Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Today is Brian's official birthday, but last night was a pretty solid birthday eve celebration.  Capped off with a firework display from PNC Park, it was the perfect night out on the Northside.  But let's start from the beginning...

Though a long nap wasn't in my staycation itinerary for Saturday, it pretty much was a must after a full day of sightseeing on the Northside. So after a wonderful siesta inside our quiet room at the Priory, we headed back out for Brian's birthday dinner.  There are a TON of great eats on the Northside...from the delicious German cuisine at Max's Allegheny Tavern and Penn Brewery to the divine homemade Italian delicacies at Legends...and I was anxious to hear where Brian wanted to go.  Needless to say when I found out his decision was to go to the Rivers Casino for the Grand View Buffet,  I couldn't help but feel a tad bit disappointed.  However, it was his birthday and therefore, his choice.

We headed towards the North Shore and caught the T at the new Northside station and rode it over to the just as new Allegheny station located conveniently right next to the Casino.  Probably could have walked there just as quickly, but we thought taking the T would help give us that touristy feel...we are on vacation afterall!

The happy birthday boy...
the way to man's heart
is truly through his stomach!
Even though I wasn't initially excited about our Casino dinner, there's no denying that the Casino's Grand View Buffet is out of this world good. On Saturday nights at the buffet it's Smokehouse night, which means an overload of smoked meats and food slathered in barbeque sauce.  Brian was in all of his glory as his plates quickly stacked up beside him and for me, well, I was in carb heaven, loading up on the buffet's creamy mac 'n cheese, mouth-watering mashed potatoes and pretty much one of everything from the Italian station.

I feel like the Casino's Grand View Buffet is a little treat you have to give yourself every once in awhile.  As soon as we walked into the buffet's giant dining room, my beach diet went right out the window and I found myself quickly fighting off people in the cupcake line.  The food options are endless there and if you ask me, the dessert station alone is worth the 22 dollars!

After going into a brief food coma, we hung out at the Casino for a bit and played some slots, quickly blowing $30 in my favorite Ghostbusters machine before heading back towards the stadium to once again take in some Northside nightlife.

Perfection at the Fred Rogers statue.
We decided to walk along the North Shore riverwalk instead of catching a ride in the Priory's shuttle, a little because we wanted to take in the beautiful evening and a lot because we needed to work off the mini-buffet now situated in our stomachs.  The riverwalk was nice and peaceful and we enjoyed boat watching and the many photo ops we had along the way in front of the Carnegie Science Center, Heinz Field and of course, the Fred Rogers statue.

I needed to make it up to Brian for basically wanting to go home before 11PM the previous night, so I put on my game face and we began a long evening of North Shore bar hopping beginning at Finnegan's Wake.  The North Shore bar scene when the Pirates are in town is the best in the city. It's not like the South Side or Oakland, where if you're over the age of 22 you often feel out of place, but it's rather a hodgepodge of people of all-ages and from all over the area, since many are in town for the game.  It's a great time to get out and meet some new people or chat it up with fellow Bucco fans celebrating a win, or maybe trying to forget a loss.

Fireworks outside of PNC Park.
We stayed at Finnegan's Wake for a few, were we engaged in a serious Facebook convo with some people at the bar and then continued to visit the plethora of bars all along the North Shore including McFadden's, Rivertowne, Dominic's, Atria's and yes, even a brief stop at the Tilted Kilt.  After lingering outside of the stadium for a fireworks show, we closed out the night at our favorite bar, SoHo, where the drinks are strong and whether it's good or bad, everyone knows our name.

The Pirates win had everyone in a good mood and we spent hours at the bars, talking to the happy PNC Park patrons leaving the stadium and the bartenders who were all obviously overcome with Buc Fever.

A little after 1AM, much better than my previous 10:30 exit, we headed back to the Priory to get some shuteye and get ready to get for tomorrow, which is now today, for the Pirates final game against the Marlins and Brian's official birthday.

Before the game today though, we're making a stop at the Carnegie Science to check out the world's largest playable guitar...can't wait to share the pics!

Happy Sunday!

- Stephanie

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