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 Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

Guaranteed you will look at this more than once.
Pittsburgh Dad's Take on Super-Deflate-Gate, Parking Meter Meltdown, Hypnotic Snow

Pittsburgh Dad's Take on Super-Deflate-Gate, Parking Meter Meltdown, Hypnotic Snow

Our weekly round-up of awesome, funny, quirky posts about or from the 'Burgh.
Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to the Big Screen

Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to the Big Screen

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

The cast includes three Academy Award-Winners
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

A new economy is being built by a younger, highly educated generation that appreciates the city’s past while embracing its future.
Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Thanks to grassroots community efforts and investments by nonprofits, foundations and developers, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a long-awaited renaissance.
PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

She says we 'Burghers must recognize our resistance to change and realize that we need to give it a chance.
Review: Willow

Review: Willow

Following a menu and interior overhaul in late 2014, Willow returns as a revitalized dining option in the North Hills.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

Guaranteed you will look at this more than once.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
History Lesson: Amelia Earhart’s Crash-Landing in Pittsburgh

History Lesson: Amelia Earhart’s Crash-Landing in Pittsburgh

PittGirl discovers why the famous female aviator made an unplanned stop here.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Inside Downtown Pittsburgh's Newest Restaurant

Inside Downtown Pittsburgh's Newest Restaurant

The Commoner is located inside the new Hotel Monaco.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Inns, Lodges or B&B’s for the Perfect Valentine’s Getaway

5 Inns, Lodges or B&B’s for the Perfect Valentine’s Getaway

All are located within a two-hour drive of Pittsburgh.

Comments


Bar Exam: Nadine's Bar & Restaurant

Bar Exam: Nadine's Bar & Restaurant

The family business on the South Side, famous as a top "breakfast bar," takes the Bar Exam.

Comments


Healthy Nachos? Yes, It’s Possible

Healthy Nachos? Yes, It’s Possible

Try these out on your Super Bowl party gatherers.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Decadent Marsala

Decadent Marsala

This chair and ottoman set from Weisshouse, featured in Pantone's color of the year, is downright tasty.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
Arcade Hosts Pittsburgh's First Sketch Comedy Festival

Arcade Hosts Pittsburgh's First Sketch Comedy Festival

The downtown comedy venue has side-splitting events scheduled through Saturday.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
10 Pittsburgh Places Where — Yes! — You Can Hold Your Wedding

10 Pittsburgh Places Where — Yes! — You Can Hold Your Wedding

Want to get married on the Racer at Kennywood? You’re in luck.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Meet Kym Pelcher, Owner of Splurge

Meet Kym Pelcher, Owner of Splurge

The owner of the Fox Chapel boutique has a vintage modern aesthetic. Plus, don't miss current home-interior trends.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
CMU Professor Aims to Make Sense of Sense

CMU Professor Aims to Make Sense of Sense

Carnegie Mellon University professor Alison Barth has gained a better understanding of touch after being part of an international team of researchers that linked a group of neurons to a specific type of somatosensation.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments