The proudly independent family crew that runs The Pittsburgh Bagel Factory brings the same commitment to tasty food and early-rising work ethics that made their bagels a local staple to their new Craig St. location. After baking their bagels, which include everything from savory onion to multigrain wildberry, the kitchen staff puts them to work, schmearing them with cream cheese concoctions or sandwiching them with deli meats including oven-roasted turkey and kosher salami. Custom blends of eggs, morning meats, and cheese gussy up handheld comestibles, while burgers flip from sizzling grills to challah buns dressed with toppings ranging from grilled onions and mushrooms to fried eggs and peach barbecue sauce. Staff also pull shots of espresso to add to steaming mugs that vanquish sleepiness from faces.
In her bio, Margaret Harris jokes that she "may have had her first 'cup of tea' when she was only one day old." That's because Harris was raised in Poland, where tea, she writes, "is the primary household beverage." Today, she applies her training at the Warsaw Medical College to discuss the health benefits of her brews with customers at her tea-and-coffee shop, Margaret's Fine Imports. In addition to stocking more than 200 types of loose-leaf tea, from Chinese green tea to British teas such as Taylor's Yorkshire Gold tea and PG Tips, Harris completes proper tea times with German and Polish sweets, Asian-style tea sets, and napkins autographed by the Mad Hatter.
Bruegger's bagels are created using fresh, wholesome ingredients and then kettle-boiled in the New York tradition, resulting in chewy centers with crisp outer crusts. Awaken your taste buds with a savory combination such as the rosemary olive oil bagel smothered with onion and chive cream cheese ($2.39). Or, prove yourself to be a sweetie by adopting a family of 13 bagels and washing them up and behind the ears in the two tubs of garden-veggie cream cheese in the Big Bagel Bundle ($13.99). Bruegger's deli menu is flanked by an array of breakfast sandwiches and lunch fare. Bury thoughts of the snarky snooze button with the breakfast bagel bearing an egg, melted cheese, and a choice of bacon, sausage, or ham ($3.99), or wrap your mitts around the Leonardo da Veggie lunchtime sandwich and bite into tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red onions, and muenster cheese on an asiago Softwich ($5.49).
When a hot summer hit in 1984, Bob Tumolo wanted to help his neighbors cool down. But instead of crafting traditional ice cream or sticking a straw into a fire hydrant, he decided to formulate his own recipes for italian ice, using fresh fruit to craft each batch. Ices in a wide range of flavors filled chilly cases at the original Rita’s Ice shop, and those recipes still inform the treats at franchises across the country.
Larry and Steve, owners of Rita's Ice of Squirrel Hill, have been whipping up those icy treats for the past 10 years, drawing on ingredients such as key limes and root beer to create certified-kosher italian ice. Each batch is served within 36 hours of its creation, ensuring every cup of ice is fresh and hasn’t been sitting around in an Eskimo’s pocket for the last week. The shop also offers up scoops of creamy frozen custard customized with mix-ins such as M&Ms, Nerds, and Reese’s Pieces or layer the custard with italian ice to create the store’s famous gelati.
Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee encourages you to eat ice cream for breakfast. If you're a traditionalist, the shop will even slide a homemade waffle under the creamy scoops, though it's still your responsibility to hire bluebirds to sing on your shoulder while you eat. And if that doesn't cut it, visitors can customize their treats with nearly 100 different toppings, from classic candy and granola to fresh ginger and wasabi peas.
As unique as Oh Yeah!'s ice cream creations might seem, the shop's interior takes things to another level: every inch of space is covered by things that are edible, drinkable, readable, or watchable. In addition to ice cream, guests can dip into fat-free sorbets and sip on organic, free-trade coffees while kicking back around the shop's mismatched tables and chairs. The boutique eatery also features a library full of donated books, and hosts weekly movie nights and frequent debates?yes, debates?about environmental and social topics.
Kaleidoscopic Egyptian tapestries hang on the stone walls of both Sphinx Cafe locations, while tendrils of jasmine- and mango-scented smoke drift up to high, vaulted ceilings. Though it was once a church, the space now exudes an aura of opulence and leisure that matches the warmth of the coffee houses in Egyptian owner Remy and Syrian Amera's native homes. “Hookah bars are different from the norm [in the U.S.], which is either a restaurant or a bar. It slows you down. You just relax here.”
Plush cushions help patrons relax at both of Sphinx Pittsburgh locations, as do more than 30 imported tobacco flavors that servers can enhance with creative add-ons such as wine, fruit syrups, and talking caterpillars. On some nights, belly dancers, fire eaters, and live musicians wind their way between hookahs. On quieter nights, Ms. Andrawes says you can find people playing card games, chatting, and sampling platters of homemade hummus and kibbeh.