Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on September 15, 2023.
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If there is any neighborhood in Pittsburgh that would be the perfect case study for a revival, Lawrenceville would be it. In just under 10 years the neighborhood went from being one you likely never stepped foot in (let alone drove through), to becoming a hipster mecca, to being so trendy it is beyond hipster, and is now one of the most popular neighborhoods in all of Pittsburgh for visitors with all interests.
As Lawrenceville has grown to be a shopping, eating, and drinking hot spot, our neighborhood guide was created to cover our very favorite spots in each category!
As with all of our neighborhood guides, this is not a complete list of everything in Lawrenceville. It is simple a guide to places we personally visit when exploring the neighborhood. If your favorite is not included, it is likely that we have not checked it out yet. If this is the case, please comment at the end of this post and we'll happily check it out on our next visit!
Lawrenceville History and Map
Lawrenceville was founded just before Pittsburgh was incorporated as a city, and was named after James Lawrence who participated in the Battle of 1812 a few years prior.
In its early days, Lawrenceville was home to the Allegheny Arsenal (established in 1814) due to its strategic location by the Allegheny river, and during the Civil War had a rather horrendous explosion of the stockpile that killed 78 people- mostly civilians. Later on the neighborhood became an industrial hub with iron works being present, and was ultimately hit by the modern depression after Pittsburgh's steel collapse in the 1980s.
Lawrenceville began its revival in 2009 after UPMC opened up one of the world's leading Children's Hospitals in the neighborhood, and the cheap housing prices made the neighborhood a hipster hangout over time. Restaurants, bars, and attractions soon followed, the hipsters moved on to cheaper pastures, and now Lawrenceville is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city for residents and visitors alike.
If there is any neighborhood that is the poster child for gentrification in Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville would be at the top of the list- with all the good and bad that it brings. Focusing on the good, the neighborhood is home to several amazing restaurants (from hole-in-the-walls to several of the top 10 restaurants in Pittsburgh), highly rated breweries, many bars of all types, art events, boutique shops, and more.
The best part? Most of these can be found along Butler Street- making Lawrenceville a highly walkable neighborhood to take it all in. A selection of our favorites to visit are illustrated in our map below:
So, what defines Lawrenceville exactly?
For the purposes of this guide, what we are calling Lawrenceville consists of three neighborhoods- lower Lawrenceville, central Lawrenceville, and upper Lawrenceville. The neighborhood as we call it is bounded by the Allegheny river to the north, 33rd street to the west, Penn Avenue to the south west, Mossfield St behind the cemetery to the south east, Stanton Avenue and Butler Street to the south east, and the 62nd street bridge to the east.
(There are different boundaries for the three distinct neighborhoods to the South, which makes defining an overall boundary a bit tricky.)
All of these come together to form Lawrenceville at large!
If there is one thing we think Lawrenceville is most known for, it would be its rapidly expanding restaurant scene. It seems like every time you turn around a new restaurant is opening in the neighborhood (and some sadly closing)- giving us many reasons to return time and time again.
As we continue our goal to eat our way around the neighborhood, we have to highlight the following as being some of the most interesting to check out!
- The Vandal – Upscale fare in a casual atmosphere, and a popular weekend brunch.
- Morcilla – A restaurant by Justin Severino, focusing on Spanish fare in a tapas bar environment. Be sure to check out his charcuterie store, Salty Pork Bits, a mile or so down the road as well!
- Poulet Bleu – A French restaurant by Richard DeShantz with some delicious fine dining fare!
- Umami – A Japanese izakaya bar that is the kind of place you go to drink first and eat delicious food second.
- The Parlor Dim Sum – A Cantonese dim sum restaurant with huge portions to share with friends.
- Piccolo Forno – Traditional Italian fare and one of the oldest and most acclaimed Lawrenceville restaurants.
- Senti – Another Italian restaurant and wine bar in the heart of the neighborhood.
- Smoke – A premium taqueria serving up some delicious bbq on tacos amongst other items.
- Walter's Southern Kitchen – Texas style barbecue in Pittsburgh!
- Pusadee's Garden – A delicious Thai restaurant that closed in 2018 but re-opened in 2021.
- Fat Butcher – A local butcher serving up delicious sandwiches.
- Oishii Donburi – A rice bowl restaurant with Japanese and Korean favorites.
