Squirrel Hill study break: 61c Café , Smallman Street Deli give students needed escape
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
Midterm week. It’s coming. You can’t stop it. If you’re trying to get out of (Up)town to study, Squirrel Hill is a great escape.
61c Café, located at 1839 Murray Ave, is a quaint little spot right off Forbes that has the space and a calm coffee shop atmosphere to get you out of your known surroundings and keep the pages turning elsewhere. The walls are a mix of cream and possibly beige, but I’m not an interior decorator. Needless to say, they have a very calming atmosphere.
About 20 two-top tables make up the majority of the café, with ample plugs to recharge all of your electronic gear. The remaining space is composed of twin unisex bathrooms and the counter, with enough desserts to start a small bakery.
Red velvet, salted caramel, orange almond biscottis, muffins, triple layer mouse cake scones, cookies … need I say more? For those looking to snack healthier, they also have homemade granola and other options that won’t give you a type 1 diabetes scare.
Of course they have coffees, lattes, teas and even smoothies to keep all you scholars happy. It’s a coffee shop; calm down.
I went with a small Irish Cream latte and homemade granola with soy milk. The latte was about eight to 10 ounces and the granola filled the bowl well that they gave me. Both ended up being $5.10. 61c Café is cash only, so be prepared before you go. Otherwise you might end up on a 10 minute scavenger hunt to find a PNC like I did because God forbid another ATM will accept your debit card.
The Irish Latte tasted swell and the granola was filled with raisins and nuts, along with whatever other carbs make up those brown clumps. Oats? Perhaps. As I enjoyed my purchases, I did some work and started writing this review. The majority of the semi-full shop had a laptop open with their faces close to the screen hard at work.
By the way, the cafe is great for those of you who stay up late pretty as it stays open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday.
61c Café is somewhere you would want to study. The distance from the Bluff is about 5 miles, either a 10 to 15 minute drive or 20 or so minute bus ride. Cyclists, it’s up to you how fast you can get out here. If you get tired of the coffee shop aesthetic, the Carnegie Library’s Squirrel Hill location is 20 to 30 paces away on Forbes.
Smallman Street Deli was my choice for a Squirrel Hill meal, located at 1912 Murray just a hop (not even a skip or a jump) from 61c Café. Smallman, whose original location is in the Strip, is what I could only imagine a New York deli is like. Meats, cheeses sold by the pound up font, to the back is a deli counter where all of your food needs can be ordered.
Smallman Street serves breakfast, lunch (both all day), as well as dinner. With items like the Uncle L.E.O. (Lox, Egg, Onion with home fries and a bagel or toast. Seinfeld anyone?), Rebuens and Rachels (voted Pittsburgh’s best), sandwiches and dinner specials (Pastrami and Latkes, Brisket and Gravy, Stuffed Cabbage etc.). Bottom line, they’ve got food. Good food.
I ordered a Mediterranean Veggie sandwich with hummus, roasted peppers and black olives on marble rye with havartu cheese and Russian dressing on the side, with a kosher pickle of course. Your sandwich is completely MTO (made to order), with your choice of bread (marble rye, pumpernickel sourdough, challah, etc.), cheese (muenster, hot pepper, havarti, cream cheese and more), toppings and condiments, and of course accompanied by the staple kosher pickle. Yes, I did celebrate the MTO nature of Smallman Street a little too much. You live and you learn.
While waiting for my grub, I examined the walls, lined with framed black and white pictures of Muhammad Ali, The Rat Pack, The Beatles and others that gave the deli a yearning for the past.
The food arrived and I got down. Everything was delicious. There were so many toppings on the sandwich it made the hummus almost undetectable, but it also wasn’t that flavorful. Other than that, everything was great for me.
My veg-med and Gold Peak tea ran me $8.52, and was well worth it. The sandwiches are good sized monsters and you’ll be happy when you’re done (if you can finish).