Archive for June, 2010

Rivertowne, North Shore
June 30, 2010

North Side
337 North Shore Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 322-5000

Today, I learned something.

Sam, contrary to some opinions, does not like everything he puts into his face.

Today, my bosses took me to the Rivertowne for a writer’s lunch. You know, free food is always nice. And I appreciate the chance to awkwardly communicate with people as much as the next guy.

I got there and poured over their huge menu. It’s a really nice place and I thought, “I would really like to take Nina here.” I looked through the menu and said, “A one pound reuben? I have to take Nina here.”

I ate the food and thought, “Nina will kick me in the fucking face if I take her here.”

Desperately, I wanted a place that serves something called Yinzer Salad to be great.

We had three orders of boneless wings at our table. I would like to inform everyone that I now have the gout as my wings were so salty. Cajun Bourbon means “cover these with salt, dry seasoning and fennel seeds.” They burned inside me. They are burning inside me now. I have been drinking water all afternoon and my skin is now glittering like a vampire. That’s how bad the thirst within me is from these wings.

Various writers seated with me did not get their sauces or salads. One of my friends was brave and ordered the Seafood Mac ‘n Cheese, which is described as “a generous portion of sauteed shrimp, scallops and crabmeat tossed in a creamy four cheese sauce, topped with shredded parmesan and breadcrumbs and served with flatbread and a garden salad.” Mac ‘n Cheese is easy to make. It’s a comfort food. This was…an experiment in pre-vomit. I tried a bite and she was like, “Please, have more.” I politely declined. She sharply said, “No. Have more.”

I wanted this place to be magical. I wanted it to be a fun new place for us to go to. But it failed. It failed on a level that has made my feet hurt and now, I have the Rich Man’s Disease.

Nina has eaten at the other Rivertowne Inn and the food is good.

Rivertowne North Shore on Urbanspoon

Double Wide Grill, South Side
June 30, 2010

2339 E Carson St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 390-1111

We had three weddings in three weeks. As the middle wedding came to a close, after a night of wedded action, a comedy club, a strip bar, a casino and Eat ‘n Park, we woke up for the bestest meal of all. Brunch.

The Double Wide is a former gas station in the South Side of Pittsburgh that’s been converted into an open air bar and eatery. There ‘s seats inside, too, but on a sunny Sunday late morning, the outside is where to go.


We started with the 7 Up Pancakes, which their menu states are “three light n fluffy, homemade flapjacks, served with maple syrup or homemade apple cider syrup and butter.” We had but one, and you can’t really taste the 7 Up. Just a really delicious pancake. So, you know. If you’re heading into this expecting to taste a breakfast version of the Uncola, this is not the taste you are seeking.


The Eggs Bendict is Nina’s favorite. Sweet corn bread, with the good bacon. They used to poach the eggs, but don’t now. They seem fried. The Hollandaise sauce they use changes, too. Sometimes, there are jalapenos. Sometimes, there are none. Regardless, it is often tasty.


Sausage, bacon, ham, onion, peppers and shredded cheddar and jack cheese. Yes, Sam went for the Carnivore Omelette. However, this is Steve eating an omelette in the picture, in case you think perhaps Sam lost some of his locks.


Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the Junkyard Nachos. They fed an entire table of hungover, hungry post-wedding peoples, including Dr. Brian, who was preparing to journey home. You can see here that they are just packed with toppings, ranging from roasted peppers, black beans and corn to your choice of steak, chicken, shrimp, pork, avocado, or guacamole.

Double Wide is a fun place for a Sunday. Sure, it gets crowded. Yeah. parking is hard to find. But it’s a really interesting looking spot in the midst of the burgeoning, as always, South Side.

Double Wide Grill on Urbanspoon

The Little Deli – Northside
June 28, 2010

The Little Deli
860 Western Ave.

Located inside the recently renovated Modern Cafe on Western Ave. in Northside, this is a gem waiting to be discovered.

We’ve always loved the look of the Modern. The neon, the old yet never goes out of style feel. Who knew there was a brand new deli inside?

