Best of the 'Burgh 2010: Shopping

Our editors pick the best of the best in Pittsburgh shopping.

Best Asian Grocery Store: The bustling Lotus market in the Strip District feels as though it’s been transported directly to Pittsburgh from a Beijing street corner. It’s got the same brands of food—from frozen dumplings and wantons to prepared sauces and teas to instant noodles and snack foods—that you’d find in Asian cities. The selection is broad, and the space is clean and brightly lit. Even if you’re not seeking hard-to-find Asian ingredients, Lotus is worth a visit just for their fresh and extremely affordable produce. The challenge: Not all employees speak English, and some packaged foods have labels written only in foreign languages, so you may need to ask several people for help to find what you need. 1649 Penn Ave., Strip District; 412/281-3050. — Melissa Rayworth

Readers’ Poll: Best Car Dealer: Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, 10701 Perry Highway, Wexford; 724/935-9300, bobbyrahal.com
Readers’ Poll: Best Vintage Shop: Eon’s Fashion Antique, 5850 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; 412/361-3368

Best Bargain Website: How does dinner for two, drinks and a movie at SouthSide Works sound? Expensive? It doesn’t have to be if you visit livingpittsburgh.com, which recently mapped how to get the night-out package for $30. Think of the website as your personal bargain guru, notifying you about free events, affordable activities, sales, coupons, BOGO’s, and food and drink specials in almost any neighborhood. You can even have bargain alerts sent to your e-mail or mobile phone. Visit livingpittsburgh.com or follow on Twitter @livingpgh. — Sean Patrick Conboy

Readers’ Poll: Best Frame Shop: Frameworks, 5868 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/421-4940, frameworkonforbes.com
Readers’ Poll: Best Jeweler: Henne Jewelers, 5501 Walnut St., Shadyside; 412/682-0226, hennejewelers.com

eye candy pittsburgh

Photo by Laura Petrilla   

Best Eye for Fashion: Envision yourself standing in a gorgeous boutique with décor featuring eclectic furniture and the ambience of a fashion “haute” spot. That’s what you get when you walk into Eye Candy, an optical shop that offers hand-made European frames created with luxurious materials and quality craftsmanship with the newest technology in lenses. From designers such as Lafont, Eye’DC and Oliver Goldsmith, Eye Candy is always available by appointment and also offers personalized service during eyewear parties at the shop or at your home. For more information about hosting an Eye Candy party, e-mail info@eyecandypittsburgh.com. 5126 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/408-3415, eyecandypittsburgh.com. — Reese Randall

Readers’ Poll: Best Bridal Shop: Anne Gregory for the Bride, 2975 W. Liberty Ave., Dormont; 412/531-3160, annegregorybrides.com
Readers’ Poll: Best Book Store: Barnes & Noble, barnesandnoble.com

Best Independent DVD Rental: In the era of Netflix, rental outlets are now an endangered species. Who wants to drive to Blockbuster when you can have a DVD delivered to your mailbox? But Dreaming Ant is different: Sitting in the back of Crazy Mocha in Bloomfield, Dreaming Ant is an oasis of rare, independent and foreign films. Perusing shelves of Sundance sleeper-hits is like browsing in your favorite used bookstore—you never know what you’ll find. And thanks to a revamped website, Dreaming Ant’s online version is nearly as much fun as the actual store: You can peruse the catalogue, check out Pittsburgh’s cinema news and post reviews. 4525 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412/683-7326, dreamingant.com. — Robert Isenberg

Readers’ Poll: Best Card Shop: Kards Unlimited, 5522 Walnut St., Shadyside; 412/622-0500
Readers’ Poll: Best Kids’ Shoes: Littles Shoes, 5850 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/521-3530, littlesshoes.com

Best Advice in Picking decorative Hardware: There is a “Beth” in every city, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find her when you are in the market for decorative hardware. We found ours at the Splash showroom in Cranberry Township. Beth Fay lives and breathes knobs and pulls, door stops, window latches, handles, hinges, door knobs, kick plates and door knockers. With three simple questions, she can turn a dizzying array of options into a short list of ideas. She can match your style whether it’s solid bronze, shabby chic or vintage farmhouse. And, get this, she thinks small budgets are fun. So, skip the big box and see Beth. From $5 to $125 apiece, you can add aesthetics and functionality to your home. 1237 Freedom Road, Cranberry Township; 724/772-1060, exploresplash.com. — Betsy Benson

Readers’ Poll: Best Pet Store: Smiley’s Pet Pad, 215 S. Highland Ave., 412/362-7556, smileyspetpad.com
Readers’ Poll: Best Furniture Store: Weisshouse, 324 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside; 412/441-8888, weisshouse.com

pavement pittsburgh

Photo by Laura Petrilla   

Best Place to Find Your Eco Solemate: Offering a varied selection of clothing and hand-made accessories, Pavement has a perfect match to many of your style needs. With each selection of accessories and footwear, the merchandisers for this neighborhood shoe store carefully select their wares with an eye for interesting details and craftsmanship. The locally owned shoe-tique, which carries lines such as Matt & Nat, She-bible and 89%20, strives to maintain its philosophy of an eco-friendly shop with a minimal carbon footprint by carrying lines that produce goods while keeping sustainability in mind. 3629 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/621-6400, pavementshoes.com. — R.R.

Readers’ Poll: Best Food Store: Whole Foods Market, 5880 Centre Ave., East Liberty; 412/441-7960, wholefoodsmarket.com
Readers’ Poll: Best New Boutique: Wild Card, 4209 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/224-2651, wildcardpgh.com

Best Cheese Recommendations: What’s the best cheese recommendation in town? It rotates depending on the season and changes with the occasion. But it most often originates from behind the counter at Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., where knowledgeable and patient staff members always take the time to answer questions, even on an elbow-to-elbow packed Saturday afternoon. In order to choose from Penn Mac’s selection, which represents more than a dozen countries around the globe, ask to try a sample of anything in the case: They’ll accurately shave off a paper-thin slice by wielding a knife high above head-level—a spectacle that is, of course, mostly for show. 2010-2012 Penn Ave., Strip District; 800/223-5928, pennmac.com. — Kaitlyn Johnston

Readers’ Poll: Best Optical Store: Eye Candy Optical Center, 4007 Washington Road, McMurray; 724/941-5100, eyecandyoc.com

Categories: Best of the ‘Burgh