Underrated Bars: Dormont

Our late-night guru stumbles into Dormont and finds open pool tables, great dogs and a whole bunch of character.

As we were working on the roundup of Pittsburgh’s suburbs in our City Guide, I realized that I had never really had a full night out in Dormont. The streetcar suburb beyond the borders of Mount Lebanon has one of the most unique (and fastest growing) business districts around, and I was certainly familiar with the Hollywood Theater and Tom’s Diner. I hadn’t, however, simply been out drinking in this dyed-in-the-wool ‘Burgh neighborhood.

Unfortunately, my schedule limited me to a Labor Day visit, and more than a handful of bars and restaurants were closed for the holiday. Unable to check out a few places I had heard about— Mexi-Casa, the Apple Inn, and the new location of Eljay’s Used Books among them—I set off undaunted and without a plan. Could I take Dormont on a rainy Labor Day evening? Would the character of this community shine through despite the closures? Should I give up and just move some things around tomorrow?

I parked on Potomac, near the Hollywood, and wandered into Breakers Billiards and Lounge. A sizable pool hall and cozy bar are both open seven days a week, and if you’re looking for a game, this is the place; sixteen tables await, tournaments are held weekly, and they’re happy to accommodate all skill levels. My destination was the bar, however. It’s an intimate place right on the street, where you’re bound to strike up a conversation with some locals, or at least overhear some vigorous debate.

There’s a beer special every night—usually for $2.50 or less—and a food special as well. The menu is brief, but Breakers has a knack for comfort food—simple staples like nachos, wings and onion rings—but delicious. If you’re craving beer and grub, it’s a perfect stop.

(1413 Potomac Ave, Dormont. Open daily, 11 a.m. -  2 a.m. Info: 412/531-2250 or breakersbilliardsandlounge.com)

I sighed with frustration on my exit, seeing that Dormont Dogs was also closed for the holiday. On a previous visit, I was introduced to the taste paradise they call the Louisiana Avenue dog, smothered in Cajun slaw and Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The small storefront offers a number of mouth-watering and creative takes on the classic dog, and it should be an automatic stop before you head to Dormont Lanes or the Hollywood.

Pittsburgh’s got a new hot dog triumvirate with Dormont Dogs, Franktuary (Downtown,) and D’s Six Pax n’ Dogz (Regent Square;) at the risk of blaspheming the latter two, Dormont may have the champion.

(2911 Glenmore Ave, Dormont. Mon-Sat, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sun, Noon - 8 p.m. Info: 412/343-0234)

I was now firmly craving a dog, but getting hungry enough that I’d take a substitution. I walked along Liberty Avenue for a while before ducking in to Jamison’s, a big sports bar by the Mt. Lebanon edge of Dormont. It’s another shot-and-a-beer kind of a place, comfortable and welcoming, and, to my delight, open 365 days a year. Like everywhere in town, it’d be perfect for a Steelers game, with a wide variety of beer, perfect gameday food, and darts and Golden Tee galore for halftime.

I sipped a Penn Dark and surveyed the menu, discovering that missing Dormont Dogs could be redeemed: Jamison’s has a hot dog platter. Two dogs, macaroni and fries for $12. The arrival of this dish was a guilty-pleasure food revelation, as the waiter presented me with a veritable mountain of food, mac-n-cheese on top of the dogs with fries strewn liberally about the whole scene. Comfort food, indeed.

(3113 West Liberty Ave, Dormont. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m. Info: 412/561-3088)

Holiday closings aside, I figured that I had nailed the character of Dormont. As I attempted to finish the second (gargantuan) hot dog at Jamison’s, I realized that “comfort” goes beyond the food around here. As a working-class neighborhood that’s skewing younger in recent years, Dormont is all about taking some time to relax, whenever the mood strikes. Whether that’s through a classic movie for cheap at the the Hollywood, bowling at Dormont Lanes or pool at Breakers, a good book from Eljay’s, or just a giant plate of food pretty much anywhere, it’s time to hang out. It might just be a couple miles down Liberty, but Dormont is a local getaway. Hang out. Have a hot dog.

