The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, or, Road Eats: Steel City Style

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Known to a select few Dionysians simply as "The Baseball Trip," it's a once a year epic blowout wherein I and some great friends congregate in poor, defenseless Pittsburgh to see how much trouble we can get into (a whole lot) and to attend an early baseball game. (Note: it's hardly an "eating" adventure as the amount of bad behavior that takes place is usually inversely proportional to the amount of food consumed.)

This year, we went to opening day in the beautiful PNC Park--and nature complied with glorious weather, and fate complied with a terrific win for the Pirates.

A view from the bridge. Like Paris, P-burgh is a city of bridges, and this is what it looks like on the the 6th Street (aka Roberto Clemente) Bridge that scenically takes pedestrians right up to the ballpark. I love how the stadium organically meshes with the city.

We stood at an outfield table watching the game from here, where it was easier to keep a constant stream flowing of beer and sometimes, uh, severe value judgments of players/fans while remaining (almost) out of listening distance from the easily offended.

This pretty much served as lunch for five.

Fortunately, on our way home, we ducked into a place named after its street address--Six Penn Kitchen--where we absorbed a good soaker-upper of very nice pizza, smoked wings and spot-on calamari. Possibly less fortunately, it was then deemed "cocktail hour."

Continuing our wrecked trek through downtown, we made a pit stop at Eleven on Smallman St. (in the "strip district") for great-deal HH $1 oysters and $6 martinis--just what we needed! After slurping down several of each (including at least one drink made with local vodka), I fuzzily remember thinking that the, uh, demonstrative behavior we were nonchalantly engaging in at the sorta swanky Eleven might've made us stand out a smidge. In fact, to the place's other patrons (it was about 5pm), we might've kinda resembled those calamitous Vikings from the Capital One commercials.

You've probably heard of this beloved local mini-chain that puts vinegary slaw and a big ol' pile of fries right onto their sandwiches (possible reason: easier for truck drivers to eat that way). BTW, this is the next day.

But instead of a Primanti's, we tried to "cheesesteak" (used as a verb) our ways out of the residual feelings from our previous night's indulgences--this is from Southside Steaks (located in that funky, artsy/hip, boutique & restaurant-rich part of town).

Looking at this view, I'm ready to relive all that craziness all over again--can't wait 'till next year!

As a postscript, after the game, we watched the super-exciting Butler/Duke NCAA Championship game, and then something deeply hilarious and/or profoundly disturbing happened.

By odd chance, our TV landed on the local public access channel, and the most insane and profane show I've seen in a very long time on "regular" TV came on right at midnight. It's called Off Da Grill, and I'm not even going to link to its website (but you can guess what it is) because though I believe it can be really funny, I also believe it has great power to offend. Chalk its existence up to yet another of the mysteries of Pittsburgh!