Pillbox

Bar Buddies: Urban Tap

As a pair of newly minted 21-year-olds heading into our senior year, we face a vital question: where is the best place in Pittsburgh to crack open a cold one with the boys or just drink away our existential angst about the future? We are embarking on a semester-long journey to find the best watering hole in Pittsburgh, one shot in the dark at a time. This week: Urban Tap.

The location: If you haven’t been to South Highland Avenue between Shadyside and East Liberty, yes, you’re missing out. The two blocks around Urban Tap are home to Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, an excellent ice cream shop, Noodlehead, my favorite noodle place in the city, and Shadyside Hideaway, a dive bar that has been reviewed in this very column. It’s very easy to get to from campus, just a short ride on the 71B drops you off right out front of Urban Tap.

The drinks: We drank rather more than our wallets would have liked, so I feel well-qualified to give drink recommendations. Overall, the mixed drinks were a touch pricey ($9–$12 a pop), but beautiful. I’m talking cinnamon sugar around the rim of the hard cider cocktail, tall glasses of ombre liquid, and classy garnishes galore. The drinks were satisfyingly strong.

If you’re a grown-a** adult I would recommend the Snap Dragon or the classic cocktail menu. If you’re more middle of the road, the Urban Cider is the way to go, and if you’re like us and are only technically an adult and still have the palette of a 16-year-old, the Katy Berry and Cast Away have all the sugary goodness you could desire. What makes Urban Tap special, though, is the beer. The entire back wall of the bar is dedicated to beer, with 100 beers on tap.

While the core of Urban Tap is the bar in the center of the main room, it’s also a restaurant. The kitchen is open until midnight on weekends. While the food is good, the really important thing is the Coffee and Donuts, five huge donut holes with a creamy coffee sauce.

The vibe: Let’s set the scene: the bar is trendy, all wood, glass, and exposed brick. The crowd is a little above college age, but definitely young and fun. And blasting over all of this is “Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC. So, it was millennial in every way. Being part bar, part restaurant, the vibe was chiller than a full-on bar.

The service was excellent, and it was busy enough to feel energetic without being too loud to relax. It’s a great place to go with a friend or two if you want to feel like adults while you drunkenly rant about life, the universe, and everything.

Lit or Nah: Honestly, neither of the above. It was definitely a fun time, and I totally recommend it for a night out with a friend, but it’s not precisely lit. Urban Tap is all about pretty drinks, delicious food, and good conversation.