622 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon
412-531-5666 or www.saloonofmtlebanon.com
Open Mon.–Thu. 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri. 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat. noon-2 a.m., Sun. noon-2 a.m.
Open since: 1976. Crowd: A mix of demographics, from the 20-something "woo girl" to respectable bourgeoisie. On jumping nights, the joint requires an ID-checker, but in its quieter hours, the vibe is laid-back, and The Saloon can honestly bill itself as the "Cheers" of the South Hills. Fair warning: If you went to school in any of the more prosperous South Hills suburbs, there's a real chance of running into someone you graduated with. Especially during holiday weekends, like the one in which City Paper visited. Reflect on your high school career -- as City Paper did, peering deep into the glass and avoiding eye contact with anyone who looked familiar -- and plan your visit accordingly. Décor: Hardwood floors and dark wood paneling, with stained-glass panels above the bar. Beer advertising mixes with local bric-a-brac, like the Kennywood arrow over the front door, the Little League team photos by the door, and the sign that merely says "Rollercoaster" beneath two TVs. (A perfect running commentary for Steelers games!) There's less "flair" than you'll find at chain locations; unlike them, The Saloon doesn't have to try to prove its local character. As to the TVs, there are 13 arranged above the bar and several tables. Most are tuned to sports. On tap: More than a dozen brews, ranging from Miller Lite and Yuengling to Smithwick's and Brooklyn Brown. Diversions: You'll find a handful of bar games in a front corner, including table hockey and an electronic version of "cornhole." Smoking permitted? No. Bring a date or find a date? Both are possible, but recall cautionary note about high school. Food: An ample bar menu, with staples ranging from onion rings to hamburgers -- all for less than $10. In fact, The Saloon was reportedly just about the only place in the South Hills serving food during Snowmageddon. It quickly filled in with South Hills refugees -- as if a hurricane had struck a J. Crew outlet. Such incidents, of course, further demonstrate The Saloon's neighborhood bona fides. Bathrooms: Not just clean, but smelled pleasantly like a shopping mall or something. And this was just hours after a Steelers game. Heard on the sound system: "Girls, Girls, Girls," by Mötley Crüe; "Jealousy," by Gin Blossoms; "Figured You Out," by Nickelback. Patrons seemed to have little trouble ignoring it. Overheard: "I have to say, we're not usually like this." -- Young woman explaining behavior of her friends, who were conducting DUI-style tests on each other's balance. None of them even seemed particularly drunk. The last word: The Saloon proves that it is possible to put "unpretentious" and "Mount Lebanon" in the same sentence. And that there are alternatives to T.G.I. Friday's out that way. In the summers, an outdoor upper deck allows you to take in the South Hills skyline.