Eat: Comfort food with friends at Scratch Food & Beverage

Back in July, I wrote enthusiastically about Scratch Food & Beverage, the new Troy Hill restaurant taking the place of neighborhood hangout Billy’s. That article came just as Scratch was wrapping up a series of pop-ups testing out their new food and drink menus. After the pop-ups, Billy’s officially closed, and Scratch owner Don Mahaney and his team got to work on some massive renovations.

This week, everyone will have the chance to see the fruits of those months of labor. After several nights of soft openings this past weekend, Scratch Food & Beverage, which is located at 1720 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill, holds their grand opening this Thursday, November 19th.

The menu will feature Chef Chris Biondo’s brand of elevated comfort food—at their soft opening, options included a catfish filet and a creamy carrot soup. And Shipwreck, the front of house manager and the brains behind Scratch’s bar, will continue to create affordable craft cocktails and assemble a beer list full of stellar local options.

Mahaney and his crew transformed the space over the past few months, breathing new life into a decidedly retro setting. But, as Mahaney told me when the project was just getting underway, he was always careful to keep the community’s needs and desires at the heart of every decision.

Read more about Scratch Food & Beverage here, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for details on the grand opening.

Drink: Classy late-night happy hours

The term “late-night happy hour” screams smoky dives and college bars. While I love dollar PBR pounders as much as the next guy, sometimes you want to go a touch classier—without running up a fifty dollar bar tab. Thankfully, some of the city’s best restaurants have stepped up with killer late-night happy hours.

For more than two years, Meat & Potatoes has been bringing some joy to the worst day of the week. Starting at 10 p.m. every Monday, the downtown hotspot hosts Night Cap, a weeknight party complete with a DJ. The rotating menu features great specials, including unconventional boilermakers and creative takes on poutine and tacos.

If you have a real job and are in bed by the time Night Cap gets going, not to worry. Just a few blocks down Penn, Seviche does a somewhat more practical late-night happy hour. Every Saturday after 10 p.m., the Latin American tapas restaurant features $5 mojitos and margaritas and $3 beers. You can also sample a selection of their tapas for just $5 each.

For the most comprehensive late happy hour in town, head to Grit & Grace. Mondays through Fridays from 9 to 11 p.m., Grit & Grace features specials across the board, with great discounts on wine, beer, cocktails and a few of their Asian-inspired small plates. Perhaps the coolest (and most dangerous) special comes in the form of the $5 Cuba Libre, a slightly fancier rum and coke. After you finish your first, top offs are just $3.

Finally, Bloomfield’s Station recently launched an appealing late-night happy hour. Every Thursday through Saturday, stop in between 10 p.m. and midnight for a $5 bonanza—all glasses of house wine, draft beers and a rotating punch cost just five bucks. Pair your beverage with Chef Curtis Gamble’s addictively delicious chicken wings for an excellent end to any night.

Do: Farm to Table Harvest Tasting at the Waterfront

Not surprisingly, many of Pittsburgh’s best events take place on, under or around a bridge. From Blue Dust’s annual Pumpkin Fest to the insanity of Picklesburgh to last month’s Bridgefest in Greenfield, we make the most of our 400-and-some bridges. This weekend, Farm to Table Pittsburgh is adding another event to that list.

On Saturday, November 21st, Farm to Table Pittsburgh is holding their fourth annual Harvest Tasting under the Homestead Grays Bridge. From 3 to 7 p.m., guests can sample items from more than 50 vendors, including local farms, restaurants and wineries. Many vendors will have items available for purchase, and guests can shop and sample while listening to the sweet soul sounds of Title Town.

The Harvest Tasting is one of several annual events put on by Farm to Table Pittsburgh, an organization that works “to bridge the gap between consumers and local food producers by teaching how locally grown food benefits both physical health and local economic health.”

Advance tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Click here for tickets and more information.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.