I love autumn; everything about it agrees with me. The temperature is brisk enough that I can wear my favorite jacket (the tweed one, which has been pushed to the back of my closet). During the summer, I appreciate the shade provided by the trees that grace our streets. But October finds me giddily reverting to my ten year-old self, as I kick through crackling leaves shed by those same trees.
There’s a special place in every neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a place to warm your hands and your belly. Besides kicking leaves, one of my favorite autumn pastimes is finding those places. I am especially pleased when they serve a really good bowl of soup.
Big Dog Coffee
2717 Sarah Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Hours: Mon to Fri 6am-10pm; Sat to Sun 7:30-10pm
If your traipsing around takes you through the Southside flats, then you definitely should check into Big Dog Coffee. The shop is housed in former Kohler’s Bakery, just a stone’s throw from E. Carson Street. The café serves from locally sourced suppliers, and has a range of teas and coffee drinks to accompany their quality soups.
3803 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
What tour of Pittsburgh eateries would be complete without a mention of Primanti’s? Best known for its piled-high sandwiches, Primanti Brothers also serves basic and hearty soups. And no matter where your outdoor treks take you, there will be a Primanti Brother’s nearby.
305 South Craig St
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Hours: Mon to Fri 7:30am-8pm; Sat to Sun 11am-8pm
If you’re looking for a new twist on a traditional comfort soup, try Eat Unique’s Cream of Tomato, sprinkled with feta and basil. The restaurant serves a vegan garden chili as well as a rotating menu of seasonal soups.
130 S. Highland Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Hours: Tues to Thurs 5pm-10pm; Fri 5pm-11pm; Sat 11am-3pm, 5pm-11pm; Sun 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm
Reservations are accepted for parties of 8 or more
East Liberty has drawn a lot of new stores over the last few years, and is high on the list of very walkable neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. If your weekend shopping trip takes you nearby, and you’re in the mood for something a bit more exotic, try Abay’s Pumpkin soup. The restaurant itself is warmly inviting, with its softly glowing walls and warm wooden tables. Abay specializes in Ethiopian cuisine, and their soups are hearty and spicy; just right for a chilly autumn day.
4050 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 11am-9pm
You go to Tram’s Kitchen for good food, not for the ambience. In a stretch of blocks with no other attractions, and lacking walkability (Hello! It’s on a HILL), this is a destination. And so it is, apparently for a lot of Pittsburghers. The dining room is always packed, with little space between tables. Great, authentic Vietnamese cuisine; especially the Pho soup.
1711 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hours: Mon to Thurs 8am-5:30pm; Fri 8am-6pm; Sat 8am-5pm; Sun 9am-4pm
As so many of my fellow ‘burghers, I like to shop in the Strip District. One of my favorite stops is Wholey’s (pronounced Whoa!-ley), which has a phenomenal fish counter. They also serve delicious lobster bisque, and a Louisiana-style Gumbo. Don’t be distracted by all of the other marvelous fish dishes, just sidle on up, and get your soup. The dining area is up the stairs, at the end of the fish department.
Max’s Allegheny Tavern
537 Suismon St
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Hours: Mon to Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri to Sat 11am-12am; Sun 9:30am-9pm
There is much to explore at Max’s. There is no main dining room. Instead, there is a maze of rooms, from tiny to small. Each room accommodates no more than a handful of tables. It is so much like my grandmother’s house that I almost expect her to come out of the kitchen. If you find yourself wandering around Allegheny Commons Park, enjoying the fall foliage, remember that Einlauf soup (just like my German grandmother made) is ready at Max’s.
What are your favorite spots for soups in Pittsburgh? Let us know in the comments section below.
Susan Constanse is a painter, living and working in Pittsburgh. Examples of her work can be viewed on her site, at http://www.susanconstanse.com