Bloomfield, Friendship and Garfield | Pittsburgh City Paper

Bloomfield, Friendship and Garfield

One Day in Town

In a city of hills, the Bloomfield-Garfield-Friendship area is flat. That makes it perfect for exploring on foot. Or bicycle: Grab one from several Healthy Ride bike-share kiosks;

Garfield's Penn Avenue between Negley and Mathilda is re-inventing itself as an arts corridor, and your stroll will take you past numerous small art spaces. (Keep an eye out for street art, too.) For fast eats, you can't beat Spak Bros. (5107 Penn Ave., 412-362-7725) for sandwiches, pizza and snacks for meat-eaters and vegans alike; enjoy them on the nearby corner benches fashioned from reclaimed scrap wood. For a fancier sit-down meal, try Verde (5491 Penn Ave., 412-404-8487), with its inventive Mexican-ish fare and an epic tequila list.

Cut through Friendship, with its many fine restored Victorian homes and tree-lined streets, to Liberty Avenue. A nice place to stop along the way is the cozy Octopus Garden, on South Aiken Street, with its giant octopus sculpture.

The lively Liberty Avenue retail corridor runs the gamut from leftist book store The Big Idea (4812 Liberty Ave., 412-687-4323) to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Store (4515 Liberty Ave., 412-683-4001), whose window display of religious statuary is a must-see. Pop in Paddy Cake Bakery (4763 Liberty Ave., 412-621-4477) for a Pittsburgh "gob." Commiserate with the locals over beer at Armand's (4755 Liberty Ave., 412-681-3967) — also home to one of Pittsburgh's "famous" fish sandwiches — or coffee at Crazy Mocha (4525 Liberty Ave., 412-681-5225).

Don't leave Pittsburgh without trying out one of its hundreds of bridges. A walk up (yes, it's steeply angled) the Bloomfield Bridge gives one a dizzying view of the hollow below, which still shows signs of Pittsburgh's formidable industrial past. On your return, quench your thirst at the aptly named Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (4412 Liberty Ave., 412-682-8611).

click to enlarge Bloomfield, Friendship and Garfield
Photo by Heather Mull


Avenue B. Offering a small-but-inventive menu of American cuisine, this intimate corner bistro mixes seasonal offerings with daily chalkboard picks. 5501 Centre Ave., 412-683-3663

Commonplace Voluto. This bright, airy Garfield coffeehouse offers laptoppers gab-or-work tables and sidewalk seating. 5467 Penn Ave., 412-661-3000

Donatelli's. This Italian grocery store is a neighborhood institution; there's a deli counter (with hot lunches to go), plus freshly made pastas and salads. Inspired by the old country? Pick up a pizzelle maker. 4711 Liberty Ave., 412-682-1406

Mama Ros' Sandwich Shop. A tiny hole-in-the-wall joint that serves diner fare (breakfast, lunch and weekend late nights). Friendly service, low prices and, in nice weather, customers can enjoy a couple of sidewalk tables. 4613 Liberty Ave., 412-304-2256

People's Indian Restaurant. This casual neighborhood stop offers rice and curry favorites, plus an economical lunch buffet. 5147 Penn Ave., 412-661-3160

Pho Minh. A family-run storefront spot that offers well-priced Vietnamese cuisine, from curried tofu to various pho soups. 4917 Penn Ave., 412-661-7443

Pleasure Bar. In these days of fancied-up food, sometimes you just want a good old-fashioned meal of spaghetti and meatballs. This neighborhood bar and "red-sauce" restaurant offers homey Italian-American classics in a lively, casual atmosphere. 4729 Liberty Ave., 412-682-9603

Sausalido. Cozy storefront bistro that offers modern takes on European fare. 4621 Liberty Ave., 412-683-4575

Scoops. There's always room for ice cream, and this shop offers freshly made waffle cones, filled with Perry's and Hershey's hard ice cream and sherbet; there's also Italian ices and specialty sundaes. 4806 Liberty Ave., 412-687-1111

Tessaro's. This charming corner bar is home to Pittsburgh's most beloved meal-sized burger — unsullied by fancy trends, and always satisfying. 4601 Liberty Ave., 412-682-6809

Taste of India. This recently renovated, longstanding restaurant offers Northern Indian cuisine in a comfortable setting. 4320 Penn Ave., 412-681-7700

Thai Cuisine. An extensive menu lets diners choose from popular rice, noodle and curry dishes, as well as delicious sticky-rice desserts. 4627 Liberty Ave., 412-688-9661

