms of their massive size. Laurel Hill State Park clocks in at almost 4,000 acres. Forbes State Forest is almost 60,000 acres. Ohiopyle State Park is about 20,000 acres. We could go on.

But some state parks in the area are much, much smaller while still offering a wealth of things to see in a quick visit.

Linn Run is one such state park, and while this one is only 612 acres in size, it makes for a great spot to check out a waterfall after a rain, for a quick hike, renting a cabin for a weekend, or to go fishing if licensed!

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Afghan Kabab House Review – Don’t Miss Out on the Appetizers

Periodically we'll lament about what Pittsburgh needs, and when it comes to the city's dining scene, the answer is always the same- fewer gastropubs and more international restaurants.

Not just any international restaurants (although we'd certainly take whatever came out), but restaurants with cuisine from countries that are woefully underrepresented in the region. One such country whose cuisine was lacking in the city was Afghanistan, but we're now happy to report that Carnegie is home to a wonderful spot right on Main Street- Afghan Kabab House.

While you may find the flavors of the kababs to be in line with other delicious Middle Eastern fare you've had in the city, you'll do well to throw on several of the Afghan appetizers as these are true gems that are unlike just about anything we've had to date.

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Heinz Field Concerts – Is The Venue Worth It for a Show?

There are conventional tours at amphitheaters like Star Lake. Then there are larger stadium tours, like concerts at PNC Park. And then there are the biggest, most outrageous stadium tours for the world's most famous performers.

In Pittsburgh, only one venue is large enough for an event of this size, and Heinz Field concerts have historically attracted acts like Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Beyonce, U2, and perhaps the most legendary of them all, The Rolling Stones- who we finally got to see at Heinz Field in 2021.

So in this one, we thought we'd share a bit about what the show was like, thoughts on the seating and sound at the stadium, and other venue-specific points you may want to keep in mind!

Note: Photos in this one were taken at various focal lengths with our phone. True-to-view shots as seen from our seats will be noted in the captions. 

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40 North Review – Eastern European Vibes in the North Side

40 North is the newest restaurant concept in the Alphabet City space located in the North Side. With James Beard Award-nominee Bethany Zozula at the helm, the restaurant features local and seasonal cuisine that both comforts and inspires.

When we heard Zozula was going to lead 40 North we had high hopes for this space that has seen its share of restaurants come and go over the past few years. Zozula was most recently the chef at the now-closed Whitfield, a standout spot for steaks and weekend brunch.

While the menu at 40 North is decidedly new, fans of the Whitfield will likely find much to love here. Entrees include simple but well-executed preparations of steaks, fish, and chicken, while the sides and appetizers make use of seasonal produce with middle eastern and Eastern European flavors sprinkled in.

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Thunderbird Cafe is a Hidden Gem for Music in Lawrenceville

One of the things we love about Pittsburgh's music scene is that there are venues for just about every style of performance. Mega shows at Heinz Field and PNC Park, dedicated pavilions like Star Lake, and intimate music venues like Mr. Small's Theater, and more.

But only a few venues can be described as unassuming hidden gems, and for Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall in Lawrenceville, it really hits both of those terms perfectly! 

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Nanban Review – Asian Soul Food Merging Ki Pollo & Ki Ramen

Ki Pollo and Ki Ramen were two staple restaurants in Lawrenceville for many years with the former serving up an interesting mix of fried chicken and empanadas and the latter serving Japanese and east Asian fare like ramen, gyoza, and more. 

But in 2021, Ki Ramen closed for construction due to apparent water damage in the building, and it was announced that the menus of the two restaurants would be merging into one Asian soul food concept known as Nanban in the Ki Pollo space.

In a way, this one takes all of the best elements of the two restaurants in one combined space, but also comes with some of the same drawbacks- specifically when it comes to deciding what to order outright as the menu here can only be described as varied!

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TwnSqr Connects Home Sellers with the Best Pittsburgh Realtors

We all know that the Pittsburgh housing market has been hot in recent years, and those who are looking to sell have the biggest advantages at the moment.

One of the troublesome spots about selling a house is also one of the very first steps- finding a great Pittsburgh real estate agent to represent you. For some, real estate agents are found through friends and family who have recently sold. For others, it may be simply seeing an agent active in your neighborhood and going from there. Or you may use 3rd party websites that take huge commissions behind the scenes as they refer you to local agents.

This can be, to put it simply, a frustrating and time-consuming process.

But a new tech start-up in Pittsburgh, TwnSqr, is looking to change the process of connecting home sellers to agents by giving the seller all of the power- for free and with no commitment required!

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Behind the Scenes at ScareHouse – A Unique Halloween Tour

Note: ScareHouse is now located in the Pittsburgh Mills shopping mall. We were invited by ScareHouse for a behind-the-scenes tour in 2021 to update this article, but have paid for the tour in the past as well.

If you're looking to get scared silly during Halloween in Pittsburgh, the city has a number of options for you.

But we have to be honest in saying that we're not ones to get excited about haunted attractions. We can appreciate the work and attention to detail that goes into making a haunt, but we're not rushing to get in line to get spooked, either.

So when we found that ScareHouse offers behind the scenes, lights on tours on select days during their operating season, we were in.

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