We ventured in and were kind of take aback by the many, many sandwich offerings. You can even build your own sandwich from their many meats, breads and cheeses.


Sam settled on The Spartan. The menu suggests that this is only for the truly hungry. This menu? Not lying. Ribeye steak, like on a Philly steak sandwich, gyro meat, provolone, feta, onions and tomatoes, all perfectly intermingled with special steak seasoning and dressing…then topped with a tzatziki sauce on a 6-inch hoagie bun. Sam dares to say that this was the best sandwich that he has ever had. And that’s saying so much, because he eats sandwiches all the time. This really takes the cake, err…sandwich when it comes to filling you up. Each bite was a mouthful of meaty magnificence.

The Little Deli has what they claim is an award winning Reuben. Lean corned beef, cole slaw (Nina substitutes this for sauerkraut), swiss cheese and Russian dressing, all on thick slices of Jewish rye bread. This Reuben was well-received. We don’t know what kind of award it won or who from, but it was well earned.

Also…the potato salad? Magnificent.

Even better – you can eat inside the Modern Cafe and get a beer with your lunch.

The Little Deli is only open from 9-4 Monday through Friday, but if you work or live in Northside and have a hug appetite, you really can’t go wrong. The menu is packed with a ton of other dishes we want to try. Why don’t you visit and tell us what you think?


We went back to The Little Deli. This time, Nina had the Spartan and Sam had the Greek Cheese Steak. More Macaroni Salad was had, of course.



The Greek Cheese Steak was a smaller than the Spartan sandwich, with the same awesome taste!

Little Deli on Urbanspoon

Mill Run Grille, Mill Run, PA
June 25, 2010

We were in town for a wedding at the amazing Fallingwater. Nina, taking pictures and Sam in the wedding. The last day there, we planned for a day of doing nothing but driving and finding fun places. This basically involved us trying to find somewhere cool to eat and we came through in spades.


The place looked unassuming. And well, with that picture of the duck, we had to stop there.


First off: the macaroni salad was amazing. Nina wanted more of it. So much that she would only order that. She would have tons of it, enough to just wallow in. Or wrestle in. She just wanted as much of the macaroni salad as possible.


Sam had the double bacon burger with these rad potato things. These burgers were nice and simple. That’s the thing about diner food. You aren’t always going to get high cuisine. Yet, for a relatively low price, you are going to enjoy something really tasty and you’ll just be able to sit back and enjoy the slower pace, especially in a small burg like Mill Run.


Nina had the single bacon burger with sweet onion rings. They were pretty much perfect. It was hard to find anything bad to say about this place. A lot of critics are, well, critics. We see ourselves as celebrants. Celebrators of fun, trying to tell people about the food adventures that we have had and trying to get you, the reader, to go somewhere you may have never gone to before. Get out there and eat! Get an appetizer! Get a dessert! Live, because life is short!


We also enjoyed some breaded cheese sticks. Yes, we like cheese. We like to stick it in our faces.

Here’s the menu.


If you find yourself in the area, Fallingwater is only a few miles away, as is a Yogi Bear Camp. Keep driving and soon, you’re in Ohiopyle and can go rafting. It’s a nice area to just chill out and relax. But soon, we had to go back to the city. These burgers left memories of a lazy, happy day.

Peanutz – North Side
June 24, 2010

410 East Ohio Street
(412) 321-5930

Peanutz on Urbanspoon

We’ve gone past Peanutz many times. We’ve discussed going there. Finally, one day, the talk became truth and we walked in the door. Well, Sam walked in the wrong door. But you know. We eventually made it inside.

Peanutz is a bar, plain and simple. A bar that has some awesome food, as we were soon to discover.

Nina had the Double Decker Reuben. Yes, to maintain its structural integrity, the Reuben had an extra layer of bread within it. She changed out the sauerkraut for cole slaw, as usual, and was rewarded with greatness. She even had some left for the next day, which prompted her to IM Sam and tell him just how well the Reuben held up a day later.

