I’m not sure when my husband and I first saw Primanti Bros on the popular Travel Channel show Man vs. Food. It was a while ago, but it was one of those episodes that stood out to my husband, and this classic Pittsburgh restaurant was instantly added to our list of places to eat one day. If you haven’t seen the episode, let me explain. Locals told me the story dates back to the 1930’s when Joe Primanti opened a cart in the the Strip District mainly marketing to truckers. The cart evolved into a family affair as a real restaurant. Being that truckers had quick turn-arounds Primanti Bros decided to make life easier for the truckers by adding the normal sides of fries and coleslaw to the sandwich – an eat and drive sandwich. Yes, you read that correctly, the sandwich has the normal fixings of meat, cheese and tomato but also fries and coleslaw.
We didn’t have any plans to visit Pittsburgh, but that changed recently when The Vacation Gals teamed with Sage Hospitality, and I signed on to visit the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh (stay tuned for more on that gorgeous property), which is only a few blocks from the downtown Primanti Bros location and a short drive from the original location. If you’d like to check out my tweets and Instagram from the trip I included the hashtag #SageWanderer with my Pittsburgh tweets.
The night we rolled into town I tweeted – asking for Primanti Bros recommendations. @PrimanitBros replied immediately stating: “The Pitts-burger cheese steak is our #2 best-seller.” Hmmm. What could #1 be? I did a quick search on my phone but nothing came up. About an hour later we checked into our accommodations, freshened up and took off for a late dinner. Except for a couple of other patrons the restaurant was quiet on this race snowy spring evening.
The one guy behind the counter took our beer order as we read the menu on the wall, which included a “cash-only” memo. And there it was again…Pitts-burgher cheese steak (#2 Best-seller).
The decision was tough, but in the end both my husband and I opted for the #2 Best-seller (how could we not at this point), the kids ordered a couple of kid-friendly sandwiches and we all shared an order of cheesy chili fries. In the meantime, I forgot to ask what the #1 best-seller was. Our food arrived quickly.
“Get your carb on,” my husband said as he bit into the thick sandwich. I tried a couple of “real bites” for the full effect then did my best to eat around the fries and bread (remember, I have a lot of people watching my eating habits and want to be successful). About halfway through our all-inclusive sandwiches a huge group of college kids meandered in taking up the entire bar and ordering plenty of beer. SincePrimanti Bros is open 24-hours, I imagine this is a pretty popular after-the-bar or after-the-game kind of place to go since the servings are huge and fries have just the right about of grease and crunch. After the beers had been passed out to the students they turned around reading the menu which was over my head, then I heard. “I see your number two best-seller? What’s number one?” All of the college kids hushed as they waited to hear the reply to their friend’s question.
The server replied and the answer was easy and oh, so obvious. The #1 best seller at Primanti Bros is…