Bridges & Bourbon outdoors. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Because it opened pretty much at the same time the world was screeching to a halt, this Scottish brewery is a little overlooked, despite overlooking one of Pittsburgh’s busiest intersections across from Target in East Liberty. As an extremely confident trans-Atlantic operation, BrewDog has a beer or cider for every mood and every occasion — from Dogma Scottish Ale to Dead & Berried Mixed Berry Cider. It also has giant garage doors that open out onto that odd little pedestrian plaza at Eastside Bond, with more tables outside. The menu focuses on bar food, but they call it “Farm to Table Junk Food,” which is considerably more fun — with Buffalo Wings, vegetarian Cauliflower Wings, tacos, sandwiches, and even a “Hoppy Meal” for the kids. BrewDog is collectively owned by more than 97,000 beer lovers, some of whom are likely locals, who have invested money through Equity for Punks.

Photo via Southern Tier’s Instagram.
Photo via Southern Tier’s Instagram.

Southern Tier, North Side

With sports gradually coming back to the North Shore, the best beer and food combination nearby is still Southern Tier. A main feature is the 20-table, pup-friendly outdoor courtyard, where the ground is covered with what appears to be AstroTurf like it’s a remnant of the long-departed Three Rivers Stadium. The New York-based brewery has well-regarded beers in just about every category, from IPAs to stouts — but also some brewed in and for Pittsburgh, such as a Mexican Lager and a Pink Guava Milkshake IPA. The food menu is craft-beer-infused — you’ll find Crispy Jalapeño & Cheese Pierogies with bacon and an IPA cheese sauce as well as a Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich made with 2X IPA BBQ and pickled jalapeño slaw.

Pusadee’s Garden, Lawrenceville

Pusadee’s Garden has a lot of history — for years, it was Pittsburgh’s only Filipino place, then Thai — in a part of Upper Lawrenceville that was still largely abandoned. But once you went through the back door, you were enveloped inside a lush garden where herbs — many of them used in the restaurant’s dishes — were grown. Now, after a long, long hiatus and a sleek, modern remodel, it’s back. The new patios are less intimate, but larger and expertly manicured. Pusadee’s looks as though it’s going to set the standard for Thai food in Pittsburgh, with dishes such as Lemongrass Pork Meatballs, Charcoal-grilled Chicken Thigh, Northern Thai Style Sausage and Grilled Humboldt Giant Squid that are found on few, if any, other menus.

Photo courtesy of the Cadence Clubhouse Cafe and Taproom.

Cadence Clubhouse Cafe and Taproom, Allison Park

Built as part of the vast Pro Bike + Run North Park, Cadence Clubhouse is surrounded by outdoor decks for eating, with a beer garden and an amphitheater for live music under construction in the back. Once the structures are finished, the establishment will be able to serve hundreds of people outdoors. Cadence has both a full coffee shop (with iced lattes perfect for warm weather), fresh juices and smoothies, 20 (mostly local) beers on tap, cocktails, and a bakery supplying cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissants. There’s also a full menu of light and healthy food, including a Seared Tuna Grain Bowl, a California Turkey Panini and a Prosciutto & Fig Flatbread.

Carmella’s Plates & Pints. Photo via Carmella’s Facebook page.
Carmella’s Plates & Pints. Photo via Carmella’s Facebook page.

Carmella’s Plates & Pints, South Side

This is easily one of the city’s most inviting storefronts, with a facade opening wide out onto the street, bringing the outdoors in. Inside, it’s going for a rustic, cozy, old-school pub atmosphere, with thick wooden beams crisscrossing the ceiling, ornately patterned wallpaper and a tabletop fireplace in back. Carmella’s boasts more than 500 varieties of bourbon, scotch and tequila and 27 draft beers. The food strikes a delicate balance between comfort and creativity, with a Wagyu Burger and Dayboat Scallops next to Chestnut Gnocchi with braised beef.

Have a favorite outdoor dining spot we missed? Let us know.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.