- The Abbey on Butler Street – A modern gastropub, coffee shop, and bar located in an old funeral home.
- Merchant Oyster Co. – An oyster and New England-esque seafood joint in the heart of the neighborhood.
- Industry Public House – Another gastropub with one of the largest draft lists in Lawrenceville.
- Dijlah – Middle Eastern fare in Lawrenceville with a focus on Iraqi cuisine.
- Driftwood Oven – Stellar wood fired cooked pizzas in the heart of Lawrenceville.
- Brick Shop and Over Eden – Two restaurant and bars located at the Tryp Hotel. Over Eden has a stellar view of the city!
- Pizza Lupo – Another delicious pizza shop in Lawrenceville with large thin-crust pies.
- Condado Tacos – Fast, cheap, and late night tacos in Lawrenceville.
- Pastitsio – Greek fare in the heart of the neighborhood.
- La Gourmandine – An authentic French bakery in the Burgh- a perfect addition for Lawrenceville.
- Mediterra Cafe – A popular artisan bakery with several locations around the city- delicious food, bread, and sweets!
- Butterwood Bake Consortium – An upscale (looking) bakery serving an array of treats including massive pieces of cake!
- Lola's Eatery – A smaller brunch spot located inside Engine House 25.
- Geppetto Cafe – Another popular breakfast and brunch spot in Lawrenceville.
- Banh Mi and Tea – A short order Vietnamese joint focusing on Banh Mi sandwiches and bubble teas.
- Nanban – Featuring favorites from the former Ki Pollo and Ki Ramen in one restaurant (Ki Pollo space).
- Mi Empanada – A takeaway spot focusing on empanadas, sandwiches, and an assortment of Latin American sides.
- V3 Pizza – A quick, build-your-own pizza place that offers large pizzas for a reasonable price.
- Ineffable Ca Phe – A second Vietnamese restaurant in Lawrenceville that offers a strong coffee and bubble tea menu as well as delicious banh mi sandwiches.
- Salonika Imports – Primarily a Greek grocery store, offering a limited menu on select days of the week. Call about the gyros.
- Pita My Shawarma – A food truck turned restaurant serving up delicous shawarma wraps.
- Burgh'ers Lawrenceville – A local burger joint with solid options from traditional to gourmet.
- Spirit and Slice Island Pizza – One part dive bar and one part square cut pizza joint with unusual toppings. An acquired taste.
- Dive Bar – A modern gastropub with 50% off appetizers during happy hour.
- NatuRoll Creamery – A rolled ice cream spot that proves there is always a new way to eat our favorite treat.
- Millie's – A high-end ice cream shop that has become a local favorite.
Drinking in Lawrenceville
Normally when we write a phrase about drinking in a neighborhood, we always mean alcohol. But Lawrenceville has such a strong scene of all things liquid that we have to make this one broader to include all manner of beverages- be it beer, wine, cider, tea, juice, or coffee!
If you have a thirst while in the neighborhood, consider checking out one of the following:
- Espresso a Mano – One of the first third wave coffee shops to open in Pittsburgh, and one of the most popular as well.
- Constellation Coffee – A quieter coffee shop on Penn Avenue serving up delicious brews.
- Caffe d'Amore – More of a corner coffee shop located in the east end of Lawrenceville.
- Convive Coffee – A second location of this popular coffee shop that started on McKnight Road north of the city.
- Pittsburgh Juice Company – Focusing on all things fresh juices on the west end of Lawrenceville.
- Gryphon's Tea – Get your loose leaf tea fix here with numerous options and friendly staff.
- Church Brew Works – A brewery located in a de-sanctified church. Beautiful ambiance and delicious experimental and seasonal beers.
- COVEN Brewing – A New England IPA and Saison forward brewery in the former Roundabout space.
- Hop Farm Brewing Company – Focusing on beers of all varieties- not just hoppy ones!
- Eleventh Hour Brewing Co. – A brewery located a few blocks away from Butler Street.
- Cinderlands Beer Co. – A trendy brewery with a modest beer, cocktail, and food menu!
- Lolev – A brewery in Upper Lawrenceville in a former car dealership. Huge space and delicious beers!
- Arsenal Cider House – A Pittsburgh staple focusing on all things cider. Go for the Archibald's Ado (a divine semi-sweet), or seasonal ginger or pumpkin when they're available!
