Stepping into Max's Allegheny Tavern is a bit like stepping back in time. Or maybe it's more like stepping into your grandmother's house- if your grandmother was German, that is. Max's is one of those places where the decor seemingly hasn't been updated since the day the restaurant opened, which usually means the food is either homestyle and delicious, or terrible.
Luckily for us Pittsburghers, Max's falls into the former category. This homey restaurant serves up comforting, traditional German food and beer. When it comes down to that, could you ask for anything more?
No-Frills German Food and Beer
As you step into one of the several dining rooms with intensely flowered wallpaper, brown carpet, and Tiffany style lamps, it may be hard to keep your eyes on the prize: the traditional German menu.
You'll find any kind of wurst you could ever want, more schnitzels than you can shake a stick at, tons of sandwiches with meats like corned beef and pastrami, and a wide array of standard German sides like German potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage, sauerkraut, and spatzle. If German fare is what you seek, Max's is sure to have an option for you.
If you're like us, however, you will be just as interested in the German beer as you are the food. If this sounds like you, be sure to start off with the German beer sampler. Where else in the city can you find this many great German beers on tap? Nowhere we know of. Kostritzer, Hacker-Pschorr, and Spaten are just a few of the rotating brands you will find here and having them on tap is leaps and bounds better than their bottled counterparts.
For appetizers, check out the Bavarian stuffed pretzels. These are great if you're looking for a snack while you drink, or if you've got several people to split them with – it's a ton of food! These pretzels are deep fried and stuffed with cheddar cheese, so basically they're the most addicting things ever even if they stray from the German standard. Make sure to dip them in the accompanying sweet and tangy honey mustard sauce as it is among the best mustard we've had in the city.
Traditional German Fare and The Potato Pancake Reuben
There's nothing over-the-top about the entrees at Max's, except maybe for the potato pancake Reuben. Tender corned beef, homemade sauerkraut, cheese, and dressing are sandwiched between two potato pancakes. You probably won't need to eat for a week after this one. The potato pancakes are especially delicious; they look and taste almost like regular pancakes with hints of onion and potato- they're fluffy and delicious.
Although we have tried the traditional Reuben at Max's and thought it was simply a good iteration of this iconic sandwich, the potato pancake Reuben was definitely a step above the regular one and is going to become a staple for us from now on.
Heading towards more traditional German items on the menu, Max's schnitzels and wurst platters are just as you'd expect: lots of delicious meat. The schnitzel royale is a good deluxe schnitzel choice with its meaty mushroom sauce and tomato and gouda topping.
Like the entrees, the side dishes are also pretty standard; some of our favorites are the tangy sweet and sour cabbage and the creamy cheese spatzle.
Although a common critique you'll hear about Max's is that their food is basic German fare (this is true), this is one of the reasons why we love it so much. No frills, no gourmet offerings, just simple and hearty German fare as it should be- with a whole lot of amazing beer to go around.
Max's Allegheny Tavern is located at 537 Suismon Street in the North Side.
For more restaurants in the North Side, check out Burgatory, Nicky's Thai, or grab a drink at Allegheny City Brewing or Southern Tier! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!
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