Squirrel Hill | City Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Squirrel Hill

Photo by Heather Mull
Photo by Heather Mull

One Day in Town

An uphill climb from virtually all of its surrounding neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill has a little bit of everything: bars, parks, ethnic food, students, a charming business district, old mansions, and is the center of the city's Jewish community.

Start your tour in the heart of the business district at the intersection of Forbes and Murray avenues. Pop inside the recently renovated Carnegie Library (5801 Forbes Ave., 412-422-9650) whose massive street-facing, second-floor glass windows offer a bird's-eye view of nearby shops, bookstores, bakeries and restaurants. Take a perch on the ledge by the windows with a book or magazine, or stake out a chair and watch the street traffic pass by.

For a taste of the neighborhood's Jewish heritage, walk across the street to the Jewish Community Center (5738 Forbes Ave., 412-521-8010) — you won't miss the clock with Hebrew letters that faces Forbes Avenue. Inside you'll find the American Jewish Museum, which features rotating exhibitions. Recent exhibits have included everything from "BubbeWisdom" featured in quilt-making to six-word memoirs that capture Jewish life in Pittsburgh.

A short walk away is the Homewood Cemetery (1599 S. Dallas Ave.), where ornate wrought-iron gates line the perimeter. Not only is the cemetery the final resting ground for some of the region's famed industrialists (the Heinz, Mellon and Frick families are all represented here), but it has some of the city's most interesting architecture in miniature. Find the English Tudor-Gothic stone chapel and you'll admire everything from its ornamental plaster ceiling to its thick oak doors.

No tour of the neighborhood is complete without visiting one of its many Asian restaurants. A favorite is Everyday Noodles (5875 Forbes Ave., 412-421-6668). The noodles are made in house (watch the cooks pound them out through the glass kitchen window), but the real gems here are the soup dumplings. These thin dumplings filled with meat in a splash of broth are deceptively simple, but you'll be craving them for months.

click to enlarge Squirrel Hill
Photo by Heather Mull
Squirrel Hill Café


61C Café. Named for the bus line on which it sits, this coffee shop is a Squirrel Hill institution. Stop in for a pre-movie coffee (the Manor Theater is right down the street), or a house-made pastry. 1839 Murray Ave., 412-521-6161

Aiello's and Mineo's. The legendary Pittsburgh pizza battle is fought on a single city block. You pick. Aiello's: 2112 Murray Ave., 412-521-9973. Mineo's: 2128 Murray Ave., 412-521-9864

Chengdhu Gourmet. One of the most extensive and unusual Chinese menus in town, specializing in Sichuan cuisine. 5840 Forward Ave., 412-521-2088

The Commonplace Coffee House. Featuring small-batch roasted beans and skillful baristas, this homey shop serves a damn fine cup of coffee. Expect a high-end product without the attitude. 5827 Forbes Ave., 412-422-0404

Gaby y Jules. This charming patisserie specializes in macarons — crisp, colorful cookies — but also offers classic French pastries (like éclairs and mousse cakes), breads and croissants. 5837 Forbes Ave., 412-682-1966

Gluuteny. If you have food sensitivities, be sure to check out this bakery, which specializes in gluten-free and dairy-free indulgences like cupcakes and cookies. 1923 Murray Ave., 412-521-4890

Naya. This unassuming restaurant lets diners explore the depths of Syrian cuisine, along with more familiar Middle Eastern fare. 2018 Murray Ave., 412-421-1920

Nu Modern Jewish Bistro. Think traditional Jewish deli fare, updated but still comforting. Try the smoked "Montreal meat." 1711 Murray Ave., 412-422-0220

Ramen Bar. The solution to life's woes may be found in a steaming-hot, freshly prepared bowl of Japanese ramen, topped with meat, vegetables and specialty ingredients. 5860 Forbes Ave., 412-521-5138

Bars and Clubs

Independent Brewing Company. A beautiful, cozy spot where conversation abounds and all of the beer on tap is regional. 704 Shady Ave., 412-422-5040

Silky's Sports Bar & Grill. A Squirrel hill staple and that rare sports bar where non-fans won't feel out of place. 1731 Murray Ave., 412-421-9222

Squirrel Hill Café. Known to locals as "the Cage" and a legend among a certain set, this smoky bar feels like home. Go here for beer, greasy bar fare, jukebox tunes and close conversations in booths with consorts. 5802 Forbes Ave., 412-521-3327

Arts and Culture

Christine Frechard Gallery. The gallery (which also offers language classes!) draws on a range of artists, from local to international. 5871 Forbes Ave., 412-421-8888

Manor Theater. Venerable, four-screen independent neighborhood movie theater screens mostly tonier Hollywood fare and arthouse flicks. Plus, cocktails in the lobby. 1729 Murray Ave., 412-422-9851

Mexico Lindo. Boutique and gallery specializing in Mexican folk art and crafts is known for its annual Day of the Dead display. 2027 Murray Ave., 412-422-9984


Acoustic Music Works. If you are looking for a guitar, mandolin, banjo or ukulele, this music shop has you covered. 2142 Murray Ave., 412-422-0710

Classic Lines. This newish independent bookstore primarily stocks used books, but offers an ever-growing selection of well-curated new titles. 5825 Forbes Ave., 412-422-2220

Jerry's Records. The impressive collection of affordable vinyl — from rock to classical — draws music enthusiasts from around the world. Don't miss the occasional free-record giveaways. 2136 Murray Ave., 412-421-4533

Littles Shoes. This Forbes Avenue landmark has been around for decades and helped generations of Pittsburghers find the right fit. 5850 Forbes Ave., 412-521-3530

Ten Thousand Villages. The world comes to Pittsburgh in this boutique. Find fair-trade fashion and household items from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. 5824 Forbes Ave., 412-421-2160

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
25 images

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith