June 19, 2024

AlexEatsTooMuch November 2023 Restaurant and Event Roundup

November was a busy month. I’m structuring this roundup a little differently. I’m going to do a section on Chicago and a section on Holiday Popup Bars since all that content is a significant part of this month.

Restaurants

I went to Velum Fermentation for the first time. This is a really cool space and a good beer. They have games and pickleball. I forgot to take any photos as I was there for a happy hour.

I was at Shorty’s Tap & Taco at The Waterfront for a happy hour event. It was ok. They had 3 brand new bartenders working which made the drinks very hit or miss. They did a build-your-own taco bar which was pretty good.

I ate at Sesame Inn in Mt. Lebanon. It’s good. It’s not my first choice for Chinese food, but it’s always pretty consistent. I got General Tso’s Chicken since I had a Chinatown Inn lunch get canceled.

I went to a preview for The Coffee Tree Roasters holiday décor, cups and gifts. Every year they have a new holiday themed cup for drinks. They are also a great spot for coffee and tea gift baskets. They have a wide selection of products that are local and from vendors.

I ate Soju in Garfield for the first time. Soju is a Korean restaurant that I have been meaning to visit for years. I have eaten Chef Simon’s food at a lot of different events over the years. We got a couple of appetizers, mains and cocktails. The Killer Tofu was delicious. I really liked my Korean BBQ Combination of Bulgogi, Kalbi, & Dwaejibulgog.

I got to be one of the first people to check out Space Bar, one of the latest additions to Market Square. This is a themed bar and restaurant decked out in full homage to lots of the great space and sci-fi shows and movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and more. The cocktails are highly original and the food is all vegetarian or vegan. I really loved my more savory cocktails, which is a pleasant change from the many sweeter, sugary cocktails that are trending lately.

I finally made it to Bombay to Burgh. I’d heard a lot of good things about this Indian restaurant. They are doing a Sunday brunch buffet and I got to try a whole bunch of things. I want to go back to try a full entrée. It was delicious. My family also has a connection to the restaurant as the owner and chef is a close friend to family friends of ours back in NEPA.

On Small Business Saturday I stopped over in Carnegie for Breakfast at Carnegie Coffee Co. I got their Spicy Sausage Breakfast Sandwich and a Cafe Mocha. Afterwards, I stopped at Quantum Spirits. Unfortunately, Quantum Spirits is winding down operations so I went over to buy another bottle and some of their flavored bitters.

Mad Mex sent out a deal for a free Mad Mex Quesadilla. So I had to go. I also got wings. What a good meal and a good deal. This was my first of 3 Big Burrito restaurants of the week.

I ate at Soba for the first time in years. It was amazing. Got a the Duck Fried Rice and I ate a bunch of the pork belly out of my friend’s dinner. We split some appetizers too. This was my second of 3 Big Burrito restaurants of the week.

I got lunch at Capital Grille when a vendor of mine for work was in town. I got the Steak Frites and Lobster Bisque. Great meal as always.

I ended the month with a fantastic dinner at Casbah. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh. It’s my mom’s and brother’s birthday this week. I got their double cut pork chop and the bread pudding for dinner. This was my third of 3 Big Burrito restaurants of the week.

Takeout

I got a pepperoni pizza from Badamo’s Pizza in Dormont. I needed a prop for the PA Lottery video I filmed. Badamo’s Pizza is always good.

I drunkenly ordered Big Shot Bob’s after drinking at Miracle and Sippin’ Santa. There’s a reason they have so many locations. The wings are always good.

My family ordered a Katz’s Delicatessen pastrami for Thanksgiving. You can order a full pastrami to be shipped overnight from NYC and finish cooking it at home. It seriously is the best pastrami. We also got a Raspberry Torte from Oakmont Bakery. It was delicious, but I prefer chocolate cake with raspberry.

Events

I saw one of my favorite bands We Are Scientists at Club Café. They are an indie rock band out of New York City. I first discovered them almost 20 years ago as a freshman in college when their song Inaction on their first official album With Love and Squalor was getting heavy airplay on MTVU. They are incredibly entertaining to see live. They have a lot of funny banter between songs. This was my fourth time getting to see them. Hopefully, they come back to Pittsburgh eventually as their shows here typically don’t attract a lot of people.

I did my first food rescue with 412 Food Rescue. This was an interesting experience and an easy way to volunteer and give back. 412 Food Rescue is always looking for volunteers to pick up food from retail suppliers like grocery stores and restaurants and then bring the food to non-profits that can distribute it to people experiencing food insecurity. I did my rescue in the South Hill and it took me a little over an hour since I didn’t know what I was doing as a first-timer.

