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I Love Homestead ♥

16 Mar

This morning we went for a walk out of our small neighborhood and into Homestead’s Eighth Avenue corridor.

If you’ve never driven through the area, its almost shocking how blighted the main street is.  It lies in stark contrast to the bustling developed area called the Waterfront, just beyond the train tracks.  I sometimes think its a statement by the public – how many areas are completely blighted and then separated by train tracks from one of the most popular consumer destinations in Pittsburgh?

Something is wrong here, people.

I have a meeting on Monday with someone from the Enterprise Zone.  What is the Enterprise Zone you ask?  It is an organization which helps turn blight around in the Steel Valley, which has been correctly labeled an impoverished area.  Bringing businesses, especially green businesses, to the main street could turn the image of the entire Steel Valley around.  When people feel like there are great places to shop and eat, they aren’t afraid to move to areas and reinvest their tax dollars there.  For example – the South Side of Pittsburgh.  If you are new to the ‘Burgh, you may not even know what South Side used to look like.  Trust me, it weren’t pretty.  It was predominantly low-income mill workers in ethnic clusters (as was Homestead, to be honest).

Between 10-15 years ago, a developer approached Homestead to turn one of Andrew Carnegie’s defunct steel mills into a redeveloped brownfield.  The end product was incredible and has done so much for the Steel Valley.



And after:

While I’m not thrilled that there are so many parking lots and not so many pedestrian/bike areas, I am glad that there is commerce happening in my area.  However, if you think of it in terms of social justice, much of the money being made at the Waterfront is NOT being put back into Homestead.  Many people forget that they are the same place.

Anyway, that’s my morning rant.

I will be meeting with someone from the Enterprise Zone on Monday to find out how businesses can get help to anchor themselves to Eighth Avenue.



Food-gasm: SMOKE

14 Mar

Let me start by saying that as a resident of West Homestead, I am ashamed that my first visit to SMOKE was yesterday.

How have I lived without this?

I’m really not sure.  Not only is the food amazing, but the proprietor, Nelda, was incredibly sweet to us.

SMOKE is located in the 8th Avenue corridor of West Homestead, in what used to be the historic Leona theater.

(FYI – the only day they are closed is Monday.)

When I entered the restaurant, it struck me how empty it looked.  The mis-matched tables and reclaimed wood used throughout the dining area is incredibly charming and as a student of sustainability, I appreciate reused materials.  We beat the lunch rush, which is good because from what I hear it gets incredibly busy.

As you can see, their menu is very limited.  She♥ felt like that was a drawback because it only appeals to a specific clientele (i.e. people who like to eat tacos!).  After tasting their food, I realized that a restaurant is able to have such a limited menu if each item they do offer is incredible.  I had been recommended something with chorizo, which I generally like.  But when I noticed the apricot habañero sauce and caramelized onions of the pork taco, I knew I had found what I was looking for.  I also ordered a chicken taco with bacon, cheddar, and smoked jalapeño mayo for later.  I honestly was a little overwhelmed because I wanted one of EVERYTHING.

The second page of the menu promises:  “Never a day old tortilla!”  And they mean it.

While we didn’t order any sides, she♥ ordered a Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup – which actually doesn’t taste better, just flat) and I of course ordered a Diet Coke.  I am only bringing this up because of the price for these two items.

¡Ay, Caramba!

I have never paid $1.50 for a CAN OF DIET COKE in my entire life.  I didn’t want to do it, SMOKE, but point deduction for that one.

Thankfully the food is so mouth-watering, amazingly fresh, disgustingly delicious, food-gasmically good that I didn’t even care about the beverage robbery.

Here is what the pork taco looks like:

Since SMOKE is within walking distance of my house, I will warn you that you are going to get sick of hearing about this place.  ♥

Fish Fridays: St. Maximilan Kolbe Church

9 Mar

Today we drove the winding hill up to St. Max Kolbe church in Homestead.

This church has a high concentration of parishioners of Eastern European descent, which in fish fry terms means: haluski.  The fish fry menu at St. Max Kolbe is extensive.  They serve a huge fish sandwich, available with or without bread; crab cakes; jumbo or popcorn shrimp; linguine with scallops; tuna noodle casserole potato pancakes & lots more.

One of my favorite things about this fish fry is that it is open much later than most.  They serve dinner up until 7:00 pm.  Since we arrived only about 15 minutes before they shut down, we were about to take some extra things home with us.

I picked at a piece of fish meant for sandwiches, which was yummy.  The breading was thin and the fish tastes fresh.

We also tried some jumbo shrimp…

She♥ is a sucker for haluski..

And of course we had to eat some pierogies, which actually tasted right…

Overall, this place never disappoints and its a fish fry we continue to visit year after year.  I was even instructed to send Steel Valley residents over to visit the self-proclaimed, “hardest working Hunky” at St. Max – West Homestead Police Chief, John Dindak.  He manages to serve up delicious Lenten food and humor at this parish on the hill.

Eat in or take out (412) 462-1743
St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish
363 W. 11th Avenue Extension
Homestead, PA 15120


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