Best of Culture + Nightlife | Culture and Nightlife | Pittsburgh

Best of Culture + Nightlife 

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Best Local Music Venue 

Stage AE
400 North Shore Drive, North Side

This relatively new concert venue brings in popular acts across the musical spectrum. The facility, which has spaces to accommodate both small and mid-size shows, also has a reversible stage, so in nice weather, fans can enjoy the show in the open air. Another plus: no traffic jams; walk or take the T.

2nd: Mr. Smalls Theatre
3rd: Club Café 

Best Music Festival

Deutschtown Music Festival

This two-day festival on the North Side offers an all-day, mostly local lineup of musicians. Nearby businesses such as Park House, James Street Gastropub and the Modern Café help host, while food trucks and kids’ activities make it a family event.

2nd: Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival
3rd: Strip District Music Festival

Best Place to See a Local Band

Club Café56 S. 12th St., South Side
412-431-4950 or

While it’s perhaps Pittsburgh’s most intimate venue for touring acts, this South Side institution is also ideal for getting up close and personal with talent from just around the corner, from local legends like Billy Price to scene stalwarts like Gene the Werewolf.

2nd: Smiling Moose 
3rd: Spirit

Adam and Nicole Kulik, winner of Best Couple and owners of The Goldmark, winner of Best New Bar; Adam, a.k.a. DJ Nugget, also won Best DJ. - CP PHOTO BY JOHN COLOMBO
  • CP photo by John Colombo
  • Adam and Nicole Kulik, winner of Best Couple and owners of The Goldmark, winner of Best New Bar; Adam, a.k.a. DJ Nugget, also won Best DJ.

Best New Bar (as of June 2015) 

The Goldmark 
4517 Butler St., Lawrenceville 
412-688-8820 or

The latest addition to Lawrenceville’s nightlife scene is owned and operated by Pittsburgh favorite DJ Nugget (a.k.a. Adam Kulik) and features a rotating list of DJs on the turntables. But with good food, cocktails and an inventive beer and shot list, this is more than your average bar.

2nd: Hidden Harbor
3rd: The Abbey on Butler Street

Best Bar (Downtown)

Butcher and the Rye
212 Sixth St., Downtown
412-391-2752 or

Butcher and the Rye has been a go-to destination for expertly made cocktails since 2013; it was a semifinalist in the James Beard Outstanding Bar Program award two years in a row. There is an intimate upstairs bar, plus a downstairs bar with a “Whiskey Wall” featuring more than 600 whiskeys.

2nd: Tako
3rd: Il Tetto

Best Bar (North)

The Park House
403 E. Ohio St., North Side
412-224-2273 or

This is the only place in town where you can knock back a glass or two from a variety of craft beers and throw your peanut shells on the floor. Head there early on Wednesday nights if you want a seat for the live bluegrass jam. 

2nd: Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
3rd: James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

Best Bar (SOUTH)  

2108 E. Carson St., South Side
412-488-1800 or

The barely marked entrance on busy East Carson lends a speakeasy vibe to this Prohibition-themed lounge. But there is nothing nondescript about the cocktail program here, where patrons enjoy handcrafted potions in a quiet bar that’s a respite from the raucous South Side scene. Stay hep with a gin fizz.

2nd: Smiling Moose
3rd: OTB Bicycle Café 

Best Bar (East)

242 51st St., Lawrenceville
412-586-4441 or

Cheap beer, good pizza, fancy (but not too fancy) cocktails: This wood-paneled Moose Lodge-turned-ultra-hip-bar has it all. Drop in for a slice and a drink, a DJ night, or to see next year’s hottest indie band or hip-hop artist. 

2nd: The Goldmark
3rd: Kelly’s Bar & Lounge

Best Bar (WEST) 

Downey’s House
6080 Steubenville Pike Road, Robinson
412-489-5631 or 

This local spot is an oasis in Robinson’s expanse of chains. The craft-beer selection is great; Wednesdays feature 45-cent wings; and the homemade pepperoni rolls are no joke — soft, chewy, piping hot with a side of marinara, and worth a drive through the tunnels. 

