Another hockey season is upon us. For those who are lucky enough to have tickets to any or all of the Penguins ? home games the pre and post-game festivities are often as important as the actual game. Veteran fans often have their favorite spots to grab a drink or dinner before and after the game, but over the past few seasons some new options have emerged for food, drinks, and even parking. Therefore, now is a good time to review some new places and spaces around PPG Paints Arena, as well as some oldies, but goodies.
If money is no object, then there are plenty of lots right outside of PPG Paints Arena that will gladly take $30-$35 from you for the ?privilege ? of parking your car between their yellow lines for a few hours. For the thriftier Pens fan, try getting to the game earlier and grabbing a meter spot on the street. There are hundreds of meters up and down Fifth, Forbes, and many side streets near the Arena that only cost $1.50 per hour. Keep in mind that you only need to feed the meter until 6 p.m. So, if you get a meter spot at 5 p.m., then the spot would cost you $1.50, which sure beats $30. Also keep in mind that if it is a Sunday home game, meters are free all day. Finally, no quarters, no problem. You can pay with a debit card at the pay station or even pay with a mobile app.
If parking in a lot is more your preference, there ?s a hidden gem of a parking lot on the corner of Forbes and Pride, 13 Pride Street to be exact. The cost of this lot is a donation. In other words, you set the price. Once you park you put what you feel is fair in the donation box carried by the lot attendant. The donations go to the Shepherd ?s Heart Fellowship, which benefits the homeless and Veterans.
One word of caution as to where NOT to park is anywhere on the campus of Duquesne University. While it may be tempting to just leave your car in a spot on Duquesne ?s seemingly secluded campus, security watches like a hawk and you will have a ticket on your car when you return.
If public transportation is more your thing, then there are plenty of options. The Steel Plaza stop for the T is only blocks away from PPG Paints Arena and the Port Authority has several routes that drop off right in front of the Arena. Lastly, if you want to Uber or Lyft to or from the game there ?s a special drop-off and pickup area off Fullerton Street on Wylie Avenue — across from the Arena’s Verizon Gate.
Just like the players, a good pre-game meal can be a key determining factor of a successful night. There ?s no shortage of options for pre-game grub whether you ?re looking for a sit-down meal or something quick. For those looking to grab and go there are several options in and around the Arena. Right on the Fifth Avenue side of the Arena is a Subway Restaurant. Across the street and a block up away from the Arena is a tiny Chinese takeout restaurant called China Wok; they also have a few tables if you choose to dine-in. Another quick option for a pre-game meal is the Burger King located at 564 Forbes Avenue (formerly Sammy ?s corned beef). If pizza is your preference, then there ?s a little known, but delicious pizza shop called Giovanni ?s located at 1504 Fifth Avenue. They ?ve been in the neighborhood for over 30 years and offer slices to go or a few booths to sit down and enjoy your pizza right there. They also have pasta, sandwiches, sides, and bottled beer.
For those that have arrived early (and hopefully paid $1.50 to park at a meter) there are plenty of venues at which you can sit down and enjoy a good meal. Of course, right on the Fifth Avenue side of the Arena is the well-known T.G.I. Friday’s. One word of caution with this Friday ?s location is wait times on game day can be well over an hour. Additionally, while most Friday ?s locations honor the No-Wait app, this one does not. They will also not seat your party until everyone has arrived.
As for some newer establishments, right next door to the Arena are two restaurants inside the Cambria Suites, Social Circle Bistro and Share on Centre. Both restaurants are relatively new but offer standard bar fare with some more upscale options as well.
Another relatively unknown newer restaurant near the Arena is Crafted North located inside the Marriott City Center. Crafted North offers a slightly more upscale ?bar food ? menu, as well as a wide variety of cocktails.
Of course, there are the old standby ?s as well that have been faithfully feeding Pens fans for years. It ?s a little bit of a walk, but Caf Fifth Avenue located at 815 Forbes Avenue, has been a pre-game favorite of Pens fans for decades. Just be aware that they are only open until 7 p.m. on weekdays and open three hours before events on the weekends. Try the Saucy Chicken Tender Salad, you won ?t regret it.
If you ?re looking for traditional Pittsburgh fare in legendary Pittsburgh establishments, then you want the Souper Bowl, located at 910 Fifth Avenue or Shales, located at 1208 Fifth Avenue. The Souper Bowl is a no-frills bar and restaurant serving standard pub fare. Meanwhile, Shales has tasty offerings from the grill cooked right out front of the bar before the game. These places are so no frills it appears they don ?t even have websites.
Of course, there are many other establishments not mentioned here. However, just as some fans love great goaltending, while others crave a high-scoring game there are plenty of establishments in and around PPG Paints Arena to satisfy the varying appetites, and budgets, of Pens fans heading to the game.