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  • Writer's pictureMax McCrory

Eat and Explore: Lawrenceville

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

I'm introducing a new series here on Nourish, where I explore some of my favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods through the restaurants, shops, museums, and special spots that inhabit them.

My first spot is Lawrenceville, as it's one of my favorite places in the city. Filled with a wide array of cuisines and an eclectic mix of shops, Lawrenceville is the perfect place to get lost for an afternoon.

The Vandal

The Vandal is one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants in the city and it definitely fits in with the hipster vibe Lawrenceville has going on. With gorgeous brick walls, white marble tables, and copious amounts of sunlight, The Vandal is perfect for your latest Instagram and a tasty bite to eat from their diverse menu. One of my favorite dishes to order when I'm here is the fried chicken sandwich. The fried chicken is perfectly juicy on the inside with a crispy breading on the outside, which is truly a mouthwatering combination. The chili honey drizzled on top adds a bit of spiciness and the carrot slaw is sweeter with a slight crunch. You can't go wrong with this dish or anything else on The Vandal's menu.


Smoke is one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh (you can check out my full review here). From their creamy mac and cheese to their inventive BLT tacos, everything on Smoke's menu will have you drooling in no time. A can't miss item on Smoke's menu is their classic queso. This dish is so creamy, I could cry. The melted cheese is luscious and the dish is packed full of flavor with smoky peppers, fragrant onions, and fresh cilantro. Smoke's homemade fresh flour chips are both chewy and light, making them the perfect accompaniment to this cheesy dish. If I have some leftover queso when my tacos arrive (which is rarely the case), I love drizzling it on top. I think I could truly eat Smoke's queso morning, noon, and night if given the opportunity.

Coca Cafe

Coca Cafe offers a cozy, diner vibe with twists on breakfast classics, like their house cured and tea-smoked salmon on a croissant with dill cream cheese and the challah French toast with melted brie and fig jam. Both dishes are heaven. One of my absolute favorite dishes is Coca Cafe's elevated take on eggs benedict. You can have anything from eggplant and roasted tomatoes to house maple sausage & wilted kale sitting beneath your poached eggs. I always opt for the thick brown sugar bacon, which is cooked to perfection with crispy edges and a chewy middle. The eggs burst as soon as you cut into them with the yolk drizzling onto the crunchy English muffin and mixing with the basil hollandaise. The basil hollandaise is the best part about this dish. The sauce is elegantly rich and the basil adds a nice fresh flavor. If you're looking for something more unique than your typical brunch then look no further.

Wild Card

Wild Card is the the cutest store on Butler Street. They have everything a lover of stationery and Pittsburgh could want. There are cards with hilarious sayings like "I love you more than ranch dressing" and "You make me feel like kittens are exploding out of my head". Really what more could you ask for from a card? Wild Card also has beautifully designed posters, sweet stickers, and colorful notebooks. The store also has a plethora of Pittsburgh paraphernalia, such as pierogi stickers and Kennywood themed t-shirts, among so many other things. I could spend hours here just browsing.

Nine Stories

You have to travel a bit farther down Butler Street to find Nine Stories, but it's definitely worth the trek. Inside you'll find cozy reading nooks surrounded by both new and used books alike. Nine Stories has everything you could ask for from poetry to biographies to fiction and the owners are always willing to recommend something new. It's hard for me to leave without buying at least three new books every time I'm there. If that isn't enough to entice you to visit, then check out the connected coffee shop Caffè d'Amore. I can't think of a more perfect combination than coffee and books.

Other Places of Note:

Naturoll- Rolled ice cream, what could be better?

Ki Ramen- Traditional ramen, in a hip atmosphere.

La Gourmandine- This bakery will transport you to France.

No. 14 Boutique- An Instagram worthy store with darling clothes.

Rowhouse Cinema- Classic films on the big screen.

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