The 10 Best Bars In Oakland, Pittsburgh

Shyla Watson

Home to Carnegie Melon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Oakland is the educational hub of Pittsburgh. The college town is crawling with students and professors. For those that have to teach a class or take a test, the environment of Oakland can be pretty stressful. Where do you go to unwind and relax? Read our list to discover the best bars in Oakland, Pittsburgh.

Outside of Garage Door Saloon

1. Garage Door Saloon

Bar, Cocktails, Pub Grub

Cocktail at Legume
©Edsel Little/Flickr
Garage Door Saloon (known by the locals as GDoor) is the classic dive bar, you can smoke inside, they’ve got three dartboards and two pool tables, the wall sports a guest-operated jukebox so you can pick the music, and they even have a window into the pizzeria next door so you can grab a slice to go with your beer. The bartenders are friendly and are happy to make a Trashcan for you any time (you’ll have to get one yourself to find out what’s in it), and things can get pretty crowded late at night, but be sure to stop in for karaoke on Tuesdays to hear college students belting out Beyonce and Kesha.

2. Butterjoint

Bar, Cocktails, American, Pub Grub

Spirited Window of Hemingway’s Café
Located inside of family-run bistro Legume, Butterjoint is a full-service bar with its very own small plate and late night menus. Visitors may sip on an ice-cold draft beer, premium wine, or handcrafted cocktail. For lower prices, stop by during happy hour, offered from 4:30pm-6:30pm every day throughout the work week. However, if you really want to get your money’s worth, attend a class at Butterjoint’s free school. Learn about fermenting everything from sauerkraut, to wine. Butterjoint hosts other special events, such as Date Night, which features a fixed three-course menu, or community events with live entertainment. Finally, be sure to sample one of their signature burgers, ranging from average to extra fancy. Top the grass-fed beef with a number of cheeses, greens, condiments, and more. Butterjoint’s burger bites and beer are just what you need.

3. Hemingway’s Café

Bar, Pub Grub

Karaoke Mic
©Derek Gavey/Flickr
This award-winning bar is a local watering hole and hang out spot for co-eds in the Oakland area. Mingle around a table with friends, sip on one of the many craft brewed ales available, and discuss that crazy lecture you attended last week. Or, unwind after a crazy study session by dancing the night away; a DJ spins Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. For a more chilled atmosphere, attend the acoustic open mic night on Wednesdays or win prizes at pub trivia on Tuesdays. Seeing as how college students seldom have money, the food and drinks are cheap, yet delicious. Although primarily a college bar, Hemingway’s welcomes all and is a perfect place for a casual outing.

4. Gene’s Place

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub

Peter’s Pub
Gene’s Place is more than a dive bar, it’s an authentic hideaway. The small space creates a cozy atmosphere for people to enjoy pleasant conversation with the friendly bartenders or charming regulars. The bar serves inexpensive drinks and tasty, casual pub grub. They even serve Iron City brews for a dollar. Sit in a booth with friends, play a round of darts with coworkers, or play a classic tune on the jukebox. Gene’s is such an Oakland secret, that it’s one of the few bars in the area that isn’t consistently swarming with college kids. If you’re of a more mature age, but want to visit a down-to-earth place, try Gene’s. You won’t regret it.

5. Peter’s Pub

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub

Drinks at the Bar
©Jason Doctor/Flickr
You know you’ve found something special when a place feels like home; this is what the regulars at Peter’s know to be true. This inviting pub offers different specials each day, ranging from drinks to eats. There’s a plethora of domestic, imported, and draft beers to sample, in addition to delicious foods, such as wings, po boy sandwiches, burgers, cheese steaks, and much more. Peter’s also caters and hosts private parties in their dining room and upstairs bar, so when you’re cramming for a test and can’t leave the library, order up some snacks for yourself and all of your study buddies. Be on the lookout for some of their special holiday events.

6. Uncle Jimmy’s

Bar, Pub Grub

Fuel and Fuddle
©Sage Ross/Flickr
Jimmy’s is swarming with regulars who refer to the bar as a home away from home. The neighborhood bar is dark and divey, smells like smoke, and has a varied clientele, ranging from 20-year old college students to 60-year old retirees. If conversation with the cool bartenders isn’t enough to keep you occupied, there are a couple of pool tables in the back, video games at the bar, a dart board, and a retro jukebox that plays both classic and modern hits. Though there are weekly specials on drinks and grub throughout the week, the really special weekly event is the live music. Performances range in genre, from folk to rock; there are also open mic nights on Tuesdays, if you’re brave enough to make some music of your own.

7. Fuel And Fuddle

Gastropub, Restaurant, American

©Matt Niemi/Flickr
Fuel and Fuddle is an Oakland gastropub and hungry college student hot spot. Fill up on tasty grub like their sweet potato fries, smashed potato flat bread pizza, fire wings, and beef and brisket burgers. Wash it all down with one of the 10 beers on tap or select from 100 bottled beers. If you still have room, there’s a s’mores pizza with ice cream for dessert. The environment is comfortable and casual, so sit back and let your worries fall away. Stop by for happy hour with your coworkers and sip on a hand crafted cocktail, or pop in with friends and grab something off of the exclusive late-night menu, where everything is half-off.

8. Gooski’s

Bar, Pub Grub

Gooski’s is truly a diamond in the rough. Although the place has a retro-hipster vibe to it, the people that frequent it are down to earth and love a good dive bar. The bartenders are extremely likable and friendly, and serve up cheap beer and tasty eats. Sample the pirogies and hot wings, they’re the local favorites. Gooski’s has great happy hour prices, occasional live music, pool tables and darts, and a killer jukebox filled with punk rock classics. If you like funky art, the bathrooms and game area are covered in awesome graffiti. Be sure to note that smoking is allowed indoors, and that the bar is cash only. Classic Jukebox | ©Alain Bachellier/Flickr

9. Le Mardi Gras

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

Sharp Edge Beer Emporium Beer Selection
Le Mardi Gras knows how to set the mood. Established in 1954, it doesn’t seem like the bar has changed much, it oozes old-school class and is something out of an old black and white film. Simple and sweet, the bar is tucked away and only has so many stools at the bar for patrons, but is definitely worth a visit. They have 20 signature cocktails, many of which are freshly squeezed with the freshest fruit of the season. There are over 20 beers on tap, and over 10 available bottle brands. Sip on a Dark and Stormy in one of their intimate booths, while listening to the classic hits playing on the jukebox. If you’re looking for a casual spot with a cozy atmosphere, Le Mardi Gras is the place to go.

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