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The Strip District

The area known as “The Strip District” is one of my favorite things in the city of Pittsburgh.  It feels like a giant open air market, and while the buildings are separate the flow of the street traffic and the open doors really makes it feel like everyone is just one big happy family down here.

It’s called “The Strip” as it lies on a narrow piece of land just outside downtown Pittsburgh, bordered by the Allegheny River to the north and Grant’s Hill to the south.  The east-west extension runs about 20 blocks (from 11th street to 33rd street), but the main shopping district is about six blocks.  In the 19th Century this area was associated with shipping, receiving, and factory work (steel, glass, etc), but beginning in the 1920’s it became the main area for wholesale distributing for the city due to its proximity to the river and the railroad.

You can find just about anything you need (or want) in the Strip.  There are wholesale distributors for meat, fish, and produce.  Specialty kitchen stores and ethnic foods.  Restaurants and coffee shops.  Clothes, shoes, art, and of course all of your Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates needs (In case you didn’t know this…Pittsburgh is a little bit nuts about their sports teams).  For the fact that Pittsburgh is a small-medium sized city by population, the ethnic representation is quite varied.

In my opinion, there’s almost nothing better than getting to the Strip early on a Saturday or Sunday, grabbing a cup of coffee, and just walking around taking in the sights, smells, and conversation.

Here are some pics from a recent trip:

Art and clothing markets

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.  People will wait for hours to get to the cheese and meat counters…

This is Mitch “The Knife Guy” at In The Kitchen.  This store is a chef’s dream.  You can find every cooking utensil you’ll ever need right here

Wholey’s Fish Market is an ever present staple in the Strip.  This is where you go for the freshest fish in town.

Labad’s is a wonderful place for middle eastern food.  And they have a small restaurant in the back of the store!  Mmmm…falafel.

Lotus Foods is my favorite Pan-Asian market in the Strip.  Well stocked with the usual and the not-so-usual, it is the store for all of your Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese needs.

Grandpa Joe’s Candy Store is a new addition to the Strip, opening in June 2012.  The theme, based entirely on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is clever and unique.

Reyna Foods is one of my all time favorite stores in the Strip.  Here you can get any Mexican item you could wish for.  On the weekends they have a taco stand out front, and you can watch them making tortillas hot off the press (literally) in the back of the store.  My favorites are the salsas, the tamales, and the Jamaican beef patties

And of course, no stop to the Strip would be complete without visiting one of the many restaurants.  The world famous Primanti Bros gets me every time…

This is only a small sampling of what the Strip has to offer.  So get up out of your seat and go take a look.  Buy something fresh and COOK IT!

The Grilled Atheist

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