Pittsburgh City Guide: 12 Great Main Streets Waiting For You

A trip to these well-populated thoroughfares promises access to shops, restaurants and things to do.

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Every Pittsburgh neighborhood has its own identity, trademark quirks and proud residents eager to preserve their town’s colorful history. Among our favorites: these 12 communities in which you can experience the heart of the area on or near well-populated thoroughfares filled with pedestrians, shops, restaurants and things to do. Take a stroll with us.

photos by john altdorfer


This walkable neighborhood long has carried the motto: “Live. Worship. Shop.” Lincoln Avenue has changed over the years, but those commands still hold true — Bellevue has plenty of places to live, houses of worship (and related stores and spots for post-service dining) and charming shops. And we can definitely add “eat” to the above credo. There’s sure to be something for everyone. — LD

Where to Shop

  • Check out the organic offerings for your little one at Happy Baby Company [558 Lincoln Ave., happybabycompany.com].
  • Pick a Christian gift item or book from nonprofit shop The Shepherd’s Door [563 Lincoln Ave., theshepherdsdoor.org], which also sells fair-trade goods.

What to Do

  • Wander (admission is free) through the new home of the John A. Hermann Jr. Memorial Art Museum [318 Lincoln Ave., johnhermannmuseum.org].
  • Taste a sweet from Lincoln Bakery [543 Lincoln Ave., mylincolnbakery.com].

  • Sip the flavor of the day at the charming Muddy Cup Cafe [419 Lincoln Ave., 412/415-3144].
  • Relieve your stress: All classes at Yoga on Fremont [8 S. Fremont Ave., yogaonfremont.com] are drop-in friendly.

Where to Eat

  • Enjoy being treated like part of the family at homestyle restaurant Joe’s Rusty Nail [560 Lincoln Ave., 412/766-9228].
  • Experience some exotic flavors at Thai Tamarind [172 Lincoln Ave., thaitamarindpittsburgh.com].
  • Opt for the meatloaf, fried chicken or another staple at the Bellevue Diner [513 Lincoln Ave., 412/734-4446].
  • Devour selections from the “backyard barbecue-inspired menu” at the Pitt Stop [564 Lincoln Ave., thepittstopbbq.com].


Pittsburgh’s Little Italy is a bit of an anomaly. You have your old-time Italian grocers not far from a self-proclaimed “radical” bookstore. There’s an all-things-Catholic store run by friendly nuns a few doors down from a contemporary art gallery. Old Pittsburgh blends with the new here, and when we say goodbye to some favorites (Fukuda and Del’s Bar & Ristorante DelPizzo), we say hello to soon-to-be favorites (Bread and Salt Bakery and Station restaurant). Walk down Liberty Avenue — one of the longer main streets on our list — and experience it all. — LD

Where to Shop

  • Buy a novel and stick around for a reading or release party at the East End Book Exchange [4754 Liberty Ave., eastendbookexchange.com].
  • Visit Sacred Heart of Jesus Store [4515 Liberty Ave., 412/683-4001] to hunt for hard-to-find religious tomes and gifts.
  • Put in a custom order at family-owned Best Made Shoes [5143 Liberty Ave., bestmadeshoes.com].

  • Discover books and other items that support a broad range of politics and lifestyles at The Big Idea Bookstore [4812 Liberty Ave., thebigideapgh.wordpress.com].

What to Do

  • Catch the latest exhibition at the artist-run commercial gallery BoxHeart [4523 Liberty Ave., boxheartgallery.com].
  • Savor a doughnut and the delicious smells wafting over you at Bloomfield institution Paddy Cake Bakery [4763 Liberty Ave., paddycakebakery.org].
  • Cool off with a cold treat from Scoops in Bloomfield [4806 Liberty Ave., scoopspittsburgh.com].

Where to Eat

  • At Thai Gourmet [4505 Liberty Ave., 412/681-4373], try the pumpkin curry.

  • Order the ’Burgh-famous burger at Tessaro’s [4601 Liberty Ave., tessaros.com], prepared daily by in-house butchers.
  • Be wowed by the popcorn panna cotta, a hit at the 2015 Pittsburgh Magazine Best Restaurants Party, at Station [4744 Liberty Ave., twitter.com/station_pgh]; the new venture from Curtis Gamble, formerly of Grit & Grace, is set to open in August 2015.


Carnegie is a town marked by continued rebirth. Revitalization efforts, sparked by repeated bouts of flooding in recent years, still are going strong; the results are visible in the form of new stores and eateries popping up, as well as the bright blue bridge railings that match both the trashcans on Main Street and the chairs inside the coffee shop housed in the former post office. Business and restaurant owners love their little borough. You will, too. — LD

Where to Shop

  • Scout for locally made jewelry, candles, soap, art and more at Modern Mercantile [233 E. Main St., modernmercantilepgh.com].
  • Browse the large selection of men’s shoes at Hanna’s Clothing Store [311 W. Main St., hannasclothing.com], an area institution since 1903.

What to Do

  • Take in a show at off the WALL Theater [25 W. Main St., insideoffthewall.com], known for nontraditional performances.
  • Tour the Historical Society and Honus Wagner Museum [1 W. Main St., 412/276-7447] for an homage to the Pittsburgh Pirates legend (and the town).
  • Visit the “Carnegie Carnegie” library [300 Beechwood Ave., carnegiecarnegie.org] and its Espy room — once a meeting place for a Grand Army of the Republic post of Civil War veterans.
  • Get fit at Motion on Main [21 E. Main St., motiononmain.com].

Where to Eat

  • Slow down with a latte inside the cozy Carnegie Coffee Company [132 E. Main St., facebook.com/carnegiecoffeecompany], located in a former post office.
  • Indulge in fine Italian dining at PaPa J’s Ristorante [200 E. Main St., papajs.com].

