I really didn’t know what to expect when I found out I was traveling to Pittsburgh. All I could think about was “steel.” But what else makes up Pittsburgh? The city is relatively small with a footprint of about 55 square miles. It wouldn’t take long to find out what makes the ‘Burgh tick. So let’s get started. Pittsburgh: A city for sports, bridges and food.
This town is crazy when it comes to their sports’ teams. Wow! And boy, are they proud of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Steelers, Pirates or Penguins. Pittsburgh supports their teams. People wearing and buying sports clothing and sports paraphernalia. Uber drivers and restaurant wait staff talking about their sports teams. Black and gold!
Did you know that Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city? They have 446 bridges. Makes sense since it is located at the junction of three major rivers.
So I chose to go on the “Burgh Bits and Bites Food Walking Tour.” It was wonderful and if given another opportunity, I will go on other food tours. There were about 13 in the tour group. Our tour guide was great and I loved that she shared her knowledge on the history and culture! This particular food tour was located in the Strip District. The Strip District is a fun “strip” of retail and food stores in downtown Pittsburgh. The walking tour was about 2 hours long and here is where we stopped and what we sampled:
One highlight of the tour was Wholey’s Fish Market. I have never been to a fresh fish market with so many fresh fish. The salmon filets and shrimp were gigantic. Never seen fish that large.
We also tasted cinnamon bread from the world renowned Mancini’s, meat from Parma Sausage, a tasty pepperoni roll from Jimmy and Nino Sunseris , biscotti from Enrico Biscotti, mele (a tasty pastry) from Colangelos, pierogies from a Polish deli and various Greek and Mediterranean samples from Stamoolis Brothers. Jimmy (along with his “famous cigar” hanging from his mouth as he talked) from Jimmy and Nino Senseris visited with us for a while talking to us about the history of the family business and his life when he was a young boy. One interesting takeaway from touring these businesses is most are family owned with multiple generations and how their “stories” are very much like farm families whose farms also have been in the family for multiple generations. We share similar stories.
Not only did we food sample, but our tour guide talked about the history. The Strip District is one of 90 different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. The city is pleasantly saturated with culturalism of Asian, Italian, Greek, Mexican, Polish and Mediterranean. The Strip also has a fun festive feel with food and retail shops lining the street sidewalks. As I was walking down the busy sidewalk, a table of four older gentlemen were playing cards around a makeshift card table.
Living, working and playing – that is the Strip District.
TIP: If you plan on visiting the Strip District, which I highly recommend, I would go in their off times. Weekends are extremely busy and the day I was there with the tour, it wasn’t too busy when we started at 10:00 a.m. but by noon the traffic picked up significantly.
I would give the Strip District excursion a Grade A.
We also ate at a local favorite, The Burgatory–known for their burgers. And it lived up to its reputation. I had the Morton Steakburger. A big burger for a big appetite. Unfortunately, I could only eat about half of it. The restaurant was located near the Waterfront area and near the Improv where we enjoyed a comedy show. The Waterfront area is a small, quaint shopping area with many popular retail franchises.
I love Uber! Like a lot! I had some of the best conversations while in Pittsburgh with Uber drivers. I think I probably rode with 10 different drivers during my stay. Our conversations ranged from Prince and Michael Jackson, Pittsburgh sports, old time R & B, politics, Pittsburgh history, Pittsburgh sports, bar locations, Pittsburgh sports, best restaurants and must see Pittsburgh destinations,
I think you get the idea . . . If not, go back to the top of this post.
To get my history fix, I went to the John Heinz Historical Center. Yes, as in Heinz ketchup. The Heinz Historical Center has five floors of exhibits. I particularly enjoyed the Heinz history exhibit and the Lewis and Clark exhibit. Did you know the Lewis and Clark exploration started in Pittsburgh? I also enjoyed the Heinz history exhibit because they talked quite a bit about the agriculture behind raising tomatoes for the ketchup. I will take you on a brief tour.
This is the first thing I saw when I walked into the Heinz historical exhibit. It made me stop and think about what it says.
Inspirational and a lot of truth. . .
I really enjoyed the agriculture tie-in at the history center. Heinz would not exist without agriculture. Here are a couple picture snaps I took and should give you a feel for how the company was founded and how they did common things better.
I would give the history center a B grade.
I also went to my first comedy club performance at the Improv. I guessed it would be a little racy going in and I was right. I would give it an okay grade.
I give the Improve a B- grade.
My Travel Grade – B+
I give this travel destination a B+. I enjoyed my visit and would definitely go back. One negative was the fact that I stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which is connected to the airport. Very convenient for travel purposes but to go beyond the hotel amenities, plan on calling Uber, Lyft or a Taxi. The hotel will take you to destinations with 7 miles of the hotel, which does not include the downtown area. The hotel itself was very nice.
Here is a great short video clip of the Pittsburgh skyline.