The North Shore is like the suitcase in the Harry Potter film spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: a seemingly finite container able to house an infinite number of attractions. In less than a year, Tequila Cowboy, Southern Tier, and Foundry have opened. The Entertainment Central Recon Patrol visited these rising establishments and longtime favorites. This guide will aid you in planning your pre-gaming (or after-party) for any event at PNC Park, Heinz Field, or Stage AE.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of country, there’s something for everyone at Tequila Cowboy. That’s because this Nashville-themed bar and restaurant is connected to two additional, very different nightlife spots: Little Red Corvette (LRC) and WannaB’s Karaoke Bar. With three entities housed under one roof, operating hours and daily draws can get a little muddled. Christian Miranda, the establishment’s charismatic manager and head of security, broke it all down.
“You can bar-hop on the North Shore,” Miranda said. “Or you can bar-hop in one building.”
A day of one-building bar-hopping could begin at LRC, which serves lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. When the Pirates are home or the weather is nice, expect these hours to extend. LRC is also open all day on weekends.
Posters of ’80s and ’90s stars, such as Chris Farley, the cast of “Seinfeld,” and Prince, adorn the walls. There’s also a wall of hubcaps and a side-view rendition of said little red Corvette. The Pittsburgh T-steak Melt is a lunch favorite.
Next, migrate to Tequila Cowboy for happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. The time includes drink specials and free bull rides on the mechanical bull. After—and I can’t stress this word enough—after the bull ride, enjoy a TC Ribeye Steak, pasta, tacos, or a Nashville hot chicken sandwich for dinner.
Additionally, a tequila bar, with 30 different tequilas, is nestled in the back left-hand corner. There’s also a barber’s chair where staff can pour shots into partiers’ mouths.
By now, you’ll feel loose and ready for WannaB’s, which begins at 8 p.m. From Thursday thru Saturday evenings, local and national musicians provide another, arguably more harmonious form of live music on Tequila Cowboy’s main stage. Pittsburgh-based The Hillbilly Way and other noted bands have performed there in the past. Once the live music ends, it’s back to LRC for a night of ’80s and ’90s hits played by a DJ. LRC is also open in the evenings for events, such as Pirates’ and Steelers’ home games.
General Manager Chad Conner isn’t exaggerating when he says, “We changed the landscape of the nightclub scene. There hasn’t been a real party bar since the places in Station Square closed down.”
Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. 380 North Shore Dr.
Southern Tier, a satellite brew pub for the Lakewood, New York-based brewing company, is a slightly quieter, albeit still happenin’ spot.
“We want to be able to talk about good beer with people,” Jim Stillwagon, front-house and bar manager, said.
Multiple tables and chairs and a long bar, which stands across from garage door windows, make Southern Tier the perfect spot to meet with friends while contemplating the pub’s hoppy ales and dessert beers. Inside, the brewery equipment, which makes specialty beers available only at the pub, is visible. Outside, there’s a patio space.
Unlike other brew pubs, which often offer only appetizers and smaller plates, Southern Tier has a full menu. Entrées include open-faced smoked meatloaf, walnut crusted salmon, roasted chicken, and grilled portobello fettucine.
As you leave, check out the full retail shop out front for T-shirts, bottles, and cans. Although the Pittsburgh-specific beers aren’t bottled, you can always get a crowler or growler to go.
Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – midnight. 322 North Shore Dr.
The Foundry Table & Tap
If the Pierogi Races get you craving Polish food, there is a place in the North Shore that makes pierogies from scratch. In fact, The Foundry Table & Tap makes everything from scratch, not only pierogies but also pasta, and items like The Foundry Burger come from grass-fed beef. The lamb neck tagliatelle and sourdough crusted walleye pike are two of the main courses featuring culinary creativity.
Co-owner Andrew Stackiewicz believes the food is the biggest thing that sets his family-owned business apart from the other restaurants on the North Shore. The Foundry, with its ample wood paneling, Edison light bulbs, and alternative rock playlist, isn’t a sports bar either per se, although there are plenty of TVs to catch the game. Its location is ideal for those looking to party before or after a concert at Stage AE.
