Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

King of the Hill

Bigham Tavern is a gem of a neighborhood bar hidden away on Mount Washington.


Photo courtesy of Bigham Tavern

I’ve been doing a lot of counting lately. See, we just wrapped up the voting for our annual Best of the ’Burgh Readers’ Poll, and as always, yinz are opinionated. Over 2,000 ballots were submitted with tight races in every category — not to mention some awards with over 150 individual nominees. (People are really passionate about their favorite hair salons.) I can’t even calculate the total number of votes we’ve received across the board.

But I have been counting ’em. Over the course of a week or so, our intrepid fact-checker Rebecca Jeskey and I counted every one. I see nothing but a giant Excel spreadsheet whenever I open my eyes.



You’ll have to wait until late June to get the list of winners, but my curiosity was piqued by a neighborhood bar that kept showing up in a lot of ballots. Mount Washington’s Bigham Tavern, reopened and revitalized (with renovations ongoing) in the space formerly occupied by Kaib’s Bigham Street Tavern, has seemingly inspired a passionate following in its first year of business; some voters were listing it for multiple awards. With an empty stomach and a sore tallying hand, it seemed like a fine way to get away from the ballots for a few minutes, so I decided to head up the hill.

If you’re picturing panoramic views and the accompanying high prices, you’re not picturing Bigham Tavern. Set back into the neighborhood, this place is much more corner bar than topside destination; the clientele would seem to match, with regular ’Burghers pulling up bar-stools in the expansive main room. The meat of Bigham Tavern is a huge central bar that could easily seat 30, with room for plenty more to crowd around on game day. And with a flatscreen at every turn, this joint is instantly the best sports bar on the mountain; I’d happily make the trek up the hill to experience a rollicking Steelers game-day crowd.

I paused on the way in to survey the chalkboard draft list; if you need evidence that Pittsburgh is now a serious beer town, the presence of craft microbrews and locally born favorites showing up at a neighborhood joint is Exhibit A. There’s a slight emphasis on the hoppy side of things — although I settled on the robust Southern Tier Milk Stout; in addition to the flexible draft list, there’s an entirely respectable bottle selection for those looking for a bit more variety.

Many of those ballots mentioning Bigham Tavern had submitted the restaurant’s Wing Night for consideration, so I asked for a half-dozen. I was given a menu with a daunting rundown of varieties, from traditional to bold; while every ’Burgh bar is happy to throw some ranch on some chicken, wings are clearly a big deal here. I chose a Cajun sauce; when the waitress presented it (along with a full basket of celery and carrots, a nice add-on), I immediately felt around for a Wet-Nap. These are not wings to be eaten daintily. These are drippy, flavorful, juicy pieces of meat coated in savory sauces. Dig in and worry about what’s on your face later.

I somehow found room for a gigantic fish sandwich and fries after the wings, knowing that after a lunch like this, dinner was completely unnecessary. As I attempted to clean my plate, I surveyed the rest of the place. There’s a separate booth-seating area off of the main bar, perfect for families or anyone looking for a little privacy (the high-backed booths could easily keep you hidden for a few hours.) All the standard corner bar trappings are present, from the Golden Tee machine to the anything-and-everything decor, but the difference at Bigham Tavern might be that all the elements work. Many neighborhood bars are charming for their flaws and drawbacks, but honestly, it doesn’t seem like this place has any. It’s a true Pittsburgh tavern, to be sure, but one where everything is done right.

Again, you’ll have to wait to see if this welcome addition to the mountain can take home any Best of the ’Burgh honors in its rookie season. But in the meantime, drive up the hill and into the neighborhood for a perfect example of the ideal ’Burgh bar. Just don’t make any big plans for afterward. You’ll be walking out with sauce on your face.

321 Bigham St., Mount Washington. Open seven days, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; kitchen closes at 1 a.m. 412/431-9313, bighamtavern.com

>> Want more Mount Washington restaurants and bars? Don't miss City Guide: Mount Washington.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

The ninth play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle will open outside at the August Wilson House.

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Get Your Clark Bars While You Can – They May Soon Be Gone

Production of Pittsburgh native candy bar may halt if the current producer cannot find a new buyer.

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

The Italian-born star died surrounded by family in his adopted home of Pittsburgh.

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

The City of Pittsburgh has finalized its street paving plan for 2018. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Three Rivers Champion: James S. Perry

Perry combined his love for athletics and volunteerism to create a youth athletic association that at its height provided organized softball and baseball to more than 350 boys and girls.

Three Rivers Art Festival Brings Music and New Art For 59th Summer

Point State Park, Gateway Center and sites across the Cultural District will host free, world-class art and events during this year’s 10-day festival.

Sound of Silence: Century III to be Sold at Sheriff's Sale

The nearly 40-year-old mall encounters foreclosure once again. Will this sale be the end of the line?

Pittsburgh Riverlife President & CEO Vivien Li Resigns

Li is returning to Boston to be with family members who are in declining health.

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.