Downtown | City Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

One Day in Town

It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, the city’s central hub was often dead after the 9-to-5 work crowd headed home. But a renewed interest in urban living, dining and entertainment has revived the Golden Triangle’s once-barren storefronts and restaurants. 

Now it’s become a destination for fine dining and niche restaurants. Meat and Potatoes (649 Penn Ave., 412-325-7007) is an upscale restaurant designed around elevated staples like pot roast and roast chicken. Butcher and the Rye (212 Sixth St. 412-391-2752) has an extensive whiskey collection perfect for whiskey flights, and specializes in steak and seafood. And Tako (214 Sixth St., 412-471-8256) has a small menu of unique Mexican-inspired creations, like tacos topped with octopus, waygu short-rib or duck confit. If you’re interested in a unique dining experience, visit one in this trio of establishments in the Cultural District.

Downtown has long been a destination for entertainment, with theaters hosting Broadway musicals and internationally renowned musicians. The two largest venues are The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts (237 Seventh St., 412-456-6666) and The Byham Theater (101 Sixth St., 412-456-6666). As the city’s hub, the neighborhood also has a wide variety of smaller entertainment venues to choose from depending on your mood, from comedy clubs to jazz spots. 

And the layout of Downtown with pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets also makes this a perfect neighborhood for recreation. Spend an afternoon in the 36 acres of Point State Park (101 Commonwealth Place) and visit the fountain at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Or rent a bike from the nonprofit Healthy Ride (, which has a dozen stations Downtown. And in the warmer months, check out a walking tour from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (, 100 West Station Square Drive).

click to enlarge The Original Oyster House - PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
Photo by Billy Ludt
The Original Oyster House


Bluebird Kitchen. A seasonal menu of locally sourced salads, sandwiches and soups. Breakfast and lunch only. 221 Forbes Ave., 412-642-4414

The Commoner. Located in the swanky Hotel Monaco, this restaurant features unique takes on traditional comfort food. 458 Strawberry Way, 412-230-4800 

G&G Noodle Bar. Asian fusion fare with a simple menu of ramen noodle dishes, sushi and appetizers. 535 Liberty Ave., 412-281-4748

Greek-Aegean Estiatorio Poros. Downtown’s new kid on the block specializes in seafood, Greek entrees and small plates. 2 Market Square, 412- 904-2051

NOLA on the Square. Creole-inspired dishes like jambalaya and a lively atmosphere straight out of New Orleans. 24 Market Square, 412-471-9100

The Original Oyster House. Opened in 1871, this Pittsburgh institution is best known for its fried-fish sandwich and its tenured staff. 20 Market Square, 412-566-7925

Penn Avenue Fish Company. A more casual setting for some of the city’s freshest seafood and sushi. 308 Forbes Ave., 412-562-1710. 

Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room. Wood-fire pizzas and pastas made with fresh local ingredients, plus 30 craft beers on tap. 139 Seventh St., 412-281-5700. 

Ten Penny. The menu here combines traditional favorites like burgers with interesting fare like maple-moonshine-glazed free-range chicken. 960 Penn Ave., 412-318-8000

Umbrella Cafe. Savasana Juice Compamy, Soup Nancys and Om Nom Bake Studio all in one place. Vegan and Vegetarian options daily. 951 Liberty Ave., 412-391-8500

Valozzi’s. The menu at this Italian eatery features homemade gnocchi, pizzas, steaks and traditional pasta dishes. 220 Fifth Ave., 412-394-3400

Yovi’s Hot Dogs.  The Chicago-style dogs are on point, but the draw here is the best Italian beef sandwich this side of Lake Michigan. 100 Fifth Ave., 412-628-4943 

Bars & Clubs 

Andys Wine Bar. A venue celebrating the legacy of Pittsburgh’s jazz history with free performances nearly every night. 510 Market St., 412-773-8884

The Backstage Bar at Theatre Square. A great spot to catch live cabaret and jazz acts, before or after a show. 655 Penn Ave.,

Il Tetto. A relaxed, open-air rooftop bar perfect for spring and summer. Offers 36 drafts, cocktails and light fare. 942 Penn Ave., 412-281-2810

Little E’s. Stop at this jazz spot, and you just might see Pittsburgh’s next great jazz legend. 949 Liberty Ave.,

Olive or Twist. A martini bar with a selection of wine, beer and specialty martinis with flavors like cake batter and s’mores. 140 Sixth Ave., 412-255-0525

Perlé. A sparkling-wine bar with dozens of varieties from around the world and select vintage bottles. 25 Market Square. 412-471-2058.

Sharp Edge Bistro. With one of the largest domestic and imported beer lists in the city, this bar has something for everyone. 922 Penn Ave., 412-338-2437

Sonoma Grille. Perhaps the most comprehensive wine list in the city with bottles from a dozen countries. 947 Penn Ave., 412-697-1336

The Speakeasy. Hidden in the lower level of the Omni William Penn Hotel, this bar harkens back to its earlier Prohibition-era days. 530 William Penn Place, 412-281-7100

Arts & Culture

Arcade Comedy Theater. This nonprofit, BYOB theater hosts standup, improv, sketch comedy, variety acts and comedy classes. 811 Liberty Ave.,

Harris Theater. As Downtown’s only movie theater, this landmark shows mostly indie, foreign language and art-house films. 809 Liberty Ave., 412-682-4111

Heinz Hall. This performing-arts venue is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra but also attracts national touring acts. 600 Penn Ave., 412-392-4900

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. This organization provides access to most of the city’s cultural institutions for theater and music. 412-456-6666 or

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. A top destination for dramatic works written by local playwrights past and present. 937 Liberty Ave.,

Pittsburgh Public Theater. This independent venue features American classics and contemporary plays and musicals in an intimate setting. 621 Penn Ave., 412-312-1600

Space. This gallery features visual multidisciplinary exhibits from local artists exploring themes like identity, science and culture. 812 Liberty Ave., 412-325-7723

Toonseum. Part museum, part gallery, this shop offers visitors a collection of comic and cartoon art along with comics for sale. 945 Liberty Ave., 412-232-0199

Wood Street Galleries. A free contemporary art space featuring work from new-media artists around the world. 601 Wood St., 412-471-5605

click to enlarge Katie's Candy - PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
Photo by Billy Ludt
Katie's Candy


Amazing Books and Records. This used-book and -record shop features a wide selection, including some hard-to-find gems. 929 Liberty Ave., 412-471-1899

Boutique La Passerelle. Hand-picked pieces from clothing designers in the U.S. and Europe. 417 Wood St., 412-434-1325

Eide’s Entertainment. Top source for hard to find collectible comics, records, books, magazines and action figures. 1121 Penn Ave., 412-261-0900

Katie’s Kandy. A candy emporium with nostalgic sweets from your childhood, as well as new favorites. 422 Wood St., 412-227-0999

Market Street Grocery. Downtown’s only grocer offers hand-picked goods from partners like Gaby et Jules patisserie, Collefrisio wines and coffee from La Colombe. 435 Market Street, 412-281-3818

Sports World Specialties. Whether it’s the Steelers, Pirates or Penguins, this shop meets all your sports apparel and memorabilia needs. 645 Smithfield St., 412-232-3342

S.W. Randall Toyes & Giftes. A unique specialty toy and gift shop perfect for fans of video games and comic books. 630 Smithfield St., 412-562-9252

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