Welcome to Pittsburgh! What do you want to do first? Not sure yet? Well what about plans for tomorrow? …Well you still have time to decide… Where are you staying? You haven't booked a hotel yet?!?!
Pittsburgh loves burgers. Almost as much as we love pierogies. (I said, ALMOST.)
After all, a perfectly assembled burger is all of the best ingredients wrapped up in one heavenly sandwich. A soft, toasted bun supporting a juicy patty, fresh vegetables, crisp pickles, gooey cheese, and a specialty sauce. If, according to famous Chef Samin Nosrat, objectionably delicious meals require a perfectly balanced flavor profile of salt, fat, acid, and heat, then I don’t understand why more burger places aren’t awarded Michelin stars.
We visited a mix of burger spots across the city to determine the best burger in town. Some of them were institutions who have been serving up perfect burgers for decades, and some are new kids on the burger block. But while tastes may vary as to which is the perfect burger experience, I can promise you that grabbing a burger at any of these spots will not disappoint!
This is the institution of burger institutions. Tessaro’s American Bar and Hardwood Grill has been serving up their nationally famous woodfired burgers in Bloomfield for 25 years. Servers are dressed in classic bistro bowtie, white shirt, and apron, and will gladly recommend their favorites off the menu. The restaurant layout offers a number of different ways to enjoy your entrée. The bar feels like a neighborhood joint, the dining room offers cozy tables throughout, and the outdoor patio is perfect for a warm night. Check out the tin ceiling that’s been in the building since it was a wallpaper store in 1893!
The ambiance is great, but let’s be honest, we’re here for the burger. The Gourmet Kelly Burger is covered in grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon and your choice of cheese. We decided on a classic cheddar and added the traditional fixings on top – lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and mustard. The fresh patty was grilled perfectly to order and the vegetables piled on top were fresh, crisp, and sweet. Every burger comes with ruffled potato chips but you can choose another side if you’re not feeling that. You can taste the quality of the meat with every bite. Finally found your burger loving lover? Take them to Tessaro’s for a date night that won’t disappoint.
As with most places in Lawerenceville, this place was cool. After all, who says a smash burger place can’t have a focus on regional, high-quality ingredients? The restaurant itself almost feels like a fun cafeteria with a large space, four-top tables, and alternating black and yellow metals chairs. The bar features craft beer, brewed at their other location in Zelienople, in an array of styles including a “pre-prohibition” lager.
For my burger I decided to build my own. A patty of local grassfed beef was layered on a classic bun with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Then came the hard part – which premium toppings should I use?! Ultimately, I decided to top it with Burgh’ers’ sauce, caramelized onions, and fresh horseradish. Instead of fries, a side of fried pierogies rounded out the meal. A perfectly constructed burger arrived to the table within minutes. Hot and juicy, each bite was as satisfying at the last! In terms of pierogies, I prefer mine boiled as fried versions tend to be too hard. But these pillows of potato dumpling goodness were incredible! Burgh’ers Brewing is a modern take on the neighborhood bar and it’s the perfect spot to begin a casual night out with friends.
This local chain has been around the Pittsburgh area since 2011. With locations throughout the city suburbs, as well as in the hallowed halls of Heinz Field and PPG Paints Area, this cheeky restaurant concept is a Pittsburgh staple. One of the first restaurants in the area that featured building your own burger completely, the choice combinations are endless. But don’t make the mistake of ignoring the concept burgers.
One of them is the “Meat Your Maker”. After all, why would I stress about choosing a great combination when the experts did the work for me? This burger had me at “truffle shallot aioli”. A Wagyu patty is seasoned with Sweet Onion Crust, aged gruyere, roasted tomatoes, Organic field greens, and slathered with a generous schmear of truffle shallot aioli. It’s decadent and indulgent. But in case that wasn’t rich enough, get a side of the bier cheese to dip your fries.
A narrow bar tucked into Penn Avenue in the Strip District, the Beerhive offers a clean version of a dive bar atmosphere. Multiple TVs in the small space offers great views of any Pittsburgh game you’re there to watch. Rotating taps of craft beer serves as a satisfying addition to whatever bar food you choose to order but, of course, I recommend the Classic Smashburger.
For this signature dish, two patties are stacked with white American cheese, burger sauce, and caramelized onions. Every burger is served with fresh-cut fries. It’s classic. It’s simple. It’s delicious. Other menu features include a Sloppy Joe, a beer battered Fried Cod Sandwich, and an array of tempting Wings. So, head dahn to the Beerhive to watch the next game!
Speaking of Game Night – the next time you find yourself on the North Shore for a game, head over to Bier’s Pub & Brewery. It’s a great corner bar that features its own brewed beer and a burger menu to make your mouth water.
I kept it classic with a cheeseburger featuring sharp cheddar and all the fixings. Their pickles have a slightly sweet flavor that is best described as a cross between hamburger pickles and sweet relish. Served with a side of bourbon baked beans, Bier’s Pub & Brewery is the place to grab a pre-game pint and meal!
Whatever your burger tastes, there’s a restaurant for you in Pittsburgh!