A small but vibrant community, Troy Hill has a lot more to offer than you might think.
Make your way up the ultra-steep Rialto Street (bonus points if you bike!). At the top, you’ll find yourself in a neighborhood that offers great food, mind-expanding art, and obscure attractions. As you explore, you might discover a rare photography book, some of the best beer you’ve ever had, or a very old, very strange Christian relics.
If you want to get to know Pittsburgh a little better, spend some time in Troy Hill. We guarantee you’ll find even more than you’re looking for.
Earlier this fall, we introduced you to Pear & the Pickle, a charming throwback to the days of corner store cafes. It is, without a doubt, one of the best places to grab a bite — or a few pantry staples — in Troy Hill. The vintage vibes keep it cozy and community-centered. From shelves of well-thumbed books to quaint wooden window tables, everything about Pear & the Pickle makes you want to settle in. Be sure to snag some Stumptown coffee, Leona’s ice cream sandwich, and seasonal dishes featuring local ingredients. If you’re feeling sociable, you can even attend one of their weekly Saturday dinners.
Sometimes it’s hard to strike a balance between healthy eats and good old-fashioned comfort food. Troy Hill’s Scratch, however, does exactly that. It’s one of the only places where you can get equally great vegetarian, vegan, and standard options. You can try something new, like cricket (yes, you read that correctly) and chorizo tacos, or stick to something just right for the cold weather, like chicken and biscuits. Scratch also hosts a bunch of super-fun events, including Buzzed Spelling Bees, craft nights, trivia games and even karaoke.
We’ve all knocked back a Penn Pilsner at some point, but few of us have actually visited the oldest brewery in the ‘Burgh at its home in Troy Hill. The neighborhood’s German roots laid the groundwork for the brewing ground of Penn Brewery’s award-winning German-style beers, including IPAs, pilsners, and this winter’s featured beer: delicious chocolate milk stout. While you’re there, you can fill up on more than just beer. The brewery’s menu pays homage to the varied backgrounds of Pittsburgh, so look for dishes including potato pancakes, schnitzel and, of course, the much-loved cookie table (which is exactly what it sounds like).
You can’t talk about Troy Hill without mentioning at least one hill, right? At a killer 24% grade, Rialto Street is one of the steepest streets in a city of, well, really steep streets. It’s practically a badge of honor to walk — or, if you’re brave, bike — up the road. It boasts a slightly bloody history as well. Known colloquially as Pig Hill, Rialto Street was a main artery used to drive pigs up from the rail station on Herr’s Island (now Washington’s Landing) to the slaughter. Of course, the Pittsburgh meatpacking district is no more, and now Rialto Street is included in the Dirty Dozen bike ride, where you can tackle the most grueling hills in the city on two wheels.
Whether you’re interested in religious collectibles or not, the baffling beauty of Saint Anthony Chapel will draw you in. Before you know it, you’ll be snapping pictures the whole time you’re there. The gorgeous church houses the largest collection of Christian relics outside of the Vatican in the entire world. Care to have a glimpse of a splinter of the True Cross, a thorn from the Crown of Thorns or a piece of stone from the Holy Sepulchre? They’re all there, donated by a Belgian doctor-turned-missionary who settled in Troy Hill in the late 1890s and quickly became an integral part of the community.
If you’re into art, you won’t want to miss a trip to Spaces Corners, a bookstore/gallery featuring some of the most incredible, rare, and unusual photography books in the world. The selection is always changing, and you can find the works of both independent photographers as well as small publishing houses. There’s always something new and beautiful on the market at Spaces Corners. Currently, the themes of the books on sale include time & place, dreams, nonhumans, and puzzles. You can’t pass up a chance to dive into mysteries like that.
To explain La Hütte Royal, one of the coolest hidden gems in the ‘Burgh, we’ll have to brush up on our German; one word in particular: “gesamtkunstwerk.” It means “a total work of art,” and it’s the perfect way to describe this massive, all-encompassing art exhibit. Inside an unassuming brick house (at least from the outside) on Rialto Street lies a whole new world for you to explore. Artist Thorsten Brinkmann used traditional media, found items and a ton of everyday objects to make the house into a maze. Sometimes you’ll have to crawl around, get a little lost and open lots of doors. It’s open by appointment only, though, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
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