Nightlife Guide: A Sampling of College Bars and Restaurants

Trivia night packs them in at Gene's Place.

Trivia night packs them in at Gene’s Place. photo: Rick Handler.

School is in session. To combat the stress of exams, papers, group projects, and presentations, we present a nightlife guide of university-area watering holes. Many of these establishments offer not only drinks but also food, dancing, trivia nights, and live music, all of it designed to help you blow off steam.

Pitt, Carlow, and Carnegie Mellon students can choose from a myriad of Oakland bars. We’ve highlighted Hemingway’s Cafe, Peter’s Pub, and Gene’s Place. All happen to be named after a person; all are hospitable in their own unique ways. Point Park students, be sure to visit too, before the Pittsburgh Playhouse moves from Oakland to Downtown next year.

The Hangar, out in Moon near the airport, is a popular destination for Robert Morris University students as well as those needing to recover after a long flight. Mario’s East Side is a happenin’ spot for Chatham students and Shadyside visitors and residents. The Red Ring Bar & Grille is Duquesne’s campus restaurant, but if you find yourself Uptown, perhaps for an event at the PPG Paints Arena, you don’t have to be an alum or student to enjoy a fine meal or drink.

CCAC students at the Allegheny Campus have the whole North Shore right at their feet. And hey, there’s always the South Side regardless of the school you hail from.

Students and non-students alike, visit any one of these establishments (or your own favorite back-to-school local) and raise your glasses to another summer passed and the beginnings of a fun fall.

Hemingway’s Cafe is known as a great hangout spot by nearly every single college kid in the ’Burgh. Why? Two words: “shot pitchers.” OK, there are plenty of other reasons, but these pitchers, often topped with gummy worms, balance a fun appearance with all the classy taste of a great cocktail. Beer-o-philes, meanwhile, can imbibe from 40 drafts. A different featured draft is $2.75 every day (except Sunday when the restaurant is closed). And you have three chances to catch the $5 food menu (11 a.m.-noon, 2-4 p.m., and 9 p.m.-midnight). That menu, by the way, is long with typical pub staples (burgers and wraps) and some surprises. (A section devoted to grilled cheese? Yes, please.). Buzzworthy Pub Trivia begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The latter is music-specific. DJs Pat Flaherty and Alex Homer, both of DJ Company, spin 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, respectively. 3911 Forbes Ave, Oakland. (EC)

Peter’s Pub has been many Pitt students’ local for years thanks to a range of cocktails, drafts, and craft and import bottles. The food menu also keeps rising classes coming back for more. Every day boasts different food and drink specials, and the pub’s spacious interior means dancing. Country Night is every Wednesday. Check out the great specials: $6 fishbowls and $2 Coors Light bottles (10 p.m.-midnight) and $6 Bud Light pitchers (7 p.m.-close). If you want to add some protein to the picture, try the $5.95 sandwiches ( 5-10 p.m.). Bassburgh brings—what else?—the bass to the downstairs on Fridays, and DJ MSSV spins upstairs on Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, DJ Drew Altman spins downstairs Saturdays. If dancing’s not your scene, Peter’s Pub is a chill place to enjoy lunch or dinner any day of the week. 116 Oakland Ave., Oakland. (RH, CM)

Some call it a dive. Others, home. Many come for bingo, a board game, or trivia night but return for the camaraderie, dartboard, and daily drink specials. Nestled between Atwood Street and York Way, Gene’s Place may be the best South Oakland bar that you’ve never heard of. Owner Gene Ney teaches business courses part-time at Carlow University, which makes him an educator both in front of and behind the bar. The three flat screens are tuned to either professional Pittsburgh teams or to Pitt athletics. One of the weekly draws is Gene’s Place Bingo: 9 p.m. every Monday hosted by “The Fenn.” Prizes run the gamut from silly putty to GT Cola. Monday drink specials include $2.25 22-ounce Duquesne drafts and $5.50 Duquesne pitchers. Tuesday is Board Game Night. 22-ounce drafts of North Country Brewing are $2.75 and North Country Pitchers are $7. Another popular night is Trivia on Tap, 9 p.m. every Wednesday. Harrison Kinzler and Mike (“Marty”) Stanis make for some tough quizmasters, but to the victors go free booze. Wednesday specials include $2.25 22-ounce Miller Light drafts and $5.50 Miller Light pitchers. Winners or losers, everyone leaves with a smile on their face and knowledge gained. Gene’s is now smoke-free. 3616 Louisa St., Oakland. (CM)

