20 Hot Bars + 3 More Hot-ish Bars

A few hot bars that didn’t quite make the cut for the November cover story but are more than worth your while on any given weekend.
best bars

Photo by Jim Judkis

Thanks for joining me for the very first installment of Pittsburgh Magazine’s newest blog, After Dark, expanding on the beer-loving, bar-hopping, revelry-seeking entries I’ve been making in the print version of the mag for a while now. I’m going to try to find something for you to do each and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from hanging out at a neighborhood watering hole to taking in a unique film event to chasing laughs at a comedy club. Glad to have you reading, and please send your feedback, suggestions, angry diatribes and whatever else you may have in you.

I’d imagine many of you ended up here via the kind mentions the mag thought to throw in surrounding my November feature on 20 Hot Bars in Pittsburgh. Lest you think the places I listed were all that our fair (and frequently tipsy) city had to offer, I thought I’d kick off the blog by mentioning a few that didn’t quite make the cut, but are more than worth your while on any given weekend.

I gave Monterey the edge as Pittsburgh’s best (and most authentic) Irish spot, but it has rivals—Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle, Claddagh, and most notably, Piper’s Pub. The atmosphere is not 100 percent Celtic—it’s more of a slightly subdued sports bar, but that in and of itself is a nice selling point but the food, unmistakably, is. The Bangers and Mash should probably be your go-to dish, and bed should probably be your destination thereafter (it will fill the most hefty Gaelic appetite.) Before you get there, though, sample from a gargantuan list of fine Scotch, grab one of several Irish brews on tap, and order the Curry Fries as an appetizer. They’re a tasty snack, huge in the Isles, not yet heard of here. You’ll wonder why you never combined them before. (Piper’s Pub, 1828 East Carson St., South Side. Info: 412/381-3977, piperspub.com)

Tiki Lounge is the most distinctive of a quartet of South Side sister spots (along with the Lava Lounge, the Beehive and Double Wide Grill.) The fun, faux-Polynesian theme is taken seriously, from indoor waterfalls to bamboo everywhere. Cozy nooks and crannies abound, offering you the rare opportunity to have some relative privacy—and actually hear one another talk!—on busy Carson Street. I’d grab something sweet and summery (don’t worry, even the water is served with a tiny umbrella in it), and see if you can’t grab space in what has to be Pittsburgh’s smallest VIP lounge—a bizarre little corner set off from the stairs that separate the first floor from the basement bar. Instant fun. Plus DJ’s and bands on the dance floor in the back. (Tiki Lounge, 2003 East Carson St., South Side. Info: 412/381-8454, tikilounge.biz)

I am a huge advocate of bars for lunch. Why get a table and confine yourself to soda? Saddle up at a bar and sip something hoppy while you pour over the menu, then help yourself to a dish that’ll make you pick a light dinner later. I wandered into Lot 17 for this exact purpose, and was thoroughly pleased: A fine beer selection featuring a number of microbrews (particularly in the Pale Ale family) on draft, and excellent, huge, filling burgers. The place is cozy and inviting—you could easily spend a long evening catching up with friends or taking in a Pens game here—and even if you’re flying solo, you won’t want to leave. They live up to their slogan, in neon on the front window: “Live Life. Eat Well.” Amen. (Lot 17 Bar and Grill, 4617 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Info: 412/687-8117, lot17.net)

Categories: After Dark