Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
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Best Tequila and Mezcal Bar
The third establishment opened by the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group (Butcher and the Rye, Meat & Potatoes, Pork & Beans) is its most complete experience. There’s an excellent menu of chef-driven tacos (and an excellent chef in Dave Racicot), a bumping soundscape and moody lighting. Bartenders are knowledgable and friendly, and they can quickly turn out balanced drinks even on busy nights. We love the cocktail list here, particularly the margaritas. But what makes täkō such a standout is the ridiculously deep tequila and mezcal list, complete with rare, high-end finds such as Tequila Fortaleza and Mezcal Vago.
214 Sixth Street, Downtown, takopgh.com
Best Bar For a Conversation
photos by cory morton
Dish Osteria and Bar [Closed]
The dented, copper bar at Dish Osteria has heard a lot of stories through the years. This South Side hideaway, which opened in 2000, is a place where regulars feel like they’re home and first-timers quickly feel like they’re regulars. Dish’s backbar sports an outstanding collection of amari, a class of geographically specific, bitter Italian liqueurs. Pop in for a bottle or a glass of Italian wine and order a snack — the seafood dishes are particularly good — from chef/owner Michele Savoia’s kitchen; it’s one of the few places in town where you can get a top-notch meal until midnight.
Best Spot For a Drink and a Burger
Photos by Hal B. Klein
You’re in the mood for a long conversation over drinks with an old friend. You’re also hungry. You head to Butterjoint, the cozy sister bar to Legume (a longstanding entry on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants list). The draft list leans heavily toward locally brewed beers (plus some great Belgian beer in bottles) and the cocktail list — both house-created and classic — is strong. Pair those drinks with some of the best bar snacks in Pittsburgh: highly regarded hamburgers share a list with pierogi, bluefish pate, hearty salads … plus anything you want from the full Legume menu. Butterjoint is quiet enough for an intimate conversation yet energetic enough that you’ll feel encouraged to stay for a few rounds.
214 N. Craig St., Oakland, butterjoint.com
Best Spot for a Slice and a Song
photos by cory morton
Where do you go when you’re looking for a shot-and-a-beer sensibility intertwined with a healthy dose of contemporary cool? You go to Spirit, housed in the former Moose Lodge in Upper Lawrenceville. On any given night there’s something worthwhile happening at this festive hybrid of bar and music venue. Local and national bands play in both the subterranean lodge and the upstairs hall. Sundays feature Bingo Bango, a hip version of the classic parlor game during which contestants win free drinks, slices of our favorite bar pizza (from the adjoining Slice Island pizza parlor) and random prizes such as a meat necklace festooned with cuts from nearby Butcher on Butler. The occasional nights when nothing is going on are a welcome break — because Spirit’s bar staff does well with the neighborhood bar thing, too.
242 51st St., Lawrenceville, spiritpgh.com