We split a half dozen of their 4 Dip wings. What’s a 4 Dip? Perhaps you are having difficulty deciding on which wing sauce to enjoy. Peanutz makes it easy for you. They dip the wing into four different sauces. Well done, Peanutz. The wings weren’t all that thick, but they were flavorful.

Finally, Sam put a burger in his face. He also enjoyed it. Are you surprised? This burger had chopped bacon versus bacon slices, along with cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and mustard. There was a rich BBQ sauce within it and Cajun spices for heat. What are Cajun spices? Well, we did some internet investigating and discovered that they include salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, ground black and white pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, chili powder, dried thyme, ground mustard and ground cloves. Well, this burger had some spice.

We went to Peanutz around 2PM and it wasn’t really busy. We’re not sure if it picks up later or what the scene is like. But if you’re looking for a great burger or a sandwich that will be just as delectable a day later, you can’t go wrong.

La Hacienda, Pleasant Hills, PA
June 14, 2010

3075 Clairton Rd
West Mifflin, PA 15122
(412) 653-4141

We always love what people name places after. Naming a Mexican restaurant in the US “La Hacienda” would be like us starting a place called “Fancy House” in Guadalupe. Someday, we are going to start a business that exclusively names restaurants, nail salons and hair stylists. LA Nails. Hollywood Nails. The Hair Force. Curl Up and Dye. That’s all you get for free.

Taking over the remnants of a Ruby Tuesday at the rapidly dying Century 3 Mall (which may not even make it to the end of this decade), La Hacienda closed off the mall entrance and built the outside up to look like a…fancy Mexican estate house. Or hacienda! Oh, the education you get when you read Beer, Bacon, Candy!

We started our meal with chips and salsa, which, since the days of Chi-Chi’s, is de rigueur when it comes to Mexican places. The chips were very tasty, but the salsa was just OK. Quite thin, really.

Another Mexican tradition, if you will, is the decoration in a place like this. La Hacienda straddles the line between bright, festive Mexican colors, Aztec iconography, bullfights and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Surely an odd mix.

The menu was expansive. And quite honestly, expensive. We think they are combating this with their new lunch buffet, which is only available Monday to Friday. But us? We were there on Sábado. Therefore, we had to make a decision and not just rely on the wonderful ease that a buffet can bring, where you just say, “I’ll have the buffet,” and absolve yourself from any making of choices.

We got a chili poblano, which ended up being a greasy, fried, gooey puddle. The sauce was decent, but it was pretty messy getting to it. The chicken burrito was better, with really tasty chicken.

The best thing we can say about La Hacienda was that our waiter was seriously the best waiter we have ever had ever. This is not hyperbole. He was honestly the most attentive, nicest waiter in the history of waiterdom. He even called Nina, “my lady.” I mean, this dude took waiting more seriously than anyone ever. Forever ever? Forever ever.

La Hacienda has been around a year or so, but it still feels like they are getting things going. Regardless of the fact that Pittsburgh is about as far from Mexico as you can get, there are plenty of Mexican places in town. All places that are better than La Hacienda, mind you. But if you are at Century 3 looking for wigs or comic books or just have some time to kill and like shopping at Rainbow (and we do, obviously), you’ll get treated well and can enjoy a soupy Mexican thing-a-ma-job.

La Hacienda on Urbanspoon

The Brass Rail
June 9, 2010

10 Old Clairton Road
Pittsburgh, PA15236
(412) 655-2922

Note - not taken by us, but from their MySpace profile

We found ourselves on a weekday night with no food in the house and a need to eat somewhere new. Well, new to us. While they claim to be ten years old on their web site, The Brass Rail reminds us of those places that existed pre-Chili’s and TGI Fridays. A bar that has a lot of appetizers and sandwiches while putting a ton of random shit on the wall. Should we put a helmet up there? How about some farm bric-a-brac? Once the chains move in, no one else goes there. That’s the vibe we got.

According to their web site, they were inspired by the original Brass Rail in downtown Pittsburgh that opened in 1929. This place claims a lineage and that they follow the same burger recipes.

