Things to do in The Strip District

Strip District street view, produce on Penn Ave, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. (photos by Rob Larson) and mural outside Heirloom Superfood Market (photo by Tracy Certo)

Once a hub for manufacturing and shipping, the Strip District is now a food and shopping destination unlike any other in the country.

Stats (via Niche)

  • Population: 821
  • Size: 0.609 sq. miles
  • Median Rent: $1,809
  • Median Home Value: $321,400

Don’t Miss

If you’re in the Strip, chances are you’re planning to get some food. Start the day right with a classic breakfast at Pamela’s or Deluca’s, two Pittsburgh institutions. Or go for some of the best coffee in town at one of two spots: La Prima for old-school espresso drinks and a down-to-earth atmosphere or 21st Street Coffee, where they brew Intelligensia beans using a variety of trendy techniques.

For many, lunch in the Strip is rooted in tradition. This might mean catfish at Luke Wholey’s, a couple of spicy tacos from Edgar’s stand on 21st Street, or one of those famous sandwiches from the original Primanti Brothers. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for new entries into the lunch game. Two of the best are Smallman Galley, with features four restaurant concepts in a communal food hall, and Gaucho Parilla Argentina, which showcases flavor-packed wood-fired meats and veggies.

Though the Strip is certainly at its peak during daylight hours, there are still plenty of places to grab a nice dinner. Try Savoy for upscale versions of classic American dishes, or Eleven for refined, modern American cuisine. Another Big Burrito restaurant, Kaya, serves up island-inspired food and drinks like jerked chicken and mojitos. And Bar Marco, which made a splash when they did away with tipping in early 2015, offers everything from small plates at the bar to blowout wine dinners in the basement.

For dessert, nothing beats Klavon’s. This old-fashioned scoop shop and candy store serves up decadent ice cream from Penn State Creamery.

Come thirsty when you visit the Strip. Wigle Whiskey, which makes a variety of organic, grain-to-bottle spirits, and Maggie’s Farm, which distills award-winning rums, are both based here. In addition to making a range of approachable, traditional wines, Pittsburgh Winery regularly hosts intimate cellar concerts. And sample some local beers or fill up a growler at the newly opened East End Taproom.

The Strip District is essentially one big market. People flock from all over to load up on everything from cheese and olive oil at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company to seafood at Wholey’s to prosciutto and salami at Parma Sausage.

Of course, you can get more than food in the Strip. Bikes, costumes, flowers, souvenir t-shirts, kitchen supplies and plenty more can be found there. Your best bet? Park a few blocks away from the mayhem and just wander.

For a break from the throngs of shoppers, pop into the Heinz History Center and learn about Pittsburgh industry, culture and sports through the years. Another lovely respite can be found at the Society for Contemporary Craft, which features free exhibitions of—you guessed it—contemporary craft. It’s some of the best around. Or if you or the kids are ready to break a sweat, look into the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, which offers community dance and fitness classes for both seasoned dancers and folks with two left feet eager to learn some moves.

And finally, take a moment to admire Stanislaus Kostka Church, one of the city’s oldest and most iconic churches.

Fast Facts

Many of Pittsburgh’s mightiest companies once resided in the Strip, including Heinz, Westinghouse and U.S. Steel.

The Strip is home to 31st Street Studios, which is the largest soundstage in the country outside of California or New York City.

Many of the Strip’s most popular spots are old warehouses and factories. The Heinz History Center, for instance, was once an ice warehouse, and trendy apartments have moved into former factory spaces for dairy and cork producers.

Primanti Brothers got its start as a cart that sold sandwiches to truckers, who were constantly passing through the Strip. Primanti’s self-contained sandwiches, which include fries and slaw between the bread, were a perfect fit for workers on the move.

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