Is there a better name for a restaurant near an airport than The Hangar? Whether you are a Moon resident, Robert Morris student, or a passenger soon to depart or arrive from Pittsburgh International, The Hangar is a top spot to park and refuel. The restaurant prides itself on its wings and freshly fried fish. Plenty of other food is on the full menu, some of it aeronautically themed (The “B-52” Dog, The Hangar Burger), others not but equally delicious (Ultimate Nachos, Hot Roast Beef). Enjoy a meal or drink while watching local sports teams on one of 13 50-inch flat screens. Mondays at 8 p.m. are Steel City Poker nights. Tuesdays are $5 Captain and Coke pitchers, all-you-can-eat wings, and Pittsburgh Bar Trivia at 8 p.m. The Hangar also hosts live music, dance parties, and the occasional comedy night. 500 Flaugherty Run Rd., Moon Township. (CM)

In Chatham University’s part of town is Mario’s East Side, which hosts Team Trivia Night every Thursday at 8 p.m. Win, place, or show and your team will earn Mario’s gift certificates. Play against the Miller Lite Girls, and you could even win Miller Lite trinkets and giveaways! Mario’s also offers a happy hour Monday through Thursday 5-7 p.m., featuring half-price drinks, and Friday 5-7 p.m., featuring $5 appetizers. There are other food and drink specials every night of the week. Tuesday’s are especially fun with $2 tacos, $2 Dos Equis, and half-price wine. Mario’s menu features fresh dough pizzas, wings, burgers, and ribs with their recently discovered, long-lost BBQ rib sauce recipe. Dine downstairs with open-air windows (when the weather’s good) or upstairs on their rooftop deck (open year-round with the help of heaters and enclosed spaces). 5442 Walnut St., Shadyside. (RH)

Gotta love a restaurant where happy hour starts at 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and noon Fridays. Especially when it has the beer selection to match. Such is the case for the Red Ring Bar & Grille, a Duquesne campus restaurant. It’s open to all Pittsburghers, though—perfect for pregaming prior to an event at the PPG Paints Arena. The restaurant offers a different lunch special every weekday. Key menu items include salads, hand-crafted burgers, sandwiches, and house macs. (I think we’ve reached peak Pittsburgh deliciousness with the Pittsburgh Mac: a four-cheese blend served with kielbasa, pierogi, grilled onion, fried egg, and hand-cut fries.) The Red Ring also earned a Gold Plate from Sustainable Pittsburgh for its locally sourced food, conservation efforts, and commitment to the community. Finally, fall may be coming, but the outdoor patio is going nowhere. Rather, it will be enclosed and heated. The Red Ring is closed on weekends, but will open for events, so do check its website. 1015 Forbes Ave., Uptown. (CM)

CCAC students! Your options are virtually endless with the North Shore just a stone’s throw away. Luckily, we have a North Shore Nightlife Guide that’s perfect for the occasion.

Christopher Maggio is a Pittsburgh-based writer and editor and enjoys dining around Pittsburgh’s many great colleges and universities.

Executive producer Rick Handler contributed to the story.



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Christopher Maggio

I'm a Steel City native and have worked for Entertainment Central Pittsburgh since 2014. I write, edit, and photograph in the categories of music, nightlife, and occasionally theater and dining. In my free time, I enjoy live music and time with friends and family.

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