Pittsburgh is not exactly known for it’s health-minded attractions – especially downtown. After all, we are the city that puts French fries on its salads while making pierogies, Mancini’s bread and Iron City beer food groups unto themselves.
But change is in the air friends. There’s a healthy, fitness-y, let’s eat better and be active vibe taking hold. There’s a younger population in Pittsburgh who value bikeable streets and well-being. Plus Mayor Peduto seems to be on board with the bikes and well-being business.
So if you’re picking up on the health-minded vibe we’re putting down, let this article be your guide to navigating downtown Pittsburgh.
Umbrella Café is the ultimate trifecta. They’re home to Soup Nancys, Savasana Juice Company, and Om Nom Bake Studio. That means that you can om nom nom on the handmade soup of the day, have your mouth water over in-house baked goods or settle in for a Juice FEAST from Savasana. Serving breakfast and lunch, this cultural district kitchen sources locally, meaning whatever you choose will be fresh. Ask about the Yumbrella Special, seasonal and daily specials featuring comfort food and crowd-pleasers.
Simpatico Espresso makes, as you can expect, a mean espresso. What you may not know is that the also shake up an entire selection of mean, green shakes like the Green Goblin or Green Monster. In addition to their Veggie Fusion shakes, Simpatico spins protein shakes and fruit smoothies. Even if kale drinks aren’t your cup of tea, make time for a chai tea, frozen coffee, or treats from local bakeries. There are so many specialties to try just one. That’s why Simpatico is quickly becoming one of Downtown Pittsburgh’s favorite drink spots.
Here’s a place that’s making healthy a little easier. Local Press packs their fridge full of organic, cold-pressed juices perfect for the first-time juicer and the devoted cleanser. Since they’re conveniently located in the Frick Building on Grant Street downtown, you can sneak away from work for a quick drink that won’t get you into trouble. Need a suggestion for what to sip? Check out their #PGH Punch, a blend of pineapple, orange, blackberry, and lavender.
Burgers and salad, that’s what Hello Bistro does. Delicious burgers, huh? Why even bother with the boring salad? Well wait just one minute there. Hello Bistro is trying to make your meal decision difficult by taking your salad experience to a whole new level. Here, your healthy eating options are almost endless. 55 salad toppings options for just one bowl! So pile on the proteins and veggies, friends. Once you’ve made all the tough and tasty decisions, you can quench your thirst at Delicious Raw, Hello Bistro’s Forbes Ave roommate.
The lunch spot formerly known as Toss’t can be found on the fringe of Market Square, at the corner of Fifth and McMasters. Once you’re inside, you can build-your-own salad. In a sense, it’s kind of like Subway – you walk down an assembly line and oversee the construction of your lunch. But then again, unlike Subway, the food at Earth Inspired is actually food. The nutritious and farm fresh kind that can be combined to create an inspired salad.
Tucked inside the Fairmont hotel is where you’ll find Habitat. This fact might throw you. A healthy restaurant inside of a hotel, in downtown Pittsburgh? Something sounds a little off. Come on friends, would we lead you astray? Habitat is a surprisingly inspired space that offers internationally inspired, health-conscious menu items. Using locally sourced ingredients, the cuisine team at Habitat devotes entire sections of the menu to vegan, raw, gluten-free, grass-fed eating options.
Using the best available ingredients to offer high-quality food on the go, Bluebird is upgrading the breakfast and lunch offerings Downtown. Snacks from scratch, fresh baked bread, and meats roasted in-house makes for simple, healthy options that stand out among the rest. Oh, did we mention founder Liz Moore is a Pittsburgh native who ditched a New York office to open Bluebird. We’re glad she did, and you will be too.
It seems as though this whole eating well thing is catching on downtown. Want some proof? How about the line forming outside Simple Ingredients, the newly opened health-conscious lunch spot on Liberty Avenue. Like Earth Inspired Salads you can dine on a DIY salad, opt for one straight off the menu or select a signature wrap instead. Either way and every way you’re in for a tasty, healthy, grab and go meal.
The donkey. That’s the English-Spanish translation. But that’s not really important. What you need to know is that El’ Burro is the place for grab-and-go, stop-by, take-out Mexican street food. Here, like anywhere else, “healthy” is a relative term. No they’re not whipping up lettuce wraps made from entirely organic ingredients. But there are plenty of health-minded options, most of which are featured on a separate vegan menu or as part of their rotating vegan specials. Plus, given El’ Burros proximity to the North Shore, sporting stadiums and music venues – it’s a quicker, healthier option before or after a night out.
