Underrated Bars: Tin Front Café
Sip on a Moscow Mule and listen to the Rat Pack at this Homestead bar for all seasons.
The small bar in Homestead’s Tin Front Café is hiding a surprising secret. The cozy restaurant’s friendly staff will volunteer it readily, but you’d never know just by looking at it. What's the big deal? Just a regular hardwood bar supporting the Tin Front’s cash register, a fancy espresso machine and some muffins.
But in a previous life, this bartop was the home of pints of Iron City and a parade of “mystery sandwiches.” It probably doubled as a pillow some nights, too.
That’s right, long-tenured Pittsburgh drinkers: the actual bar from bygone landmark Chiodo’s Bar is alive and well in the Tin Front Café.
And what a change of scenery! Chiodo’s was a classic, often smoky Pittsburgh joint famous for the donated brassieres of female customers hanging above the bar; the café is an all-vegetarian restaurant known for fresh ingredients and smiling service.
Perhaps no bar in Pittsburgh has supported such a wide variety of fun in its lifetime.
Make no mistake: Tin Front Café is a worthy home for the well-traveled bar and a fine watering hole in its own right. Like most fans, I came to this increasingly popular Eighth Avenue spot for the food. If you’re in for brunch, try the “Southern Comforts” burrito with blackeyed peas, kale greens, grits, eggs and cheddar. For dinner, try the four-cheese mac with sautéed spinach.
If you focus only on the grub, you’ll miss all the great drinks hiding behind the historic bar. Along with a number of diverse wine selections (available by the glass, carafe or bottle, to accommodate every meal), there’s a seasonal beer list alongside local favorites from Full Pint Brewing and other Pennsylvania breweries like Straub and Lion’s Head.
The speciality, though, is house-made vodka infusions, rotating seasonally. Right now, Tin Front is featuring a strawberry rhubarb creation, ideal for cosmopolitans. There’s also a great cucumber lime vodka for gimlets and Moscow Mules (yes, they have copper mugs). They keep a horseradish infusion and a habanero cilantro offering on the roster almost full-time to ensure particularly memorable Bloody Marys are a part of Sunday brunch. Come fall, the summer flavors will be replaced with pumpkin spice or apple pie.
You can and should saddle up to the Tin Front bar for drinks or food anytime you like. But if the weather is right, be sure to head for the tranquil courtyard out back. (Light drizzle? Sun-averse? Not to worry: Ample umbrellas hang over each table.) The staff has a thing for (very) old-school rock-and-roll and the Rat Pack, so the music will mingle with the atmosphere for a cocktail as relaxing as, well, the one you’re sipping. Add in that food, and Tin Front Café rises above its foodie brethren to double as a bar for all seasons.
216 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead; 412/461-4615, tinfrontcafe.weebly.com