100 Pittsburgh bars to add to your bucket list

How many can you check off?

On the list: Jalapeno beers, tiki drinks, mulled wine and 97 others.

On the list: Jalapeno beers, tiki drinks, mulled wine and 97 others.

Chris Togneri / The Incline; Jasmine Goldband / The Incline; Courtesy of Hidden Harbor; Courtesy of The Wine Bar at Market Street Grocery; Courtesy of Il Tetto
Rossilynne Culgan

Updated 5:40 p.m. March 21, 2019

Pittsburgh has *a lot* of bars — the most per capita of any city in America.

The city boasts 12 bars per 10,000 people, at least according to this 2013 ranking (it appears rankings haven’t been released more recently, so we’re going to assume were still No. 1 — you know, city of champyinz).

But this embarrassment of riches means navigating the city’s bar scene can be a challenging feat. We broke down the most essential bars, from grungy dives to swanky cocktail lounges, shot-and-a-beer joints to hipster havens. We focused solely on bars within the city limits (we’re sorry, Homestead and Millvale, you just missed the cut), and we tried to exclude bars within restaurants except for absolute must-visit places.

And now, we present in alphabetical order, Pittsburgh’s most essential 100 bars. (Is your favorite bar missing from the list? Tell us about it.)

1. 11th Hour Brewing Co., Lawrenceville

Jalapeno beer? Check. Oyster beer? Check.

2. 5801 Video Lounge & Cafe, Shadyside

An Ellsworth Avenue institution, 5801 describes itself as “a gay establishment that is welcoming to all people.” Hang out during happy hour on the bar’s stunning patio with $3 well drinks.

3. The Abbey on Butler Street, Lawrenceville

Is it a bar? Is it a coffee shop? All of the above in this funeral parlor-turned-bar.

4. Acacia, South Side

Expect gorgeous glassware and creative drinks at this speakeasy, as hidden as it can get on Carson Street.

5. Allegheny City Brewing, North Side

This cozy North Side joint offers a changing list of seasonal beers with a little something for everyone, from IPAs to ciders.

6. Allegheny Elks Lodge on Banjo Night, North Side

Peak Pittsburgh right here. The Pittsburgh Banjo Club provides the soundtrack as long-time yinzers and hipsters come together for cheap beers and bar food.

7. The Allegheny Wine Mixer, Lawrenceville

Explore this lengthy, oft-changing wine list and soak up the European vibes.

8. Andys Wine Bar, Downtown

In the lobby of the Fairmont hotel, a night of jazz at Andy’s with a cocktail in hand is a treat for the ears and the tastebuds. Also look for special menus, like these astrology-themed cocktails.

9. Arsenal Cider House, Lawrenceville

Hard apple cider, wines and mead — get ‘yer daily rations at this Civil War-themed bar.

10. Bar 11, South Side

Color palette: Neon, lasers, black lights, and highlighters.

11. Bar Marco, Strip District

This bar is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Tell the bartender what spirits and flavors you like, and get a customized cocktail, made-to-order.

12. Belvedere’s Ultra-Dive, Lawerenceville

Bar in the front, party in the back, pool tables on the side. Also, occasional roller skating!

13. Biergarten, Downtown

Perched atop Hotel Monaco, check out this bar’s solid beer list, giant pretzel, and a skyline view.

14. Bierport Tap Room, Lawrenceville

With a wide-ranging selection of beer spread across two floors, this tiny taproom is good for more than just grabbing a beer before a Row House show.

15. Birmingham Bridge Tavern, South Side

A classic Pittsburgh tavern with consistent food, it boasts a half-dozen TVs to watch Pittsburgh sports.

16. Blue Moon, Lawrenceville

Blue Moon Bar on Butler Street describes itself as, “the friendliest gay bar in Pittsburgh!” Don’t miss drag shows hosted by Who’s Nexter Bambi.

17. Brillobox, Lawrenceville

Whatever you do, don’t forget a #brilloselfie.

18. Butcher and the Rye, Downtown

A towering bar houses a (very instagrammable) collection of more than 350 bourbons. Grab a seat at next to the whiskey bar or head upstairs for a more intimate bar experience.

19. Cappy’s Cafe, Shadyside

Top-notch trivia, solid drink specials, and you might even spot a special guest: Mayor Bill Peduto, who called the bar his “living space.”

20. Cattivo, Lawrenceville

Go for a show or for a themed dance night, like Drake Night or 2000s Top Hits Night.