2nd: Village Tavern and Trattoria
3rd: Bocktown Beer and Grill

Best Sports Bar

Redbeard’s Bar & Grill
201 Shiloh St., Mount Washington
412-431-3730 or

Perfecting the time-tested marriage of good bar food and hometown sports, this Mount Washington go-to offers fried-food classics, seafood and a robust beer selection, to accompany every Steelers and Penguins game on the tube.

2nd: Bigham Tavern
3rd: Hough’s 

Best LGBT Bar

Blue Moon
5115 Butler St., Lawrenceville

The bar can be a comfy neighborhood dive one minute, and then an excitement-filled drag catwalk in the next. It’s consistently unpretentious and inclusive for anyone who wants a drink. Inexpensive drinks range from mixers to beer, and, of course, there is plenty of Blue Moon on tap.  

2nd: 5801 Video Lounge & Café 
3rd: Cattivo

Best Place to take a First Date 

PNC Park
115 Federal St., North Side

The stadium is gorgeous, and the city skyline is a good conversation-starter. The game ends eventually, in case the date gets awkward or boring. And if you go on the right night, you could get a concert, fireworks or a Josh Harrison bobblehead.

2nd: Dish Osteria and Bar
3rd: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Best Place to Take a Tinder Date

135 Ninth St., Downtown
412-281-7703 or

Given Tinder’s focus on matching people with mutual interests, presumably you’ll go somewhere you’re both into. But if your date might dig dancers the likes of Romi Rain and Natasha Nova, a VIP lounge, bottle service, or maybe the sports bar upstairs, Blush is for you. 

2nd: The Ace Hotel
3rd: Cavo

Best Place to Dance

1916 Smallman St., Strip District
412-918-1068 or

Bright lights, private alcoves, high ceilings and a large dance floor make this the ideal nightclub to get your groove on. You’ll hear all the latest hits while you dance to DJs on Saturday nights. On Friday nights, shake it to salsa music.

2nd: Spirit
3rd: Belvederes Ultra-Dive

Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners

Mount Washington

For maximum effect, catch one of the inclines up (and back down) — but any way you get there, the panoramic view of Downtown’s skyline, the rivers, the stadiums and the hills beyond says “Welcome to Pittsburgh” like nowhere else.

2nd: Strip District
3rd: PNC Park 

Best Cocktail List

Tender Bar + Kitchen
4300 Butler St., Lawrenceville
412-402-9522 or

Whether you’re aiming to impress a date or just want a damn good drink, this old bank-building-turned-bar will do the trick. The menu is seasonal; skilled bartenders mix classic American potions with cutting-edge twists; and the atmosphere is cozy, not stuffy.

2nd: Acacia 
3rd: Hidden Harbor

Best Bartender 

Richie Walter, Cavo 
1916 Smallman St., Strip District 
412-918-1068 or

For the third year in a row, Richie Walter has been recognized for his charisma and kindness. With more than a decade of experience behind the bar, Walter provides customers with excellent and efficient service, whether he’s serving up shots or a classic cocktail.

2nd: Cecil Usher, Meat and Potatoes
3rd: Lou DiDonato, Grapperia 

Best Club 

1916 Smallman St., Strip District 
412-918-1068 or

With its warm, sophisticated décor — think exposed brick and red curtains — Cavo is an inviting night-on-the-town destination. Stop by for a DJ night and boogie on the dance floor; grab dinner and drinks; or, if high-rolling, book the space for a private event. 

2nd: Diesel Club Lounge
3rd: Cruze Bar

Best Bar to Pregame

1501 Sarah St., South Side

With specials like $2 beers and $3 mystery shots, it’s easy to see why this is the perfect spot for getting lit before a big night out or an important sporting event. But in this TV-filled bar, you might just feel like sticking around for the big game.

2nd: Rivertowne
3rd: Jack’s Bar

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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