We are hurtling towards the end of another year. And like in year’s past, we had some stellar openings across the city that continue to make our job harder in outlining next year’s guide (btw…its going to be our FIFTH edition and we are super stoked with some surprises in store).  Here are our standout favorites that opened their doors in 2016.

x Vegetarian Spot to Trick Your Carnivore Friends >> Apteka. Our love only grows fonder with each visit to this Garfield spot.  Like our drinks at Hidden Harbor (see below), we rarely know what exactly it is we are eating here but it’s never stopped us from ordering another round of their amazing Central & Eastern European plates and brews.  Their programming and energy is unlike any other in the city (Lonely No More, late night, etc)

x Menswear >> Kinsman. Gentlemen step forward, ladies not so fast.  Menswear continued to gain ground in 2016 with the opening of this shotgun shop in Lawrenceville.  With top notch brands like Hill-Side, Grayers and Taylor Stitch alongside small and gifty items, this shop has quickly become a favorite.

x Dumplings >> Umami. What we love about this walk-up izakaya is that they have fun.  Yes, the food is banging but its also a spot to spend a night and have a blast.  With the uptick in Pittsburgh’s food scene, sometimes what is lost is that going out to eat is supposed to be… you know… fun.  And at Umami, the good vibes meet the best gyoza we have ever tasted.

x Beer List >> Urban Tap (S. Highland). The crew from Urban Tap is no stranger to a solid beer list.  But for their second outpost they have outdone themselves with a massive wall of 100 taps all meticulously labeled and an Instagram dream.

x Cocktail That I Have No Idea What I am Drinking >> Hidden Harbor.  And it doesn’t matter cause their small, honed menu features hit after hit.  As a result, on most of my visits, I leave it up to the staff to steer the ship as to what I am drinking.

x Food Truck >> Leena’s Food Truck.  Wheels or no wheels, Leena’s has one of the best gyro/hummus games in town and is worthy of a scavenger hunt to score the combo.  And we also love their simple and cute look especially next to Lawerenceville babe, The Vandal.

x Ice Cream >> Millie’s.  It’s not even a question that these guys are now running the ice cream game in town.  And don’t bother with a ‘favorite flavor.’  They are constantly changing with the season and if you just stick with their amazing standards like vietnamese coffee, you will be missing out.   And get ready Downtown, they are coming for you in 2017 right off of Market Square.

x Vintage Selection >>  Tie: Mello & Sons, Royal & Juju. 2016 has been quite the year for vintage (see here) and we couldn’t be happier.  These three mentioned are all doing their own thing from demin to streetwear and all are worth a visit to peruse their collections.

x Worth the Wait >> Pork & Beans.  They kept us in the dark for a while (like a while) but the fourth outpost from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group has been worth it.  From day one, they have been serving up spot on bbq and a kicshe bar program (craft 40s in a paper bag) that has been missing from the Downtown scene.  We hope more copy their casual stylings in 2017.

Pimento x ritz crackers. The stuff of dreams.

A photo posted by Urbanist PGH (@urbanistpgh) on

x New (Old) Spot to Avoid the Elements >> The Cafe Carnegie & CMOA.   The allocades for the new Cafe Carnegie from chefs Sonja Finn & Becca Hegarty are the real deal. Simple and well-executed dishes like french onion soup, a taleggio & pear sandwich alongside a solid bar & coffee offering are finally consistent with the exceptional collections of the museum.  The perfect fix for a chilly Saturday afternoon this winter.

x Restaurant Reboot >> Spoon.  Echoing Pittsburgh Magazine’s January review, the new direction of Spoon is one that is a little less serious and stuffy.  Instead we like it as a place to hang and snack your way through the menu over a couple of their amazing bottle selections with friends and we think you will too!

@spoonpgh's new update… 💯🙌🏼 #thecityunfolds #eastliberty

A photo posted by Urbanist PGH (@urbanistpgh) on

x Activist Artist Exhibition  >> Ai Wei Wei x Warhol. Big budget art exhibitions are fun but sometimes can feel totally forced.  What starts in NY travels to Miami then to Toronto before heading to PGH and then Houston.  The show has to fit the spaces anywhere it lands and can feel a little ordinary.  This was NOT the case with the Warhol’s exhibition with Chinese artist/activist Ai Wei Wei over summer.  The show turned the museum on its head with pieces woven throughout the permanent collection and in some cases (like the metallic balloon room), the show was given the freedom to interact with iconic pieces. It was remarkable and maybe one of the best exhibitions to date in the city.  So if you missed it, I’m sorry to say….you really missed it.

2016…you did us right (except for that whole election thing).  But 2017 you already have us excited and ready for more! Keep it coming PGH and look for our preview of 2017 in the next couple weeks!