How do you define a sports bar in a sports town like Pittsburgh? Truthfully, if a bar has more than one television, it basically counts. Trying to find a spot for Steelers Sunday? Pitt football Saturday? Hockey playoffs? Bucco season? Really, no matter what game you’re trying to watch, most every bar in Pittsburgh’s got your back. Very few label themselves as “sports bars,” namely because they don’t need to -- many places (too many to count) have sports memorabilia lining the walls and regulars who could pass for 1970s Steelers statisticians. So, what are the best sports bars in Pittsburgh? The short answer: all of them. But if you’re looking for more specifics, this list should have you covered, no matter what region of the Steel City you base your fandom in.
Placed right at the bottom of Cardiac Hill in Oakland, take a seat at Pub instead of climbing to a seat at the Pete -- it is not recommended to make that climb having just eaten loaded nachos. Good food choices and atmosphere bring people in (and also make them stay). It can be hard to find a seat here, but you'll be surrounded by a feverish energy once you do.
Most of Pittsburgh’s outdoor bars are on rooftops, which are excellent in their own right, but there’s something to be said for a first-floor bar that doesn't require you to hike up three flights of stairs or awkwardly ride in a cramped elevator. The William Penn has a large outdoor space (that's covered in the winter) that requires no extra legwork, so all your energy can be spent eating wings (with its famed “Kitchen Sink” sauce) and screaming at the refs.
Want to go out to watch the game with a good selection of beer? Don’t want to the hassle of a big crowd? The Strip District’s BeerHive is the place for a calmer Steelers Sunday. Some might like the big crowds to cheer with, but others might want to skip the air horn in the ear every once in awhile. This bar constantly rotates its draft list and, what’s more, it actually keeps it updated on the website. Small plates, like Pittsburgh Pickle Company deep fried pickles, will serve you well on game day.
The tavern’s building has stood the test of time, by design. The bar has merged the classic with the updated look and feel of the place, and added on a lengthy list of pours. Not to mention its award-winning wings and salads that are actually salads and not the sad pile of leaves some other bars might try and pass off as salad. This tavern has a great second-floor space, but is available for private party reservation, which can make the bottom floor a skosh too tight sometimes.
There’s a bar that has Iceburgh’s likeness in its logo, and it just so happens to be located across the street from PPG Paints Arena. As you walk up to The Souper Bowl, you'll hear the Pens’ announcers, giving you that pre-game hype up. Busy before and after the game, the divey space becomes the eye of the storm during regulation time for those who don’t have seats inside the arena. Sit right in front of a TV, grab what’s on special, and sink your teeth into some wings with a sauce option that mixes BBQ and buffalo (Hint: It’s waayy more buffalo).
Where can you get an Immaculate Margarita? The Bettis Grille. The Bus’s stop is located on the North Shore, just footsteps away from Heinz Field and PNC Park. More like an mid-to-upscale restaurant instead of a bar, a few extra dollars is worth the price of space, good food, and strong drinks.
An obvious leap across the pond in the middle of the Steel City, Piper’s might more commonly be a game-day hangout for those with a love of soccer, with the Beautiful Game memorabilia lining the walls instead of American football. However, the pub food and drink selection is good on any type of game day, and really, nothing should come between a sports fan and their bangers and mash.
Strip District & Other Locations
The only thing that’s more Pittsburgh than going to Primanti's is going there to watch a game. Any of the locations throughout the city provide a truly yinzer atmosphere to watch whatever is on, coleslaw and all. If you’re lucky, the chain might have the HBK sandwich available (created near the end of the championship 2015-16 season to honor Penguins players Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel, not “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels), which stacks bacon and kielbasa on top of ham and is only available in limited releases.
Carson City is probably the ultimate bar stop for someone looking to cheer and yell at various large screens with a crowd of likeminded people. The South Side spot’s walls are lined with memorabilia, including the likes of a Jaromir Jagr jersey that’s been altered to say “Jagoff” and “traitor” -- you know, the type of wall hangs that give you all the warm and fuzzies as a Pittsburgher. A large draft list and a few bucket options make this place a great spot to take an Uber home from regardless of your budget, and the food menu touts Pittsburgh favorites, many of the portions big enough for two -- prepare your belly accordingly or plan to share with a friend. The atmosphere is loud, enthusiastic, and contagious, much like Pittsburgh itself.
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1. Peter's Pub116 Oakland Ave, Pittsburgh
2. William Penn Tavern739 Bellefonte St, Pittsburgh
3. The BeerHive2117 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh
4. Birmingham Bridge Tavern2901 Sarah St, Pittsburgh
5. Souper Bowl910 5th Ave, Pittsburgh
6. Jerome Bettis' Grille 36393 N Shore Dr, Pittsburgh
7. Piper's Pub1828 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
8. Primanti Brothers46 18th St, Pittsburgh
9. Carson City Saloon1401 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
A college crowd packs into Oakland's Peter's Tavern, a sports bar in the University of Pittsburgh's shadow that pours domestic bar standards like Buds and Millers alongside a nice list of bottled imports. Predictably, you'll see lots of Pitt Panthers sweatshirts here. Cheap chicken wings, loaded burgers (the Cardiac comes topped with pepperoni, bacon, ham, American cheese, and a fried egg), and caloric sandwiches deliver a familiar bar food fix. Meals are especially cheap during weekday happy hours, but those with really shallow pockets can satisfy themselves with unlimited free popcorn.
