Winter in the ‘burgh is long and gray, and even mild ones like this year’s can still really bring you down. The only way out of a Pittsburgh winter is through — but what’s waiting on the other side is the glorious (and delicious) return of spring pop-ups, seasonal food spots, and more. Here are some of the places we’ll be sprinting to as soon as the sun peeks out.
4613 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. thymemachinepgh.com
For early birds, Thyme Machine is finally back to slinging breakfast sammies after a winter hiatus. Returning are some old favorites you can call by their nicknames, like the classic “Becky” (aka bacon, egg, and cheese, a kind of NYC bodega sandwich-meets-the caramelized onions topping your pierogies) and the “Morty”— a pistachio mortadella sandwich with cherry pepper mayo and unctuous fried peppers.
There’s also a new feature for the busy Bloomfielder on the move: You can now nab breakfast and lunch in one stop by picking up a quart of cold soup to go from cult-favorite Instagram soup impresario Broth Monger, right from the cart.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at Carhartt-hatted hipsters lined up around the block for a pop-up or food truck, but some of the best, most heartfelt food I’ve eaten in Pittsburgh comes from business owners who don’t let a lack of brick-and-mortar space stop them from feeding the masses.
Warmer weather makes the line almost a party – a sort of see-and-be-seen of hungry hotties – or people like me, who just want to grab a bite on their dog walk.
Screaming onto the scene in 2021, Stuntpig has become the kind of food truck that’s a destination unto itself. You can taste the serious commitment to quality, with meats sourced locally and regionally, Amish Gerber chicken, and ham, pastrami, bacon, and more made from scratch.
Back for the season is my personal favorite, Mr. Orange, a smoked and pulled chicken sandwich tossed in an addictively spicy piri piri sauce, with the popular Mr. Blonde and hot Italian beef back as well. New items feature side dish collabs with Stuntpig’s many brewery partners’ beers — a stout jerky that screams “your dad will never stop talking about this,” and hot beer cheese dip, a phrase I’ve been repeating since I’ve heard it, like a spell to summon spring.
Farmer x Baker
285 River Ave., Aspinwall. farmerxbaker.com
I have the perfect off-beat Aspinwall date idea for the weekend: Get up as early as your previous night’s activity allows, hit Farmer x Baker, then that flea market by Caliente, and then get your mall crawl on at Waterworks. Even if you don’t get around to the last two, you can’t sleep on Farmer x Baker. Chef Jen Urich brings the freshest veg from her Root and Heart Farm to the shipping container restaurant plopped down in Allegheny Rivertrail Park. Though they’ve been working through winter, spring will really see the produce and the place shine; I can’t think of anything better than watching the sun sparkle off the Allegheny while double-fisting a Goat Rodeo chevre sandwich and a breakfast burrito.
Locations in Garfield, Shadyside, North Side, and Cultural District. addacoffeehouse.com
Always a fave of mine for a specialty latte or a “treat yourself” gift moment, Adda Coffee’s offerings have become even more tantalizing since Becca Hegarty of Bitter Ends fame has taken over their food program. The beloved B.E. fish fry is available Fridays until April 7 at their Garfield location, where regular brunch is offered every weekend morning as well.
But the pop-ups don’t end with Lent. Late spring will see a Friday night pizza garden in Garfield with organic, naturally leavened dough and seasonal veg. Saturdays in Shadyside is a “veggie hoagie shack” that has all the companionable vibes of a backyard cookout, if your cookout featured treasured foodie ingredients like local ColdCo Farm veggies and Rancho Gordo beans.
Specialty mocktails will be available for both pop-ups, and if that’s not enough to get you hyped, Adda is also hosting high tea at Atithi on Sundays, expanding weekend brunch to their Shadyside location, and working on a special food and drink menu inspired by Taylor Swift.
Two Frays Brewery
5113 Penn Ave., Garfield, twofraysbrewery.com
Though they’ve sustained quite a bit of programming in the winter months, Two Frays doubles its space and its fun when the weather gets warmer and the patio is in play. Coming up for the brewery are craft nights like DIY shrinky-dinks (4/12) and BYO Easter egg dying (4/8), food pop ups with Mandu Handu (4/2) and G.S. Sando Co (4/16), a Honkytonk Disco for First Friday (4/7), and a blow-out birthday celebration on April 1 for neighbor Bunker Project’s 10-year anniversary, featuring Uncle Sleepy's Food Pop-Up, DJ Formosa, and work by too many Bunker artists to list.
4312 Main St., Bloomfield, tracebloomfield.com
Fresh off its two-year business birthday, Trace Brewing is fast becoming a neighborhood powerhouse. While the minimalist flow of its indoor/outdoor space is always welcoming, springtime sees Trace hosting acts as delightfully diverse as Slappers N Bangers, Formula 1 watch parties, drag brunches, daytime discos, and more.
Its reach is about to get even bigger, with plans to activate the, shall-we-say, neglected skate park under the Bloomfield Bridge for a huge neighborhood-wide event on Sat., April 22. If slurping Saison and scraping the skin off your knees isn’t enough, you can also create community on Clement Way as Trace hosts the Bloomfield Pride Festival on June 4 – one of the can’t-miss events during Pride month.