Don't miss our Best of the 'Burbs feature, which includes Dormont.

Photos by michealgoodin on Flickr

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

What's equally surprising is that it took a decade before Greene ever found out about it.
Watch: Korean Broadcaster's Epic Call of Kang's Winning Homer

Watch: Korean Broadcaster's Epic Call of Kang's Winning Homer

Most of us won't understand a word of it, but it really doesn't matter.
King of 'Donky Kong' to be Crowned in Pittsburgh

King of 'Donky Kong' to be Crowned in Pittsburgh

ReplayFX, a massive video-game gathering, will fill the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this weekend with more than 700 playable arcade games and pinball machines.
How Fast Can You Locate Pittsburgh Neighborhoods?

How Fast Can You Locate Pittsburgh Neighborhoods?

A fun (and slightly addicting) online game puts your local knowledge to the test.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Family-run farms adapt in multiple ways in order to thrive in western Pennsylvania.
Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg Brown knows anything is possible for his beloved Buccos. His career has had its share of surprise turns as well.
Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere make SMOKE barbeque taqueria one of Pittsburgh's go-to restaurants.
Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi is determined to make the Panthers believe in themselves and their program.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

What's equally surprising is that it took a decade before Greene ever found out about it.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

PittGirl's says, quite simply, no other color will do.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
New Book Focuses on Forgotten but Delicious Pawpaw Fruit

New Book Focuses on Forgotten but Delicious Pawpaw Fruit

Andrew Moore's engaging, informative read will make you hungry for the fruit that will soon be in season in the Pittsburgh area.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
At the Movies: 7 of Our Favorite Pittsburgh-Area Theaters

At the Movies: 7 of Our Favorite Pittsburgh-Area Theaters

Some of these movie houses are relatively new; others have been around for decades. But all offer something special to film fans.

Comments


Yinzer Pride is No Reason to See Pittsburgh-Shot 'Southpaw'

Yinzer Pride is No Reason to See Pittsburgh-Shot 'Southpaw'

Despite a talented cast, “Southpaw” is a lazy, troubling, dreadfully-intentioned waste of time.

Comments


How to Make Healthy, Great-Tasting Vegan Cheese

How to Make Healthy, Great-Tasting Vegan Cheese

Cheese: the final frontier. Jennifer England takes us through the strange new world of vegan cheese and boldly goes where very few have gone before.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Toast Pittsburgh with These Fun and Functional Drink Coasters

Toast Pittsburgh with These Fun and Functional Drink Coasters

Blissed Out Design’s handcrafted stone drink coasters include vintage images of the ‘Burgh.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
Love the Blues? Head for Hartwood Acres This Weekend

Love the Blues? Head for Hartwood Acres This Weekend

The three-day Pittsburgh Blues Festival has become known for scoring top-tier talent in pursuit of raising as much money as possible for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Expert Tips So You Can Find The Perfect Wedding Dress

Expert Tips So You Can Find The Perfect Wedding Dress

We talked to the experts of five Pittsburgh bridal shops to get their best advice for brides on the hunt for the ultimate dress.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Pittsburgh Furniture Maker Takes Home Top Prize

Pittsburgh Furniture Maker Takes Home Top Prize

Penn State grad Mike Korsak​, who designs and builds furniture on commission, can add another honor to his growing list of accomplishments.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Waynesburg Hires Noted Coach for Education Program

Waynesburg Hires Noted Coach for Education Program

Waynesburg University didn’t have to look far for an experienced educator to lead its Athletic Administration and Coaching program.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
These Pirates Already Are Among the Best of the Last Century

These Pirates Already Are Among the Best of the Last Century

The 2015 squad could end up being better than any of the '70s teams — even before the playoffs begin.

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