Vegan and Craving Holiday Dessert? Pittsburgh Is the Place to Be

By Camille Chidsey

snow-flake-redThe Holidays are a time of connection, conversation and my personal favorite – good food! But what if you have dietary restrictions? Many of us have friends or family members who identify as Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten-Free. Particularly if you’re vegan (no dairy, meat, or animal products of any kind), it might be hard to watch loved ones enjoying plates of cookies, slices of pie or Grandma’s famous nut roll without us. However, with its plethora of unique and tasty dining options, several Pittsburgh eateries are well-stocked with delicious vegan alternatives for Holiday treats.


Perhaps most well-known, is the Squirrel Hill bakery, Gluuteny, located on Murray Avenue. Gluuteny boasts an impressive full menu of vegan and gluten-free dessert options. Their chocolate, almond, and red velvet cakes are offered year-round, as well as maple and chocolate chip scones, peanut butter cookie sandwiches (vegan peanut butter wedged between two peanut butter cookies) and vanilla and chocolate donuts. Their donuts can be further outfitted with cinnamon, coconut or maple glazes. Seasonally, they offer specialty decorated cookies. In the Fall, pumpkins, sugar skulls and spider webs are available toppings, while Santa Clause, Christmas trees and menorahs are offered closer to Christmas and Hanukkah.


star-cookieIf you’re in the mood for denser carbohydrates, another bakery in Squirrel Hill, Allegro Hearth, offers vegan banana bread, banana nut muffins and carrot raison muffins year-round. Vegan apricot and raspberry crisps are also available.


However, what if you are dining out in the area? Aladdin’s Eatery, a Lebanese-American franchise, has an outpost on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Many of their dishes are vegetarian and vegan, but they also maintain a rotating list of cookies, baklava, brownies and bars. Complementing their traditional dinner menu, Aladdin’s makes vegan and gluten-free peanut butter jam cookies and blueberry spice and cucumber bars.


Outside of Squirrel Hill, other Pittsburgh neighborhoods contain restaurants and cafes that cater to those with similar dietary restrictions. Apteka, a Central and Eastern European cuisine based restaurant and bar in Bloomfield, is noteworthy for their entirely vegan menu. Started by Pierogi Night founders Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, Apteka’s menu concentrates primarily on hearty foods such as pierogi, stuffed cabbage and haluski. However, they also make an impressive vegan apple tart. Located on their traditional menu, tarta jablkowa (apple tart with dried fruit compote), makes a wonderful addition to any Holiday meal.


stockingAdditionally, Zenith, a unique combination vegetarian/vegan restaurant, art gallery, and antique shop located in Pittsburgh’s South Side, provides rotating menus catering to alternative crowds. While their menu changes weekly, Zenith is worth researching as their seasonal desserts are customarily vegan.


Cafes are also optimal places for enjoying vegan desserts. The Umbrella Café’s baked goods are all vegan and gluten-free, and available singularly or if you call ahead, in small amounts. They make chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies, apple cinnamon and chocolate donuts, and chocolate brownies. Be sure to stop in and grab a few goodies!


Similarly, The B52 Café in Lawrenceville also provides pastries, coffee and food menus. B52 offers a range of treats, including vegan chocolate chip cookies, banana walnut and carrot raison muffins, and namorra, a semolina cake with almond. The staff also prepares house-made chocolates in a variety of flavors. Current chocolate flavors include: tahini, sea salt & almond, espresso & cardamom, pistachio shortbread, sea salt & caramel, cherry bourbon, peanut butter, and coconut macaroon.


heart-cookiesGroceries provide another option for vegan Holiday desserts as well. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and East End Food Co-op all offer seasonal combinations of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cookie dough and pie mixes.


Another great resource for vegan Holiday treats is Gluten Free Goat Bakery, a wholesale distributor of gluten-free and vegan baked goods. They are available for catering, consultations, and special orders as well. Perhaps most exciting in the business’s future is their brick and mortar bakery and vegetarian/vegan café set to open in soon in Garfield. Check out for complete listings of the wholesale coffee shops and cafes they deliver to.

Even if you have dietary restrictions, the Holidays should not prohibit you from enjoying delicious, affordable and local sweets!


Where to Go

1923 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 521-4890


Allegro Hearth Bakery
2034 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 422-5623


Aladdin’s Eatery
5878 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 421-5100


4606 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224


86 S 26th St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 481.4833


The Umbrella Café
951 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 391-8500
The B52 Café
5202 Butler St
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 408-3988


Trader Joe’s
The Village of Eastside
6343 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 363-5748


Whole Foods
5880 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 441-7960


East End Food Co-op
7516 Meade St
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
(412) 242-3598


Gluten Free Goat Bakery
4905 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
(412) 206-5553

about SHUC

Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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