By Mike Panzitta – Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh
We love our historic districts for so many reasons, from their unrivaled architecture to their well-established communities to their human-scale intimacy. But there’s another thing we here at the Rust Belt Coalition love about our historic neighborhoods: the blue-collar tradition of the local tavern. And we feel that here in the Rust Belt more than any other region, the unpretentiousness, sense of community, and ubiquity of the neighborhood bars allow them to be meeting places welcoming to everyone.
Pittsburgh, as an old mill town, has no shortage of these taverns where you’d feel just as comfortable ordering a West Coast fancy beer as an Imp ‘n’ Ahrn. We’re going to look at a couple bars in Historic Deutschtown in Pittsburgh’s North Side that are upholding this great tradition.
The Park House is a Pittsburgh institution, and for good reason. Housed in an 1890s-era storefront in the main business district of Deutschtown, the bar has been continuously operating since the end of Prohibition. Though its narrow footprint makes for tough navigating when it’s packed, the small size of the bar lends to its local feel. And the place does get packed – One of the most well-known Park House tradition is the free bluegrass Wednesday with the Shelf Life String Band, which fills the bar each week.
Plus, Park House always has free popcorn and peanuts, which is awesome.
Max’s Allegheny Tavern puts the “Deutsch” in Deutschtown (and I can’t believe I just wrote that). Its German menu is well known in the city, and at least I can attest that their potato pancake reuben is out of this world. Max’s, with significantly more space than the Park House, has a more relaxed, sit-down vibe, and it’s definitely more of a bar/restaurant feel. But that doesn’t make it any less cozy or intimate…wooden booths, gorgeous stained glass light fixtures, and a working player piano give the tavern a welcoming and historic feel. Order their German beer sampler flight and you can’t help but think of the German immigrants who built the North Side and gave it that distinct feel you can’t find anywhere else in the city.
Allegheny City Brewing is one of the newest businesses putting up shop in Deutschtown. A brand-new brewery from a few Pittsburghers who spent some time in Colorado, ACB looks to have the potential (from the couple times I’ve been in their shop for tastings) to be a new anchor institution in the North Side. Their beer list is incredibly extensive and they have a real connection with the neighborhood and its history. They’re looking to open within a month or so, so keep an eye out!
The Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists loves beer. And we (obviously) love historic districts. So you can imagine how excited we get when a historic district has a robust bar scene like Deutschtown in Pittsburgh. Be sure to hit us up next time you’re in town – we’ll show you around the neighborhood!