21. Cavo Night Club, Strip District

In the midst of fog from a smoke machine, dance under a chandelier at this Strip District club.

22. Church Brew Works, Lawrenceville

The holy church of beer.

23. Cinderlands Beer Co., Lawrenceville

Cinderlands has quickly became a Lawrenceville favorite, an anchor location on Butler Street. Go for locally made craft beer classics, like kolsch, witbier, and a bunch of IPAs.

24. Cioppino Cigar Bar, Strip District

If you want to smoke a cigar with your booze, check out this cigar lounge.

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25. Colony Cafe, Strip District

Hang out with cats while sipping your wine at this wine bar/cat cafe — you can’t take the wine with you, but you can adopt a cat to take home.

26. Couch Brewery, Highland Park

It’s all about comfort at this brewery, where you can order a recliner stout, a loveseat IPA, or an Ottoman Empire (puns!) Double IPA.

27. Coughlin’s Law Kitchen and Ale House, Mount Washington

Grab a seat on the patio to enjoy the view and the extensive beer list.

28. Dee’s Cafe, South Side

Ping pong, pool tables, and dirt-cheap beers.

29. East End Brewing Co., Larimer

Sip on an iconic Big Hop in the place where it’s made.

30. Evangeline, Downtown

Swanky vibes, well-made cocktails, and excellent people-watching atop the Distrikt Hotel lobby.

31. Fat Head’s Saloon, South Side

A standard for suds, this bar sells beer made at its Ohio brewery.

32. Federal Galley, North Side

Located in what used to be a bank, look for the cool vault remnants at the end of the bar while you wait for a cocktail.

33. Fl. 2, Downtown

Yes, this is a restaurant bar, but it has to make the list because it’s so dang good with its on-point interior design and specialty cocktails.

34. Full Pint Brewing Company, Lawrenceville

The brewery itself is located east of the city, but you can try out the brews at the Lawrenceville taproom. The White Lightning Belgian White is a standout.

35. Gandy Dancer Saloon, Station Square

All the bougieness of the Grand Concourse without the prices. Come for happy hour to score deep discounts on cocktails and seafood.

36. Gene’s Place, Oakland

With its cheap beer and legit dive bar status, Gene’s is an Oakland treasure. Regulars refer to it as their living room.

37. The Goldmark, Lawrenceville

Music is the key at this DJ-owned-and-operated bar that features DJ sets each night, from trap to reggae to disco.

38. Grapperia, Lawrenceville

Don’t miss the La Vanda, which features lavender-infused grappa, at this Italian grappa bar.

39. Hambone’s Pub, Lawrenceville

This family-owned fixture on Butler Street adorably describes itself as the “‘Hey, let’s go have some fun’ place,” with pinball, darts, and a weekly trivia night.

40. Harris Grill, multiple locations

Two words: Frozen cosmos. The bar’s got locations Downtown and on Mt. Washington, but we’re partial to the Shadyside location, though it’s closed right now after a fire.

41. Hemingway’s Cafe, Oakland

If you didn’t celebrate your 21st birthday at Hemingway’s, did you really turn 21?

Hidden Harbor cocktails

Even the glassware is gorg.

Courtesy of Hidden Harbor

42. Hidden Harbor, Squirrel Hill

A paradise of good design and tropical drinks with super fresh ingredients.

43. Hop Farm Brewing Co., Lawrenceville

Obviously, you’re going to find some hoppy beers here, hop heads. But there are a bunch of other options too, like a porter made with La Prima coffee.

44. Hough’s Tap Room, Greenfield

A beloved beer bar, 73 rotating taps pour beer at Hough’s. Order drafts in 4.7-ounce taster glasses for a chance to try a variety of beers in a DIY flight.

45. Howler’s, Bloomfield

Go for a show at the Coyote Cafe, stay for the seasonal beers on tap.

46. Independent Brewing Company, Squirrel Hill

Their motto: Local beer is fresh beer. Fresh beer is good beer. The bar serves solely beers made by Western Pennsylvania breweries.

Every bar is a Steelers bar in Pittsburgh.

Every bar is a Steelers bar in Pittsburgh.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

47. Jack’s Bar, South Side

Open 365 days a year, this South Side bar serves booze starting at 7 a.m. every day (except for Sundays when it opens at 9 a.m.). As Jack’s website proudly declares: “Mixed drink prices are based on doubles, as that is all we serve.”