Looking for a tight-knit community to push yourself harder? To lift more? To light a fire on your weight loss goals? Well CrossFit War Streets at Allegheny YMCA is your battleground. Here, you’ll crush a WOD under the watchful eye of instructor Sara Middleton. Hosting multiple sessions per day, CrossFit War Streets of, you guessed it, Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets, can whip you into shape one box jump at a time.
Industrial Athletics is the home of CrossFit Alloy, but there’s so much more to this place. With an emphasis on functional fitness and training for the unknown and unknowable, clients are exposed to powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, cardiovascular conditioning, mobility, and whatever else the trainers can throw at them. It’s the combination of these elements that will make you stronger and keep you motivated towards your fitness goals.
When you roll health and fitness into one package you get Verve 360 degrees of Wellness. Offering Yoga and Pilates classes in the heart of the city, their convenience factor is second to none. But fitness is only part of the package. Taking a holistic to wellness Verve provides nutritional counseling, massage therapy, health education, and stress management products that make for a healthy lifestyle.
Working downtown and need a break? Well, how about a bend? Or better yet a bend? Then pop over to Bend Yoga, Pittsburgh Downtown yoga studio located in the heart of the Cultural District. The team at Bend makes your practice about you. Imagine that! Breath and bend, chill out and work out with their early morning, lunch break or happy hour classes. While you’re there you can do a little shopping in their retail store or learn more about special workshops or instructor training.
SUP! No, not what’s up. S-U-P, as in stand-up paddleboarding. It’s kind of like surfing, except you use a paddle to propel yourself, and your board, through the water. And in Pittsburgh, North East Paddleboard is leading the way. They do tours on just about any waterway they can access but have a brick and mortar board shop in downtown, Pittsburgh. The storefront is a place where you can book a guide, rent some gear, buy your own and experience the SUP lifestyle.
Like North East Paddleboard, Kayak Pittsburgh is another awesome, and active way to experience Pittsburgh’s waterways. On the North Shore, under the 6th Street Bridge is where you’ll find them. The yellow kayaks are kind of hard to miss. Once you snag one for yourself or a tandem boat for two, it’s time to hit the water and experience Pittsburgh – the skyline, Point, Washington’s landing and the rivers – like never before.
So maybe boats and paddleboards aren’t your thing. That’s okay. But how do you feel about bikes? Everyone loves bikes, right!? What we don’t love is loading them into the car or lugging those things around. Save yourself the time and effort and rent a bike from the folks at Golden Triangle Bike Rental. Once you do you can ride around the Burgh or bike all the way to D.C. Seriously, you can ride the local routes or ride the Greater Allegheny Passage for 300 miles. Whichever options you choose, Golden Triangle will make sure you have everything you need for your adventure.
With the construction of the Heinz Field and PNC Park, the North Shore has seen a dramatic overhaul. Along with the sporting stadiums, the riverfront is now home to the North Shore Park and multi-use trail that starts on the North Side and runs all the way to Washington’s Landing. The trail and green spaces are there for your leisure or exercise needs – think run, walk, jog and bike.
The world “trail” generally makes us think of lush forests and scurrying wildlife. The Eliza Furnace, or Jail Trail, is not that kind of trail. Around three or four miles (depending on where you mark the official start) this trail is an urban environment composed of concrete and asphalt, running along and under one of the region’s busiest interstates. But that doesn’t stop loads of people who use the trail for everything from walking and running to biking and inline skating.
At the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers is where you’ll find this 36-acre green space, complete with the Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne historic structures. And of course, the Point is also home to one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic scenes – the fountain that sprays water 150 feet into the air at the head of the Ohio. Yeah, it looks cool. But the space is equally as awesome. It’s a place to break a sweat, boat, fish or kick back in nature, within an urban environment.
Stuck in the office? Why not heading on down to the farm? It’s right in between PPG and Forbes Avenue. That’s right. The local growers from all over our area are bringing the farm to you, setting up a downtown market in Market Square. Be on the lookout for homemade pierogies, fresh produce galore, and baked goods that will make your mouth water. Each Thursday from May until late-October, you can visit with 30 different vendors bringing their cream of the crop to the heart of the city. It’s organic, it’s healthy, it’s fun.
It’s hard to find a grocery in the middle of the concrete jungle. It’s even harder to find one with top-quality groceries from local sources. At Market Street Grocery, just outside of Market Square, you can grab dry goods, crisp produce, fresh meat and seafood, baked goods, and prepared foods – all plucked from our beautiful Pittsburgh. If that wasn’t enough, Market Street Grocery houses a small cafe, offering hot coffee and delicious macaron pastries. Oh, and they’ve got wine.
We’ll keep you up to date on all things health, fitness and local food in Pittsburgh.