Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

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.

photos by kristi jan hoover


What's Here?

South Side Flats
The South Side Flats contain the bustling business district along East Carson Street, with its many bars, restaurants, thrift shops and retailers.

South Side Slopes
The South Side Slopes are home to nearly 10 percent of the 712 sets of steps in Pittsburgh’s hillsides, which is a testament to the hilly terrain of this neighborhood. Many different styles of Catholic churches help to tell the story of Pittsburgh’s South Side.  

Mount Washington
More than inclines and beautiful views of the famous Pittsburgh skyline, Mount Washington is home to some of the most unique homes in the city as well as popular upscale restaurants.

Duquesne Heights
This hilltop residential community is accessible by the Duquesne Incline and is another option for homeowners looking to get city views without the Mount Washington price tag.

This neighborhood is in the midst of a major revitalization, as developers have taken notice of its prime hilltop real estate. The community still is recovering after losing regular light-rail “T” service years ago, but Allentown is getting a hip reputation as businesses and restaurants set up shop.

The steep hills and houses built in the early 1900s in the residential neighborhood of Arlington are quintessential Pittsburgh. The neighborhood is a popular choice for those looking for proximity to the South Side with a bit more peace and quiet.

Arlington Heights
This small neighborhood — less than one-sixth of a square mile — is nearly engulfed by Arlington and features the Devlin Park baseball field.

St. Clair
St. Clair is a tiny residential area that is home to the Lighthouse (810 Fisher St., lighthousepa.com), a non-denominational church.  

Mount Oliver Borough
Established in 1892, the borough of Mount Oliver is surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh. Founded on lands acquired by Captain John Ormsby, it now has a population of about 3,300.

Mount Oliver
This city neighborhood is distinct from the adjacent Mount Oliver Borough, but it’s tiny — only about one-tenth of a square mile.  

The neighborhood of Knoxville used to benefit from nearby incline and electric railway access that made the area desirable for steel workers. The area houses more about 3,700 residents and a few churches in one-third of a square mile.

The residential neighborhood of Beltzhoover shares its riches with its neighbors — the up-and-coming business district of Warrington Avenue with Allentown and the spacious McKinley Park with Bon Air.

Bon Air
The city neighborhood has more of a country feel, with few roadways and extensive greenery. It’s fairly remote from the area’s main thoroughfares, making it a haven in the middle of busy city neighborhoods.

Some of the streets in Carrick are so steep that they give you the feeling of being on top of the double-dipping hill of the Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Kennywood. The area benefits from bus service and being close to “T” light-rail access, making it a popular place for anyone looking for a home base from which they can get around Pittsburgh without a car.


The Pub Chip Shop in the South Side Flats has expanded its offerings to include more than the fish and chips, Scotch eggs and savory pies that it’s done so well since opening in 2013. The English-style eatery reached a new level with its indulgent boxes of crispy tater tots smothered in gravy or cheese.  1830 E. Carson St., thepubchipshop.com.

There’s always something new to discover among the assorted decorations of Family Restaurant in Carrick. The restaurant makes for a great meeting place and features succulent shish kabob, shawarma, savory pies and other Middle Eastern favorites.  2614 Brownsville Road, 412/881-8550.

The famously long line at Page Dairy Mart at the edge of the South Side Flats gives you ample time to change your mind (at least twice) while you wait. Page’s has an array of soft-serve ice-cream flavors, milkshakes and hot snacks — but the specialty sundae with Nancy B’s cookies takes the cake.  4600 E. Carson St., pagedairymart.net.


For a satisfying cup of coffee as dark as you’ll find in town — or however you like it — visit Black Forge Coffee House in Allentown. The coffee house sources its coffee and baked goods locally and doubles as an event space for concerts, comedy shows and club meetings.  1206 Arlington Ave., blackforgecoffee.com.

There should be another word besides “gastropub” for a bar that specializes in eclectic bar foods and fancy seasonal cocktails — just so we can give The Summit on Mount Washington its own distinction. Sure, there are craft beers, but people come for the peach juleps, autumn smashes and other inspired cocktails, too.  200 Shiloh St., thesummitpgh.com.

There are plenty of places in the South Side Flats to get a beer, but when you want to treat yourself to a swanky cocktail served in ornate glassware, stroll over to Acacia.  2108 E. Carson St., acaciacocktails.com.


Keep up with all of the clever, topical T-shirts that yinzers love with your regular patronage at Commonwealth Press in the South Side Flats. Retire that old Pirates shirt and pick up new threads that will help you make fast friends around town.  1931 E. Carson St., cwpress.com.

Bargain hunters swear by the selection of previously loved clothes and housewares at the Red, White and Blue Thrift Store in Bon Air.  890 Saw Mill Run Blvd., redwhiteandbluethriftstore.com/saw_mill_run.html.

Treat yourself to a juicy chocolate-covered strawberry or a crunchy chocolate turtle at Esther’s Sweet Shop in Carrick and take note of the unique chocolate-drizzle patterns.  1814 Brownsville Road, 412/884-4224.


