When it comes to craft beer in Pittsburgh, we have to admit that we’re pretty spoiled.
Good beer is in endless supply around the city of Pittsburgh. All you have to do is hop in a car (preferably an Uber or public transportation since alcohol is involved) and head around town and I promise that you can spend hours and hours hopping from great craft brewery to great craft brewery.
And let’s not even start talking about the great food we have scattered all of this wonderful city.
When it comes to great food and beer, Pittsburgh has the best offerings in the nation (at least in my opinion, though I’m pretty darn biased.)
Now, what if I told you that you can save yourself a ton of running around by stopping at just ONE spot in Pittsburgh. At this one location, you can enjoy all the great craft beer the city has to offer and also some of the best food around. Sounds like a place you need to try immediately, am I right?
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Carson Street Deli and Craft Beer Bar in Pittsburgh’s South Side (though I’m pretty sure most of you have already heard of the place).
Located at 1507 E. Carson St, Carson Street Deli and Craft Beer Bar is, again in my opinion, the best local craft beer bar in the city.
Today, I want to give you a closer look as to why I believe that to be true.
What’s on tap inside?
While it’s not the biggest bar in Pittsburgh, I like to say that Carson Street Deli is the definition of “quality over quantity”.
With 20 beers on tap (which includes IPAs, ciders, Flemish sours, lagers, and even meads) and over 300 different cans in their coolers that include local, national and international names, Carson Street Deli has a beer that you’ll want to try.
General Manager Austin Vanasdale refers to their beer curation process as “local first”, meaning they prefer the majority of their beer selection to come from locally-sourced names such as Four Points Brewing, Hitchhiker Brewing and East End Brewing.
“We’ve created a lot of great relationships with local breweries,” Austin tells us of their local focus. “As a result, we’re often one of the first to get cans from these breweries.”
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When Austin isn’t busy running the operations of Carson Street Deli, as well as building relationships with craft breweries, he’s curating this amazing lineup of beers. The self-proclaimed “Beer Curator” at Carson Street Deli, Austin has an eye, or I should say ‘ear’, for picking the brands his customers want to drink.
Austin started with Carson Street Deli over 8 years ago, just after current owner Michael Murphy bought the business. While working at the former dry cleaning business, which was located next door to Carson Street Deli, Austin built a relationship with the Carson Street Deli crew that led to being offered a position.
From that point, Austin went head-first in to learning about craft beer and building out their beer selection. Austin tells us that he learned by “keeping his ears open” about the latest craft breweries as well as simply “tasting as many beers as he could and talking about them.”
Not a fan of craft beer at all? Not a problem. Carson Street Deli offers a wide range of of spirits as well.
(Note: At the time this article was published, indoor bar service is still restricted in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania).
You’ll come for the beer and stay for the food.
While the beer is certainly a major focus at Carson Street Deli, it’s certainly not the only reason to patronize the place.
The only thing better than Carson Street Deli’s beer selection is their food menu.
Armed with a deli full of the finest, locally-sourced ingredients, Carson Street Deli allows you chose from one of their 30+ Signature Sandwiches or “choose-your-own-adventure” by creating a signature sandwich of your own using their ingredients.
Carson Street Deli’s fans will tell you that the Balboa, their best-selling sandwich, is the place to start when looking at their menu; I certainly agree.
The deli’s online menu describes the Balboa as “Sopressata, genoa salami, prosciutto, spicy capicola, hard salami, provolone, oil & oregano, roasted red peppers on a french baguette”.
While that’s a great description of the sandwich, we’d like to offer a more simple description: “It’s freakin’ delicious.”
Don’t just stop at the Balboa. Carson Street Deli offers the Donnie Brasco, an egg salad sandwich that incorporates buffalo chicken as well as other creative sandwich offerings like The Jay, an Italian sandwich that uses Turkey instead of Italian meats.
Another offering that caught my eye was the Cheesy Beefy (likely my next sandwich from them), which include hot roast beef, melted hot pepper & swiss cheese, green & red peppers, onion and ranch dressing on a french baguette.
Don’t think that Carson Street Deli is all sandwiches. The menu also boasts a number of sides and salads to enjoy, though we think you’ll probably want to try the sandwiches when you see the list.
Go now, and keep going back.
Hopefully, by this point I did a good job of telling you all the reasons you should head to Carson Street Deli.
While the indoor dining room and bar is currently closed (they do have heated outdoor seating), you can always grab beer and food to-go (my preferred method of consuming this goodness).
However, once the indoor dining restrictions get lifted, I can see Carson Street Deli being a regular stop on my beer tours.
Austin tells me that they are planning to do some fun events whenever the indoor restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to put these events on.
When this happens, be on the lookout for flights of beer to be offered as well as experiments with french-pressing and Randalling (a contraption that allows them to infuse different flavors in to your beer.)
Before we left, I had to Austin what his favorite beer was and I was impressed that he told me how much he enjoys 400 IPA by Four Points Brewing (one of my favorites as well).
After complimenting his beer tastes, I told him that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found the place sooner, considering how many times I’ve driven past it in my life.
“We’re a little gem here in the South Side.” Austin said to me.
I agree, Austin. I certainly agree.