Church Brew Works was originally St. John the Baptist Church, and in 1996, the sacred building was transformed into a spectacular brewery like no other in the city. The room still retains the feel of a sanctuary with its lofty ceilings, but today, the pipe organ has been replaced with a brewpub. Beers have suitably sacred names like Celestial Gold, Pipe Organ Pale Ale, and Pious Monk Dunkel. The pub serves a range of creative lunches and dinners as well. Try Untraditional Pittsburgh Pierogies to start, and follow up with buffalo and wild mushroom loaf or tamarind glazed chicken. Homemade ice creams and cakes will satisfy your sweet tooth.
A neighborhood favorite, "the cage" (as it's familiarly known) snags students and locals with great deals on classic brews. Vintage decor and a working dumbwaiter hint at the institution's origin as a speakeasy back in the 1920s, and a winding staircase leads to additional seating on the second floor. In the background, a jukebox plays a variety of tunes, from classic rock to jazz.
Dimly lit with beer signs tacked onto blood-red walls, Gooski's is the coolest dive bar in the 'Burgh. Order anything from a bottle of Iron City to a glass of Lindemans Framboise at some of the best prices around town. The Pittsburgh City Paper consistently votes Gooski's jukebox as the best. Play pool on slanted tables with resident pool shark Bob, easily identified by his floppy hat and long gray hair. Every Saturday, Gooski's hosts live bands.
Bar 11 is a nice little hole-in-the-wall located off the beaten path, and its main draw is a fun-loving atmosphere. Drinks come with toy-like tops, water guns, and miscellaneous plastic goodies. Also, highlighters are freely passed around so that you can write on your fellow patrons – don't wear white if you value your clothing. If you don't mind being a little crowded, the $3 cover is well worth the fun.
Wander a couple blocks up Ellsworth Avenue from the UniMart and you'll encounter an oasis of barley and hops drinks and some darn good pizza, too. Bites 'n Brews offers exactly what it promises: a huge array of special brews and microbrews, along with a large selection of reasonably priced food. Get a slice bigger than your face for $3, or lay out about $20 for an entire gourmet wheat-crust combo pie.
If you're looking for a little slice of Ireland in Pittsburgh, look no further than Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle. From bangers and mash to a pint of Smithwick's, the place has everything one would expect of a traditional Irish pub. Harp & Fiddle also hosts lots of live music throughout the week, including crowd-pleasers Pat Garvey and Corned Beef and Curry. There's also Red Hand Patty with karaoke on most Wednesdays. Whether it's a bite to eat or a couple of pints, Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle does all it can to make you feel at home.
Smiling Moose, located on bustling East Carson Street, caters to the hard rock crowd in Pittsburgh. Tons of free shows and well-priced beers keep the place busy during most of the week. The Moose also possesses one of the best rock and punk juke boxes in the city. A pool table and dart board on the second floor offer an escape from the crowds downstairs, which can sometimes get noisy. If hard rock and punk are your musical faves, then expect Smiling Moose to become one of your Pittsburgh haunts.
Not many bars on the South Side have the brew selection that Smokin' Joe's does, and those that do aren't nearly as affordable. It's no surprise, then, that the main draw is the beer selection, both drafts and bottles. Other amenities include good wings, pool tables, and darts. Daily specials, listed on a blackboard, keep crowds coming throughout the week. Weekend nights at Smokin' Joes usually attract a younger set, but during the day, there's typically an eclectic group bellying up to the bar.
Shadyside Saloon offers the feel of a local neighborhood bar, but since it's in Shadyside, it offers many high-end beers and liqours. Regulars and infrequent visitors both feel equally welcome. Multiple TVs assure that if a Steelers game is on, you'll be able to watch it from almost anywhere in the bar. Expect a good crowd on weekends and a more relaxed atmosphere during the week.
Hemingway's Café on the University of Pittsburgh campus is the stereotypical college bar. During the day, it's a great place to grab lunch and a couple of beers; however, at night, the place transforms into a packed campus bar. What pulls in crowds are the location and a rotating $1 draft special every day, all day. Get there early if you want a stool or booth because they fill up quickly almost every night of the week. Food is served until midnight, and it's cheap good bar food. Definitely worth a look if you're in the area.