Happy Hour is weekdays 4 to 6 p.m. and includes drink specials and $6 small plates, like poutine. Thursdays, Rock-Paper-Scissors Happy Hour goes from 4 to 8 p.m. If you lose, you have to pay full price on your drink. You win, the house buys your drink. Tuesday nights, Pittsburgh locals can buy one entrée and get the second half off.
Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – midnight. Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 381 North Shore Dr.
McFadden’s was one of the first prime spots on the North Shore. Although it serves food, it leans more toward nightclub than restaurant. The mahogany bar has been known to double as a dance floor for women later in the evening. That bar also offers a great vantage point to catch the game on one of the 30 HD TVs. If the weather is pleasant, a riverside patio offers a gorgeous view of the city.
The menu isn’t strictly Irish-themed either. Chef Mic’s nachos are a favorite. Appetizers include Shepherd’s Pie-Rogi: pierogies stuffed with beef. Sandwiches, burgers, and salads round out the menu.
There are daily specials, like Two Dollar Thursdays, where a half order of wings, burgers, or domestic beers are each $2. Specials for home games run from pre-game until the game ends.
Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. Closed Sunday. 211 North Shore Dr.
Rivertowne North Shore
Charlie the Tuna may arguably be Pittsburgh’s most recognizable piscine mascot, but a close second is Rivertowne’s fedora-wearing Wylie the Fish. That’s because since 2002 Rivertowne has expanded from a single restaurant in Verona to four locations and a brewery.
The latest location is Rivertowne North Shore, which opened in 2010 in the Del Monte building. A top attraction is the riverside patio fire pit. Enjoy it while sipping one of Rivertowne’s signature brews, perhaps the appropriately titled Always a Home Game, an American golden lager.
The food menu includes pizza, sandwiches, and seafood mac n cheese. Rivertowne’s menu has several fun headings. Bait and Tackle are for certain appetizers, and Bucket features large and small buckets of items like fish and chips, shrimp and chips, and jumbo whole wings. Caution: You may not be able to get a bucket through a stadium entrance search.
Monday to Friday, there are daily lunch specials followed by a 4 to 6 p.m. Power Hour, which includes drink specials and $3 snacks. The Power Hour is not available during home games and concerts. A 10 p.m. to midnight Late Night Special offers half off Bait and $3.50 Rivertowne drafts.
Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 337 North Shore Dr.
Steel Cactus Restaurante and Cantina
Want to drink at your favorite South Side spots but be a little closer to the action at PNC Park? Steel Cactus Restaurante and Cantina and Local Brewhouse, both owned by area hospitality group AMPD, have locations on the North Shore. Steel Cactus is in PNC Park and offers a service window for fans lucky enough to have tickets. Those without tickets can watch the game in the restaurant while having Mexican food and drink. There are daily drink specials and on Tuesdays, tacos are $2.25 each.
Monday – Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday: Noon – 6 pm. (Kitchen closes one hour before closing time. Hours differ on game days.) 115 Federal St.
Across the street from PNC Park is Local Brewhouse. In England, a pub is referred to as a “local” by its regulars. You may soon claim Local, with its garage door windows and cozy brick interior, as your “local.” The menu features your standard pub fare and includes burgers that reflect the area’s history, such as the Mexican War Street and The Steelworker. There are also flatbreads. Drink and food specials run thru the weekdays.
Monday – Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday: Noon – 6 pm. (Kitchen closes one hour before closing time. Hours differ on game days.) 140 Federal St.
The Jerome Bettis Grille 36
The Jerome Bettis Grille 36 is a sports bar through and through and is owned by the former Steeler Hall of Fame running back. Located across from Stage AE, it’s a convenient spot to congregate before or after a show. The drink menu is divided into three categories: Jerome’s Margaritas, Game Day Juice (cocktails), and Extra Points (mostly single shots).
All day every day, there is a specially priced, 20 oz, beer-of-the-month draft. The premier menu item is The 36, a 36-ounce, grass-fed, bone-in beef smothered in onions and portobello mushrooms. Other items include cedar planked salmon, burgers, and sandwiches. Enjoy them inside or on the riverfront patio. Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – midnight. Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. 393 North Shore Dr.
