Best of 2011: Culture and Nightlife | Culture + Nightlife | Pittsburgh

Best Of PGH

Best of 2011: Culture and Nightlife

Best Local Theater Company

City Theatre, South Side
2nd: Stage 62, Carnegie
3rd: Attack Theatre, Strip District

Best Local Stage Actor/Actress

Becki Toth
2nd: Christopher Martin
3rd: Patrick Jordan

Best Museum in Pittsburgh  

The Andy Warhol Museum, North Side
2nd: Carnegie Museums, Oakland
3rd: Mattress Factory, North Side

Best Gallery for Local Artists

ModernFormations, Garfield
2nd: Space, Downtown
3rd: Mattress Factory, North Side

Best Dance Company

Attack Theatre, Strip District
2nd: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Downtown
3rd: Dance Alloy, Friendship

Best Local Music Venue

Stage AE, North Side
2nd: Mr. Small's, Millvale
3rd: Club Café, South Side

Best  Local Singer/Songwriter

Joy Ike
2nd: Cathasaigh
3rd: Bill Deasy

Best Pop/Rock Band

The Clarks
2nd: Mace Ballard
3rd: Donora

Best Metal Band

2nd: Seas We Fear to Sail
3rd: Motorpsychos

Best Alt-folk/Alt-country Band 

The Armadillos
2nd: Hero and the Lie
3rd: Rusted Root

Best Jazz/Blues Band or Performer

Melinda Colaizzi
2nd (tie): Etta Cox / Phat Man Dee

Best Hip-Hop Performer(s)

Wiz Khalifa
2nd: Mac Miller
3rd: Formula 412

Best New Bar

Local Bar + Kitchen, South Side
2nd: The Blind Pig, South Side
3rd: Mario's East Side Saloon, Shadyside

Best New Club

Static, Strip District
2nd: Cruze Bar, Strip District
3rd: Savoy, Strip District

Best Strip Club

Blush, Downtown
2nd: Cheerleaders, Strip District
3rd: Club Erotica, McKees Rocks

Best Sports Bar

Jerome Bettis Grille 36, North Side
2nd: Buffalo Blues, Shadyside
3rd: Carson City Saloon, South Side

Best Dance Club

Static, Strip District
2nd: Diesel, South Side
3rd: Whim, Station Square

Best College Bar

Hemingway's, Oakland
2nd: Peter's Pub, Oakland
3rd: Mario's, South Side

Best Themed Dance Night

Belvedere's, Lawrenceville
2nd: Lava Lounge, South Side
3rd (tie): Static / Shadow Lounge — Titletown

Best Bartender

Ova Shofa, Z Lounge
2nd: Tim Quinlan, Gooski's
3rd: Richie Owens, Static

Best Happy Hour

Mad Mex, multiple locations
2nd: Kaya, Strip District
3rd: Tamari, Lawrenceville

Best Cocktail List

Olive or Twist, Downtown
2nd: Salt of the Earth, Garfield
3rd: Kelly's Bar & Lounge, East Liberty

Best Bar for a Martini

Olive or Twist, Downtown
2nd: Salt of the Earth, Garfield
3rd: Blue Dining, Allison Park

Best Outdoor Bar Seating

Round Corner Cantina, Lawrenceville
2nd: Harris Grill, Shadyside
3rd: Double Wide Grill, South Side

Best Bar for Smokers

Dee's Café, South Side 
2nd: Jack's, South Side
3rd: Gooski's, Polish Hill

Best Bar to Karaoke

Nico's Recovery Room, Bloomfield
2nd: Cappy's Café, Shadyside
3rd: Lava Lounge, South Side

Best LGBT Bar

5801 Video Lounge and Café, Shadyside
2nd: Cattivo, Lawrenceville
3rd: Blue Moon, Lawrenceville

Best Bar for a First Date

Harris Grill, Shadyside
2nd: Round Corner Cantina, Lawrenceville
3rd: Lava Lounge, South Side

Best Bar to Meet Someone

Mario's, South Side
2nd: Brillobox, Bloomfield
3rd: Jack's, South Side

Best Bar to Celebrate a 21st Birthday

Bar 11, South Side
2nd: Jack's, South Side
3rd: Mario's, South Side

Best Bar to Network

Olive or Twist, Downtown
2nd: Bossa Nova, Downtown
3rd: Nakama, South Side

Best Bar to People Watch

Local Bar + Kitchen, South Side
2nd: Belvedere's, Lawrenceville
3rd: Harris Grill, Shadyside

State of the Art

Are you one of those avant-garde types not content with majority rule? Check out these recommendations from our editorial staff.

Best Rapidly Expanding Local Music Entity

VIA Music & New Media Festival.

VIA began in 2010 with a huge festival catering largely to fans of electronic music. In 2011, organizers arranged for regular concerts and DJ events throughout the year, then brought the house down with a killer lineup for its September festival: Dam-Funk, Peanut Butter Wolf, Austra and Underground Resistance were among the big names on the bill.

Best Argument for Pittsburgh as Most Die-able City

Pittsburgh Noir. Akashic Books. $15.95

Big indie publisher Akashic issued a Pittsburgh edition of its rapidly expanding Noir series in June. Edited by detective-fiction author Kathleen George, the book features offerings from a smattering of local writers, both well known (Terrance Hayes, Stewart O'Nan) and up-and-coming (Paul Lee, Aubrey Hirsch). One lesson we learned: Don't make enemies if you live near a river. And we all live near a river.

Best National-TV Throwdown

Squonk Opera on NBC's America's Got Talent, July 12, 2011 

Mysteriously selected to compete on the talent show, Pittsburgh's theatrically minded art-rock mainstay (creator of multimedia shows including Astro-Rama) didn't expect to be feted like, say, Jackie Evancho. But when the group's musical adventurism and surreal stagecraft drew judge comments like "It messed with my head" (Sharon Osbourne) and "This is what I imagine Hell is like" (Piers Morgan), Squonk co-founder Jackie Dempsey defended the group's "weirdness" as both a defining trait and an artistic asset.

Best Place to Sate Appetite Worked Up While Headbanging

Kopec's. 3523 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. 412-682-0892

Remember when Nunslaughter played in grandma's attic and she served everyone haluski and baked penne pasta? No? Then the closest you may get is Kopec's, a favorite venue for local and touring metal bands. During most shows, the folks who run the bar — a hybrid of neighborhood watering hole and cozy rec room — provide homemade, beer-absorbing comfort food and various snacks to hungry headbangers, free of charge.

Best Super-Friends Imitation on the Art Scene

The Pittsburgh Biennial, multiple venues

In an unprecedented move, the long-running Biennial was expanded to encompass five distinct venues, programmed by a crew of the city's top young curators: The Carnegie Museum of Art's Dan Byers; The Andy Warhol Museum's Eric Shiner; Astria Suparak, of Carnegie Mellon's Miller Gallery; and Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts' Adam Welch. The result was an ambitious and audacious survey of area artists. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Melinda Colaizzi.

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