We’re officially in the swing of hockey season here in Pittsburgh, and while the Pens may be down a few much-loved core players, die-hard fans are still ready to turn out and support the team at PPG Paints Arena.
Despite a lot of hopeful attention directed toward nearby development plans that may come to fruition years from now, the stretch of Fifth Avenue where the arena sits isn’t exactly known for having many options to grab a bite to eat or a drink before the game starts.
Where can some hungry Penguins fans find a quick meal and a cold beer before the puck drops? Check out our list for some fun options in uptown and downtown:
Conveniently located just a few blocks from PPG Paints Arena, the Souper Bowl is a classic Pens pregame spot that just about everyone can enjoy. Rowdy enough for your buds and cozy enough for your parents, the Souper Bowl is hands-down the best locally-owned bar and restaurant that caters to pregamers with tons of room, classic Pens decor, and quick service to make sure you don’t miss the start of the game. Make sure to check out their game-day specials for a good deal (before that $13 arena beer makes your pockets hurt).
The Market Square location of popular Pittsburgh brewpub chain The Yard is a sleeper hit for a Pens pregame get-together. Look no further for game-day classics: sharable apps, big burgers, and an even bigger draft list. It’s actually located on Fifth Avenue as well, though much further down; however, it’s a very easy walk — and a pleasant one (as long as it’s not snowing hard). Plus, Market Square’s parking garage is conveniently close by, as well as a ton of public transit options if you want to keep the party going after the game ends.
For those who are looking for a more upscale pregame experience, Talia is an excellent option. Known for their amazing happy hours, Talia’s menu of seasonal cocktails and Italian small plates makes for a very classy pregame experience — and the perfect start to a hockey date, perhaps. My tip: get there close to 5PM when it opens to ensure a table with a nice view of Mellon Square and plenty of time to enjoy a few drinks.
The opening of eastern PA brewery Sly Fox’s downtown taproom got a little overshadowed when the COVID–19 pandemic hit, but you absolutely should not overlook this spot as a convenient pregame destination. Its menu features many of its own beers as well as PA-made wine and spirits, along with easily-shareable pub food like pierogies, pizzas, and hearty dips. Plus, it’s conveniently close to the Gateway T stop, where you can catch a free ride to Steel Plaza, just a short walk from the arena.
Genoa Pizza is one of my personal favorite pizza places in the Golden Triangle, and one of the reasons it has to be included on this list is that unlike some other pizza joints near PPG Paints Arena, Genoa consistently offers pizza by the slice. (Sometimes you just don’t want a whole pie right before the game, right?) In addition to the pizza, Genoa has something for everyone: sandwiches, wings, salads, pasta, and apps — all the game-day classics under one roof.
True triple-threat Sienna Mercato is a fantastic pregame spot for those who want a little bit of everything — especially for those coveted weekend home games. The first floor is home to Emporio, known for its tasty meatballs and a robust menu of pregame snacks. Mezzo, located on the second floor, offers woodfired pizza and charcuterie if you’re looking for a bigger meal or a more gourmet experience. On top is Il Tetto, a year-round rooftop bar with a handful of appetizers and a list of beers and specialty cocktails best enjoyed while watching the sunset through its glass roof.This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.