  • Drink an Irish beer (and pair it with a shepherd’s pie) at Riley’s Pour House [215 E. Main St., rileyspourhouse.com].
  • Discover what the chef calls “world-fusion freestyle” cuisine at the lovely One Thirty One East [131 E. Main St., onethirtyoneeast.com].

Next: Lawrenceville, Millvale, & Mt. Lebanon

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21 Great Communities

Around the Point

With exciting options for work, play and attractive new housing – these Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the places a rising number of urbanites want to call home.

The New North

If you venture to this neighborhood only to attend a sporting event or concert at PNC Park or Heinz Field, you’re missing out; the area is full of restaurants, museums, cultural landmarks and churches, as well as some lovely historic homes.

The Old Allegheny Slopes

No matter where you drive or walk in The Old Allegheny Slopes, you are probably going up or down a hill. This makes for a lot of good views, along with hidden surprises tucked into these city neighborhoods.

The Northern 'Burbs

The area commonly referred to as the North Hills maintains its long-held status as a fine suburban place to live or go for a walk in a nature park, but the area also offers plenty of shopping and dining and play options.

The Near East

There’s a reason all of the out-of-town trend pieces praising Pittsburgh’s 21st-century rebirth seem to focus on these neighborhoods. This thriving part of the city is where design, the arts, restaurant culture and high-end shopping are integrated into Pittsburgh’s working-class bones.

Where 8 Meets 28

The river communities that have been home to many families with histories in steel- and glass-making have a wealth of quaint, independent retail stores, restaurants and businesses, as well as much-loved libraries, festivals and community days.

Allegheny River Communities

Each borough and municipality in this northeastern corner of Allegheny County contains surprises. To those who live along the river’s edge, they’re familiar, hometown destinations and sights; to visitors, they’re spots worth making the drive out along (the finally construction-free) Route 28.

College Town

When people talk about the revitalization of Pittsburgh, it usually involves the tagline meds and eds — and meds and eds it is in College Town. You’ll find the sprawling buildings of Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as several UPMC medical complexes.

Green Pittsburgh

Green Pittsburgh is a story of the birth and rebirth of our city: students and young professionals flock to Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, adding vibrancy that radiates from top universities. Meanwhile, redevelopment in Hazelwood and Glen Hazel offers new chances for affordable housing and a blossoming community.

The Hidden East End

The Mellons, Fricks, Carnegies and Westinghouses built their mansions in this most-stylish part of town. But their departure for greener and more secluded pastures — and the mass relocation of families here after the razing of the Lower Hill — left much of this area economically depressed for decades. Now the long-awaited renaissance of East Liberty is beginning to bring major reinvestment here, too.

The Eastern Border

Most of these communities, which lie to the east of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, are residential suburbs with small business districts. There also are tons of beauty in these hills, which are packed with historic homes, parks, schools and churches, as well as evidence of Pittsburgh’s steel-making and industrial past.
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The Sprawling Suburbs

Roadways, which prompted the construction of shopping malls, always have played a key role in this region’s growth. Research labs for U.S. Steel, Westinghouse and others attracted engineers from around the world, particularly India, and the new immigrants often built temples — one of which is a familiar sight perched on a hillside overlooking I-376

The Mon and Beyond

Past meets the present in the communities making up Pittsburgh’s eastern and Mon Valley regions. Here you’ll encounter reminders of where we started as leaders in the steel industry and — while plenty of these small towns still face challenges — you’ll find glimpses of where we’re going in neighborhoods moving towards revitalization.

Scaling the Mountain

There’s a lot happening in the area between the South Side and the Hilltop, and every time you visit, it seems a new business has cropped up. The communities around Mount Washington enjoy beautiful views of the city as well as parks, strong neighborhood associations and ethnic restaurants.

The Reborn 'Burbs

This is where the city’s southern suburbs begin, at the edge of the city limits and drifting into the areas closest to Pittsburgh proper. Along the south bank of the Monongahela River — in an area with heavy industrial roots — you’ll find neighborhoods in the midst of revitalization, with plenty of business and more quaint places to live.

Far Down the River

Pittsburgh loves its blue-collar industrial history, and at the heart of that are the communities that make up the Mon Valley. Where the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers meet is the beginning of a network of proud, tight-knit communities with lots of trails and woods to explore, plenty of fishing spots and — important for any community — a wealth of beloved soft-serve ice cream stands.

The Southern Suburbs

With their abundance of green spaces, thriving business districts and walkable sidewalk communities, Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs offer plenty of incentive for families looking for a peaceful place to call home. Though mere minutes from Downtown, these neighborhoods make residents feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Midwest

The neighborhoods west of Downtown were among the region’s first. Most were part of Chartiers Township, which (like the creek) was named for Pierre Chartier, a local trader of French and Shawnee parentage who later became a chief. Formerly farmland, most of this area was transformed by industry into working-class neighborhoods, a legacy which persists today.

Down the Highways

While driving southbound on Interstate 79, don’t be scared to take an exit and explore. These townships and boroughs range from scenic farmland to busy main streets. Regardless of the surroundings, the areas in this region all offer plenty to experience.

The Far-Flung 'Burbs

These primarily residential communities have spent the past years growing — and becoming more and more popular. With Pittsburgh International Airport nearby and increasing economic development, it’s easy to see why so many call this end of the region home.

The Ohio River Valley

The lands north of the Ohio River became part of the Depreciation Lands used to pay Revolutionary War veterans for their service. The numerous small boroughs and townships along Ohio River Boulevard are collected into slightly larger (but still compact) school districts, befitting their continued status as popular hometowns to raise families generation after generation.
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Here's everything you need to know about getting settled in the Steel City.
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