Cozy Café Gems in Southwestern Pennsylvania

My lack of travel experience is going to show through with this post, but living in Southwestern PA my whole life, my search for the perfect café has led me to a handful of hidden gems I want to share with my coffee-loving friends. I’ve spent my time and lived in different places on this corner of the state, but it has given me the ability to recommend cafés and coffee shops that are always going to be better than Starbucks. This one is for those seeking out great cafés in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Dor-Stop – Dormont, PA

This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall, corner café in the neighborhood I grew up in. Its popularity has increased due to it being featured on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but it maintains its homey, family-run feel despite the extra publicity. The Dor-Stop serves breakfast and lunch, but be sure to come early, the doors usually close for the day around 2 or 3 pm. All food is made from scratch, and no matter what you try–from the hotcakes to the sandwiches–you’ll want to come back for more.

Tip: The later you go, the longer the line. And yes, I mean a line out the door and onto the sidewalk. The earlier the better. Also, the Dor-Stop doesn’t have its own parking lot, so be prepared for street parking and paying at a pay station.

Patti’s Pasticceria – White Oak, PA

Once I started college, I was commuting daily to McKeesport. The neighboring area was White Oak. I got to know the area and the hidden gem of a café that was hiding out right on a main street. Patti’s is known more as a bakery, but they also serve up great coffee and café foods for anyone who visits.

The Big Idea Bookstore – Bloomfield, PA

I know it says bookstore, but it’s also a café! Every book-lover’s dream. This spot is fairly new and opened its doors in 2001. I found out about it while in college, when a professor mentioned a good place in the city to purchase non-commercial books. They serve coffee, tea, and different café foods, including vegan and gluten-free snacks. So, browse the bookshelves, find a cozy couch, and enjoy!

Tip: Bloomfield has limited street parking; it’s best to park further away and walk the avenue, checking out the different shops until you reach the Big Idea.

Coffee Brake – Evans City, PA

Coffee Brake, a tiny café on the corner of the main street right through Evans City, is a fabulous place for coffee, breakfast, and lunch. Since I moved further north, it has become a staple after I shop at the Butler, PA, Farm Market. One day, I decided to stop in, and I am so glad I did. They have wide selection of  coffee and specialty lattes, like the “Wedding Cake” and “O’Henry”, but “1982” is my personal favorite (a latte flavored with hazelnut and raspberry) so make sure to try it! Your order can be to-go or they will serve you if you decide to dine in. You’ll be surrounded by cozy tables and chairs, and a few people on laptops penning the next great American novel, or simply working. This is a great little place, and the staff are awesome people. Don’t forget to stop on the way to see the cemetery where Night of the Living Dead was filmed! There is also a Night of the Living Dead zombie museum a few storefronts up from the café. Be sure to check it out, horror lovers!

Orbis Caffe – Mt. Lebanon, PA

Finally, one of my favorite little stops near my old stomping grounds, Orbis is wonderfully small and cozy, selling many different types of coffee and also foods for everyone, from vegans to the gluten-free. If you visit, I recommend their Vegan Blueberry Muffins, which are some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and I usually leave with a few to save for later. This spot not only houses a quiet haven for readers and writers, but it also hosts coffeehouse musicians and other events! So, stop in for brunch on Sundays or for a quick coffee or tea; this is a lovely spot all coffee connoisseurs should visit.

Like the list? What are some of your favorite coffee spots that only locals can recommend?


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