By Brooke Keane
The majority of the bars in Pittsburgh can tout affordability as one of their top selling points. In fact, at some, you can eat, drink and have a great time for under $20. Occasionally though, quality trumps quantity and sitting down with a good glass of wine or a delicious appetizer is more appealing then wings and an Iron City. There are several places around the city where you might have to spend a few extra dollars, but you definitely won’t regret it.
Hours: Mon – Thurs 5 p.m. – 12 a.m., Fri – Sat: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Tucked into a small corner in the popular South Side Works plaza sits The Wine Loft, a classy alternative to the rowdy, college-student favorite Hofbrauhaus that’s just across the street. Obviously The Wine Loft has wine, but the selection is unmatched in the city, whether you drink red, white, sparkling or enjoy a fruity glass of sangria. Though clearly the wine selection is their calling card, they also carry several beers and premium whiskeys and scotches alongside specialty and seasonal martinis, including flavors like Gingerbread Apple and Spiced Peach Cobbler. One drink will run you upwards of eight dollars, but the higher quality won’t leave you feeling like the price tag wasn’t worth it. And with all of the strong liquor flowing, The Wine Loft also offers some tasty small plates featuring several kinds of sliders, cheese plates, dips and desserts to share.
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sat 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday Brunch 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Slightly less pricey than The Wine Loft, Harris Grill on Ellsworth Ave in Shadyside has tons of well-made, high-quality drinks. In fact, their drink menu is larger than their dinner menu. It is a small book of pages and pages of specialty cocktails with everything from Manhattans and margaritas to vintage inspired drinks like the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Whether you’re looking to have a classic, simple cocktail, a beer or something much fancier, Harris Grill definitely has what you’re looking for with most of the specialty cocktails running you from $8 to $10. You would probably be hard pressed to find a liquor they don’t have or a drink they haven’t mixed. Also offered is a full menu at lunch and dinner with some interesting and sassy descriptions. With so many drink options, it’s hard to only try one, leaving your bill a bit higher than you may have thought, but after a snack and a few delectable cocktails, you probably won’t even notice.
In a city full of “dive” bars, Bar 11 is a “dive” bar in it’s own league. A few blocks up from South Side’s crowded East Carson Street, the small, dark bar is one of the city’s most interesting. While it isn’t necessarily an “expensive” bar, it is one of the few bars, not only in the South Side but in the whole city, to charge a cover of a few dollars on busier evenings. For such a small bar, Bar 11 has a pretty wide beer selection and the average mixed drink will cost around $5, which may be slightly more than the same drink at another nearby bar, but it is always in a large glass. Plus, when you order your drink you’ll get some little surprises and a candy necklace with it. Bar 11 also keeps highlighters and name tags in stock for some extra fun in the blacklight lit room and also has annual themed parties, including solstice and foam parties.
Brooke Keane acquired a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pittsburgh’s Point Park University where she served in several editorial positions on school weekly, The Globe. Since graduating, Brooke has blogged for online vintage clothing boutique Crazy Hot Clothes and tried her hand at some freelance work. First a writer and then a fashion-lover, Brooke can be found spending time at the mall, when she doesn’t have her nose buried in an AP Stylebook or is surveying Craigslist for jobs.