Part ll—Mt. Washington
When guests come to town, there’s one place they invariably must visit: Mt. Washington. But far too often we shuttle our visitors to the top of the mountain, stand for a moment, take some photographs and poof! Suddenly we’ve hopped back into the car and left. Mt. Washington Overlook? Check. Moving on.
But I beg you to reconsider. Mt. Washington isn’t just pretty to look away from, it’s also a lively neighborhood with architecturally interesting houses, public parks, restaurants and absolutely revered cupcakes. Not to mention, those celebrious inclines aren’t only a historic piece of Pittsburgh’s past, having shuttled workers up and down the once-hideous and barren “Coal Hill” as it used to be called, they’re also a fully functional part of the Port Authority Light Rail Transit system. Hop on the T in Mt. Lebanon, grab a transfer for $1 and you’re on your way to Mt. Washington, where the following and more await.
Approximate time from the Mt. Lebanon Station, including the incline: between 25-35 minutes.
Maybe it’s just me, but no recreational outing can officially begin until I’ve had a cup of coffee. This local coffee shop boasts quality brews and pastries, breakfast food, soups and a turkey pesto sandwich that refuses to stay in stock. What sets Café Cravings apart and keeps people coming back, though, is that everything is made to order and all of the day’s food, from the croissants to the cheese, eggs, meats and produce shows up that morning, including Boar’s Head deli meat. That said, you’ll have to arrive early to get your hands on any tomato Florentine soup. It disappears faster than you can say, “I’d like a bowl of toma-.”
If you’re by strange chance at the coffee shop and begin craving ribs—it happens, right?—there’s more good news: you can order some from the owner, who also opened up Smokin’ Sweet BBQ in Mt. Oliver a few months ago and will hook you up within 24 hours.
There are a lot of reasons to check out the Bigham Tavern, a lot of very small, meaty, hot sauce flavored, 44-cents-on-Wednesday reasons. Wingsday has long been a favorite of the neighborhood, and 29 different sauce options cover quite the range; eat them with “Gnarley,” a blend of hot, BBQ and garlic; a simple bourbon sauce, or try your wings Cluckin’ Hot or Memphis Sweet. If you’re craving Asian flavors, try the Thai Spicy Peanut sauce.
The tavern’s brunch, Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., is not to be forgotten, while on Tuesdays, they have live acoustic music and discounted wine bottles. Every Thursday between 9-11 p.m., trivia is the name of the game.
There’s a rivalry going on within this bakery’s cases between the funky delicious donuts and the elaborately crafted cupcakes. The donut topping lineup includes Fruity Pebbles, caramel and peanuts, marshmallows and beyond. The cupcakes counter with tiramisu, coconut cream pie, maple bacon, triple chocolate and s’more flavors, just to name a few. While you can stay indoors and order a soft drink, if it’s a beautiful day, there’s a small outdoor cove with a garden and benches a quick walk away, on the corner of Shiloh Street and Virginia Avenue, where you can gorge on deliciousness with a little sunshine, too.
If you stopped at Café Cravings or the Bigham Tavern, then you’ve already officially entered Chatham Village, a 46-acre National Historic Landmark filled with townhouses, apartment buildings and parks. Built in three stages between 1932 and 1956, Chatham Village was one of the country’s first planned communities.
The owners of Bistro 19 in Mt. Lebanon own this well-liked restaurant on the main drag of Mt. Washington, where your table might overlook the entire city. But it’s not just the view that brings people in. The food would make any mouth water; an elaborate duck and goose combination, fruit-vegetable medley salads, Chilean Sea Bass and grass fed and local meats are just a few menu highlights. For early fare, their brunch menu’s Crispy Amish Chicken Waffle Sandwich sings to be devoured. But don’t forget your wallet—the price tag correlates with the high-grade plates.
Cinema in Grandview Park
When you’ve stuffed yourself silly, which is easy to do on the Mount, it’s time to relax. Grandview Park overlooks the city, but is roomier, greener and during the summertime, also functions as an outdoor movie theater—all of which the concrete overlooks cannot claim to do. Beginning June 13 and ending August 29, every Saturday night you can grab your chairs and blankets and hang out on the greenery while a movie projects onto the wall below. To see what’s playing, visit pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks/cinema-in-park.
Who knew there was so much to do and eat and enjoy, hiding at the top of an incline ride, just a few stops down the T line?
Read the three other stories in this series