Steel City's Lawrenceville Among 'Coolest Neighborhoods'
By Sharon Eberson
How nice of TripAdvisor to name Lawrenceville among the 14 "coolest hipster neighborhoods" in America. The website is right, of course.
Here's what TripAdvisor had to say:
"This cool hipster neighborhood is known for its eclectic boutiques and galleries as well as the creative, artisan eateries on almost every block. Get an authentic taste of Lawrenceville on the 'Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour, where you’ll sample Greek specialties, cupcakes, pierogies, and one of the Steel City’s best dogs. While you’re in town grab a drink at the aptly named Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh’s oldest brewery – located in a historic church, no less. For a nostalgic night out, head to the Arsenal Bowling Lanes."
It should be noted that Penn Brewery on the North Side began brewing craft beer in 1986, 10 years before Church Brew Works. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but perhaps they were thinking about the Brew Works' home in the 1902 former church building?
Local brews to be found on Butler Street, Lawrenceville's main drag, also include Roundabout Brewery, Hop Farm, Cinderlands Beer Co. and Full Pint. Also on Butler is arthouse movie theater Row House Cinema and the adjacent Bierport, with a tap room that figure in to many a Row House theme night. And if it's coffee culture you crave, there's Espresso a Mano and Caffe d'Amore, to name two.
Post-Gazette restaurant critic Melissa McCart points out that, when it comes to Lawrenceville, food and hipsters, "they missed empire-builders like Rick DeShantz's newly opened Poulet Bleu, his take on the French bistro, with a terrific wine list and show-stopper desserts like a chocolate souffle for two. Lawrenceville also features both restaurants from James Beard-nominated Justin Severino of Cure and Morcilla."
We’ve missed a few, I’m sure, but you get the idea. But wait -— when it comes to food, there's more. The nonprofit Lawrenceville United requires vendors at the weekend farmers market to grow at least 80 percent of the produce they sell, and clearly label the other 20 percent.
Pittsburghers also know that Butler Street includes retailers such as Wildcard, a destination for locally made greeting cards, gifts, tchotchkes and Matthew Buchholz's "Alternate Histories" -- sci-fi themed art that's out of this world. PG columnist Brian O'Neill also points out that "Art All Night got so hip it had to move,” and now has spread to other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
While food, drink and shopping tell a lot of the Lawrenceville hipster story, there's also a lot of history to charm hip visitors and the area’s 110,000 residents. The list on the neighborhood website lvpgh.com includes a tip of the cap to Arsenal Field at 40th and Butler, where Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas played, and the gravesites of the famous at Allegheny Cemetery.
The website's tagline for Lawrenceville is: "Walkable and welcoming. Entrepreneurial energy. Olde-Pittsburgh charm meets modern edge." It also fits the hipster profile on TripAdvisor, which asks, "What makes a neighborhood hip? The number of microbreweries, independent coffee shops, and upscale farmers markets? How Instagrammable everything is? Or all of the above? Cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Boston are already well-known for their cool hipster neighborhoods, but many other urban getaways across the U.S. boast their own bohemian street cred."
According to that definition of "cool hipster," Lawrenceville has it covered.