For less than you’d spend at a movie theater, you can go to Games N’at in the South Side Slopes for unlimited pinball, arcade games, pool and air hockey. The arcade is BYOB; the upper floor features four duckpin bowling lanes with nifty string pinsetters that you have to see.  2010 Josephine St., sites.google.com/site/gamesnatsite.

Spool in Allentown is a cheery, colorful DIY playground with maker parties and classes to make sewing social.  816 E. Warrington Ave., spoolfabricshop.com.

On Saturdays evenings in the summer, bring a picnic blanket to Grandview Park in Mount Washington for Cinema in the Park. At dusk, the city skyline sets the scene for a free, family-friendly cinematic adventure.  Bailey Ave., pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks/cinema-grandview.

Food Critic's Pick

Pittsburgh is a city woefully short on hidden-gem restaurants, but Kavsar, an Uzbek restaurant on Mount Washington, is one of them. Tucked on a residential side street away from the tourist hubbub, the halal restaurant serves the cuisine of the high-mountain Silk Road, blending eastern and western flavor profiles in dishes such as lagman, manti and nuhot suhurak. Make sure to get an order of the homemade Uzbek bread. (16 Southern Ave., kavsar.net) — Hal B. Klein

Signature Event

The 712 sets of public city steps in Pittsburgh are fascinating sights to behold. One neighborhood that has a lot of them, naturally, is the South Side Slopes. On one day in October, you can join the neighborhood association for StepTrek, a family-friendly, self-guided tour. It’s not only good exercise with breathtaking views, it’s a good item to check off the bucket list — Pittsburgh has more public city steps than any city in the country. (southsideslopes.org/steptrek)
— Lauren Davidson


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Guide to Pittsburgh

Family City Guide: A to G

A is for Aviary, B is for Baseball, C is for Carousel, D is for Dinosaurs, E is for Earth, F is for Flowers and G is for Glass.
Read More

Family City Guide: H - M

H is for History, I is for Ice Skating, J is for Jumping, K is for Kayaking, L is for Laughter and M is for Museum.
Read More

Family City Guide: N to T

N is for Nature, O is for Outer Space, P is for Pumpkins, Q is for Quiet, R is for Roller Coasters, S is for Swimming and T is for Theater.
Read More

Family City Guide: U to Z

U is for Universities, V is for Volunteering, W is for Water, X is for Xylophones, Y is for Yinzer and Z is for Zoo.
Read More

Choosing A Family

Frequent PM contributor Amy Whipple always intended to become a foster parent. Now the adoptive mother of a 3-year-old boy, she shares the story of her new family.
Read More

Eat, Do, Shop, Play and Learn

In and around Pittsburgh, the offerings for families looking for food, fun and more go so much deeper than the expected family outings. From places to outfit and entertain to natural wonders and city treasures, here are some of our favorites.
Read More

City Guide: The Best Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

We scour Allegheny County (and beyond) and visit the region’s neighborhoods and municipalities to bring you our favorite things to do, eat, drink, buy and more.
Read More
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Munhall Native Auditions for American Idol

A rising Pittsburgh star vies for her chance at fame.

Lack of Empathy Leads to Uncivil Discourse

A panel discussion at Duquesne University focused on the tough task of teaching empathy in the digital age.

How Making Juice Changed Sharif Rasheed's Life

The owner of Safi Juice in Garfield left a job he hated to tap into something from his childhood.

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in April

This month's lineup includes Rick Astley, Billy Price, Christopher Cross and Ronnie Milsap.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in April

Tour local social clubs with the Roaming Social Club; expect changes at AMC Waterfront

April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in April

A look back at "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" as it turns 30, plus two literary events coming up in April.

Perspectives: ‘This Is Us’ Is a Story of Us

A former Pittsburgher finds more than a few similarities between his own life and that of the siblings on "This Is Us."

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.

Look How Mighty This Bellevue Garden Has Grown

Last season, the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden produced 4,862 pounds of food; the harvest was donated to three food pantries.

When and Where to Dump Your Junk (including old TVs)

A state environmental agency wants to help you recycle your hard-to-dispose-of household clutter.

Watch: Trailer of “Won't You Be My Neighbor”

The documentary about Mister Rogers' iconic show takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

On a Lark: Pittsburgh Mom Creates Activewear for Babes

Unable to find cute, environmentally friendly gear for her newborn son, Lark Adventurewear founder Pallavi Golla launched her own line of moisture-wicking clothing for kids.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: The Beacon's Perch – The Grant Building

When it opened in 1929 as the city’s tallest structure, crowds of sightseers paid a quarter to visit the rooftop observation deck of the Grant Building — named for the street, which was named for the hill, which was named for the somewhat hapless general.

Rick Sebak Digs Up Distant Carnegie-Trump Connection

Research into Andrew Carnegie’s marriage reveals an unlikely, albeit tenuous, connection between the Pittsburgh icon and the 45th President.