Making a Pitt stop

Sarika Jagtiani

Unique dancing, drinking and shopping are just a turnpike away

Self Portrait, by Andy Warhol. This painting as well as many of the artists other works are on display at the Andy Warhol Museum in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Credit: Beth Rankin

When another weekend in Ohio is too bleak to face, hop in whoever’s car has the full tank of gas and head to Pittsburgh to fill up on greasy food, shop to your wallet’s content and immerse yourself in the city.

On your way into town, stop by IKEA, furniture mecca for poor college students.

IKEA’s target is to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, said Clive Cashman, IKEA’s U.S. public affairs representative. That being said, Cashman admits that the store’s college audience is very strong.

Students flock to the store for functional, fashionable furniture, such as side tables for $12.99, stackable stools for $4.99 and equally inexpensive accessories for every area in your apartment, house or dorm.

According to Cashman, IKEAs will be popping up across the Midwest, with the company trying to open 50 new stores by 2013. Until then, students will have to make the trek to Robinson Town Centre, which is about 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh.

You could eat in the store’s café after shopping, but why would you bother when there are so many delicious stops in the city, such as the Original Hot Dog Shop, or “the O,” to locals.

The O serves up tasty, greasy treats from hot dogs to pizza, which is what manager Scott Berry recommends. And at $5.60 for a 12-slice pizza, you really can’t go wrong, especially because the O is open until 5 a.m. on weekends.

Berry said the weekend crowd, which is about 50 percent students, usually dies down after 4 a.m.

If you’d rather fill up on culture than hot dogs, stop by the Andy Warhol Museum to check out work from the city’s native son, as well as temporary collections from other artists.

The museum’s current John Waters exhibit features everything from “box-office flops to Farrah Fawcett hairdos,” according to the museum’s Web site,

With admission at $6 for students (with ID), the Warhol Museum is one of the least expensive attractions in Pittsburgh, second to the Duquesne Incline at $3.50 for a round trip.

The Incline, as it’s known in the city, allows visitors and commuters alike to board a San Francisco-esque trolley car and climb 400 feet into the Pittsburgh hills.

Riders are rewarded with an astounding view of the city and its “Golden Triangle,” which is formed by the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.

For those who’d rather multi-task, taking in a Pirates game at PNC Park allows for a view of the city as well as Pitt’s boys of summer.

With single ticket prices ranging from $9 to $47, one could afford to leave a Pirates game with enough money to visit D&J Records. D&J’s provides vinyl fixes to DJs and audiophiles alike, while comic book lovers need look no farther than Eide’s Entertainment in the Strip district.

If you would rather see the city in double vision, there are plenty of places to accommodate you.

According to Pittsburgh local Brenda Greaves, 30, it’s impossible for anyone to not have fun while at the city’s South Side, probably because the area is chock full of restaurants, bars, stores and coffee shops.

The South Side is ideal for sampling some Yuengling Lager, a favorite Pennsylvanian beer, playing pool and getting to know the area’s young professionals and students at bars such as Dee’s Café, Jack’s Bar and Fat Head’s South Shore Saloon.

However, if your interests run more toward drinking and dancing, head to the Strip, Pittsburgh’s answer to Cleveland’s West 6th Street.

Although the Strip has plenty of businesses and retailers that operate successfully during the day, the place comes to life at night, and Primanti Brothers Restaurant is no exception.

While at the 24-hour restaurant, bully your way up to the counter and order a capicola and cheese for $4.99, but be aware that all sandwiches come with tomato, cole slaw and French fries, all of which seem to work wonders at 4 a.m.

For those looking to mingle with people of the same sex instead of filling up on a Primanti Brothers classic, head to Pegasus Lounge, one of the city’s hottest downtown gay bars. Or try the city’s Shadyside area, which was named Pittsburgh’s “Best Neighborhood to Offer Gay Marriage” in 2004 by the City Paper (Scene’s equivalent).

And when the sun rises on another day, there’s no better place to prepare for the ride home than Pamela’s in Shadyside.

The consistently packed restaurant serves up fresh coffee and breakfast fare (try their famous pancakes) for the hungover and bright-eyed alike while passers-by hurry along Walnut Street.

Shadyside parking can be a trial, but if you’re lucky enough to score a spot on a side street, spend your time shopping along Walnut’s stores and people watch as well-dressed matrons and scruffy students rub shoulders.

On your way out of the city, your wallet empty and your eyes heavy, don’t miss the departing view of the skyline while you plan your next trip back.

Contact general assignment reporter Sarika Jagtiani at [email protected].