Bar Botanico is the Cocktail Bar that Lawrenceville Needs

I know what you're thinking- another bar in Lawrenceville?!

For the longest time, we thought this neighborhood was already at its max of bars. But it wasn't until we were able to get in and experience Bar Botanico that we realized Lawrenceville was missing one specific kind of bar that we thoroughly enjoy- a higher-end cocktail bar. And if there is anything you know about us, we love good cocktail bars in Pittsburgh.

From the drinks to the vibe and the food (presently provided by Troy Hill-based Scratch & Co), Bar Botanico really knocked things out of the park- not just on drinks, but the entire package.

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Afghan Kabab House Review – Don’t Miss Out on the Appetizers

Periodically we'll lament about what Pittsburgh needs, and when it comes to the city's dining scene, the answer is always the same- fewer gastropubs and more international restaurants.

Not just any international restaurants (although we'd certainly take whatever came out), but restaurants with cuisine from countries that are woefully underrepresented in the region. One such country whose cuisine was lacking in the city was Afghanistan, but we're now happy to report that Carnegie is home to a wonderful spot right on Main Street- Afghan Kabab House.

While you may find the flavors of the kababs to be in line with other delicious Middle Eastern fare you've had in the city, you'll do well to throw on several of the Afghan appetizers as these are true gems that are unlike just about anything we've had to date.

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40 North Review – Eastern European Vibes in the North Side

40 North is the newest restaurant concept in the Alphabet City space located in the North Side. With James Beard Award-nominee Bethany Zozula at the helm, the restaurant features local and seasonal cuisine that both comforts and inspires.

When we heard Zozula was going to lead 40 North we had high hopes for this space that has seen its share of restaurants come and go over the past few years. Zozula was most recently the chef at the now-closed Whitfield, a standout spot for steaks and weekend brunch.

While the menu at 40 North is decidedly new, fans of the Whitfield will likely find much to love here. Entrees include simple but well-executed preparations of steaks, fish, and chicken, while the sides and appetizers make use of seasonal produce with middle eastern and Eastern European flavors sprinkled in.

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Nanban Review – Asian Soul Food Merging Ki Pollo & Ki Ramen

Ki Pollo and Ki Ramen were two staple restaurants in Lawrenceville for many years with the former serving up an interesting mix of fried chicken and empanadas and the latter serving Japanese and east Asian fare like ramen, gyoza, and more. 

But in 2021, Ki Ramen closed for construction due to apparent water damage in the building, and it was announced that the menus of the two restaurants would be merging into one Asian soul food concept known as Nanban in the Ki Pollo space.

In a way, this one takes all of the best elements of the two restaurants in one combined space, but also comes with some of the same drawbacks- specifically when it comes to deciding what to order outright as the menu here can only be described as varied!

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9 Great Pittsburgh Distilleries to Check Out for Libations

We can think back to a time in the not-so-distance past when there were no distilleries in Pittsburgh at all (distilleries in the form we know and love, at least).

Yes, it seems unusual to think that the region known for the historic Whiskey Rebellion from 1791-1794 would somehow ever be devoid of distilleries outright. This all came about thanks to an arcane law that prevented distilleries from having on-site sales and as such only a few operated in the state- mostly for commercial sales direct to bars, the state store, and other indirect consumers.

It wasn't until the founders of Wigle Whiskey lobbied to get the law change that our distillery scene really started to take off with the on-site bar programs we know and love. For reference of time scale, this was only in 2012, and with the change in laws, Wigle became the first distillery to open in the city limits and only the third to open in the state at all!

As such, Pittsburgh's distillery scene can only be defined as young but growing rapidly. Distilleries, like Wigle, that were founded around the start of the rule change are only recently starting to get aged products that rival other regions that have been producing for decades, and not a year goes by that several new distilleries pop onto the scene as well.

In this one, we want to briefly share a bit about all of the distilleries we've been to so far!

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Pusadee’s Garden Review – A Dining Experience Worth the Wait

When Pusadee's Garden closed in 2017 for renovations, we thought they'd be open the following year. 2018 came and went, so did 2019, and so did 2020 all without hearing a single update about the project. After enough time passed, we really thought this one was closed for good and were rather sad at the prospect of losing such a great restaurant in Lawrenceville.

Cut to early 2021 and the restaurant announced that they would finally be opening again, and we knew we had to visit as quickly as possible.

It only took about two steps after walking into the door for us to realize we should forget everything we remember about this one. To call the upgrade extensive would be an understatement- it was a complete transformation that was executed flawlessly. The restaurant went from being a good Thai spot to becoming one of the finest restaurants in Pittsburgh– Thai or otherwise.

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Lorelei Review – Bringing Alpine Cocktails and Beer to East Liberty

Lorelei is another stellar bar concept operated by the team behind Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor in Squirrel Hill.

But rather than adding into their collection of bars at the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenue, this one is located in the heart of East Liberty– bringing a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood's drinking scene.

We were recently invited out by the team at Lorelei to check out the new space, and share our thoughts in this full review! (Note that this review has been updated to reflect additional visits that we made on our own as well.)

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The Summit Review – Mount Washington’s Neighborhood Cocktail Bar

Cocktail bars have a weird way of chasing us whenever we move to a new Pittsburgh neighborhood. When we left Squirrel Hill to move to Mount Washington, Hidden Harbor opened up one block away from our former apartment. When we left Mount Washington, the same happened with an old bar there turning into The Summit.

While we lament the fact that we could've lived just one block away from either of these wonderful cocktail bars, we have returned time and time again to enjoy their stellar creations all the same.

In this one, we wanted to share a bit more about what you can expect from The Summit as it is truly the premier cocktail bar on top of Mount Washington!

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The Roundabout Popup is a Relaxing Beer Garden on the Ohio River

We regularly lament the lack of riverfront drinking options in Pittsburgh, and whenever a new space comes out onto the scene we try and get as much of it as we possibly can.

One of the longest-running riverfront beer gardens comes from the Lawrenceville-based brewery, Roundabout, and is the kind of urban oasis we absolutely adore. But to enjoy this one, you're not going to be heading to the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville, but rather the Ohio River in Chateau (just steps from Bicycle Heaven)!

It really is hard to beat this one on a hot summer night. 

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Quantum Spirits Review – Delicious Libations and Food in Carnegie

With the liquor laws easing in Pennyslvania, many brewers, distillers, and alcohol aficionados have been looking at getting into the business of helping appease a thirsty population.

In Carnegie, Quantum Spirits has been improving the libations game one spirit and cocktail at a time.

While this one is still young by distillery standards, with each passing year they are getting better and better with their spirits, bar program, and now even a full kitchen with a stellar food menu as well!

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