Pittsburgh Advice

Discussion in 'Mid-Atlantic' started by cratez, Jul 19, 2012.

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  1. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Hey folks. I'm heading down to Pittsburgh, PA for the week leading into Canada's Civic Holiday weekend and looking for local advice on the following:

    1) Must-visit beer destinations in the city. We'll be in town Wednesday night (August 1st), all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday until lunch (August 5th). So enough time for 5-8 spots.

    2) Daytime tourist attractions. Right now the Duquesne Incline, National Aviary, Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, and Strip look interesting, but I'm open to suggestions.

    3) Safety tips i.e. is it safe to walk downtown at night? Are there any areas that we should avoid?

    4) Local bottle shops. I've heard that PA has strange rules surrounding bottle purchases. What are the best beer stores and what do I need to know about the laws regarding beer sales?

    Your help is greatly appreciated! Cheers
  2. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Glad to hear you're heading into the 'Burgh! Just FYI, public transportation is not that reliable, & cab culture is nearly non-existent - best to plan for driving.

    1) The South Side is the best concentration of good bars in town. Within a few blocks on East Carson St you can find (in order of recommendation): Fathead's, Piper's Pub, Smokin' Joe's, Carson St Deli. A little more of a walk takes to you to The Library, OTB Bicycle Cafe, Doublewide Grill, & Hofbrauhaus. The latter's kind of kitsch but a lot of fun. Another must-see (don't listen to the naysayers) is Church BrewWorks, a brewpub in a preserved deconsecrated church.

    2) The Strip is a great time on a Saturday morning. The Pittsburgh Public Market is pretty cool, & East End Brewing has a "growler shop" there. The Heinz History Center is also in The Strip. The Warhol Museum's another good spot, not too far from there.

    3) Not a whole lot of reason to walk around downtown at night. South Side is definitely where it's at. Pretty much any neighborhood you're going with good beer is going to be safe.

    4) The best options for bottleshops are outside the city. I always recommend Giant Eagle Market District in Robinson for good selection & great prices, & House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington for great selection & good prices. Within the city, D's Six Packs & Dogz in Regent Square & Pitt's Dogg'n It in Shadyside are probably those with the best selections, but they're pricy.

    Hope that helps & have fun!
    dtx00, cratez and drperry11 like this.
  3. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Hmm...pretty concerned about this as I possibly wouldn't have booked the trip had I known. We were planning on using cabs since we’re staying downtown and, as you point out, the South Side has the best concentration of bars. How do people get around? Is it safe (and close) to walk from the East Carson area to Bigelow Square at night? Or do people just drive drunk? Both of us plan to drink quite a bit. Help me out!
  4. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    "Non-existent" is an exaggeration. There are cab services available, you've just got to call for them, it's not like they're just driving around ready to be hailed. If you're just headed to SS & back, a cab is probably practical.
  5. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    That's a big relief! And thanks for the other recos. Fathead's, Piper's Pub, Smokin' Joe's, The Library, and Church Brew Works are on my radar and the Warhol and Robinson Giant Eagle were also suggested on RB so I'll keep them in mind.

    One last question - is it safe for two tourists to walk anywhere on East Carson at night? I notice it's only a 9-10 minute walk between Fat Head's and The Library, so I'm assuming the answer is yes.
  6. Hojaminbag

    Hojaminbag Poo-Bah (2,066) Dec 20, 2007 Colorado

    You should be fine walking between those locations at night. There is always a crowd on East Carson, especially on weekends. I've walked from one end to the other many times with no problems at all.

    Also, I just wanted to mention that I agree with everything onedropsoup has recommended to this point; spot on.

    If you're a baseball fan, PNC Park is a great stadium and is worth a visit. The Pirates will be playing the Astros the entire time you're in town.
  7. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Good to hear. We were eyeing a Pirates game but they're away until the day after we leave Pittsburgh. I think all the beer spots and other attractions will keep us busy though.

    Now my next question: outside of some Troegs beers, I have almost no experience with Pennsylvania micros. I see Yards and East End mentioned quite a bit but I’ve never had any of their brews. So, which PA beers and breweries should I watch out for at the bars and stores?
  8. Hojaminbag

    Hojaminbag Poo-Bah (2,066) Dec 20, 2007 Colorado

    I was looking at the July calendar for the Pirates game, my mistake.

    Yard's is fine, but they don't make anything that I love. East End is definitely worth a try. As Onedropsoup said, they have a growler fill station in the strip district in the Pittsburgh public market. Piper's Pub always tries to keep a bunch of PA beers on-tap. Their list stays reasonably up to date: http://piperspub.com/beer/. (that tap list makes me want to head down there myself actually). Every good beer place will have at least a handful of PA beers.

    One beer I definitely recommend is actually brewed in Cleveland: Fathead's Headhunter. Great IPA. There are bottles floating around right now in addition to a few kegs, and Fathead's keeps it on-tap as much as they can in the South Side (kegs don't last very long).

    For German beer, I think I can recommend the Penn Brewery once again. It's been up and down for the last few years, but the beer was good on my last trip there.

    Have fun in the Burgh.
  9. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    OneDropSoup has some good advice.

    1) +1 to Piper's Pub. I prefer it over Fatheads personally, just a bit less crowded and a bit more relaxed. Fatheads has a more extensive tap selection as I recall, but Piper's will have several hand-drawn casks if that interests you in addition to their respectable tap selection. Plus they are only a dozen meters apart or so. A benefit of this place as opposed to Fatheads is that you may actually get to talk to the 'keeper about the beer you're drinking (and certain ones know quite alot). In absence of baseball, if you're a soccer fan Piper's will probably be showing anything that's on including Olympics I would imagine. If it's not on just ask--I think they appreciate the excuse to put on another match. Final thing: Sunday breakfast. Just do it. Thank me later.

    2) Everything that ODS says and you have already listed, and add the Cathedral of Learning at the university. Really interesting building. What else what else....zoo is decent, if that interests you. Also the Phipps Observatory. Look it up if you're a gardener or orchid fancier. Tip: give over a full day to the Carnegie museums in its entirity. Plenty to see there.

    3) Carson St is perfectly safe with standard city precautions (smile, but keep your hand on your bag).

    4) Also agree with ODS here. Go to Giant Eagle Robinson (it's a grocery) before you go into the city if you can. Not only because it is in between the airport and downtown already, but also to see what prices are like as you pick up a few bottles for your hotel room. That way when you get to bottle shops in town (such as at Fatheads) you will know what is available elsewhere for a better price. And then stop on the way out again and pick up those things you wanted.

    Cheers and have a great time.
  10. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I strongly recommend Helltown's brews. They're a great new local brewery, & shouldn't be hard to find at the South Side locations. Their IPAs & even their brown (Mischievous) are great.
  11. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    You guys have been extremely helpful. Thank you so much. I'll report back with my thoughts in a few weeks time. Cheers! :slight_smile:
  12. bpgpitt10

    bpgpitt10 Aspirant (243) May 12, 2008 District of Columbia

    Just a quick note on the safety aspect... walking anywhere around South Side is completely safe. However, if you decide you want to try to walk back to downtown from South Side (it's probably only a 30 minute walk), don't do it. That's where you walk through an area that doesn't have many business and is very poorly lit. It's not worth it given the cab ride will be $10. Also, downtown at night can be a bit sketchy so I wouldn't do a ton of walking around there after like 9pm.

    The food at Fatheads is freaking amazing. The Beasty BBQ or South Side Slopes are my favorite.
  13. cratez

    cratez Meyvn (1,058) Sep 23, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Duly noted. Thanks for the tips!
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