Thai Gourmet. In a former lunchroom, the friendly staff serves up huge portions of Thai favorites; try the five-spice pork stew. 4505 Liberty Ave., 412-681-4373

Tram's Kitchen. Be prepared to order quickly at this tiny, popular spot for Vietnamese fare, including spring rolls, soups and stirfrys. 4050 Penn Ave., 412-682-2688

Bars and Clubs

Bloomfield Bridge Tavern. Some of the best pierogies in town meet a beer list with both humble and craft offerings. Great porch and lots of live music. 4412 Liberty Ave., 412-682-8611

Lou's Little Corner Bar. It's not Cheers, but everybody knows your name. Cheap beer and a game of pool make this a diamond in the rough. 4924 Liberty Ave., 412-682-9723

Nico's Recovery Room. More chill than drinking in your own backyard. No frills except for some olive garnishes and karaoke like you never thought you'd see. 178 Pearl St., 412-681-9562

Pollock's Café. A glass-block front and neon bar signs grace this neighborhood dive. Cheap drinks, old-timers, a jukebox and good conversation can be expected. 4602 Liberty Ave., 412-682-1460

Silky's Pub. A neighborly corner bar. Good rotating draft list and cozy atmosphere. 5135 Liberty Ave., 412-683-6141

Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina. On the patio, enjoy cocktails on nights out or sunny brunches with friends or family. Offers an epic tequila selection. 5491 Penn Ave., 412-404-8487

Arts and Culture

BoxHeart Gallery. Storefront gallery for contemporary works, mostly painting. Its annual Inter/National features work from around the globe. 4523 Liberty Ave., 412-687-8858

Pittsburgh Glass Center. Both a gallery and a home for working artists, PGC combines inventive exhibits and fired-up kilns. 5472 Penn Ave., 412-365-2145

Center for Post-Natural History. Unique, wittily curated storefront venue explores our relationship with genetically modified plants and animals. Limited hours. 4913 Penn Ave.,

ModernFormations Gallery. One of Pittsburgh's best showcases for local artists, especially during the first-Fridays Unblurred gallery crawls on Penn; otherwise, though, its hours are limited. 4919 Penn Ave.,

Assemble. This "community space for art + technology" holds classes and programs on maker culture for kids and adults. 5125 Penn Ave.,


Brillobox. The place for hip local shows, national indie acts and specialized DJ nights, from world music to queer dance parties. 4104 Penn Ave., 412-621-4900

The Shop. This charmingly bare-bones spot hosts just-about-to-blow-up national bands, experimental local noise acts and more. 4314 Main St.,

Howlers. Stop by this neighborhood bar and you're likely to hear anything from young indie bands to alt-country acts to grizzled old rockers. 4509 Liberty Ave., 412-682-0320

The Mr. Roboto Project. This all-ages, DIY space mostly hosts indie, punk and hardcore bands, many of whom are likely to be playing much bigger spaces next time around. 5106 Penn Ave., 412-345-1059


The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore and Cafe. Worker-owned, this friendly shop has that Noam Chomsky book you're missing. Also, used books, zines and community info. 4812 Liberty Ave., 412-687-4323

The Clothes Line and Wear After Shop. Two small secondhand-clothing stores that benefit charities are worth a peek, as they both generally carry a selection of better, ladies-who-lunch type of fashion. Prices can reflect the higher quality, but there are also deep-discount racks. Clothes Line (4804 Liberty Ave., 412-621-2498) and Wear After (4752 Liberty Ave., 412-687-2600)

Clothes Minded. Buy, sell or trade quality and vintage clothing. Plenty of fashion-forward and quirky-cool picks here. 4740 Liberty Ave., 412-685-4017

Daily Bread / Refresh. This hybrid space made of up of several storefronts features the street-inspired, locally created fashion of Daily Bread (caps, T-shirts), as well as Refresh, a gallery/store for vintage athletic wear. 5450 Penn Ave.,

East End Book Exchange. Your one-stop for used, rare and local books, plus literary events including author visits and poetry readings. 4754 Liberty Ave., 412-224-2847

Groceria Italiana. Just off Liberty Avenue, food like your Italian nana made: ravioli, cannoli, ready-to-use sauces. 237 Cedarville St., 412-681-1227

Kraynick's Bike Shop. At this cheerfully cluttered storefront shop, a center of local bike culture, you can borrow tools and work on your ride for free. 5003 Penn Ave., 412-361-0888

Sound Cat. Your stop for new vinyl and an expertly curated selection of rock, jazz and indie CDs. 4526 Liberty Ave., 412-621-3256