Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pittsburgh Day 6 - The perfect surprise

Our final two days in Pittsburgh were totally crazy and I did not manage to write before now, when I am in Germany again and try to fight the jetlag and get to a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible.

But back to Pittsburgh at least in writing, mind and soul.

When we drove back from Mount Lebanon last Sunday Karla - our GPS - was leading us through Dormont. That was the first time we came through this part of the city and we were surprised how cute it looked with a lot of restaurant store fronts lightened up in the evening.

I remembered that our friend Sylvia McCoy of Burgh Bits & Bites mentioned a while ago a new tour in  Dormont and I made a mental note, that I would like to do that when I get to Pittsburgh the next time.
Apparently I had not to wait that long because shortly after Sylvia called and told me that she had a new tour guide for even this Dormont tour and asked if Gabrijela and I would like to be the test candidates for Jennifer (who by the way did a very good job and will be a great tour guide) to try the food and the timing of the tour together. OF COURSE we said "YES!"  We loved our Bloomfield tour in spring and the Strip District tour on my first trip to Pittsburgh was one of the main reasons for me to fall in love with the city in general and the Strip in particular. 

So on Thursday morning we got the car ready and set up the GPS for the Dormont Public Library. At this time for you to get a better picture it is the right moment to introduce you to our car and GPS.

Some people may find it odd but naming cars is a family tradition and why not include rental cars? And of course rental cars in Pittsburgh should be named after famous Pittsburgh people. Our Mazda 3, who was really fun to drive, in spring we named Roberto (after Roberto Clemente).  This time we had a Toyota Corolla. It was a solid car, but in his whole apperance less sporty than Roberto and so we were looking out for a more classic name and chose Andrew (after Andrew Carnegie). And there he is:

But the most significant improvement was to go for a rental company that does offer a decent GPS (Alamo in our case). As much as we loved Roberto, we hated "Suzy" aka the Hertz Neverlost GPS, which was so bad (at least for Pittsburgh) that it was leading us strange and often simply wrong ways. This time we had a Garmin and it was just fine. Only in Downtown Pittsburgh with all the high buildings it got very confused and was constantly recalculating, but in general it was big help to get around town especially when we left our Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Strip, Downtown, North Side turfs ("dahn" there we do not need the GPS anymore). To make sure that the lady telling us where to go could not mistaken for Suzy we called her Karla:

In general I would strongly recomment renting a GPS along with your car to every tourist who is new to Pittsburgh. This city is naturally grown and goes along old trails and is not as clearly structured as many other US cities.  Without a GPS it is really hard to get around. 

Thanks to Karla we easily made it over to Dormont and arrived a little ahead of  time. When our small test group was complete we first stopped at the neighborhood mural and Jennifer gave us an overview about the history of Dormont.

Then we threw ourselves into the food fun with Halloween treats at the Potomac Bakery ... 

... and the super cute Dormont Dogs for very tasty hot dogs. I tried the "Pittsburgh Dog" and it was super delicious as was the Texan that Gabi tried. 

We kept on walking along the Dor Stop Cafe, which is a very popular breakfast place, the Hollywood Theater, where I realized that with being back to Germany I cannot go there today (Sunday) to see "To Kill a Mockingbird" (BUMMER), and a really cute book store to a food place called Fredo's. Gabi and I looked at the sign and got all exicted because it looks like this - what a SURPRISE:

The owners of Fredo's are from Bosnia (Banja Luka area) and now ... my Pittsburgh life is complete, because down there we got absolutely amazing ćevape u lepinji. The food was SO GOOD. They also have traditionally, made from scratch pita with cheese, potatoes, meet or spinach and cheese. Totally awesome.

Often when you enter a restaurant in the US that is supposed to offer "authentic European food" it does not do the job at all. I was suprised how much you can do wrong for example with a ... Schnitzel. It's usually pretty awful. But at Fredo's it tastes 100% like it has to. The lack of Bosnian / Crotian comfort food was always one of Pittsburgh misses for me, but this problem is solved now. YAY! Funny enough I was obviously so excited that I could not hold the camera still. All pictures of the fantastic food turned out blurred - sorry :(.

The surprise was btw on both sides.  They had expected German speaking guests and got Croatian speaking ones but that was of course even better for everybody involved and we had lots of fun to give Sylvia and Jennifer a crash course in Bosnian / Croatian food, culture and history.

Final stop on our Dormont tour (we had to cut it short a little bit) was the famous Sugar Café and indeed the cupcakes were as good as I had heard before and I loved the interior design of the place.

After the super fun food tour we did some neighborhood cruising in Squirrel Hill and Oakland. It is always impressive how many different faces Pittsburgh has and now we saw two at the same time:  Pittsburgh the city of students, colleges and universities and ... Gotham. Thursday afternoon was the only time when it really rained. Most of the time it was very sunny, but Oakland was really gloomy that afternoon. 

The Cathedral of Learning 

Where Batman fought Bane

We were  totally impressed how many kids totally ingnored the fact that it was cold and raining hard. They just kept running, playing frisbee and throwing balls.
We on the other hand ... tried to stay as dry as possible (did not work really) and ran over to the
Original Hot Dog Shop for a fix of their awesome french fries.

After a quick break at home to change into dry clothes and catching our breath we went for dinner and drinks with friends to Bar Marco in the Strip.

Everybody seems to be in love with this relatively new place and it's pretty clear why: Lovely location, very tasty food, great drinks and good people.
Bobby, Justin, Kevin and Michael - four highschool classmates and friends - came back to the Pittsburgh area a while ago and made their dream true:
A European Wine Bar

Bar Marco is much more than just another bar because the four host lots of events like special brunches on Sundays, art exhibitions at their second floor, the "Food Truck Friday" in their parking lot or "Tapped", Pittsburgh's pop up beergardens which were some of the most fun events of this summer.

We loved it at Bar Marco and it will be for sure one of our regular spots ... as much as you can have a regular place to go to when you live 4792 miles (YIKES!) away, but we'll be back as soon as possible!

All polaroids by Gabrijela Obert



  1. Kann ich die Hexe in groß bekommen? Für Emina?

  2. Edin Džeko is my favorite footballer. A club hero for Manchester City and Bosnia's top goal scorer all time in international play. Glad you enjoyed you Pittsburgh time. We have been here 25 year and love it.

  3. Thanks for the shout out! It was so great to meet you and Gabi!