The Newcomers Guide to North Side | Newcomers Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Newcomers Guide to North Side

click to enlarge PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates
The North Side might be best known as the place for watching two of Pittsburgh’s most iconic institutions. It’s true: The Pittsburgh Pirates ( and the Pittsburgh Steelers ( play their home games at PNC Park and Heinz Field, respectively, but that’s not all there is to this part of town. The North Side is actually comprised of 18 different neighborhoods, but the ones you’ll be most likely to visit first are the North Shore (where those stadiums are), Deutschtown, Central Northside, and Allegheny West, all just across the Allegheny River from Downtown. Speaking of the river, the North Side is one of the best places in the city to check it out. Soak in the views with a bike ride on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail ( or get out on the water — Kayak Pittsburgh ( rents gear and gives instructions just under the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

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Arts + Culture

Two museums are a must for art lovers: The Andy Warhol Museum ( is an internationally-known, seven-story museum offering a thorough account of its Pittsburgh-born namesake; Mattress Factory ( is a contemporary art museum with several buildings full of outside-the-box installation artwork.

Families will dig the National Aviary (, a unique indoor zoo exhibiting more than 500 birds of over 150 species with live feedings, interactive encounters, and a virtual-reality flight simulator. If you’ve got young kids, head to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (, with hands-on educational exhibits and interactive artwork.

The Carnegie Science Center ( is a family-friendly venue with hands-on exhibits teaching physics, chemistry, and nature, with a sports-themed annex and special events. And don’t miss its massive Rangos Giant Cinema, the most technologically advanced movie theater in town.

Adults with a few extra bucks to spend can head to the Rivers Casino (, located right on the river with more than 2,800 slot machines and 90 table games. The casino also has multiple dining options and a full calendar of live entertainment.


Fans of vinyl and local music, you're in for a treat. The North Side has two record stores that both host the occasional live bands. Stroll over to Chateau for Get Hip Record Store (, the brick-and-mortar store for popular label and distributor Get Hip Recordings. Over in Deutschtown is The Government Center (, Pittsburgh's newest shop and listening center.

Heinz Field and PNC Park sometimes hold concerts when the sports teams are away, but for a great concert experience, head to Stage AE (, an indoor/outdoor venue on the riverfront, hosting mid-sized touring acts. During outdoor shows in the summer, you can get a glimpse of the downtown skyline — and, if you’re lucky, fireworks!


Arnold’s Coffee and Tea ( is a roomy, double-storefront serving hot and cold specialty teas, plus salads, soups, pastries, and made-to-order sandwiches.

Try a custom-blended burger paired with a craft beer at Biers Pub ( This intimate spot is the official taproom for War Streets Brewery, brewed downstairs in the basement.

Federal Galley (, a food hall with four different restaurants and a bar housed in a former bank vault, is one of North Side’s newest and hippest hangouts.

Nicky’s Thai Kitchen ( serves traditional Thai food, including Pad Thai, curry, and much more, and has outdoor patio seating as weather permits.

Penn Brewery ( is a pioneering craft-beer company housed in an actual 19th-century brewery, offering German-style beers, and contemporary and traditional German cuisine.

click to enlarge City of Asylum Bookstore - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
City of Asylum Bookstore


There are two great bookstores worth a visit: City Books ( is a classic storefront bookshop, featuring mostly used volumes and the occasional visiting author; City of Asylum Bookstore ( is an independent bookstore, specializing in world literature.

Where the Locals Go

Wilson’s Bar-B-Q has been a neighborhood institution for nearly 60 years, serving old-school, no-frills Southern-style pork ribs, chicken, and sides. It’s so old-school, in fact, the take-out joint doesn’t have a website, but you can find it on North Taylor Avenue in the Mexican War Streets (, a historic district with beautiful old brick houses, which is worth a visit on its own.

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