William Penn Tavern is a Shadyside sports bar that is beloved for the same reason most are: televisions (some 15 screens playing a variety of games), cheap beer and chicken wings. We wouldn't be surprised if you had trouble choosing which flavor of chicken wings to get (which run just mere cents each during weekly specials), with dressings like garlic-butter with Parmesan and dry jerk on offer. A 'kitchen sink' option does the deciding for you, combining all the sauces into one, served late-night on the regular alongside burgers and sandwiches. A tented outdoor space is outfitted with standing heaters, music and televisions screens so you don't miss any action during a smoke break.
Strip District's The Beerhive doubles as a pub and a retail beer stop, with some 100 bottled beers in stock and 16 taps spewing suds. The rotating draft selection is written in chalk behind the bar and covers a lot of ground, with craft selections ranging from Weisse to coffee stout. Like the beer lists, the food menu is a draw with an American-leaning lineup that covers the sports bar standards (burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, fried pickles) as well as vegetarian-minded seitan dishes (in dippable bites, tacos or served on a pita with cucumber sauce). Still, any of the fourteen types of wings make a winning addition to a Sunday spent watching a Steeler game, which entertains drinkers when it's not trivia or comedy night.
Birmingham Bridge Tavern, a two-floor sports bar occupying a brick-walled corner building in South Side, is known for two things: an extensive draft list and cheap, award-winning chicken wings (which come in servings of 5 and 10). Those endeavoring to try the ultra-spicy Death Metal wings may need a cold one from any of the 19 drafts served. Then again, you'll probably want one no matter what you order: slow-smoked pork and a menu of burgers and sandwiches fill up patrons looking beyond saucy poultry before they head up to the second-floor to watch an 11-foot projection screen playing the games of the season. But, be forewarned: this is Steelers, Pirates and Penguins territory.
Yes, Uptown's The Souper Bowl has a punny name, but contrary to what it might suggest, this is a hockey bar. Penguins fans waddle into the divey pub right off Duquesne University for soup du jour specials (get the bread bowl), nachos and messy burgers and sandwiches. Across the street from the Penguins' home PPG Paints Arena, the place fills up pre- and post-game, and with patrons cheering the games on TV, you'll feel right in the center of the action. Step outside, and you can hear the actual announcers commentate from the stadium.
What better place to hunker down and watch a Steelers game than a sports bar opened by a team member? The former halfback's take on the football tavern combines elevated dining with greasy bar favorites, serving char-grilled steaks, cedar-planked salmon and pan-seared chicken plates alongside casual pub favorites like sliders, loaded nachos and jalapeno poppers. Feel like a burger? Try the battered and deep-fried one on offer here. True to Steelers spirit, bar stools are topped in black and yellow leather, where you can order a beer and watch the game on televisions mounted on a wall depicting the bar's namesake.
True to form, this Irish-Scottish pub and sports bar is a hot-spot for lovers of soccer (weekly game schedules on the website). That doesn't mean you won't find the occasional Steelers game on any of the bar televisions, though... because American football fans love bangers and mash, too. While a food menu generally sticks to the tastes of the greater British Isles with Scotch eggs, beef stew and Yorkshire pudding, Pennsylvania-pride is revealed on the draft menu here, with 16 state-brewed options alongside some 21 national and international suds.
Primanti Brothers sandwiches are as iconic as Pittsburgh food comes, and the caloric empire all began with a humble food stop slinging sandwiches to truckers in the 1930s. The must-order Almost Famous Sandwich has equally humble beginnings: when a food transporter feared his potatoes may have been ruined by the cold, he asked the kitchen to fry some up to test them. Customers quickly asked for the fried potatoes inside their sandwiches, and a tradition was born: the addition of a pile of french fries to sliced tomatoes, tart coleslaw and your choice of meat (from pastrami to roast beef) between thick slices of Italian bread. Come hungry, because these things are gigantic. And you want to leave room for the wings, cheese-drenched fries and beer, don't you? This flagship location, marked with an old-time neon sign, has been the deli's home since 1933, long before the brand expanded up and down the East Coast.
An historic former bank building in Southside no longer holds people's money, but instead contains lots of beer, bar food and rows of televisions tuned to sports games in its current incarnation as Carson City Saloon. You'll want to order the wings in fifty-piece portions (yes, that's an actual size here), with flavors ranging from hot-honey to Buffalo ranch, but cheesesteaks, pulled-pork fries and burgers on Texas toast also hit the spot. A rooftop space overlooking the banks of the Monongahela River ensures that the leftover celery garnish on your licked wing plate won't be only greenery you'll see here. 64oz fishbowl cocktails keep the crowd feeling good, and after ordering a Call A Cab (white rum, dark rum, coconut rum, blackberry liqueur, banana liqueur, cranberry, orange), you might want to do just that.