For our latest edition of Beer Run, we found ourselves in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, an area rich with exquisite dining options, one-of-a-kind shops and a bustling epicenter of activity for families, Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and CMU students. We wanted to gift ten area businesses with a case of Olde Frothingslosh and give them a dose of our own NYO charm because we feel it’s an area of town we don’t cover often enough. The intersection of Forbes and Murray, the area’s two main streets, provide for a vibrant center of activity for one of the East End’s most popular neighborhoods. Check out the spots we visited on our latest excursion and get to know the neighborhood a little better. You might even discover something new!
First up, The Exchange, located at 5858 Forbes Ave, is one of the few independent shops in Pittsburgh where physical music can be purchased. The Exchange buys and sells used CDs, DVDs, and video games and has a limited selection of vinyl. The staff is quite friendly, boasting a variety of unpretentious music and video game lovers who can guide you through your next purchase. Given the current economic climate for this type of store and the mass closure of a majority of independently-owned music shops and distributors, we’re very proud of The Exchange for pushing through and remaining open.
Next, we stopped by 61C Cafe, located at 1839 Murray Avenue. We tend to hit at least one coffee shop during each Beer Run because we need the fuel. This place is special because it’s been around since 1993 and has managed to survive the corporate coffee invasion of the past decade. We had our first chai latte there and have been hooked ever since. The warm, inviting atmosphere is a great place to stop for a relaxing cup of tea or coffee with your favorite book. They also have free wifi for those looking to get some work done. They’re also open late, until 11PM or midnight every day of the week, so you don’t have to worry about feeling guilty when you need an evening fix.
Color Me Mine, located at 5887 Forbes Avenue, is a family-friendly studio space where you can select your own ceramic piece to paint and customize in your own unique way. They’ll fire and glaze the finished product for you and send you on your way with your own piece of custom art that YOU created. This place is great for fundraisers, bridal parties, birthdays and much more. They host a variety of weekly specials such as “Two for Tuesday”, a buy one, get one free night and “Ladies Night Out”, a BYOB party where parties of 2 or more receive a discount.
We simply had to take a photo of this vintage Old Frothingslosh can at our next destination, Very Cherry, which sits at the bottom end of the hill at 2303 Murray Avenue, their new home after relocating from the South Side. This place buys and sells “anything old or unusual” which is why we found this vintage can of Old Froth, featuring Lady Froth herself, as well as a can of Old German. They also buy gold, silver, diamonds, gems, watches, coins, religious items and just about anything collectable that’s worth money. We were greeted by an assortment of beautiful birds, which reside in the store, so stop by the next time you’re looking to get into something different.
Mexico Lindo, located at 2027 Murray Avenue is a shop that “imports fine folk Mexican arts and crafts, and is destined to become well-known for their exceptional selection of carved and intricately painted wooden Alebrijes (vividly portrayed animals, both mythical and actual) from Oaxaca, as well as the brilliantly colorful beaded masks, jewelry and yarn paintings of the Huichol Indians.” Opening on Cinco de Mayo in 2004, the shop was named after a famous Mexican song titled “Mexico Lindo y Querido”. In addition to fine art, they offer wire wrapped mineral jewelery, textiles, ceramics, fixtures and much more.
Next up, shoes! One can simply not take a proper sampling of Squirrel Hill without stopping by Littles Shoes, located at 5850 Forbes Avenue. Touted as the city’s largest “full service family shoe store”, it truly is a one-stop destination for any shoe lover. They carry a variety of designer and affordable dress and casual shoes, as well as seasonal items. Their large selection can accommodate any age, sex and style of shoe lover and their friendly, knowledgeable staff will find the perfect shoe for you in no time. Anyone who lives in Pittsburgh and loves shoes knows about Littles, and it’s time for you to know about it too!
We were starting to get hungry at this point in the day and decided to stop for a quick bite at Curry on Murray, a new restaurant cleverly named for the street it resides on (2121 Murray). I was sent here by a neighboring business but would like to think it was really the smell that was subconsciously luring me to enter. In addition to delicious Thai offerings, this BYOB establishment hosts a variety of entertainment throughout the week, such as Velvet Heat, an all-female jazz trio. We’ll leave the food critique to someone better equipped, so check out this recent review from the City Paper!
If you’re looking for unique gift options you can’t find anywhere else, look no further than Global Market Retail, a little shop at the top of Murry Avenue that carries a variety of imported goods and food. From handcrafted jewelry, to home decor, tapestries and more, one could spend hours in this shop exploring their ethnic offerings. The next time you’re in the market to treat yourself or gift someone with an item that contains history and uniqueness, visit Global Market Retail at 2020 Murray Avenue.
Margaret’s Fine Imports, located at 5872 Forbes Avenue, is a place we’ve always wanted to stop into, and we’re glad we finally got the opportunity to. Margaret is a serious tea connoisseur, offering exclusive tea classes and a variety of exotic teas at her shop. She claims the Japanese powdered green tea, Matcha, is the current tea trend and recommends mixing it up with ice cream, yogurt, or any other blendable substance. Matcha has all the benefits of green tea in a more concentrated form. Margaret claims the Japanese and Chinese export the best Matcha. The shop also offers a large selection of gourmet coffee, imported chocolates and other rarities unique to the states. Stop by the next time you’re in need of a fix, or visit her website to shop online.
The last stop of our day and arguably the happiest destination on our journey was S.W. Randall Toys and Gifts, which has multiple Pittsburgh locations. This family-run chain has been in business for over 40 years and is the “largest specialty toy and gift store in Pittsburgh, with over 20,000 items in stock”. If you’re looking for a special item for the youngster or adult child in your life, look no further than this place. They also host special collectors exhibits and special events from time to time, such as a LEGO contest, to keep things interesting.
We hope you enjoyed our most recent Beer Run edition as much as we enjoyed doing it. See you next month! Who knows – you might be the next lucky business to get a visit from the Beer Fairy!