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Bursting the CMU Bubble: 4 Neighborhoods Your Friends Aren’t Going to This Weekend

When the stresses of school and extracurriculars become overwhelming, it can be easy for us to get caught in the “CMU Bubble”. When you haven’t expanded your radius beyond the G-Eagle in Squirrel Hill and the Starbucks on Craig St for more than a month, you my friend, have been stuck in the notorious bubble. Yes work is always going to take precedent over play, but when you do get any inkling of free time, run with it! RUN WITH IT AND DON’T LOOK BACK.

Instead of opting for the typical getaway trip to the Waterfront, Shadyside, or the Strip; try something new! Pittsburgh has a slew of great neighborhoods that too few CMU students take advantage of.

Switch it up this weekend and take a friend, or a lover, or a laptop (#CMU) to a different part of town and brag to your friends how “hip” you are for going off the beaten path. There are other buses out there than the 61’s (WAIT RLY??)! YES, so the next time you do have some time to spare, or more likely, you don’t but feel the need to procrastinate, check out one of these lesser known to CMU neighborhoods.


Lawrenceville is a fairly diverse neighborhood ranging from Yinzer to Hipster but completely charming and easy to get to on from the 64 (yes, there are other buses outside of the 61s….). Go in the morning for an amazing brunch at Coca Cafe and take a stroll further down Butler Street for coffee and boutiques. I have Espresso a Mano on Butler Street on my next go-to list for Lawrenceville. I’m sorry Pamela lovers, but I’m choosing Coca Cafe’s Eggs Benedict with a Bloody Mary over inflated pancakes anyday. It tends to get pretty crowded quickly, so go either early morning or past the brunch rush hour to get a table.


Similar to Lawrenceville, but a bit more edgy, Garfield’s got spunk. Historically, Penn Avenue was a dangerous territory to enter, but today after several city initiatives, the neighborhood is an art mecca. Every first Friday of the month, Garfield holds a gallery crawl down Penn Ave. free  and open to the public. Bring a group or bring a date and grab a slice at Spak Brothers. Yes, the exterior seems mildly questionable, but it’s good a cozy, local vibe and good pizza for a bargain. #priorities. If you’re a coffee fan (and if you’re not already and made it this far at CMU, I applaud you) you must try Commonplace Coffee. If not for the coffee, go for the place, the atmosphere is so laid back and amazing for studying or people watching. It’s bit pricier than what you might be used to for a cup of coffee, but you work hard, you deserve it.


East Liberty is quickly becoming one of Pittsburgh’s new social and cultural scenes with all of the recent development work in the neighborhood. The Presbyterian Church is one of the most beautiful in Pittsburgh, and that says a lot from a city with more churches than it knows what to do with. There’s a great spectrum of cuisine to satisfy all kinds of palates. Union Pig + Chicken is some of the best BBQ you’re going to find this side of the Mason Dixon. If you didn’t order brisket you did it wrong. Burger and milkshake fans rejoice at BRGR on Centre Ave. Literally get anything; you can’t go wrong here, unless you order a salad: then you’re just downright blasphemous. Penn Ave in East Liberty is sprinkled with funky fashion stores and an awesome hole in the wall coffee shop called Zeke’s.


If you’ve taken the bus to the strip before, chances are you’ve passed through Bloomfield. Give up your morning routine of Starbucks on Craig St and squander your morning around in Big Idea Bookstore Cafe on Liberty Ave for coffee and a pastry. Or switch up your typical G-Eagle run for some more local flavor and try out one of the Italian food markets like Groceria Italiana. They also make bomb homemade ravioli. Del’s Bar and Ristorante on Liberty Ave is also great for date night or when mom and dad are in town if you’re in the mood for pasta and pizza. And let’s be honest when are you not in that mood? If you haven’t been able to tell, this list is driven almost exclusively around food. Not sorry ‘bout it.

Photo Sources:

1. http://gph.is/13vMRwZ

2. http://www.coca-cafe.net/gallery.html




Kelsey Simpson is a third year architecture major and also an all nighter queen. She spends her mornings with the NROTC midshipmen and early early mornings with her fellow studio rats. She's a sucker for John Steinbeck, IPAs, and anything smothered in BBQ sauce.
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