Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Map

Here's the map of Pittsburgh with the neighborhoods that we've visited filled in. I'll post an updated version once a month.

Stop #13; North Shore

Date: June 29
Neighborhood: North Shore
Pitt Stoppers: Noreen, Richard, Big Al, Mindy, Rob, Josh, Carol, Jimmy D., Bob D., Chip, Pteri
Bar: PNC Park
Memento: Tickets

Pluses: Getting Manny Sanguillen to sign the book; baseball.
Minus: The baseball team.
Weirdness: The Pirates pulled it out in the bottom of the 9th. Unbelievable.

Manny signing our book.

Stop #12; Allegheny Center

Date: June 29
Neighborhood: Allegheny Center
Pitt Stoppers: Josh, Rob, Bob, The Wook, Todd, Mindy, Big Al, Jonathan, Richard, Jimmy D.
Bar: Park House Tavern
Memento: Menu

Pluses: Throw your peanuts on the floor. It's the oldest tavern in the city.
Weirdness: The ring board from an old brothel is a wall decoration.

The Pitt Stoppers cut through Allegheny Center.

Stop #11; East Allegheny

Date: June 29
Neighborhood: East Allegheny
Pitt Stoppers: Chip, Josh, Jimmy D., The Wook, Todd, Big Al, Jonathan, Bobby D. Mindy, Richard, Rob
Bar: Max's Allegheny Tavern
Memento: menu

Pluses: Great German restaurant, great German beer selection
Weirdness: The wall mural depicting a drinking and sleeping man getting robbed of meat by a daschund.

Mindy and the rare Swedish Wook.

Stop #10; Regent Square

Date: June 15
Neighborhood: Regent Square
Pitt Stoppers: Jimmy D., The Wook, Richard
Bar: Ryan's Pub
Memento: Book of matches

Pluses: Patty the bartender, good pub grub menu, open air front porch

Stop #9; Point Breeze North

Date: June 15
Neighborhood: Point Breeze North*
Pitt Stoppers: Jimmy D., The Wook
Bar: The Evergreen
Memento: A coaster made of felt - the only bar in Pittsburgh to have them.

Pluses: Great people, great Pittsburgh bar
Weirdness: Seeing both the prize marlin and the bait fish used to catch it mounted on the wall.

* - There's no bar technically in Point Breeze North. The Evergreen is right across the street and, in the grand scheme of things, close is better than not at all.

Stop #8; Point Breeze

Date: June 15
Neighborhood: Point Breeze
Pitt Stoppers: Jimmy D., The Wook
Bar: The Point Brugge Cafe
Memento: Menu

Pluses: Great Belgian Beer selection, incredible frittes.
Weirdness: Seeing the bartender later in the evening and getting our first endorsement - beer coupons for The Church Brewworks.

Stop #7; Polish Hill

Date: June 1 (6 stops in one day may be too many...)
Neighborhood: Polish Hill
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D., Mindy, Carol, Todd, Brendan
Bar: The one and only Gooski's
Memento: Smoke.

Pluses: The juke box, Marcus and Tim, people watching, the best dive bar experience in Pittsburgh

Stop #6; Bloomfield

Date: June 1
Neighborhood: Bloomfield
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D., Mindy, Carol, Todd, Brendan
Bar: The Pleasure Bar
Memento: Business Card, beer list.

Pluses: A good Italian restaurant in the middle of Pittsburgh's Little Italy
Weirdness: It is NOT Mariani's Pleasure Bar any more. Jamie Campau owns it and don't you forget. Here's a card to help you remember.

Stop #5 (?); The Great South Oakland Controversy

Oh, I knew where South Oakland is. It's down towards Mad Mex on the other side of Bates. It's right where the SOD ("South Oakland Dive") used to be. Don the bartender at Uncle Jimmy's knew we were in South Oakland. Everybody knew it.

Well, the City has other ideas. Check out the map for South Oakland. The SOD apparently was in Central Oakland. I'm still in shock. To do this thing right though, we have to go strictly by the map. While we hit a bar in what we thought was South Oakland, we'll have to go back and officially hit the neighborhood.

Date: June 1
Neighborhood: South Oaklandish
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D., Mindy, Carol, Todd, Brendan
Bar: Uncle Jimmy's (sense a theme?)

Pluses: The traditional Pittsburgh long, skinny-bar layout, the complete lack of beers with character.
Weirdness: The look from the bartender when Brendan asked for a beer with character.

Stop #4; Central Oakland

Date: June 1
Neighborhood: Central Oakland
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D., Mindy, Carol
Bar: Fuel and Fuddle

Pluses: The beer selection, the food.

Stop #3; North Oakland

Date: June 1
Neighborhood: North Oakland - by the map.
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D., Mindy
Bar: The Top of the "O"
Memento: Cholesterol

Pluses: The fries, the grease.
Weirdness: The Top of the "O" is the forgotten upstairs to The Original

Stop #2; Greenfield

Date: June 1
Neighborhood: Greenfield
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Jimmy D., Deanna, Bob D.
Bar: Big Jim's in the Run
Memento: Menu

Pluses: True Pittsburgh ambiance, the name
Weirdness: They still have a Spuds MacKenzie doll.

Stop #1; Central Business District

And away we go...

Date: May 29
Neighborhood: Central Business District (Downtown)
Pitt Stoppers: Rob, Josh, Jimmy D., Lisa
Bar: The Terrace Room
Memento: Receipt

Pluses: Danny, no smoking, classy interior, no TV
Minuses: No draft beers at the bar (though Danny has been known to get one on request)
Weirdness: The life-size palm trees

Danny signing the book.

Lisa enjoying the ambiance of the Terrace Room.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pitt Stops; the concept and origin

About 8 years ago, a bunch of folks were sitting in Piper's Pub on the South Side having a couple of beers. The conversation turned to trivia and Big Al claimed that there were 88 neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh. Of course, we had to start naming them. After filling up a couple of napkins with places I'd never heard of (like Windgap, Fairywood) or didn't know were city neighborhoods (like Brookline or East Carnegie). I realized that I didn't know Pittsburgh at all.

Now, I thought that I knew the city pretty well. I was born in the Pittsburgh suburbs and visited the City alot growing up. At the time, I was in graduate school at Pitt and felt I was savvy to the City. It turns out I was just an East End Kid. Sure, I was familiar Oakland, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill, and would even venture to Polish Hill for a beer or three. But I didn't know anything about the North Side beyond The Penn Brewery. I'd never been to the West End. Ever. I decided that I had to get out and explore - and what better way to do it than with beer?

The idea was hatched to have a drink in every neighborhood in the city. Not in one night - that'd be tough - but over the course of a summer. We started talking about it, but the idea lost steam over time.

Well, it just feels like now's the time. The City of Pittsburgh has nicely taken the time to identify each neighborhood, which makes things a lot easier. Now we don't have to wonder where the boundaries of Friendship are. We'll just know. The blueprint is all laid out for us. We just have to start visiting bars.

I've set up this account as a way of coordinating the proceedings. I'll try and update with every neighborhood visited and give fair warning of when and where the next outing will be. I've set up a spreadsheet listing planned stops for various neighborhoods for the Gmail-enabled among us. If you've got a suggestion for your favorite local watering hole, drop an email to

After the first couple of stops, it became apparent that the summer goal was a bit ambitious. Vacations, work schedules, and other distractions kept getting in the way. All the better. We'll spread it out over a whole year if need be. Now we have plenty of time to drink slowly and breathe in each neighborhood.

If you see us scheduled to be in your neighborhood, send an email or stop on by. This is one venture where the more is definitely the merrier.

Jim D.