We launched the first Urbanist Guide in Pittsburgh on Valentine’s Day in 2012.  When I was creating that first guide, I thought Pittsburgh was exploding. Meat & PotatoesCure and Bluebird Kitchen had all just opened their doors.   Folks like Mid-Atlantic Mercantile (now Joan) and The Brew Gentlemen were just getting started.   I thought Pittsburgh was really coming on.  What I did not expect was what would happen over the next five years.

If the first guide was challenging to pull together in 2012 then in 2017 it is looking all but impossible with the excess of talent and interest sprinkled across the city.  Hit after hit has rolled out from national darlings like Richard DeShantz who just announced his next Downtown project, gi-jin, to homegrown vintage outposts like Royal & Juju.  And they just keep coming.

Yet with this said, as a city we still need to keep pushing.  We need to because if we sit back and count our blessings we risk stagnation. People love what’s next cause its new and different (hopefully or else how do we better ourselves).  So with this said, here is my 2017 wish list…and for hoping that they all come true!

Is there really a better time to try our new roasts from @parlorcoffee than right now?

A photo posted by The Vandal (@thevandalpgh) on

More design. This will be on my wish list always and forever.  I love what Vandal is doing in Lawrenceville.  In under two years, they have evolved to meet their needs but also to continue making the space more compelling in terms of design; they added a coffee bar, wallpaper, brought in a local designer to make their coffee cups/bud vases, swapped out benches for chairs and will be continuing to pursue a back patio space in a more permanent fashion in 2017.  I would love to see both new and established spots take a page of out Vandal’s book in this regard with ongoing changes.  Reclaimed wood need not apply.

All things ethnic.  I’m not talking about tacos here (though I am not going to complain about more tacos)….I’d love for restaurants to keep pushing us with new cuisines.  Scandinavian, Columbian, Indian, Flippino…I want to try to them all.  Just look to Apteka for a strong example of PGH’s desire and support for new flavors and ideas.

Youngins’ (yeah, you!) embracing Culture.  So we have incredible cultural institutions, big and small.  But they only work if we support them.  When you are on vacation in New York or Austin you head to galleries, musuems and shows but are you doing it in PGH?  2016 brought us an array of amazing events from The Lion at City Theater, Ai Wei Wei at Warhol, Matilda at the Benedum,  the PGH Photo Fair at the Carnegie and countless concerts.  These barely scratch the surface of whats out there.  And what’s even better, there are TONS of discounts out there for those under 30 like $15 seats at City Theatre or free admission for students to the Carnegie family of museums.  Soak it all up Pittsburgh….in NY there is a line around the block for this stuff!

Smaller and cheaper. This is a hard ask.  I love to snack and try a couple plates when I am out.  When dishes range from $12-$18 that can make a dinner shoot up from $20/head to well over $40 and that’s without drinks.  I get the margin game that a restauranteur plays on a daily basis and lower price points only exacerbate that.  But I also will happily compromise with smaller portions to preserve my snacky instincts.

More Frivolity.  Sometimes you just want to have fun.  Crafted cocktails and beautifully plated dishes are lovely but they have their time and place.  Who is next in line behind AMW, The Independent and Cantina to be a place to hang and have fun with your friends on a random night out? And maybe more bars with bocce courts, shuffle board or ping pong?

More Doughnuts.  Cause what Divine and I had/have in common is a love of doughnuts.

*** Lead Photo is the CMOA’s portrait of Divine’s by David Hockney.  And is one of my favorite pieces hanging at CMOA currently. ***