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Monday, September 28, 2015

Lucky's/Gaucho Parrilla - Strip District

They don't really make a "Sorry your dodgeball coach just got crushed by two tons of irony" Hallmark card.
I have been walking by Lucky's for several years wondering what goes on under the giant green shamrock.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what Lucky's was like during the early evening on a sunny Thursday. The bar was scarcely populated, the bartender was fantastic, the room was smokey but permeated with late summer sun and drinks were priced for consumption! (Well drinks and draft beers were both $1.75 from 5:30 to 7:30)

Now I've come to expect the occasional $2 well drink special in this wonderful city I call home, but that extra 12% savings is quite the selling point! For an establishment located within city limits of a moderately large city, I would estimate that this deal is in the 95th percentile of all time happy hour specials available nationwide.

While I loved Lucky's, I could not properly recommend dining there. This toaster oven pizza was quite a steal, but, after all, it was cooked in a toaster oven and sadder than a dying grandma on her birthday. Great news though! You can walk right down the street to one of Pittsburgh's best restaurants, Gaucho Parrilla.

The saddest pizza of the lands.
I've dined at Gaucho a number of times, but only recently did I have the opportunity to meet the charismatic owner, Anthony Falcon. In addition to being a total badass, Anthony is a real salt of the earth guy. When I ran into Anthony at the King of the Wing Festival he was talking about how disappointed he was that he had to wait in a huge line at Gaucho the night before. What a great guy he is to wait in line at his own restaurant! (The line can be pretty substantial, but it moves quickly.)


Every meal I have had at Gaucho has been world class. I was extremely excited for the burger due to the high rating from Pitts-Burgers, but I feel that in the future I will opt for my favorite Gaucho dish. The meat platter! You can never go wrong with a meat platter featuring steak cooked over oak wood and a plethora of fantastic homemade sauces. Always go with the steak, eat bread at home.

The burger was just a bit too pedestrian for my tastes at a restaurant specializing in steak.

Don't skimp on the chimichurri and never forget that Gaucho is BYOB.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Remember earlier this year when Stage AE and Coors Light teamed up to give away tickets to every show at Stage AE. It is happening again! Just enter to win at, let them know where you are partying and be sure to use #MusicToMyBeers. Winners will be announced September 25. Let me know if you win so I can demand that you take me to see String Cheese Incident! My #MusicToMyBeers pick is the Pretenders with Back on the Chain Gang.

Bettis Grill

The pierogie flatbread at Bettis is certainly something different. Who would think of using mashed potatoes as a pizza base? What clever bastards. They list this appetizer  as one of their signature dishes and I understand why.  If you aren't from Pittsburgh, pierogies are entirely a novelty. This is easy to overlook once you have lived in this city for several years. I would say that at least forty percent of bars in Pittsburgh have pierogies on the menu. We might have more places to get pierogies than some large cities in Poland. This is very shocking when you consider the word pierogie has no entry in most spell check dictionaries and indeed no standard spelling at all. See perogi, pierogy, perogy, pierĂ³gi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy.

 In my opinion the dish was more like eating a potato skin than a standard flatbread. However, I appreciate the novelty and I found the flatbread quite enjoyable with the addition of sour cream. If you stop by Bettis Grill, be sure to visit the men's room. There is a one way mirror that allows for a pleasant view of the dining room while you relieve yourself at the urinal. Bon a petit!

Click to add a blog post for Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 on Zomato

Friday, July 31, 2015

Arsenal Lanes

Grilled Cheez
In my heart, nothing screams Pittsburgh like bowling alley food.

Amidst all the articles and blogs claiming we are the new Mecca of haute cuisine, I'm honored to review a grilled cheese at a smelly bowling alley in Lawrenceville.

If you haven't been to Arsenal Lanes, it is certainly worth the visit. Bowling alleys are increasingly harder to find in urban areas, particularly older lanes that are well maintained. Arsenal Lanes has many strange rules you ought to know about.

You can only purchase pitchers of beer if you are a league bowler. Roughly half the lanes are reserved for league bowlers, so don't just expect to waltz in and go bowling because the staff will treat you like garbage.

Smoking is no longer allowed. (I know that this is becoming increasingly common but it just doesn't feel like a bowling alley without the thick wafts of smoke.) If you start bowling at a particular time that does not please the staff you will be rushed out to make way for hoards of hipsters who are most likely doing designer drugs before cosmic bowling.

 As for the bowling alley restaurant you have your choice of: hamburgers, pizza, chili, fried chicken, grilled cheese, appetizers and hot dogs. Although the food may not be featured in any magazine, the prices are a reminder of a simpler time when you were allowed to chain smoke Pall Malls in any bowling alley throughout these great United States. A hot dog will run you $2.95 and the grilled cheese is really priced to sell at $3.25.

