Streets of Pittsburgh: Penn Avenue

Elena Hochheiser, Editor

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Every afternoon since the end of January, I have followed the same routine: I leave the school, walk down Highland Ave., and head downtown on Penn Avenue, walking until the good old 88 bus catches up with me and getting off at the 31st street bridge. Along the way, I’ve found quite a few interesting treasures and cool places, all of which are unique to this area of the city.

There are quite a few places where one can get food, but I have a few easy recommendations of the best places to eat or get a quick snack. The first (and closest to the school) is Zeke’s Coffee. My family has been fans of Zeke’s since we lived in Baltimore and knew the real Zeke. Since then, it has expanded to Pittsburgh, and I have never missed an opportunity to stop by and grab a snack. They have a variety of delicious snacks, the best of which are their soft pretzels with mustard (ask them to heat it up for you), and their amazing muffins. Each day they have a different variety– my favorites are chocolate mocha chunk and lemon coconut. Zeke’s also has amazing drinks (seeing as though it’s a coffee shop, of course). Their hot chocolate is heavenly, and their Love Buzz coffee is universally recognized as the best type of coffee they sell.

A second great place to get food along Penn Ave. is Edgar’s Taco Truck. I tried their tacos last year for the first time, and let me tell you– I made a great (but spicy) decision on forgoing trying the salsas and dumping the spiciest one on my taco. My mouth was burning for days afterwards. But even if you don’t like spicy food, Edgar’s tacos is one of the best spots to grab a quick snack on Penn Ave., bar none. They are delicious– their rice and bean tacos featuring mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce, shredded cheese, three different types of salsa, sour cream, and a deliciously toasted corn tortilla– and also affordable, with each taco costing $3.00 (2 for 5 from 12-3 pm!). I stopped by yesterday and had one, and the tacos tasted like genuine heaven in my mouth. Delicious.

There are a few more places along Penn Ave. Where I would recommend stopping to getting a snack or a drink. Commonhouse Coffee, although a chain store, always has incredible teas and coffees, and they make a mean veggie wrap and blueberry muffin. Closer to the Strip District is the Pittsburgh Juice Company. I’ve never actually tried any of their full size drinks (because unless you’re really rich and/or a hardcore hippie) they’re pretty expensive. However, they have 8 ounce juices of various flavors as well as interesting snacks that are a good thing to try if you want to indulge.

And lastly, one of the best places to get food– really, to get anything– along Penn Ave.: Family Dollar (and/or the Dollar Tree). Both stores sell basically any snacks you could imagine, all for the novelty price of one dollar. I’ve bought socks, band-aids, pens, a flash drive, and many bags of popcorn there since the beginning of the year. You can never go wrong with the dollar store.

Penn Ave. isn’t only a place to get food, though. There are many beautiful murals along the 3-mile stretch of road from Highland Ave. to the Strip District, as well as interesting posters and public art as you near Children’s Hospital. Some of my favorite displays are the “Wanted Person” signs displaying information about our former presidents Bush(s) and Clinton, as well as the quotes written on store windows, mailboxes, and the sidewalk in yellow pen. One says “99% of Americans would not touch Donald Trump (According to a ten foot pole.)” Currently, the trees in the Allegheny Cemetery are blooming, a beautiful sight. So, take my advice and take a walk along Penn Ave., and stop to get some great food at any of the places above. Or not. Just know that if you don’t, you’re missing out.

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