James Street Speakeasy Review – Go for a Show, Stay for the Food

Last Updated on November 7, 2017 by Angie

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Update: James Street Speakeasy closed in November 2017.

James Street Speakeasy in Pittsburgh's historic Deutschtown is a unique music venue, restaurant, and bar all rolled into one.

With local and national jazz, acoustic, and blues musicians playing multiple nights a week (amongst many others), a solid bar with prohibition era cocktails and craft beer from many local Pittsburgh breweries, and a food menu full of traditional bar food taken up a notch, James Street makes for an all around fantastic night out.

Taking in the Music at the Speakeasy

Music at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

To paint the proper picture of James Street, we have to break the venue out by floors, as this particular spot has three unique ones for you to enjoy

The main level of James Street serves as the main restaurant area where you can have a full meal or relax at the bar. The basement holds the speakeasy venue, a smaller, more intimate spot for live music. Upstairs is the ballroom, a larger space that, when dimly lit, creates the perfect ambiance for just about any performance, and is our personal favorite.

Music at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

We've been fortunate enough to take in several performances at James Street- many of which during the neighborhood's annual Deutschtown Music Festival, and we have to say that the upstairs ballroom at James Street is one of the finest we've been to in the city for a show.

Music at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

There is almost always something going on at James Street, whether it's open mic nights or jam sessions with a $5 cover all the way up to larger Saturday night concerts with tickets up to $10 or $15.

Dining at James Street Gastropub

James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

Even if you're not into jazz or don't want to pay a cover charge, the restaurant and bar are plenty enough reason to come check this place out. The cocktail menu consists of classics like an Old Fashioned, Sazerac, and Sidecar. All of the drinks we've ever had here have been well-executed and strong. The draft list is respectable and consists of a couple dozen craft beers, a handful of them usually local.

The food menu looks pretty standard on the surface with small plates, wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and entrees like fried chicken and steak. As the price point of the small plates seems rather high with most of them between $12-15, we usually opt for the similarly priced sandwiches and burgers instead.

Burger at James Street Gastropub

On our most recent visit we couldn't resist the intriguingly named “Yinz Gotta Try This Burger.” There's no mistake about it, this one is over the top and total Pittsburgh- it's topped with pierogies, cheese, and coleslaw, and served on a pretzel bun. Although the burger itself was average, the toppings and pretzel were pretty good. Basically, if you order this one, know you're ordering it for the novelty factor.

Mac and Cheese at James Street Gastropub

On the other hand, we really loved the build your own mac and cheese entree. This meal starts with your basic mac made with a blend of white cheddar and provolone cheeses, and then you can add any number of meats or veggies to round out your meal. We chose to add some bacon, spinach, and tomatoes. Although it can get pricey as the toppings are priced individually, the huge portions more than make up for it (I think I made about 4 meals out of this one plate!).

The mac and cheese had a nice cheese profile that was rich with a little sharpness for balance, and the whole thing was delectably creamy. The amount of toppings was pretty generous, and I have to pat myself on the back and say that the toppings we chose were delicious together.

Overall, James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy offers a wide array of options for all visitors. Whether you want to visit for a drink, a meal, or a live performance, you are sure to find what you are seeking here.

James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy closed in November 2017.

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