20 Best Bars in Pittsburgh
Your guide to the cocktail lounges, brew pubs, wine bars and dives that make Pittsburgh more than a "shot and a beer" town.
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Natives may lovingly refer to Pittsburgh as a “shot and a beer” town, but we are so much more. From quaint, oak-paneled neighborhood joints and lively brew pubs to candle-lit wine bars and cozy cocktail lounges, we selected some of our favorite toasts of the town.
If you want to try a new brew but aren't sure where to start, simply find your mainstream beer of choice, and we'll match it with a superb local microbrew. We filtered through the masses of local brews and selected five of our favorites that offer in-house selections to share with you. (Check out the gallery.)
Complaint: My place is dull, and I need to entertain. Solution: Take your party to AVA Lounge, which is basically a much nicer apartment than yours—comfortable, immaculately decorated, perfectly lit. Complaint: Every bar in town plays the same songs every night. Solution: Go to AVA Lounge—global beats, hip-hop performances, dancehall, reggae … you name it. Complaint: Everywhere I want to dance has a line into the frozen Strip District night. Solution: Make tracks to AVA Lounge, walk right in the front door and dance the night away. Again, the music is better here anyway. 126 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty. Info: 412/363-8277, avapgh.net
BOCKTOWN BEER AND GRILL
Perhaps no local bar is more of an oasis. To find Bocktown, you’ll have to navigate the interminable, winding maze that is The Pointe at North Fayette. You’ll find it—eventually—tucked behind Target in something unimaginably titled Pool City Plaza. The segment of strip mall it’s attached to is abandoned. In every direction is a monument to the downfall of the behemoth shopping plaza in a struggling economy, and in the middle of it, there’s a beer paradise. A constantly rotating selection of drafts, a tantalizing wall of distinct bottles and a bar comfortable enough to spend a long night in await you. No one should ever venture to The Pointe without ending the night here. 690 Chauvet Drive, Robinson. Info: 412/788-2333, bocktown.com
BRAVO FRANCO RISTORANTE
Known primarily for its excellent cuisine, Bravo Franco also deserves attention as a bar. The signs in the lobbies of Benedum Center, Heinz Hall and O’Reilly Theater might point you to the Cultural District-owned Backstage Bar, but the best place to go for your post-show drink is this intimate, welcoming spot. The service is perfect; the cocktails are excellent, and if you’re feeling a bit hungry after the show, you can get some of that unbelievable food. Not thrilled with the play/opera/ballet/whatever? Sneak out at intermission, grab a martini and watch the Pens instead. 613 Penn Ave., downtown. Info: 412/642-6677, bravofranco.com
If you’re anywhere near my socio-economic class, you’ll walk into Casbah and immediately think, This place is too nice for me. Don’t run. Sit at the comfortable wine bar, and you’ll find the most welcoming, attentive service and laid-back atmosphere of any top-tier establishment in town. The wine list is like none other in the county, and the cocktails are just as good. Grab a low table across from the bar, order the mixed olives (only $4!) and go through a few bottles. There are plenty of bars in town where you can feel like a kid, but this is the bar where you can feel like an adult. 229 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside. Info: 412/661-5656, bigburrito.com/casbah