One Day in Town
For both locals and outsiders, South Side is most well-known for one thing: bars. For years, main drag East Carson Street and environs have been denser with bars than anywhere in town. But there's more to these streets than just nightlife and bar-hopping.
South Side runs parallel for its length along a riverfront trail perfect for hiking and biking along the Monongahela River. The South Side trail is part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail system, and part of the opening leg of the Great Allegheny Passage that runs all the way to Washington, D.C. You'll also find several docks and boat launches along the river.
The trail will also take you to another must-see. Toward the end of East Carson Street is SouthSide Works (between 26th Street and Hot Metal Street, www.southsideworks.com), a hub for shopping and dining. The Works boasts a 10-screen movie theater, several restaurants, and chain retailers like H&M and Urban Outfitters, as well as summer concerts.
If you're seeking nightlife, Charlie Murdoch's Dueling Piano Bar (1005 E. Carson St., 412-431-7464) should be on your list. Shows in this converted church feature dueling pianos, band sets and comedy. And the basement offers additional fun with a DJ and some of the cheapest drinks on Carson.
Another neighborhood institution is Spotlight Costumes (1503 E. Carson St., 412-381-7733). Since 1988, the shop has been creating costumes for the stage, television and film industry, for national and international productions. Visitors will be in awe of the incredible selection in this deceptively small store.
But ultimately, a neighborhood is only as good as its restaurants, and South Side has plenty. While there are fine-dining restaurants and burger joints, one can't-miss eatery is The Pretzel Shop (2316 E. Carson St., 412-431-2574). The shop has been open since 1927 and offers unique and tasty pretzel flavors like tomato basil, as well as sandwiches on pretzel bread. Like the South Side itself, the food is a fine combination of interesting ingredients and tradition.
Big Dog Coffee. An off-Carson oasis with caffeinated beverages and a great patio. Try the oatmeal. 2717 Sarah St., 412-586-7306
Café du Jour. The ever-changing menu here is good, if pricey, and this BYOB joint's back-porch outdoor seating is one of the city's best-kept secrets. 1107 E. Carson St., 412-488-9695
Circolo Woodfired. A place on busy East Carson for pizza and pasta dishes that is a cut above the usual college-kid hang-outs, but not as pricey as fine dining. 2100 E. Carson St. 412-251-5240
Dish Osteria & Bar. Cozy corner restaurant, offering a small but thoughtfully executed menu of Italian cuisine, featuring pastas, meat and seafood entrees. 128 S. 17th St., 412-390-2012
La Palapa. This storefront restaurant argues that there's hope for Mexican food in Pittsburgh after all. 1925 E. Carson St., 412-586-7015
Nakama Japanese. This well-positioned corner restaurant is the see-and-be-seen spot for sushi, steaks and hibachi-cooked meals. 1611 E. Carson St.,412-381-6000
Over the Bar. A bicycle-themed joint, with beer and pub grub amusingly named for the two-wheeled set. 2518 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-381-3698
Piper's Pub. The place to watch international soccer, while feasting on British specialties like Scotch eggs, strong ale and whiskeys. 1828 E. Carson St., 412-381-2797
Pub Chip Shop. Tiny spot that offers classic and not-so-classic British take-away fare: savory pies, fish and chips, sausage rolls and "bap" sandwiches. 1830 E. Carson St., 412-381-2447
Waffles INCaffeinated. You can get a plain waffle here, but why would you, with so many sweet and savory toppings and add-ins available? 2517 E. Carson St., 412-301-1763
Winghart's. This joint raises the flag for extravagantly topped gourmet burgers, paired with local craft beers and an extensive whiskey list. 1505 E. Carson St., 412-904-4620
Bars and Clubs
Acacia. Prohibition-era cocktails with the décor to match. A quiet and classy haven in the South Side with skilled staff. 2108 E. Carson St., 412-488-1800
Beehive Coffeehouse. An artsy coffeehouse turned bar in the evening hours. Alcoholic milkshakes, cocktails and just plain ol' beers. Sit inside and play games, or lounge on the back porch and chat. 1327 E. Carson St., 412-488-4483
Birmingham Bridge Tavern. A classic American bar. Rowdy on the weekends, with steady regulars during the week. There are 22 beers on tap and 80 more in bottles. If you don't like beer, ask for a cocktail. They can handle it. 2901 Sarah St., 412-381-2739
Carmela's Plates & Pints. Up-and-coming on the cocktail scene, Carmela's is making a name for itself in the bartending community. Come here for a solid drink in a laid-back environment. 1908 E. Carson St., 412-918-1215
Dee's Café. Darts, pool, ping-pong, cheap beer. A proudly downscale landmark for every kind of drinker. 1314 E. Carson St., 412-431-1314
Double Wide Grill. A gas station turned restaurant and bar. A range of beers and some novelty cocktails. Lots of outdoor seating, including a dog-friendly area. 2330 E. Carson St., 412-390-1111
Fat Heads. Massive beer list, massive sandwiches. A popular bar and eatery that includes a place for outside drinkers and diners. 1805 E. Carson St., 412-431-7433
Hofbrauhaus. Make all the jokes you want about lederhosen and schnitzel, but the German-style beers brewed here are really great. Once a month, there is a parade and party on the night they tap the keg on the new monthly brew. 2705 S. Water St., 412-235-7065
Jack Rose Bar. Known all over town as Pittsburgh's quintessential dive bar, Jack's draws a crowd beyond neighborhood regulars, especially on the weekends. 1117 E. Carson St. 412-431-3644
Lava Lounge. Themed dance nights and bars on two floors in a setting that looks like the interior of a volcano. 2003 E. Carson St., www.lavaloungepgh.com
Arts and Culture
City Theatre. Long-running troupe specializes in Pittsburgh premieres of contemporary plays by the likes of Daniel Beaty and John Patrick Shanley. 1300 Bingham St., 412-431-2489
Silver Eye Center for Photography. Pittsburgh's lone gallery devoted exclusively to photography showcases new work by both locals and artists from around the world. 1015 E. Carson St., 412-431-1810
Club Café. The classic cocktail-lounge setup lends itself well to intimate singer-songwriters and jazz jams; the AcoustiCafe open mic is renowned. 56 S. 12th St., 412-431-4950
Rex Theater. Mid-sized shows, in an impressive variety of genres, hit this former movie theater: There's something interesting happening here most nights. 1602 E. Carson St., 412-381-6811
Smiling Moose. The upstairs space in this long-standing bar is a popular spot for rock bands, and the venue often hosts all-ages shows. 1306 E. Carson St., 412-431-4668
Commonwealth Press. Local printing and silkscreen establishment carries many lines of T-shirts and more, but is best known for its irreverent wares celebrating local neighborhoods, culture and sports teams. 1931 E. Carson St., 412-431-4207
Culture Shop. Incense, jewelry, skirts, headbands and art. This bohemian Carson Street staple has it all. 1602 E. Carson St. 412-481-8284
Decade. Among the wares at this store are locally made T-shirts with Pittsburgh themes beyond the basic offerings. 1407 E. Carson St., 412-720-1677
Femi. With vibrant clothing displays in its front window, this newer clothing and accessories retailer is a must-stop shop. 1405 E. Carson St., 412-904-1501
Figleaf Boutique. This women's clothing and accessories shop offers the younger crowd an alternative to chains like Forever 21. 1406 E. Carson St., 412-431-7700
Highway Robbery Vintage. This store specializes in authentic vintage apparel and accessories for men and women from the 1950s to early 1990s. 1411 E. Carson St., 412-251-0818