Even with only four tables occupied, we had a long wait. We debated leaving just as we were seated. The one cool thing we found was that each table had a trivia book to read while you wait. We learned a lot about Huey Lewis, before he was in the News. Perhaps the waiting was something we had to live through so that we could learn this bit of data.

There are two bars here. Quite possibly, each bar exists in its own reality, as the specials listed in one bar for the week are not the same – nor are they honored – in the main restaurant. There is no more all you can eat rib night. Also, the restrooms may be yet another dimension, one where the wild west stayed wild, as they have swinging doors on the stalls. Doors made low. So low you can see almost all of someone as they use the facilities. Not that we were looking.

You don’t read Beer, Bacon, Candy to know about the bathrooms. You want to know about the food, we assume. If there is a demand to learn more of area bathrooms, we will start yet another blog.

We started with Spinach Artichoke Dip Pizza. It started with a soft tortilla shell, covered with tomato, grilled chicken and spinach dip. The crust had no structural integrity, breaking before we could even eat it. Perhaps the chicken could be under everything so the cheese could hold this all together. Nevertheless, we were so hungry, we ate the whole thing.

Then we waited. Again.

The meatloaf was very tasty. A blend of tomato ketchup and BBQ, plus a heart gravy. Two giant pieces came with smashed potatoes. The Wild West Turkey Sandwich matched the bathroom décor. It was, unlike the bathrooms, dry. It needed something inside it other than cheese. Perhaps some BBQ sauce? That would seem western. In fact, we had no idea what made this sandwich wild or west. The fries that came with it were good, but salt dense.

Some was good. Some? Meh.

We waited again for the check and learned what the issue was. Everyone did, as the kitchen is so close to the dining room that you can listen in. There were multiple people training, including cooks. Therefore, we were given free dessert.

It wasn’t until a few days later that we took the dessert from the fridge and had a bite. The caramel cheesecake? It took their review up several steps. Just wow. Sweet, moist and luscious – even days later. Something else, really.

We have a theory about when it comes to eating out. When you do, you want something better or different than you can make at home. You want it quick. We could have made anything here – and had it faster. That said, it feels like there could be a nice place here with a little work. Some sprucing things upward, some consistency, some faster service. They were friendly, however.

We’ve also read that this is a meat market kind of bar. It really didn’t seem that way. But hey, who knows? Maybe the hottest people in Pleasant Hills all get laid here on the weekend.

Brass Rail on Urbanspoon

Frankie’s – Lawrenceville
June 7, 2010

Frankie’s Extra Long
3535 Butler St
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 687-5220

A few days ago, we were driving through Lawrenceville in the most pouring of rain and we saw a sign that promised hot dogs. That’s really all it takes for us to get excited about food. After all, that Sam character…well, you know. On a Monday afternoon with the bosses away, we drove across town and settled up for some dogs.

Frankie’s is spartan. Not really any sides. Four sandwiches: meatball, sausage, kielbasa and footlong. They have chips. Cans or bottle of pop, soda to those of us with a more refined palate and not from our cultural backwater that uses words like “reddup” and “dahn.”

We sat down in the dining room beneath a ceiling fan that was blowing near gale force winds with a footlong with relish, cheese and chili and a kielbasa with sauerkraut and mustard. The dogs were nice, holding up well, but Sam’s bun had no integrity. Or perhaps he manhandles his food. Regardless, the kielbasa he ate was nice, a bit small, but at only $2.75, not a bad deal.

The chili was runny and it wasn’t the best. It was, well, a hot dog. Maybe we’re jaded. But with so many great spots in town, you may want to head somewhere else for an out of the ordinary hot dog. Frankie’s does have a bar, too, so you could enjoy a dog and an Iron.

That said, Hot Franks is not far. For our buck, we’ll drive downtown a little closer. But you might find yourself charmed by Frankie’s lack of, well, charm. It’s a neighborhood place, where we’re sure the same regulars have been coming in for years. And to be honest, in today’s change every day world, it’s nice when there are still places like this.

Frankie's Extra Long on Urbanspoon