Just when I thought I knew everything about old school Pittsburgh food pots, Monterey Pub in the North Side was thrust in my face by multiple sources. As an Irish Pub, the place is famed for its Guinness Shredded Beef, which it manages to drop into dishes at every level – nachos, burgers, shepherd’s pie and whatnot. I like Guinness and I like beef, so I was hoping Monterey Pub would satisfy my hunger.
While Pittsburgh may not be a hotbed of Mexican food, a friend of mine has been telling me to check out El Burro Comedor forever. The trouble is that the place is all the way over on the North Side, which in Point Breeze may as well be West Virginia. Nonetheless, I made it there and noticed that in addition to seeming like hipster central, the place had a menu that seemed to be pulled right from San Diego.
The quest for great meat often leads to BBQ, and my visits to a couple of Pittsburgh’s cue joints have been fruitful, if not overwhelmingly amazing. Then I heard about Wilson’s Bar B-Q up on the North Side amongst the Mexican War Streets. The founder hails from the South and the place has been smoking meat for more than 50 years. Considering Pittsburgh’s past, that means a lot. The place is minimalist to the max, with just a couple of plastic tables and chairs with a chimney smoker in the back hiding The menu is scrawled on a chalkboard and lists only four options. Three are ribs of varying size and the other is chicken.
I don’t always go to Pittsburgh’s North Side, but when I do, it is for BOGO (buy one get one free) wings. And these wings were at James Street Tavern, a sort of gastropub with a jazzy theme and some actual live jazz music if you show up at the right time. I, of course, did not, but I did show up on Thursday night when the place has those 2-for-1 wings. And we went all-out with the wings, beginning with some Classic Hot Buffalo over there on the left.
Just like most towns, Pittsburgh has its fair share of sports legends. Roberto Clemente may be the biggest, but unfortunately he did not live long enough to start a Puerto Rican restaurant. Ben Roethlisberger is also pretty huge, but claims of molestation may stop him from opening up his very own burger joint. Then there’s Jerome Bettis. Also known as The Bus, Bettis found his way to Pittsburgh from Detroit and eventually got into the restaurant business with a spot just out of Heinz Field called Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36.