I was a little confused when my parents told me that Daniel was taking us to the "Strip District." It's one of those things that sounds dirty, but isn't! It's a bit of floodplain along the Allegheny River, formerly home to industrial stuff like warehouses and probably some steel mills, seeing as how it's Pittsburgh and all. After the collapse of American industry (longer ago than you'd think!), this vacant industrial area was taken over by produce merchants, followed by fish markets, food importers, restaurants, and bars. Here's a history of the place, better than I can tell it.
The places that aren't selling food are usually selling souvenirs, with a few bookstores, culinary tools stores, and hippie clothes sellers thrown in there for good measure. There were also vendors of Italian pastries, shish kebab, and anything else you might want, either set up on the sidewalk or parked on the side of the street in brightly colored food trucks or tents. I took a couple of photos of the strip itself:
I got Pat a terrible towel as a souvenir...the one that has all the Super Bowls on it.
Yes, that's "Yinzers In The Burgh."
There were a couple of places that we really loved, such as the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. It was an Italian market where you could buy olive oil from big vats. I mean, there were lots of other cool things there that I actually got photos of:
This is what you see right when you walk in:
Food is so beautiful!
This is the mural on the way out of the store:
We ate at Wholey's fish market that day (pronounced "woolys"):
It was a great fish market, very famous (see? the photo says it!), and the food was excellent. It was just simple food...I got a fried cod sandwich with some freshly fried hush puppies. The hush puppies were interesting...full of onions and mushrooms, so the bread was really moist instead of dry and crumbly like hush puppies sometimes are.
Oh, yeah, that was good. Fish all hot and crisp, fresh tartar sauce, hot sauce for the hush puppies. Yeah. So good.
We ended up going back to the Strip District another day for breakfast. The sign (and everything we read on the Internet) said that DeLuca's had the best breakfast in town:
(Yes, the dude eyeing me with suspicion is my brother.)
I had cinnamon French toast from a HUGE brunch menu:
I also had bacon, and if you really want to see a picture of bacon, you can find it on my Flickr. This was good, solid food. Nothing fancy, but very tasty!
So, all in all, the Strip District was great! Lots to see, good, decent food...and if we'd gone back at night, it probably would have been lots of fun! There were a lot of restaurant/bars with outdoor seating. In fact, we probably should have gone out. Buying beer in Pittsburgh is the most ridiculous endeavor...and we're originally from a state with fairly restrictive blue laws!! We discovered this about Pittsburgh when we went out there for my brother's graduation back in 2006, but we still haven't gotten over it.
1. If you want a six-pack of beer, you must purchase it from a bar.
2. If you go to a beer distributor, you may buy beer---by the case or keg ONLY.
3. You may not buy a half-and-half case, even though bottles are boxed in half-cases.
It's much easier to just get a bottle of vodka, which may explain why cocktail hour with my family was almost as colorful as the Strip District itself.