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

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

The boxing drama "Southpaw" is set to arrive in theaters in late July.
Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

The “Monopoly Millionaire’s Club” premieres this weekend.
Cutch Cuts the Locks

Cutch Cuts the Locks

The Pirates outfielder cut his hair for the first time in eight years.
Pens Honor Mike Lange for 40 Years of Unforgettable Play-by-Play

Pens Honor Mike Lange for 40 Years of Unforgettable Play-by-Play

How many of his classic calls can you recite?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

The boxing drama "Southpaw" is set to arrive in theaters in late July.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
19 Ways Pittsburgh Earned the “Quirky” Label

19 Ways Pittsburgh Earned the “Quirky” Label

Stand proud, Pittsburgh: Our brand of quirky is a good thing — positive, uplifting, fun, colorful, imaginative.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Culinary Excellence: 13 Renowned Chefs Serve Once-in-a-Lifetime Meal in Pittsburgh

Culinary Excellence: 13 Renowned Chefs Serve Once-in-a-Lifetime Meal in Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino assembled locally and nationally recognized chefs for Wednesday's James Beard Foundation dinner.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
10 Best Hand Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed (and They All Cost Less Than $20)

10 Best Hand Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed (and They All Cost Less Than $20)

You don’t have to be a handyman to be handy with those spring projects, if you have the right equipment.

Comments


Bar Exam: bellfarm Kitchen | Bar

Bar Exam: bellfarm Kitchen | Bar

The Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport's new bar & restaurant wants to be more than just a hotel joint.

Comments


10 Reasons Why You Should Attend This Weekend's Farm to Table Pittsburgh Conference

10 Reasons Why You Should Attend This Weekend's Farm to Table Pittsburgh Conference

Get the lowdown on one of the best food events of the season.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Add some warmth to your table with these nature-inspired plates and bowls from artist Lisa Neimeth.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
George Takei Appears at Pittsburgh's First Humanities Festival

George Takei Appears at Pittsburgh's First Humanities Festival

On Sunday, find out why the Daily Dot in 2012 declared Takei the most influential person on Facebook.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Cultures Collide: Multi-Traditional Weddings

Cultures Collide: Multi-Traditional Weddings

When the bride and groom hail from different backgrounds, a planning balancing act ensues. Here are two weddings that incorporate Hindu culture with style.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Design Tip: Use Hardware to Revamp Dressers & Cabinets

Design Tip: Use Hardware to Revamp Dressers & Cabinets

Tailor knobs and pulls to each room in your home.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Three Pittsburgh Heavyweights to Team Up on Data Mining

Three Pittsburgh Heavyweights to Team Up on Data Mining

With backing from UPMC, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh on Monday announced a three-way collaboration to use the digital data to revolutionize health care.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Death to the NFL Salary Cap

Death to the NFL Salary Cap

It doesn’t provide parity or competitive balance. The salary cap just steals millions from players who, rightfully, want to retire before hits to the head could ruin their life.

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