I attended a breakfast with Union Forge Vodka at PPG Paints Arena which included a tour of the Penguins facilities there. Union Forge Vodka is a Pennsylvania-based distillery that became the official vodka of the Penguins this year. They wanted to celebrate the partnership. It was a really cool tour of the Penguins dining and break room, equipment rooms, training rooms and locker room. We ended the tour by getting to see the ice from the bench and getting photos with Iceburgh.

My third concert of the month was to see 90s alt rockers Bush at Stage AE. I’m a big fan of Bush and they are a big part of my formative years in music interests. Back in a time when people had to listen to the radio and watch MTV to discover new music, massive songs like Glycerin and Comedown were constantly playing. Over the years as I finally got some of their CDs like Sixteen Stone, Razorblade Suitcase and The Science of Things, they were regularly in my Discman.

Popup Bars

Like every year, I made sure to get a couple of drinks at Miracle on 6th. This Christmas popup bar is the best one in Pittsburgh. The decorations are over the top. They have a Hanukkah wall. The cocktails are strong, tasty and in fun glassware. They are also the only ones to donate a significant amount of their proceeds to charity. It should also be a reminder don’t steal the glassware. This is a concept that has worked so well they opened…

Sippin’ Santa is a new Christmas bar in Pittsburgh and a sister bar of Miracle. This is a tiki bar theme. Think of it as if Santa went on a tropical vacation. This new bar is located on Wood Street and also offers strong and tasty cocktails in fun glassware.

I went to the opening of Barcadia’s latest popup. This year they did a Home Alone theme. The décor was a lot better than their previous popups. Lots of cool Home Alone memorabilia. There are a few good photo backdrops. The best part of their Christmas popup was they converted the Speakeasy into a classy Plaza Hotel setting. This has better cocktails and better space for photos.

I last holiday popup I made it to was Wigle Wonderland in the Strip at Wigle Whiskey. I liked this popup. The décor is basic but tasteful. The drinks were well crafted using Wigle spirits. I could see going back.

Chicago

I went to Girl & The Goat in Chicago. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. I’ve wanted to eat here for a long time and somehow ate half the menu on this visit. I got lucky enough to be able to sit at one of the chef’s tables and I could watch them make some of these dishes. It was so fun to watch them make these amazing dishes and chat with all the staff. I told them I was going to be taking photos and videos ahead of time and they definitely made sure I got some great content. They appreciated my asking first if it was OK. It was also nice to see them having fun and genuinely look like they enjoyed working there and with each other. My server was fantastic and she gave me a ton of recommendations of what to get. I obliged by getting just about all of them. On vacation, it’s worth spending a little bit more on a meal especially if it could turn into one of the best meals you’ve ever eaten. I highly recommend Girl and the Goat if you’re in Chicago and this chef’s table experience.

I met up with Chicago foodie and content creator Midwest Foodie Girl also known as Michelle for a fun filled day. I got to come along on a couple of collabs she had scheduled. We started at The Duplex in Logan Square. We did brunch with chicken & waffles, a smashburger and mimosas. The food was good and the mimosas could be done with different juices. Later we went to a new restaurant VAULT which was downtown. The food was pretty good. I got pappardelle for dinner which was delicious. The restaurant décor was mostly done by a local artist with a lot of money themes. The day continued with crazy good seats at the Chicago Blackhawks game. Hockey up close is great when someone is getting checked into the boards. The day ended at Soho House Chicago in the Fox Bar. This was their speakeasy-style bar in the Soho House. The drinks were fantastic.

I got brunch at Au Cheval Diner. They serve what I think is the best burger ever. I always stop here when I’m in Chicago. I get it with thick pepper bacon and a fried egg.

I visited the Time Out Chicago Market for dinner. I got tacos and bao buns. I wasn’t crazy hungry because the burger earlier was massive.

My Chicago trip centered around seeing The Hives, one of the greatest bands ever. They are a punk rock band out of Sweden. They put on an intense, exciting, and hilarious, tight 15 song set. They performed a range of songs like their classics I Hate to Say I Told You So and Tick Tick Boom and some of their soon to be classics like Bogus Operandi and The Bomb off their new soon to be award winning album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons; their first album in over a decade. They have hardly played in the US in the last decade so I had to take this opportunity to see them. They were incredible and it was a blast to see a band that put on such a big performance in such a small venue.