City Guide: Mount Washington

This is a historic neighborhood, built for a generation of Pittsburgh steelworkers and home to real, blue-collar families for nearly 200 years.

We’ve all taken the normal Mount Washington trip. You park at Station Square and walk to the Monongahela Incline. You try to get the lowest seats so that you can stare back at downtown as you ascend the mountain. When you reach the top, you quickly exit and hurry to one of the overlooks on Grandview Avenue. You smile for a picture with the city in the background—the photo that, by law, must appear on the Facebook page of every ’Burgher.

It’s the most impressive view available of the city, and Pittsburgh remains one of the most impressive-looking cities around. Every local should head to Mount Washington to appreciate our town at least once, and every out-of-towner should be taken up there immediately.

But if all you know of Mount Washington is the view, you might be looking in the wrong direction.

For instance, if you’d simply turn around from that first overlook near the incline, you’d notice the main drag of Shiloh Street stretching out in front of you. This historic block features the newly opened Shiloh Grill, sister restaurant to Shadyside’s Harris Grill and one of the best new bars and restaurants in town. Havana Tapas and Wine Bar, another new spot with more of a club feel, is a few doors down.

If the kids are with you, get ’em a cone from DiFiore’s Ice Cream Delite, and grab yourself an iced mocha something-or-other from DiFiore’s neighboring coffee shop. Once you wipe their hands, take them to the 110-year-old Carnegie Library of Mount Washington and have them pick out a story or two from the kids’ section (you can return it at any Carnegie branch). A mile or so down the road, the famous Grandview restaurants continue to offer fine dining on the top of the world.

Fortunately, you no longer need to set aside a small fortune to eat with a view. While LeMont and Tin Angel are certainly still worth the cost for excellent cuisine and drinks, you can also enjoy a fantastic burger or tasty seafood at the Grandview Saloon for a great price. You can try one of the best prix-fixe meals in town with a bottle from the unbelievable wine list at Isabela on Grandview. You can grab a steak and a beer at the Georgetowne Inn and feel like you’re at the corner bar—if the corner in question were in the sky.

Whatever you do on Mount Washington, explore. Go beyond the view and the inclines, and just walk around. There are beautiful old buildings, impressive architecture and a palpable sense of history and tradition on every corner. Mount Washington has stories to tell—you just have to turn around and look for them.

Discover Oz in the ’Burgh
Travel over the rivers, up a big hill and into the woods, and you’ll witness a metropolis greeting the wild in a wonderful paradox of intrinsic nature. Once called the Grandview Scenic By Way, the aptly named Emerald View Park spans 235-plus acres and encompasses three anchor parks: Grandview, Mt. Washington, and Olympia. Visitors can take in amazing views of the Golden Triangle, remarkable neighborhoods and lush hillsides while hiking on wooded trails, shooting hoops, frolicking in playgrounds, and enjoying annual events such as the Grandview Park Community Day, Wild Art Wild Trails, Park Bark and Cinema in the Park. Residents of Pittsburgh have no need to click their heels three times to get back home. Their home is near Emerald View Park, and that’s just where they want to be.

Eat brunch on a mountain
You wake up on a Sunday morning and you’re ready to eat. A lot. Where do you go? Well, we at Living Pittsburgh recommend you head up the mountain, make your way to Grandview Avenue, and then turn down Shiloh Street. Just a wee bit on your left, you’ll find the Shiloh Grill; inside, there’s a brunch spread that will surely put a smile on your face. The claim on their menu, “over one million different things on the buffet,” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure does seem like it! Brunch is served from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sundays, and the 16-foot-long, all-you-can-eat buffet includes java from Coffee Tree Roasters and all your favorites, even made-to-order omelets! Your choice of a frozen mimosa or “Hair of the Dog” Bloody Mary, included in the price of brunch, will top off your tasty meal. At $14 per person, it’s a pretty great deal, especially for those with hardy appetites. Shiloh Grill also offers something for those who prefer Happy Hour to brunch: Every weekday from 5-7 p.m., you can enjoy half-priced drafts, frozen cosmopolitans and tasty wings.

Let the spirits guide you
The history of a city can be told from many perspectives. A good storyteller can choose to narrate the past through its sights, its sounds, its tastes, its architecture…or even via its ghosts. If you’re looking to absorb some of Pittsburgh’s past through stories of early 20th century preachers, steel workers, jaded lovers, and sinister villains, look no further than the Pittsburgh Ghost Tour from Haunted Pittsburgh Tours. Learn about Henry Clay Frick’s bizarre ghostly encounter, the connection between the waters at the point and the Mayan 2012 prophecy, and the famous Mrs. Soffel, who is thought to still haunt Shiloh Street. Tours last around two hours and cost $16 a person, which includes a round trip Monongahela Incline ride. If you’re looking to park for free, try your luck at street parking near the gas station on East Carson or on one of the side streets nearby. Our evening tour sold out, as we hear it does often, so reserve your space early online.

Woo your date with sky-high romance
What's more romantic than a breathtaking view of the city atop Mount Washington? How about a few things to go along with that great view, like martinis on Grandview, a romantic ride on the incline, wine, dinner and a movie to take home? Early birds might prefer a huge brunch spread with mimosas, an incline ride to Station Square, wine tasting and a personalized custom labeled bottle of wine to remember your day. Find out how you can score these dates for about $55 at LivingPittsburgh.com.

... Or chow down on some delicious wings with your pals
Wing lovers can head up to Mount Washington on weekdays to score cheap wings. Cafe Niko's and Redbeard's both have a nighttime wing special, and Shiloh Grill offers half-off wings Mon. through Fri., 5-7 p.m. An added bonus: Also half-off is Shiloh's extensive draft list and frozen cosmos to wash those wings down. Find out about more wing nights all over the city at LivingPittsburgh.com.

Georgetowne Inn
1230 Grandview Ave.
412/481-4424

Isabela on Grandview
1318 Grandview Ave.
412/431-5882
isabelaongrandview.com

LeMont
1114 Grandview Ave.
412/431-3100
lemontpittsburgh.com

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto
1411 Grandview Ave.
412/481-4414
montereybayfishgrotto.com

Tin Angel
1200 Grandview Ave.
412/381-1919
tinangelpittsburgh.com

Becky’s One Stop Shop
26 Southern Ave.
412/481-1660

The Duquesne Incline
Rising from downtown to Mount Washington. Adults, $2.35; children (ages 6-11), $1.10; children (ages 5 and younger), free.
portauthority.org

Grandview Overlook
Four overlook decks line Grandview Avenue for a priceless view of downtown Pittsburgh
mwcdc.org

Patricia Boutique
326 Bigham St.
412/488-8833

Wallace Floral Shoppe
138 Virginia Ave.
412/431-7101
wallacefloral.com

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