Mullen’s Bar & Grille
Naturally, the newest restaurants garner the most attention, but it’s also good to see what places have stood the test of time. One such place is Mullen’s. The restaurant is part of a three restaurant group with three “sister” establishments in the Chicago area. Amiable bartender Rae Lynn Melnyk said, “Mullen’s is the longest-running bar on the North Shore because we have a friendly staff who make sure that everyone is having a good experience.”
What else would you expect from an Irish restaurant and bar? It also doesn’t hurt that they have $4 Bud and Bud Light Pounders (16 oz. cans) all day, every day. Mullen’s also offers a happy hour Monday through Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., with daily specials. The place is not too big and not too small—feels just about right. With many hi-def plasma TVs, one can catch all the home and away action. Menu offerings include its award-winning wings, pizzas, tacos, burgers, chicken, and BBQ. Open daily at 11 a.m. Closing time varies, but they are always open after games. 200 Federal St. (RH)
Bar Louie operates at three strategic entertainment locations in the Pittsburgh area. If you take the Gateway Clipper shuttle to the game, you could partake at the Station Square location and then, upon disembarking, imbibe again at the North Shore spot.
With their logo sporting a martini glass, we’ll cut to the chase. Bar Louie’s featured martini list is very impressive. It includes tantalizing creations like strawberry peach Bellini, Rat Pack, pom peche, honeydew, and 90 Miles to Florida. Beer, wine, and cocktails are also offered.
The food side of the menu offers burgers, sandwiches, and entrées such as voodoo chicken, sesame crusted ahi tuna, and verde pork street tacos. Bar Louie is known for having a great happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday with drink and food specials, including $5.25 signature martinis. A late night happy hour also occurs Sunday to Thursday nights from 10 p.m. to close. The restaurant and bar are open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Good spot for a late night meal and drink. 330 North Shore Dr. (RH)
Beerhead Bar & Eatery
Beerhead Bar & Eatery is the place for an amazing selection of regional, national, and international craft beers. Their massive amount of beer offerings run the gamut from Abbaye de Leffe Blonde, a Belgium blonde, to Zatec, a Czech pilsner. And yes, you can get Iron City and Penn Pilsner there too. They also have an on-staff beer pro. If wine, spirits, or cocktails are more your speed, Beerhead serves them too. They do not offer food, but customers are welcome to order-in or bring their own. Beerhead sports game day specials and a happy hour on non-game weekdays (Monday – Thursday, 4 – 7 p.m.; Friday, 4 -6 p.m.). Your dog is welcome too.
Monday – Wednesday: 3 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Thursday – Friday: 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday: noon – 2 a.m. Sunday: noon – 12:30 a.m. Hours are extended during game days and North Shore events. Boggs Building (across from PNC Park) 110 Federal St. (RH)
Pittsburgh’s restaurant chain Burgatory features all natural angus beef burgers, regular and alcoholic shakes, full bar, and an outdoor patio. Soho is just a gnat’s eyelash away from PNC Park and offers daily drink specials, a full menu of hand-held items, and some upscale entrées.
For a slice of pizza and a beer, look no farther than Slice on Broadway at PNC Park. Also at PNC Park is Atria’s Restaurant and Tavern. It’s known for its steaks, and it also features chicken piccata and a selection of pasta dishes. Speaking of steaks, if you’re looking for a special, perhaps romantic evening, there’s no place more elegant on the North Shore than Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse. Curbside valet service is available, and the menu boasts 30 wines by the glass. Two fireplaces complete it as the perfect date night. Rivers Casino also offers many dining and nightlife options.
The Final Spot
Of course, one can always fall back on the classic pre-gaming spot: a parking space. Parking can be tricky, though, depending on the event. The T might not be the fastest way to get to the North Shore, but it’s certainly one of the cheapest. And there’s Lyft and Uber too. Be sure to leave early enough not only to arrive on time and but also to visit one or more of these fine establishments. All are unique, all have something to fit your budget, all are near one of the most spectacular views of the city.
photos: Rick Handler
Christopher Maggio is a Pittsburgh-based writer and editor and enjoys craft beer.
Executive producer Rick Handler made major contributions to this story.