Here's where to dine outdoors in Pittsburgh this winter | Pittsburgh City Paper

Here's where to embrace your inner hygge and dine outdoors in Pittsburgh this winter

click to enlarge Here's where to embrace your inner hygge and dine outdoors in Pittsburgh this winter (6)
Photo by Joanna Bell
Inside an igloo at Bella Terra Vineyards
Beyond winter hikes and select sports, Pittsburgh winters leave little for us to do outside — perhaps least of all dining al fresco. But even in frigid midwinter, eating outside (or partially outside) can be atmospheric, letting diners take in snowy ambiance and city views, get their fill of cozy hygge, and even promote good hygiene (we’re once again in a COVID-19 upswell). Following unprecedented expansion of outdoor dining options in 2020, there might not be a better time to eat outside in winter. Pittsburgh City Paper compiled outdoor dining highlights around the region where you can grab a warm meal with a cocktail or mocktail, gather on a heated porch, build a fire, or huddle in an igloo.

Golden Age Beer Company
337 E 8th Ave., Homestead.

A relatively recent addition to Homestead’s main drag in 2021, Golden Age serves up all the hearty fare you’d want from a brewhouse in winter with a menu of burgers, bratwurst, wood-fired pizza, and döner kebabs. Naturally, the stars of the show are the precisely brewed draft beers, including German-style lagers and pilsners, which regularly make City Paper’s seasonal beer roundups. Golden Age offers diners space inside their taproom and in an ample outdoor beer garden, which welcomes children and dogs. Outdoor patrons can stay toasty by lighting a fire in several fire pits in the beer garden, where there’s often live jazz and other music to enjoy.
click to enlarge Here's where to embrace your inner hygge and dine outdoors in Pittsburgh this winter (7)
CP Photo: Heather Mull
A fire pit at The Porch

The Porch at Schenley
221 Schenley Dr., Oakland.

Pitt students and alumni (me included) might have a storied relationship with The Porch (yes, they cop to being part of Eat ‘n Park on their About page), but the restaurant definitely lives up to its name — especially in winter. The Porch boasts an enclosed three-season room with views of Schenley Plaza and the Cathedral of Learning, promising “an unforgettable dining experience that allows you to enjoy the outdoors ... without being outdoors!” Their winter menu features a savory braised pork shank, alongside the restaurant’s pizza and salad staples, with happy hour and weeknight dinner specials that also make The Porch a value proposition. 
click to enlarge Here's where to embrace your inner hygge and dine outdoors in Pittsburgh this winter (3)
Photo by Joanna Bell
Igloos at Bella Terra Vineyards

The Wine Cave at Bella Terra Vineyards
3141 Harts Run Rd., Allison Park.

Pittsburghers wanting to lean into Scandinavia this winter should head out to the North Hills, where — and this can’t really be oversold — there’s a wine cave with rentable igloos. Resembling Finland’s domed glass huts that offer views of the Northern Lights (also seen on The Bachelor), guests of Bella Terra Vineyards — which partnered with Hartwood Wine Cave in 2021 — can enjoy private outdoor dining inside a clear bubble igloo. The igloos, which include a space heater and cozy twinkle lights, seat up to eight people for a $50 reservation fee, with the option to rent a shed for $80. In addition to an extensive selection of wines and wine flights from the vineyard, a full menu offers flatbreads, salads, and crabcakes to nosh on, with brunch served on weekends. Igloos and a 14-person party dome are also available to rent at Bella Terra’s main Hunker, Pa. location in Westmoreland County.

Bridges and Bourbon
930 Penn Ave., Downtown.

Pittsburgh’s first ZeroFoodprint restaurant, Bridges & Bourbon, is also an innovator when it comes to outdoor dining. The upscale eatery and cocktail bar serves patrons in private “BridgeHouses,” fully covered glass huts that allow semi-al fresco sidewalk dining in the heart of the Cultural District. Bridgehouses can be reserved for 2.5 hours for groups up to four people, with a $200 food and beverage minimum. Known for its craft cocktails, Bridges & Bourbon maintains full dinner, brunch, and happy hour menus with beer, wine, mocktails, and more. Recent visitors recommend the restaurant’s baked brie and charcuterie boards, pork chop, and exemplary bourbon selection, which will keep you even warmer.
click to enlarge Tamales verde and mole at La Palapa
CP Photo: Heather Mull
Tamales verde and mole at La Palapa

La Palapa
2224 E Carson St., South Side.

A South Side bastion that recently celebrated 11 years in its current spot, La Palapa has long been known for serving up authentic Mexican cuisine. But the restaurant can also claim one of the city’s best back patios, warmed by heat lamps when the weather’s chilly. La Palapa’s famed menu is extensive, with traditional dishes including tamales, carne asada, and birria tacos — even a Steelers burrito — alongside a bevy of vegetarian and vegan options. During the recent snowstorm, the restaurant recommended “spic[ing] up your evening” with their Poblano Pepper and Corn Cream soup. A South Side Soup Contest champion, it's one of many La Palapa dishes to help diners fend off the cold and keep extra cozy.

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