Southside: Drinking Destination
The Southside neighborhood of Pittsburgh is the place to be if you want to do some bar hopping and don't want to be bogged down in any one place. Within the area's 12 blocks or so must be the largest collection of drinking holes in town. A Primanti Bros. restuarant on East Carson can provide you sustanence or you can pick up appetizers at most of the bars. From corner dive bars (walk a block away from the main drag East Carson street) to import specialist (Fat Head's) to party central (Margaritaville) to DJ (Lava Lounge), the Southside has a little something for everyone.
Note that parking is difficult and mostly done on residential side streets. Go early, take a taxi or be patient. Be respectful of the area's long time residents, they have to put up with this 365 days a year.
Dress Code: Depending on where you go, it could vary. But then again, this is Pittsburgh, leave your coat and tie at home.
The Strip: Get your groove on...
While the Southside may boast the largest conglomerate of bars, the Strip is best known for its collection of clubs where you can listen to live music or dance the night away. The industrial Metropol sits next to jazzier Rosebud and one cover typically is sufficient for either. If nostalgia is your game, Have a Nice Day Cafe plays hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s. There's a variety of other clubs and venues in the area and one only needs to walk around the area to get what you're looking for.
There is a large paid parking area or you can try your luck on the streets.
Dress Code: Most places are informal but some do have No Sneaker codes.
Buon Giorno III -- Market Square
We stopped at Buon Giorno at Market Square because of its authentic Italian look and feel. Stepping in the door we immediately saw Birra Moretti on tap, an Italian favorite. We sat next to the bar and for about 10 minutes failed to get the attention of the waitress. Then I went up to the bar and for at least 5 minutes could not attract attention from the busy & flustered bartender. When I asked for Moretti, she had to ask me which tap it was...
Beer in hand we relaxed and watched World Cup Soccer highlights at one of the two bar TVs. It was obvious the other customers were not happy with the shoddy service and we watched a few storm out in disgust. We finished our beers and moved on.
I think/hope the service isn't usually this bad. This was the weekend of the big regatta and it may have sent more customers through the doors than they expected.
Also, Buon Giorno is more of a cafe than a nightspot, so I'd love to go back and try their fresh pastries, coffees, homemade focaccia sandwiches and other Italian delights.
- Road Trip
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Finnegan's Wake - North Shore
Finnegan's Wake is as good of an Irish pub as you're likely to find in Pittsburgh. Located near PNC Park, it is a convenient place to stop for a pre- or post-game Guinness. Prices are a little high, and the Guinness seemed a little weaker than usual. Good atmosphere & lots of people on the Friday evening at 6:30pm when I was there. I returned in July of 2006 at about 1130pm and the place was still very busy with people sitting inside and out.
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Road Trip
Under 21 Dance Party: Club Zoo
Club Zoo is an under 21 dance club in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. It is open Friday and Saturdays (sometimes Sundays) from 7:30 pm to 1am. They say go early to beat the lines, but honestly, no one comes at 7:30. Also, the club usually doesn't open until around 7:45 or so. For the first hour, the place is pretty vacant. By 10pm, however, you don't have room to move on a Saturday night.
Club Zoo allows ages 15 - 20 enter the club. They say ID is required, but I have never seen them check it. Still bring it, just in case. On the nature of the club, I would definitely tell any parents NOT to let their 15-year old go. The "dancing" on the dance floor is R-rated, and girls in short skirts dance on the bars. My friends and I (ages 15-17) were disgusted most of the time.
It is $10 to get in, with a free coat/bag check. Also, free water and Pepsi are given out at the bars, which is nice. There is usually a theme each night, so check the Events section of the website. My group left around 11pm, and we missed the event of the night, a Victoria's Secret PJ party. I guess they wait until late to start giving away prizes.
Dress Code: The website states "proper dress required." They do not define what "proper dress" is, but the majority of girls dress in very skimpy outfits. Some were in short shorts and a bra top. Most wore jeans and a dressy blouse. Men wore what they normally would wear to school: Jeans, T-shirt, Polos, etc.
- School Holidays
Strip District - it's where you keep your pants on
The strip district is one of the places that has transformed for the better, giving the city a jump that was needed. This area of town is filled with bars with live bands, clubs you can dance and restaurants that actually brings some decent flavor and style. Although not in the same league as SF, NY, Chicago or Miami, and maybe a couple leagues away, it is a decent start.
Dress Code: anything from business casual to jean and t-shirt to the club-gear.
Sing Sing: BROKE, DRUNK, AND HOARSE...AND NEVER HAPPIER!!
Sing Sing is a dueling piano bar located in the waterfront of Pittsburgh. Located adjacent to Rock Bottom Brewery (they share the same microbrewed beer), it's hard to find...but worth the trouble. Piano guy number 1...Karl. The witty guy who can play the everything, the drums, the sax, the piano...and who never fails to make you laugh so hard that your stomache hurts. He says what he wants, blantant, brutally honest, possibly insulting, but always funny. Piano guy number 2...Danny. The tall drink of water who combines charm and some unbelievable musical knowledge. This guy knows it all....The Frey, The Killers, Eminem, Outkast, OAR, Ben Folds, Sir-Mix-Alot. He makes all of the new stuff sound better, and the old stuff sound just like it should. Piano guy number 3...Joey. Joey is the voice and the old school Pittsburgh guy. He's Italian, wears converse, with a shaggy head of black hair...you won't believe the power that comes out of this guy's mouth. Think Steve Perry of Journey could sing? This guy does it just as good if not better, and brings the house down when he channels Axl Rose in November Rain.
