The Russian Machine Guide to Pittsburgh

Now Entering Pittsburgh! Not too late to turn around.

Yinz goin ta Pittsburgh? Well, that’s your call, and I won’t judge you for it. Actually, I’m going too, so I thought I’d assemble a quick primer on the Steel City. I consulted my buddy Kenny, who matriculated at University of Pittsburgh, and my former ladyfriend eBagel, who attended pretty much every other school in the city. They advised me on the history of the city, some sights and sounds, and where to get properly sauced up before the game. Readers, please print this article out and stuff it in your fanny pack while travelling the Pitt-y wilds. It’s an untamed land full of hooligans and ne’er-do-wells, cutpurses and castrati, Pensbloggers and Super Swamper Boggers, and– of course– the ever-swelling army of Max Talbot’s illegitimate children. Let’s jump on in.

Pittsburgh Fast Facts!

  • Pittsburgh was first settled in 1983 by the occupants of a Bon Jovi roadie van that blew a tire on the turnpike.
  • Pittsburgh’s main export is gristle.
  • Since the collapse of the big steel, Pittsburgh has been supported by the atherosclerotic plaque industry.
  • Beer can be purchased only from distributors. Liquor and wine are sold elsewhere.
  • If you request transportation to Heinz Field, the correct phrasing would be: “can you ride me to Heinz?” Transitive verbs hold no meaning within city limits.

Avoid people like this at all costs

Avoid people like this at all costs. (Illustration by Rachel Cohen)

Touristy stuff

  1. The Incline
    Built in the 1870’s, these cable cars will give you a lovely aerial view of urban decay. Keep an eye out for the tire fires illuminating the cityscape.
  2. The South Side
    Dense with bars and college students, the south side also hosts the Beehive, a hipster-friendly coffee place where the only thing blacker than the coffee is the horn rims on your oversize, prescription-less reading glasses.
  3. Strip District Market
    Despite its name, this is just a cool historic area with shopping opportunities.
  4. The Warhol Museum
    How exactly did Andy “produce” the Nico album? Whatever. Can’t miss the museum if you’re into po-mo.


  1. Bellisario’s Pizza Palace
    Die-hard Steelers fans, but they’ve got tasty pizza pies.  I frequent the one in Frederick.
  2. Primanti Bros.
    Famous sandwiches served with coleslaw and fries in ’em.
  3. Fat Heads
    Nestled on Carson Street in the South Side, get your wings here.
  4. Steak n Shake
    Fast food: cheap and delicious. The fries are incendiary! Incccccendiary!


  1. Hofbrauhaus
    Japers’ Rink and Caps News Network are hosting an NYE party at this German beer hall. I’ll be there, tugging on J.P.’s coattails, lest I break a few more ribs in the meantime.
  2. Church Brew Works
    It’s a microbrewery inside of an old church, for those who prefer their alcohol served in the same place as their AA meetings.


It’s not looking good, friends.

Daily Weather Forecast for Pittsburgh  PA

Pack your poncho. I’ll be sporting the trash bag with eye-holes cut out.

* * *

Alright, this is obviously a desperately incomplete list. Do you have any recommendations to share? Got any plans for a meet-up or a tailgate party? Do you know the map point to a slamming warehouse party? Please put ’em in the comments. We’ll all be in enemy territory, so solidarity is necessary to our shared survival.

If you’re in Pittsburgh and would like to buy me a beer or three, hit me up via the Twitters: @peterhassett.

And remember, if stuff goes bad, Caps-friendly Hershey is only 200 miles away.

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  • Dave

    If you’re looking for wings, try out Quaker Steak and Lube. It’s….just trust me. PS- Louisiana Liquors, when you’re trying to decide what variety.

  • Darb

    I live n the burgh, so heres what I’ve found to be pretty good. Portioned copied over from a reply to a previous post:

    Avoid Pamela’s. Sure, it’s the touristy “Pittsburgh” go to, but it’s often packed with yinzers and the food isn’t very good.

    Better brunch options include:
    Square Cafe, in Regent’s Square (Typical breakfast food, veg and vegan friendly, excellent french toast)

    Coco Cafe, in Lawrenceville (Typical breakfast foods, get there early, they tend to fill up)

    Paris 66, in Shadyside (French)

    E2 (E Squared), in Highland Park (Fusion, non-trad stuff, veg and vegan friendly)

    D’s Dogs ‘n 6 Pax, in Regent’s Square – good place to get hot dogs and they have a great beer cave.

    Harris Grill, in Shadyside – good food (pub style) and good brews, sports friendly.

    Bites & Brews, also in Shadyside – a la cart style pizzas, sammies, and salads. Half price small pizza and a dollar off suds during happy hour.

    LuLu’s, in Oakland – good Asian fare.

  • Peter Hassett

    Awesome, @Darb! Thanks.

  • You are still going with cracked ribs compounded by a cough? A true warrior, Peter.

  • Darb

    No prob, Peter!

    A note on beer: while cases must be purchased from a distributor, some bars will let you buy a six pack to go. Note these will be at bar prices, though. D’s is a good example of a bar that allows this.

  • Manda

    A sidenote to be mindful of traffic coming in. Construction and traffic seem to be ever-present like any true blue collar town.

  • McKinley

    Primanti Brothers is greasy awful. Go to “The Original” on Forbes for great hot dogs and fries (small order is more than enough for 2-3 people). If that doesn’t cut it for you, Five Guys is next door. Also, the Dunkin’ Donuts just down the street may have the freshest donuts in the franchise.

  • Wes

    Any word on a pregame/delay of game bar?

  • J.P.

    To clarify a little further on Darb’s observation: distributors sell beer by the case, only. They also sell those overly sweet malt beverage drinks (Bacardi Breezers, etc) by the case. Why you’d wanna drink that stuff is beyond my ability to figure out, but it’s available if yinz’s tastebuds are beyond salvaging.

    You may purchase more than one six-pack from a bar, but you generally are required to purchase and carry out each sale as a single transaction. Thus if you need 3 six-packs of beer, it’ll require three purchases and three trips out the door. Yeah, it’s stupid, but PA’s got an archaic and byzantine process for alcohol buying and don’t expect it to change anytime soon, as all of the players involved are happy with their grips on their respective markets.

    Wine and liquor need to be purchased through a “State store” and prices are actually good. Pennsylvania’s ability to buy in bulk for an entire State store system generally leads to consumer-friendly prices.

    And finally, Lite beer is not beer, it’s just expensive bottled water 🙂

    Enjoy the Classic, everybody!

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  • Kenny

    @McKinly “Primanti Brothers is greasy awful”

    Sacrilege! Primanti Bros is 10 times better than the O. The O is possibly the grossest “restaurant” in the city. I have seen a homeless man passed out on the floor of the mens room with his head leaning against the urinal! On a side not, the fries are good when your drunk.