From Forbes to Fifth: campus alternatives

For anyone who has ever complained about Carnegie Mellon’s lack of variety in dining or the overpriced art supplies sold in the UC, Craig Street can be a saving grace. With restaurants and shops ranging from an Asian eatery to an Indian clothing store, Craig Street, just a short walk from campus, can be a one-stop shop for almost every need.

Crêpes Parisiennes, a quaint eatery that offers a large variety of crepes and other baked goods, is a great place to start a day. For breakfast and lunch, Craig Street offers a variety of scrumptious treats. Eat Unique (formerly Craig Street Coffee) is a cozy venue that serves deli sandwiches and boasts “the best soup in Pittsburgh.”

“I got this African peanut soup and it was pretty good, different, kind of spicy,” said first-year information systems major Meredith Huffsmith. Food prices are deliciously within budget for students as well; a cup of soup is only $2. Craig Street favorite Lulu’s Noodles has the international fixings of fresh Asian food — try Lulu’s teas with tapioca pearls for a sweet twist.

For dinner, Little Asia and Star of India offer more variety in international cuisine. Each has an assortment of flavorful entrees that are good for sharing. For something closer to home, there’s Union Grill, which is almost always packed on the weekends with locals watching the game and munching down on all-American burgers. For carb-cravers, Quiznos and Villa Pizza are also open for both lunch and dinner.

Anyone who needs to find a gift can visit Watermelon Blues to stock up on a variety of trinkets, specialty cards, and prank gifts for that special someone. “We have lots of fun toys ... different kinds of pens and pencils and art supplies,” said owner Betsey Schwartz, who recalled that, in the 28 years her store has been open, Carnegie Mellon students have particularly enjoyed the Vincent Van Gogh and Carl Jung action figures as well as more functional items such as stationery, candles, and teas.

For a more homemade gift, the bead shop History, tucked away beside Middle Eastern eatery Ali Baba, lets customers design and create their own jewelry. “[The beads] are really eclectic; we have everything from trade beads from Africa, masks from Himalayas, and we also carry a lot of vintage things,” said store staff member Meg Weiss, who is also a student at University of Pittsburgh. Prices range from $2 to over $100, depending on design. “We have students who come in here and make a $2 or $3 pair of earrings,” said Weiss, “but then you can also make a very expensive necklace if you use some of the rarer beads.” History is a great place for a private party as well; sororities from both Carnegie Mellon and Pitt go there to make jewelry to complement their formal dresses. Whether for a specific event or a just as a fun afternoon activity, History is a great place to let an artistic side shine.

A little farther up Craig Street sits the Sunshine Boutique, an Indian-inspired clothing store. Customers can channel their inner Nicole Richie by checking out beaded purses and funky jewelry, many of which come from India. The boutique’s pieces, many of which are one-of-a-kind, can take some time to sort through. For European fashion, Craig Street is home to Irish Design Center, which can provide the tweed fix for the season. Known for its cozy wool sweaters, the store keeps many warm and snuggly during Pittsburgh’s chilly winters. Although on the expensive side, all items are well-crafted.

After so many stores, shoppers may need a little down-time at Daniel and Co. A high-end salon, Daniel and Co. offers massages, manicures, pedicures, and haircuts (first trim is $10 off). Appointments are recommended.

Just across the street from Daniel’s is Phantom of the Attic, the first and only stop for any board game imaginable. Owned by Jeff Yandora, a friendly game-lover, the store is the perfect place to stock up on indoor activities for a rainy day. Phantom of the Attic’s sister store, also located on Craig Street, features the best of old and new comic books. More erudite reading material is available at Caliban Book Shop, which has a huge collection of rare and used books. Although not exactly the place to find the newest edition of a biology textbook, it most definitely houses some interesting literature.

Craig Street, just a short walk from campus, has many of the things a student could want from a college town within the urban area of Oakland. Its cute shops and culturally diverse eateries tailor to any college student, from the one who enjoys cuddling up to a great book and some tapioca tea to the one who spends all day playing with a Van Gogh action figure.