48. Jekyl & Hyde, South Side

It’s Halloween year-round at this tiny dive, so you can get ~*SpOOky*~ even in July.

49. Kelly’s Bar & Lounge, East Liberty

Well-mixed cocktails, acclaimed mac-and-cheese, and retro booths.

50. Kingfly Spirits, Strip District

This new small-batch craft distillery with a bar is slinging daiquiris, highballs, and old fashioneds, along with snacks. On Thursday evenings, pair your cocktail with live music.

Il Tetto

Rooftop views, rain or shine.

Courtesy of Jesse Ament / Il Tetto

51. Il Tetto, Downtown

A retractable clear roof covers this rooftop bar so you can party under the skyline all year long — even when it’s rainy and gray, which is basically always.

52. Industry Public House, Lawrenceville

A Lawrenceville mainstay, order the Smokestack (smoked wood chips and whiskey).

53. Le Mardi Gras, Shadyside

In this dark, smoky bar, sip on s-t-r-o-n-g drinks and listen to the Rat Pack on the jukebox.

54. Lefty’s, Strip District

This Strip District bar truly embraces its dive vibe with a banged-up chalkboard sign out front and strong island ice teas inside.

55. The Library, South Side

A bar made for bookworms, scope out references to famous authors and notable books.

56. Lorelei, East Liberty

At this dual concept bar and beer hall, look for a lager-forward beer program, Alpine-inspired cocktails, and food by renowned chef Jamilka Borges.

57. Maggie’s Farm Rum Room, Strip District

You’d never guess based on its concrete block exterior, but there’s a cute bar and distillery inside this hulking Smallman Street warehouse. The distillery makes the first commercially available craft rum in the state since Prohibition.

58. Mario’s, South Side and Shadyside

Both the South Side and East Side Saloons are must-visits for a raucous, late-night party.

59. Max’s Allegheny Tavern, North Side

This low-key German bar has become a neighborhood favorite. Order the German beer flight.

Miracle_BadSanta_mh3140_preview 2

Santa — and Miracle — show up just once a year.

Courtesy of Miracle

60. Miracle, Downtown

Like Santa, it only shows up once a year, but this pop-up spot looks like “Christmas threw up everywhere” with kitschy decor and holiday-themed drinks.

61. Mixtape, Garfield

You can order a coffee or a cocktail (or a coffee cocktail) at this ultra-chill, no-tipping establishment.

62. Monterey Pub, North Side

Nestled among a patch of North Side row houses, it’s the one with an Irish flag out front. Grab a dark beer in a dark booth.

63. Moonlite Cafe, Brookline

A “home away from home” for Brookliners, this neighborhood pub is a go-to for drafts and specials (like $2.50 Coors).

64. Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle Irish Pub, Strip District

Live Irish music, Ceili dancing, Guinness.

65. Nadine’s, South Side

First of all, Guy Fieri loves it here. Secondly, it’s part dive bar, part neighborhood diner.

66. New Amsterdam, Lawrenceville

Grab a spot on the deck to drink in all of Butler Street’s happenings and some beverages.

67. Nico’s Recovery Room, Bloomfield

A karaoke bar at heart, it’s got a surprisingly long list of sandwiches and bar food.

68. Packs & Dogs, Mt. Washington

The name says it all: Packs of beer and hot dogs (no packs of hot dogs).

69. The Park House, North Side

Snack on as much free popcorn as you like while listening to live music in this historic bar (the building dates back to 1892).

Penn Brewery2

Since 1986.

Chris Togneri / For The Incline

70. Penn Brewery, Troy Hill

Pittsburgh’s original craft brewery, it’s been producing craft beers since 1986 in German style. It’s a must-visit during Oktoberfest when you can drink beer out of milk cartons.

71. Piper’s Pub, South Side

Go early on a Saturday morning for Premier League soccer paired with a cask ale.

72. Primanti Bros., Strip District

Go to the original Strip District location for late-night beers (and obviously buy a Primanti Bros. sandwich while you’re there).

73. Redbeard’s, Mt. Washington

A casual Mt. Washington sports bar with a large outdoor patio, just steps away from Grandview’s grand view.

Redfin Blues

Always dreaming of a warm Redfin Blues afternoon.

Redfin Blues / Facebook

74. Redfin Blues, Herr’s Island in Troy Hill

After you go once, you’ll be dreaming of sunny afternoons on Redfin’s riverfront patio all winter long.

