Since its deindustrialization in the 70s, Pittsburgh has been a city that is often overlooked when it comes to tourism. With a wide variety of attractions, ranging from art to food to great nature, this city is a paragon for the best of both worlds: small-town charm and big-city convenience. However, with travel season upon us, we know staying vegan while vacationing isn’t exactly smooth sailing. Fortunately, Pittsburgh is filled with countless fun activities everyone can enjoy without having to worry about breaking their veganism.
Places to Eat:
Apteka – 4606 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Apteka, a vegan restaurant featuring Eastern and Central European cuisine, allows its customers to enjoy the city’s Polish heritage without having to eat kielbasa. This restaurant was opened in 2016 by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski who designed a menu forged from Skowronski’s Polish roots and Lasky’s sixth-generation Pittsburgh culinary lineage. Together, they designed a constantly evolving menu while paying homage to Polish cuisine.
Lasky and Skowronski have also kept their restaurant sustainable by developing deep relationships with farmers in the Pittsburgh area such as Bitter Ends Farm Co. and Clarion River Organics. The duo also handpick hundreds of pounds of fruits, and Skowronski’s parents contribute boxes of foraged ingredients, every year.
Some highly recommended dishes from Apteka include faszerowane pomidory (oxheart tomato stuffed with long rice, zucchini, onion, and fermented tomato); rwaki (foraged chanterelle mushrooms, yellow wax beans, potato noodles, tomato, and burnt cabbage broth); kartofle z jogurtem migdałowym (boiled potatoes with lingonberry jam and nut-milk-based yogurt); and sunflower seed ice cream.
Named one of the New York Times’ Top 50 favorite restaurants last year, Apteka is nationally renowned. Lasky and Skowronski have also recently been named finalists for the James Beard Award and were recognized as the Best Chefs in the Mid-Atlantic category. Currently, Apteka is working towards creating a beverage program that features a selection of natural wines.
Pure Grub – 209 Commercial Ave, Aspinwall, PA 15215
Asanté Bierria launched Pure Grub to evangelize wholesome, healthy food to everyone in Pittsburgh. Everything prepared at Pure Grub is vegan, gluten-free, and organic. Rather than using mock meat, Bierria draws from his West Indian, Cuban, and South American heritage to deliver impactful flavors that highlight the power of natural ingredients. This restaurant has quickly become a staple at Pittsburgh’s farmers markets and Bierria can be found all over the city on different days offering his unique dishes, making it easy for tourists to stop by while exploring Pittsburgh.
One of Bierria’s most famous dishes is his “Journey to the Soul”, which he serves on the first Thursday of every month. Featuring vegan versions of jambalaya and ye’abesha gomen, he spotlights the impact of the spice trade on modern America. However, Bierria doesn’t confine his dishes to specific geographic regions; as a strong proponent that there is an entire world of plant-based cuisine to explore, it isn’t unexpected of him to utilize anything ranging from Japanese sweet potatoes to chia seeds.
Allegro Hearth Bakery – 2034 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Converting a twenty-year-old bakery into one that is completely vegan may sound impossible, but that’s exactly what Omar Abuheljeh accomplished last year. As a vegan at home, it gnawed at him that the bakery he bought back in 2004 was still using butter and eggs in their products, which is why he was so adamant about converting his bakery into one that was 100% vegan.
Many baked goods rely on eggs and dairy for their structure and function. For example, butter is a staple in baking because of the plasticity and sweet tang that it provides. But after testing 75 iterations of butter, Abuheljeh succeeded in formulating a butter that was made from fermented sunflower seeds and fermented oat milk. Today, Allegro’s croissants have the same flakiness and rich, comforting flavor one would expect from an original croissant. After some more experimentation, Abuheljeh recently added a line of sandwiches and other grab-and-go items to his menu. Thus, for those who love baked goods, stopping by Allegro is a must.
Things to Do:
Take in the views from Mount Washington
Named after George Washington when he stood at the Grand Overlook to map out the land and rivers that lay below, Mt. Washington is a must-see for anyone visiting Pittsburgh. Visitors can ride a century-old cable car up the Duquesne Incline to take in the unique vantage points of Pittsburgh’s beautiful skyline.
After getting off the trolley, tourists can climb up Mt. Washington’s steep slopes (the perfect workout in disguise) to reach the Grandview Overlook, where they will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the skyline, city, and surrounding regions. In any case, this is the perfect spot for those hunting for a photo to spice up their social media feed!
Peruse through Andy Warhol’s best works – 117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
For art enthusiasts, the Andy Warhol Museum is the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Known to be one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world, this museum houses five floors of the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archived materials including “Campbell’s Soup Box” and “The Chelsea Girls”. Regardless of whether the person in question is an avid Warhol fan or someone who just needs a blast from the past, this museum will surely brighten anyone’s day.
Learn more about your favorite condiment at Heinz History Center- 1212 Smallman St Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Pittsburgh has always been known as a historic city and the Heinz History Center allows visitors to gain as many insights as they can about the past. One of the most famous exhibits, “Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation” demonstrates how crucial this city has been when it comes to developing groundbreaking ideas that stick. Thus, although ketchup does get its fair share of attention at this museum, there are definitely many more exhibits for visitors who want to grow their knowledge about the city in fun ways.
Ultimately, Pittsburgh has something to offer everyone. With rich culture and a vibrant, vegan food scene to offer, Pittsburgh is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the best of American cities while staying lean and green, an integral facet of HAP’s Ccompassionate Lliving department. For more resources about how to live compassionately (including additional suggestions for restaurants and food trucks that offer vegan food), click the link below: