Everyone still thinks there are steel mills in Pittsburgh. And the rivers are brown. And you can’t breathe the air. Not even close, friends. This is a city on the rise and has been for a few years, and there is a lot of fun things to do around here in your hours where you’re not being devastated by metal.
We put a few features together about what you might want to do while you’re here for Migration Fest. Two things: First, I didn’t add lodging. You should have done that by now. Second, don’t go to fucking Primanti’s. Every asshole in town will be like, “You gotta go dahn Primanti’s,” but that’s because most of these people haven’t traveled past Sea World. Primanti’s is shit. I’m embarrassed we are known for that place. Fuck it. But we have a lot of cool things going on, and this city is great, so here are a few things. Also, this is not a comprehensive list of everything. Just some stuff I think you might find fun. I’m also going to keep this concentrated on the area near the festival (Millvale, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield) and not throughout the entire city. We’d be here all day.
Also, quick note about transportation: If you’re driving, you should be able to find parking in Millvale. It might be tight, though. Your best bet is to use Lyft or Uber. Local taxi service is a joke, and the light rail doesn’t reach out to this end of town.
Finally, while you’re reading this, totally listen to this Migration Fest mix made up by Josh Thieler of Slaves BC, who will melt your faces off Thursday night at the pre-show: https://open.spotify.com/user/127110886/playlist/2y7ePxzeRB8aIGxQDREYGk?si=gU_0KImrTQ2pBPrqKIIXpQ#_=_
Attic Record Store: This is a few-minute walk from Mr. Smalls, and you could spend all day in there. There are a ton of new vinyl loaded in the front and a practical library in the back of new and used vinyl. There’s a decent metal section on the display shelf in the back. Just ask. Someone in their ridiculously friendly staff will help you find it.
Juke Records: This store evolved out of Soundcat Records (RIP Karl Hendricks) and is located in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh. Lots of indie rock, jazz, and classic rock, though you can find some metal, punk, and hardcore records amid their collection. They also have a really healthy used vinyl section.
Eide’s Entertainment: Located in the Strip District right next to downtown Pittsburgh, this four-story shop is another you could be in all day. Comics and toys on the basement and ground level floors; used records and DVDs on the second floor; new vinyl and CDs on the top level. Pretty much every time I’m there, they’re playing fucking bad blues rock, but the selection makes the torture worth it.
Cruel Noise: Located in Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh, Cruel Noise has a slew of used metal, hardcore, punk, and indie rock records, as well as a decent section of new vinyl, cassettes, T-shirts, and whatnot. Almost every time I go, I find something awesome I never thought I’d find. Also, sometimes the owner’s cool dog is there. Definitely scratch the pup on the ears.
Others: Get Hip Inc. (North Side), Jerry’s Records (Squirrel Hill), Dave’s Music Mine (South Side), Skull Records (Allentown)
Like every city, we’ve got a lot. These are some good ones.
Grist House: One of two breweries in easy walking distance from Mr. Smalls, they have a menu of beers that are very drinkable and range between 4 and 8% ABV typically. Laid-back and cool hangout spot.
Strange Roots Experimental Ales: Formerly known as Drai Laag, this brewery changed their path very recently, concentrating on mostly on sour ales and interesting brewing techniques to come up with brews that are pretty different. Also, they have a nice dining menu. Short walk from Mr. Smalls.
Roundabout Brewery: Located in Lawrenceville, right across the river from Millvale, this small brewery is owned by a husband-wife team and always come up with new concoctions throughout the year. You can get a 12 oz or 16 oz pour in their taproom, and they have a limited food menu. Fun place run by people who love beermaking.
East End Brewing Taproom: East End was up and making their craft brews long before the trend became such a huge thing. They have two locations, but this one is the closest to Mr. Smalls. You can get a pint, a growler filled, or a fleet of beers that have become local favorites.
Full Pint Wild Side Pub: Full Pint’s actual brewery is in North Versailles Twp., but this brew pub features their tremendous beers in a dark, ambient bar setting. They have some of the better beers in Pittsburgh, and if they have it on tap, definitely get the Rye Rebellion. It’s dark, tasty, and potent.
Others: Southern Tier (North Shore), Dancing Gnome (O’Hara Twp.), Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar (Lawrenceville), Penn Brewery (North Side), Threadbare Cider House (Troy Hill), Allegheny Wine Mixer (Lawrenceville)
I’ll keep these to the names and location, broken down by style of food. We like these places a lot, and maybe you will too. These are a little more spread out over the city, but Pittsburgh’s not too big of a place. Also, many of these places have bars and serve alcohol. A quick Google search will help.
Nova Café (hoagies, hot dogs, deli sandwiches)
Millvale Diner (name says it all, and it’s right down the street from the venue)
Franktuary (all kinds of hot dogs, veggies options, and beware one of the potential toppings is tarantula!)
Industry Public House (great beer selection, American-style food)
Caliente (excellent beer menu)
Alida’s Woodfire Cucina
Spak Brothers Pizza (also contains a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan options)
Zen Asian Diner
Umami (specializes in Japanese street foods)
Feng Japanese Steakhouse
Pusadee’s Garden (Thai)
Hug Thai Restaurant
Tram’s Kitchen (Vietnamese)
Alida’s Woodfire Cucina
Taste of India
People’s Indian Restaurant
Baby Loves Tacos
Round Corner Cantina
Smoke BBQ Taqueria
Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant
B52 Café (mix of American and Mediterranean with vegetarian options)
Cure (Mediterranean with local ingredients)
Salim’s Middle Eastern Food
Almost all places have vegetarian options, but here are some better vegetarian/vegan stops.
Kaibur Coffee: (bottom floor in same building as Cruel Noise)
Gluten-Free Goat Bakery and Cafe
Pamela’s (local chain … I think it’s really overrated, but tons of people disagree with me)
Coca Café (known for breakfasts but also serve lunch and small-plate dinners)
Barb’s Corner Kitchen
Crazy Cones of Millvale
Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery
The Butterwood Bake Consortium
La Gourmandine (French pastries and other baked goods)
Twisters Ice Cream
Bella Christie and Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique
NatuRoll Creamery (ice cream made with Thai technique of rolling batter)
Black Forge (it’s a little out of the way from the venue, but it is THE metal coffee shop of Pittsburgh)
The Abbey (also good beer selection and is open for all meals)
The Commonplace Coffee House
Tupelo Honey (tea)
Espresso a Mano
Coffee Tree Roasters
ASSORTED FUN SHIT:
Millvale Riverfront Park (hiking and biking trails)
Arsenal Bowling Lanes
Millvale Bowling Lanes
Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing