Penn-cil on a Pittsburgh journey

Growing up I always thought Pittsburgh was ugly. The old stadiums and steel mills that had seen their prime. When I finally attended it in college, I found out that nothing could have been further from the truth. After the resurgence and influx of investment in the 1990s, Pittsburgh is possibly the most underrated city in America. It is nestled in the hills with bridges over rivers and tunnels through rock faces. In a word, it is beautiful. Especially in October when autumn is in full swing.

Pittsburgh fall and soccer are practically synonymous. It is considered the “cradle of quarterbacks,” with Hall of Famers George Blanda, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Mantana, Dan Marino and Jim Kelley all born nearby.

Our Steel City culinary tour begins with donuts at the Better-Maid Donut Company (1178 Steuben Street). How good does a sour cream donut sound?

Lunch is simple. You just can’t go to Pittsburgh without trying the sandwich at Primati Brothers (multiple locations). They are famous for offering a grilled steak patty, coleslaw, french fries, tomato, and provolone. Personally, I’d skip the coleslaw, but there is something totally child-like and satisfying about those french fries built right into the sandwich!

Before dinner, head to Summit (200 Shiloh St) for a lounge with great views of the skyline. They also have popcorn to keep your salt levels high.

Then we go to dinner with pizza. Cuisine no longer changes from city to city and each east coast region has its own setting. Head to Ephesus Pizza (219 Fourth Ave), which has more toppings than you can handle, including kebob and Moroccan chicken and dates.

When the weather is warm enough, Pittsburgh is best seen from the water. The rivers offer boat tours that cover everything from history of the city’s hard work to island tiki experiences depending on your preferences.

For some culture, the Andy Warhol Museum (117 Sandusky Street) is a must. The famous pop artist is from Pittsburgh and the museum is huge, with more than 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs, and 900 paintings by the artist.

And the focus of the trip is Heinz Field, his rabid fans and their rotating yellow towels. It’s a 20 year old gem that is home to nearly 70,000 fans who grew up football-obsessed. Seattle fans may be outnumbered there, but there is still an unfinished business from 2005 that you may need to cheer on.

Pittsburgh is a different place. A tough exterior with some softer, cultural experiences underneath. A great place to see soccer, eat like a champ, and learn about a culture that is very different from Seattle.

Stadium: Heinz Field
Stadium food: Pierogis or more Primati Brothers
Seattle meeting point: good luck!

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