Tucked among the quaint row houses in the Mexican War Streets, Monterey Pub is exactly the kind of neighborhood watering hole you'd expect it to be: it's the kind of place with regulars, wooden booths, and dark corners. But it's also got a few delicious tricks up its sleeve, including a great food menu full of Irish pub fare, burgers, salads, and sandwiches.
Beer and a Robust Food Menu
The draft list is rather small but, of course, it consists of Guinness and Smithwicks as well as a few other rotating taps. There's also a bottle list and a very small wine list. During our visit Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy was on tap and we went with that, followed up with Smithwicks. Our waitress was pretty spot on when she described Smithwicks, which we'd never had before, as Guinness Light.
The food menu is surprisingly large and has the requisite burgers, wings, and all manner of fried things as well as some surprising twists like Chicken and Waffle Nachos (with the waffles standing in for tortilla chips and a jalapeno berry jam drizzled on top), and a Quesarogie (quesadilla stuffed with mashed potatoes, pierogies, and cheese).
The Irish pub menu items include classics like boxtys, bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and fish and chips.
Deciding on an Order Can Be Difficult
It took us five minutes just to read the whole menu, but in the end we decided to go classic and order a burger and a boxty. For the burger, we settled on the Northside Epic Burger topped with Guinness beef, jalapenos, Swiss cheese, and dynamite sauce. The burger was actually cooked the way we ordered it (medium) – a rarity in Pittsburgh. The hearty beef topping was balanced out by the spicy sauce and jalapenos, and the bun was particularly rich and tasty. All in all, a decent burger choice but nothing earth-shattering in terms of flavors.
As a side we ordered the sweet potato tots which at first may make you feel like you're eight years old again in your elementary school cafeteria. But don't worry, these are made out of sweet potatoes so they're for grown ups. And they're delicious.
For our boxty we decided on the classic Guinness shredded beef boxty, which was the highlight of the night. This thing is massive and over-the-top: seriously crispy potato pancakes enshroud the fork-tender Guinness shredded beef, while the pub sauce and melty Gloucester cheese ensure the whole thing stays nice and saucy. I normally don't like shredded beef but this stuff was amazing- so rich, tender, and slightly sweet from the Guinness.
This is the kind of place that, after drinking one too many beers and eating way too many fried things, you leave with your friends proclaiming how great this place is. Just don't proclaim it too loudly- the sign on the door as you leave reminds you that you're in a residential neighborhood and to keep your voices down.
Monterey Pub is located at 1227 Monterey Street in the Mexican War Streets.
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