My grilled cheese was absolutely drenched in butter and entirely delicious. The clever re-purposing of the hamburger bun stole the show. You could probably order every item on the Arsenal Bowling Lanes menu and spend less than dinner for two with drinks at a number of downtown eateries. Bon appetit! 

Arsenal Bowling Lanes
Address: 212 44th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Biergarten - Hotel Monaco

You pay for a nice view, but I have to say that the view at the Biergarten is fantastic. Although the space is very small, it provides an entirely unique view of downtown Pittsburgh. Because our city has so much open space around the edges, most roof top views provide you with the feeling that you are isolated. Biergarten is situated right in the heart of the city so the view actually creates the facade that you are in some type of booming metropolis rather than the 62nd largest city by population in the United States.

Now when I say you pay for it, I mean it. The cheapest beers at Biergarten will cost you around $7 or $8. And don't think you can get off easy ordering a Miller Lite, because there isn't much of a discount. Considering the ABV of many of the German beers, you are better off going with a Spaten Optimator or Paulner Hefewiezen in order to optimize your buck. Also, don't count on happy hour discounts as none exist.

This cucumber salad with onions and pickled eggs came with a delicious tangy vinegar dressing. It was the perfect dish to stimulate my desire for thick German beer. Also, it was appropriately priced at $5. If you want to sit down and eat at Biergarten, be sure to arrive early. We were the first ones on the roof when it opened and every seat was probably filled within 15 minutes. The cost to reserve a table is exorbitant. I believe they wanted roughly $1000 to reserve a table for 12. OUTRAGEOUS! I could probably buy a liquor license in Homstead for that price.


The large tables at Biergarten are shared, similar to what you see at any German beer hall. Some fat hog sat down next to me and ordered the sauerbraten and proceeded to send it back two times because the meat was too fatty. I'm guessing that she was not familiar with brisket. This sauerbraten dish consisted of vinegared beef brisket, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. I thought it was fantastic. Although fatty (as brisket should be) the meat was extremely tender. The portion was awfully small for the $14 price point, but I've already explained that you will be paying dearly for the wonderful view. 


This is my friend Eric. Eric ordered the Currywurst and smoked mussels. I believe he had a pretty nice evening until he got stuck in one of the Hotel Monaco elevators on his way out of Biergarten and was stranded for almost an hour. (The elevator situation is not ideal.) I have scarcely seen him since and I'm pretty sure he blames me for his misfortune.

Overall, Biergarten is a must visit. Arrive early and enjoy a glass of wine at no charge in the Hotel Monaco lobby from 5-6. This will help defray your beer expenses later in the evening.

Click to add a blog post for The Commoner on Zomato

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hough's - Sweetwater Brewing Night

Special thanks to guest correspondents, Simon and David! 

Sweetwater put on a great show on Wednesday at Hough's. There were over 40 people in attendance and they had some fantastic snacks including pulled pork tacos and some delicious seared ahi tuna. Phil from Sweetwater told us that they are planning on expanding this year to the Pittsburgh region from their home town of Hotlanta.

Sweetwater beers are unfiltered  so you can expect to see more draft offerings as opposed to bottles. The pilsner was the crowd favorite but we expect that the 420 ale with its hoppy flavors will have a great following as well. Look for their blueberry beer to launch soon!

I can't wait to see what Sweetwater has in store for us in the coming months.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mitchell's Bar and Restaurant

SO I have some great things to say about Mitchell's. First of all Matt Mitchell is the man. The restaurant has been in his family for four generations and he brings an exciting new energy to the space. Secondly, the specials are pretty great for a downtown bar. During happy hour on Thursday you can enjoy half off the appetizer menu, bar trivia and $3 craft bottles. Considering that some of the craft bottles were in the range of 9% ABV, we all got a little toasty. (Bell's Two Hearted, some nice Belgium's and a number of IPAs.)

Mitchell's menu has a number of  standard bar offerings. Nothing was flashy, but everything was well prepared. I really enjoyed my hand-breaded friend cheese. Also, Mitchell's placed free food all over the bar throughout the evening including soft pretzels, onion rings and fried zucchini. Overall Mitchell's is a top-rate bar for a cheap downtown happy hour. Although it is possibly not well suited for the cosmo-drinking Sex in the City crowd, it is certainly my type of joint.

Burger Model
Can Rashan has Cheezburger?

Mitchell's Restaurant, Bar and Banquet Center on Urbanspoon