75. Refucilo Winery, Allegheny West

Grab a glass (or a bottle) of wine at the new Refucilo Winery, which specializes in wines from Argentina.

76. Remedy, Lawrenceville

Head upstairs to the sticky dance floor where you’ll spill your PBR while dancing with other sweaty people.

77. Roundabout Brewery, Lawrenceville

Tap selections change every few weeks, so you’ll just have to stop back often to try out all of this local brewery’s beers.

78. Round Corner Cantina, Lawrenceville

An evening on the lush patio is with some margaritas is as close to the tropics as you can get in Pittsburgh.

79. Ruggers Pub, South Side

It’s a rugby bar, but even if you’re not a rugby player, you can still stop by for a beer and to watch the sport on one of the bar’s many TVs.

80. Sharp Edge Bistro, Downtown

Boozy Belgian beers.

81. Sonny’s Tavern, Bloomfield

Pickle shots in a hipster dive bar. Look for the mural of cats drinking PBR.

82. Speakeasy at Omni William Penn, Downtown

Hidden in the basement of the Omni William Penn, this space was an honest-to-goodness speakeasy tucked away for years as a storage closet. Order the Pimm’s Cup.

83. Spirit, Lawrenceville

In this Moose Lodge-turned-bar, dance, eat pizza, play bingo and watch live pro wrestling.

84. Spring Hill Brewing, Spring Hill

Light and fruity Belgian-style beers take center stage in this century-old Workingmen’s Beneficial Union hall. Here’s the full tale.

85. The Squirrel Hill Cafe, Squirrel Hill

Also known as the Squirrel Cage, it’s a longtime Pittsburgh standby for pitchers and burgers. Even Anthony Bourdain ate there.

86. Smallman Galley, Strip District

Smallman Galley takes seasonal menus to the next level, like their Smallman Sandlot menu.

87. Southern Tier Brewing Company, North Side

The Pittsburgh outpost of the New York brewery, it’s located within walking distance of Heinz Field and PNC Park and is a much better alternative than some other options (cough, Tequila Cowboy, cough) for pre- and post-game drinks.

88. Stinky’s, Lawrenceville

Step 1: Go on karaoke night. Step 2: Order a burger. Step 3: Wash it down with a beer.

89. The Summit, Mt. Washington

Craft cocktails atop Mt. Washington. Bonus points if you take the incline there.

90. Take a Break, Lawrenceville

Don’t just pass by this Penn Avenue place if you’re into pool games and jumbo-sized mugs of beer.

91. Threadbare Cider, Spring Garden

Housed in a former tannery, this ciderhouse pumps out cider so good it’s like grown-up apple juice.

92. Tiki Lounge, South Side

Tropical drinks and floor-to-ceiling tiki kitsch — bamboo matting, thatched huts, glowing lanterns.

93. Tina’s, Bloomfield

You can get really yinzer and describe this as “the place where Tea Bags used to be,” Tina’s promises “classic vibes and classic cocktails at a vintage price.”

94. The Urban Tap, South Side

Between two locations, one in Shadyside and one in the South Side, there are 140 drafts to try.

95. Villa Reale, Downtown

Located along Strawberry Way, the sign for this nondescript spot literally just says “bar.” Order some of the cheapest drinks you’ll find Downtown at this charmingly no-frills watering hole.

96. War Streets Brewery at Bier’s Pub, North Side

The brewery names its beers for locations on Pittsburgh’s North Side, like the Resaca Place Red Ale and the Arch Street Amber Ale.

97. The Warren, Downtown

The brainchild of two long-time bartenders, The Warren has become a classic neighborhood spot for craft cocktails. Bonus: You can order sushi from Penn Cove next door.

98. Wigle Whiskey, Strip District

A drink at the distillery is always a treat, but even better — plan in advance and book a tour and tasting to learn about (and taste) Pennsylvania’s fascinating whiskey history. The bar will soon double in size meaning more space to drink whiskey.

99. William Penn Tavern, Shadyside

A Shadyside staple, it’s the dream Pittsburgh sports game room.

IMG_0872

Warm up with this mulled wine.

The Wine Bar at Market Street Grocery

100. The Wine Bar at Market Street Grocery, Downtown

Downtown’s best-kept secret, this wine bar serves up Italian specialties in a cozy spot nestled behind a grocery store.