Graduate To The Square

Fall is in the air and that means college students are back in Market Square. As far as extra curricular activities, the Square has plenty to offer from fab fashion finds and affordable food to free nightlife and quiet study spaces. So we're going to take few moments here to offer a refresher course to help students from Point Park University, the Art Institute, Duquesne University and all the others get reacquainted with the Square.

Okay, so you're back in town. You met your new roommates. Your class schedule is set. And you said good-bye to your parents. Now you're ready to hit the town to see what's new and catch up on your favorite places. Funny thing is, one of the newest places is a very familiar face. Okay, we won't keep you guessing because Las Velas is back and better than ever. After closing to repair damage from an electrical fire, the Mexican hotspot is back in business in its old perch overlooking the Square. The menu still features some spicy standbys, plus new dishes that pack plenty of authentic South of the Border heat. And with an appetizer menu that's easy on the budget, you'll say "Ole!"

No matter how many clothes you bring to school, there's always something missing from your wardrobe. Luckily, the Square is the place to go when a fashion emergency strikes. If you just happened to discover Serendipity in the Square, you'll find one of the hippest shops in all of Pittsburgh for the latest accessories from New York and LA. And for a new pair of jeans or sunglasses, check out WEAR for hot looks at cool prices.

Look, no matter how good the food in the school cafeteria might be, students need a little variety on their menu. Well, there's no better place in Pittsburgh to seek out dining diversity than in the Square, where you'll find everything from freshly ground, all-American hamburgers at Wingheart's Burger and Whiskey Bar to traditional slices of Italian pizza at Fat Tommy's. But that's only the start. Take a trip around the Square to sample the choices.  For student budgets, it's sometimes good to take half home or split with a friend.  For a meal to stretch, try the heavy duty Tex-Mex burritos at Chipotle and Moe's Southwest Grill, super subs at DiBella's, Pepperoni Rolls at Mancini's, giant burgers and the amazing veggie burger at Winghart's, a foot-long at Subway, or a pizza or toasted sub at La Gondola.  For a "just right" meal with a "just right" price, try the mini fish sandwich with homemade chips from the Oyster House at $2.79, or one quick taco at Moe's to get you through that next 3-hour class.  The breakfast sandwiches at Bruegger's, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks offer some light-weight prices any time of the day that are easy to scarf down as you run to down a City block.  We think you're not having a real Pittsburgh experience if you don't eat the whole gut-busting sandwich at Primanti's so that's an outlier in this list.  And the Cajun flavored menu at NOLA and gourmet Italian offerings at Bella Sera are perfect places for dinner when mom and dad are picking up the check.  More new restaurants are in the works for fall openings so check back here soon!

So maybe you'll need a quiet place to study, away from that roommate who can't find figure out how to turn down the volume on the iPod. The tables in the Square are ideal for catching up on reading assignments. And the comfy corners of Starbucks and Crazy Mocha are well suited for sipping a cup of coffee while studying Shakespeare.  Of course, if you need your java during an all-nighter, you can grab some freshly roasted beans at Nicholas Coffee along with some tasty snacks to munch as you type.

Some things you might not immediately think you need but will be glad you knew about... Dry Cleaning!  Spilled coffee on your interview outfit but need it back ASAP?  Try Galardi's 30-Minute Dry Cleaning on lower Forbes.  If it's good enough for the movies and concerts that come through Downtown, it's good enough for us.  And when you get stressed out mid-semester, head on down to Zhang's Massage above NOLA and let their staff make you feel as new as the renovated Square.

The nights are also a bit brighter this year. Not only are many of the businesses open later in the evenings (and on weekends!) but Market Square is sporting some bling.  Local artist, Carin Mincemoyer's work Diamond Diamonds dangles and decorates the light posts on Market Street, connecting the Square and the Cultural District, just as it's diamond imagery connects the Square with it's past. Did you know "the square" used to be "the diamond?"

For some nightlife that won't take a big bite out of your budget, the sounds of the Crescent City fill the Square as live musicians play at NOLA every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And the best part is that anyone can sit in the Square and enjoy the music for free - the front wall of NOLA opens up so you can see all the way back to the open kitchen. It's the best entertainment value around. Plus, check the Market Square Events Calendar for special happenings, for example: free Friday evening concerts from 5 - 8 p.m. continue through September 16.

And before we forget, the Farmers Market is open for business every Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. right up to Thanksgiving. It's a great way to stock up on fresh produce, vegetables and meats produced on local farms, and you don't even need a car to get there!  Take an extended lunch break to stock your mini-fridge with some healthy snacks or taste some of the great food prepared right there in the Square.

So welcome back, students.
We look forward to seeing you in the Square!


  1. Any non-Starbucks coffee places open before 8am on Saturday for us Weekend students?

  2. Saturday coffee in Market Square:
    Bruegger's Bagels 6am
    Dunkin Donuts 7am
    Starbucks 7am
    Nicholas Coffee 8:30am
    Crazy Mocha 9am
    McDonald's at Forbes/Stanwix

    When Vallozi's opens this fall or Bluebird Kitchen there may be additional options for Saturday mornings.

    Or, there are a number of hotels that could accomodate you. If you are an adult student and this is your quiet moment between kids and class take a seat in Habitat at the Fairmont. They serve coffee roasted by Nicholas right in Market Square and they'll pour your water from a giant silver frog. It's a lovely way to feel pampered over your coffee.