The waitstaff gets up and dances on the pianos three times throughout the night, proving that the have the same great sense of humor that the players do, and one of them even belts out Proud Mary. The bartenders get your drinks out fast, with ease and somehow always remember what you drink...making you feel like its not just any bar, it could be your bar. All in all, I've haven't Sing Sing left without feeling as though I had one of the nights with old friends that you never want to end. Good people, good laughs, great music. It's the best place to go out in Pittsburgh, don't miss it.
Dress Code: Dress is causal, but don't be mistaken, some of the girls go all out, after all it is the bachelorette party capital of Pittsburgh.
- Beer Tasting
- Theater Travel
Sharp Edge Beer Emporium: By far one of the best bars in the city.
Actually, I will go so far as to say it is THE best bar in the city. (it's most likely one of the better beer bars in the country too) To me, it's all about the beer. And here, it is all about the beer. What is it, 50 taps?? Half of those are Belgian and the other half are for the rest of the world. Many bottles to choose from. The decor isn't exactly the coolest in the world, but who cares. If you like, or love beer, then this place was made for you.
Beehive: Drinks and a movie
The Beehive is a coffeeshop with an arthouse movie theatre in the back. You can order your drinks, grab some food and head back into the theatre which has traditional seating as well as tables and chairs and a few couches to lounge on.
(The Beehive also has a coffeshop in the Southside but it lacks a movie theatre. It does however have pinball machines and is decorated in quite the eclectic manner.)
The Tap Room -- Downtown (William Penn Hotel)
The Tap Room is a comfortable little pub in the William Penn Hotel off Grant Street. We were walking back to our hotel one night around midnight when we noticed the little bar and decided to stop in for a nightcap. We made it in just prior to last call and got a couple of tall draft beers: the Penn Dark was tasty and about $6 a glass. The Tap Room also has numerous plasma TVs and some simple foods such as sandwiches, appetizers, and chile.
This little bar, as part of one of downtown's finest hotels, has been visited by numerous celebrities such as Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, Bill Murray, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tom Sizemore, and various Pittsburgh athletes.
The William Penn was constructed in 1916 by Henry Frick who built his fortune in Pittsburgh's steel industry. When completed, and for many years after, it was the largest hotel between New York and Chicago.
Stratus Nite Club - Strip District
This place might be closed now, not sure. Their websites haven't been updated in about a year (since July 2008). The sign out front is still up, though!!
We stopped in here one Saturday night in the city, because we were looking for a bar that was a little more laid back than the clubs in the area. On this night, Stratus had a live band, so we ducked in for a few beers. The music was exceptionally loud, and the crowd mostly college kids, but the bar area had a slightly older group, and it was quieter.
We sat for a drink or two, but this really wasn't our scene. Loud and dirty pretty much sums it up.
East Carson St: The South Side
Looking for a good time at night? Pittsburgh's premier place for nightlife is East Carson St, in the South Side area. It has almost a mile of restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, and other places to go. This is THE place to see and be seen in Pittsburgh.
Dress Code: It depends upon the club.
- Hiking and Walking
Heinz Hall: Pittsburgh Symphony
Pittsburgh has always been equated with blue collar workers, but more and more, the 'Burgh is becoming a center for the arts. The world renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs at the glorious Heinz Hall, named for.....you guessed it......Heinz "57" ketchup and pickles!
Dress Code: While some people think "anything goes", symphony-goers tend to range from business casual to sequins. Denim is rarely seen. Opening night is generally dressier.
- Theater Travel
East Caron Street (The ENTIRE Street): South Side for Drinks!
Friday and Saturday nights in the South Side of Pittsburgh are incredible. Tons of young professionals and people looking to drink and be merry converge onto East Carson Street. Located on this street are night clubs like Club Diesel and the Lava Lounge and well over 40 bars!
A popular tradition (albeit quite possibly impossible to accomplish) is what is called the South Side Crawl where you try to drink one drink (or more if you are brave) in every bar in the South Side. Although it isn't impossible to do, a lot of times people will like a bar you got to and you will stay for a few drinks which makes 50 bars not possible.
Dress Code: Most places in the South Side have no particular desscode, just casual jeans and t-shirt. Places like Club Diesel won't let you in if you have what would be considered gang apparell on (e.g. bandana's).
- Study Abroad
- Gay and Lesbian
The Strip: The Strip
This was known as a favorite place for local people to go and party or just hang out. Well, maybe it was a "happening" place once. When I visited, there was very little going on. Someone told me that there had been a shooting some time ago, which scared a lot of people away. During the day, this is still a lively shopping area.
Dress Code: Casual.