Restaurants: Pittsburgh

Still on the summer road trip kick, we recently stopped in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.  We only had two days, but we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Carnegie Museum, see the new Harry Potter movie, and hit two restaurants seen on the Food Network.

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Inspiration came from the Pittsburgh visit of the Man V. Food show on the network.  I’ve known of Primanti Brothers on the Strip, but I’d never been there before.  I’ve been to Quaker Steak and Lube, so I decided to up the ante.

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Primanti Brothers

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As we arrived at this location on the strip to find a small line, someone leaving said “Good thing we arrived when we did!”.  We said the same thing when we left, because the line had grown out the door!

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You enter into a room that has tables on the right, and the grill and prep area on the left.  To the left of the grill wall is a door to the room next door, which I assume has a lot of seating area.  I didn’t make it in there.  One of our party told the waitperson dealing with the seating that we needed a table for six, and eventually, he pointed us to a table at the back of the room with the grill.  So I never made it in the other room, but I did get to watch them prep the crazy sandwiches they make.

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You’ve got all kinds of meat to choose from – pastrami, corned beef, ham, sardines, etc.  It all gets thrown on the grill, and when nicely crisped, gets put on a huge slice of bread.  Then, they put the french fries and coleslaw on top, and top it with another slice.  It’s supposed to make it easy for truckers who stop in after deliveries to drive and eat, but it really does make a mess.

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Anyways, we sat at our table and wondered if we were supposed to order at the bar, or if someone would serve us.  Eventually a woman asked us from behind the bar what we wanted to drink.  She put the drinks on the bar, and we couldn’t figure out if we should grab them or what.  After doing something else, she came around and gave them to us.  She took our order by memory, and it came out 99% right.  There was cheese on a sandwich that wasn’t supposed to be there.  But I was happy to see that mountain placed before me.

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Wow!  Is my mouth that big?

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The corned beef was great in the sandwich, as was the coleslaw, which had a light, vinagery coating.  The bread was very fresh.  However, it was all overwhelmed by the fries.  The heavy potato-ness of the sandwich was what you got in each bite.  We ended up pulling out most of the fries and eating them on the side, and this helped immensely.   You could then get the flavors of the meat and slaw.  The bread ended up being very filling as well, so I just ate the fillings on the second half, which allowed me to finish the important parts.

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We didn’t get a bill, so I just went to the register.  Upon entering everything, I discovered that: A. they only take cash and B. I didn’t have enough cash.  So I had to get some from another in our party.  Seriously, they only take cash – what’s with that?

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Well, it was a good sandwich.  I don’t see the need to go again, though.  If I did get the urge, I’d probably go to the stand alone restaurant in Cranberry, closer to my house there.

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Quaker Steak and Lube

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Quaker Steak and Lube is basically a wings and beer kind of place.  I’d been there before, and it was pretty good, although this time, we went to the location in Cranberry, instead of the one in Robinson Township.

One little vice, they had fried pickles on the menu.  These are spears, with a crispy breading, and were pretty good.  I tend to like “chip” style better, like at Hooters, or Fitz’s in St. Louis.

Previously, I’d had wings with one of the many sauces they offer.  This time, I thought I’d join Man vs. Food’s Adam, and go for the Atomic wings.  I ordered the sampler, which brought five wings to the table.  My kids were all excited I was going to eat these.  You take a smell, and the mouth starts to water.  I didn’t get an overwhelming heat from them, just sitting on the table.


So I started in.  Initially, it wasn’t overwhelming, like I expected.  The heat did show up a few seconds later, but it wasn’t really too bad on the tongue.  I was very careful to try and keep it off the lips.  I had a beer by my side, but that didn’t help shut down the heat.  Like I said, though, it wasn’t too hot to not eat.  By the third, I was starting to sweat a bit and my eyes were watering.  It was kind of fun though, and not too terrible.  I traded the fourth to my dad so he could try one.  I had one of his BuckeyeBBQ wings, and after the heat from the Atomics, the spicy bbq sauce actually had a nice tang.  A few minutes later, I finished my last Atomic wing.

I asked the server what the actual challenge consisted of, and he told me it was 10 Atomic wings, up from six previously, because too many were able to do it.  There is a “Wall of Flame” by the bathroom, with lots of names on printed sheets for each month, so I guess he’s right.  I did get a couple of “I had the Atomic Wings” bumper stickers though.  Next time I’m there, I’ll try the full challenge.

Anyone want to join me?

4 thoughts on Restaurants: Pittsburgh

  1. Sean,

    The other room in Primanti’s has much more seating and a large wooden bar as well. I tend to remove a lot of the fries as well, and eat them separately. I like the kielbasa sandwich as well as the roast beef and cheesesteak.

    The original Quaker Steak & Lube is up in Sharon, PA. North on I-79 to I-80 westward. I remember stopping there when I was in my early 20s before they began franchising.. we’d waterski at Shenango Lake which is near Sharon.

  2. I like bread, meat, coleslaw and fries, but I think that it’s disgusting to cram them into one giant sandwich.
    As for the wings, I ahve no desire to eat something painfully hot just to eat something painfully hot !!

    Good luck!!!

    • The hot wings – they aren’t just hot. They’re hot and they taste good. Although at that point, you can’t go back down, because the heat kills off any milder flavor tasting for a while.

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