- Allegheny Wine Mixer – A neighborhood wine bar that offers country specials, cocktails (including wine cocktails), and a solid beer list. Perfect for meeting up with friends.
- Arriba Wine Bar – The attached wine bar to the Roberto Clemente Museum. Producing some of the finest wines in Southwestern PA.
- Palate Partners – A full-service wine tasting business with informal First and Thirdy Friday tasting events. A great value!
- Grapperia – An Italian cocktail bar adjacent to Piccolo Forno focusing on all things Grappa and Italian spirits! One of our favorites.
- Bar Botanico – An approachable craft cocktail bar with a stellar food menu.
- Unspeakable – A speakeasy found inside Ineffable Ca Phe.
- Noire Distillery – A craft distillery making lovely gins, vodka, and more.
- Lawrenceville Distilling – A small batch distillery tucked just off Butler Street with some delicious cocktails.
- Bierport – A craft bottle shop connected to Row House Cinema. Grab a beer to enjoy on-site, take a bottle to go, or sip on one while watching a movie!
Attractions in Lawrenceville
While we would consider Lawrenceville to be a dining and shopping neighborhood above all others, there are several things to do that would be more conventional attractions. A few of the most notable in the neighborhood include the following:
- Roberto Clemente Museum – A reservation-only museum with an impressive collection of Clemente and Pirates memorabilia.
- Kickback Pinball Cafe – A cafe with a modest collection of pinball machines. Go for a bite and a cup of coffee, and stay for the fun.
- Arsenal Bowl – An upstairs bowling alley with late night specials such as live music, DJs, drink specials, and more.
- Thunderbird Cafe – An intimate music venue in the heart of Lawrenceville. One of our favorites for shows!
- Redfishbowl – A local artist space in Lawrenceville that is open periodically for shows with art for sale.
- Row House Cinemas – An independent movie theater focusing on indie films and themed movie runs.
- Arsenal Park – A small park in the heart of Lawrenceville with fairly significant history to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania as outlined in the history section of this guide.
Shops in Lawrenceville
Lawrenceville is home to a number of boutique shops ranging from clothes, to home goods, to very specific wares like custom greeting cards, toys, and more.
At this time we are still working our way through the amazing number of shops Lawrenceville has to offer. Since we have not visited a decent majority we are not including recommendations in this guide just yet and will be expanding it in the near future as we visit more shops!
We'd love to know your recommendations, so if you have a favorite store we need to check out please comment below or contact us!
Information for Visiting Lawrenceville
For us, the biggest issue with visiting Lawrenceville is the traffic. We'll be the first to admit that the traffic, especially at rush hour, can be a bit brutal for drivers. Coming across any of the bridges on 28 at the intersection of Butler Street turns into a parking lot during peak hours, and finding street parking (metered) can be difficult no matter when you visit.
Thankfully, those who visit the neighborhood for short periods, or on nights or Sundays, can get away with parking on one of the many side streets fairly easily as long as you are okay walking three or four blocks to the main street. Parking is often limited to an hour (two at most) during enforced hours, so those planning on visiting this neighborhood during the day should take this into consideration.
From there, your best bet is to search for parking near Allegheny Cemetery or the eastern/western edges of the neighborhood as street parking is often a bit easier to come by for those who are willing to make a bit of a walk to your final destination.
Hotels in Lawrenceville
At this time, there is only one hotel in Lawrenceville proper- the TRYP Hotel by Wyndham. This hotel was built in 2019 and features modern rooms, accessibility to nearby attractions, and a rooftop patio with view of Lawrenceville and downtown Pittsburgh. (Read reviews here)
Beyond this, you will have to consider alternative neighborhoods for a hotel or check out the numerous apartment rentals available in the area.
For those who wish to stay elsewhere but still be close to Lawrenceville, your best bets are to either consider the Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn in the Strip District (the latter has free parking), Friendship Suites, or Hotel Indigo in East Liberty. These are all within a few minute driving distance to reach Lawrenceville with ease. Or, for more Pittsburgh hotels, click the previous link to check out our reviews database!
What are your favorite spots to check out in Lawrenceville? Comment below to let us know!
Read Our Latest Lawrenceville Posts
Check out our latest posts from Lawrenceville at the following links:
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