Over Easter, My Awesome Parents (MAP) came to visit us, so we took them on a 'Burgh Bits and Bites tour of the Allentown neighborhood. No, not Allentown in eastern Pennsylvania, but the up-and-coming (maybe gentrifying) Hilltop community in southern Pittsburgh. It's currently marked by little plaster penguins by artist James Simon (Hilltop Waddle, below). The tour combined stops at food establishments as well as small businesses. It started at Breakfast at Shelly's, where we enjoyed kielbasa with sauerkraut. The little Black Market deli shares the space and provided excellent meats. I would happily drive across town to eat here again.
We also visited Work Hard Pittsburgh, a cooperative where independent artists and professionals can buy desk or conference room time, with a media studio in the basement. And an independent media organization whose name escapes me. These are the kinds of employment that are driving housing and the food industry along the main drag in the neighborhood.
Next stop was the Black Forge heavy-metal-themed coffee shop, where they have an assortment of teas and coffees, and the blondie brownies were large and to-die-for. Then we doubled back to Leon's Caribbean Restaurant, where we admired the art on the walls but packed away the meat hot pockets for later, because we were getting full. After that was Paisano's for pizza, pizza rolls, and the curliest herb fries that no one could stop eating. On top of all that, the owner--to whom our tour guide referred as the Pizza Soup Nazi--pulled out a jar of Maraschino cherries in homemade moonshine: bam!
Because the guitar guy has gotten married and moved his shop out to his new farm, last stop was at Onion Maiden, a punk-rock vegan restaurant with an extensive menu and the most tongue-in-cheek names: we were served a bit of Kimmy Gibbler Dawg with in-house kimchi that was (I'm sorry to say) not that flavorful. However, I am looking forward to coming back for Kale 'Em All salad, Emperor Palpatots tater tot nachos, and Terrormisu (you read that right).
Needless to say, we were all stuffed and skipped dinner. Although the weather could have been nicer, this was a neat way to spend an afternoon getting to know the city better. Also, I almost lost my phone but recovered it, so there's that. We really like this tour company--having eaten our way through the Strip District--and plan to sign up for another food excursion when it warms up.