I met a gal who buys more Starbucks than I do. She speaks loudly and laughs with a wonderful, contagious laughter. There are probably tens of millions of these people, but only a handful I know personally. And few with such an incredible “cool” factor. Starbucks practically sponsored this road trip as I drank my way to middle-class success with soy pumpkin spice lattes, soy white mochas, and raspberry white teas with honey at rest stops in Ohio and Indiana. Thank you to Starbucks, and to my new Starbucks-toting friend.
Primanti’s is a Pittsburgh legend, they say. I first heard months ago about these sandwiches that have French fries and coleslaw in them. My wrinkled brow and smug pout weren’t exactly open to the tasting. But the frequent mentioning of such a sandwich had me itching to try one upon my first-ever arrival to Pittsburgh, PA. OgleSchedule (kinda like iCal for the Mac users among you) said lunch on Saturday would be the perfect opportunity.
The line at Primanti’s was out the door, maybe half a block when we showed up post-Allegheny-River-kayaking. The place was total chaos. Grandmotherly women cleared tables and threw piles of customers in the seats, and then they’d bustle around to take drink and sandwich orders. Sometimes, they’d just holler from behind the bar “We gitch ‘yinz yit?”
The menu was plastered to the wall, and pretty much required a meat selection. There were Penguins and Stillers tacked to the wall and I had my Terrible Towel in my purse, ready for anything. Kevin is a Pittsburgh-er. He ordered double meat. Me too, sweet sausage and a water. My job is done. The rest of everything gets tossed on the sandwich and they mark the double meats with a French fry.
First bite was all it took. Sold to the sandwich.
The sandwich was twice as tall as the height of my open mouth – and if you’ve met me this is telling. I had to bite off the meaty part and then the coleslaw-y part, trying to combine the flavors into a chipmunk bite. Would’ve been an attractive first date, I bet. The whole process of eating could’ve used a strategic planning committee. But, boy, was it delicious. I don’t typically like coleslaw, but this was sweet and crunchy. I thought the fries would be a soggy mess, but they were seasoned and well-cooked. I had a dream about the sausage – will that convince you that it’s good? I wasn’t even remotely hungry until late morning of the following day, but since Sunday afternoon, I’ve been in perpetual craving.
For those Michigan friends of mine, my top place to pig out has been Yesterdog for years. Our beloved East Grand Rapids spot has been unrivaled in my mind….until now. Primanti’s may have just broken the mold. Watch out, Yester – competition does exist. And the Travel Channel says that Primanti’s ranks at #7 of the best places to pig out.
A large part of my weekend plan was to arrive early or stay late in Pitt to tour Oakland and eat at Mad Mex, on the recommendation of a former-friend, former-employee. Just a word on why I went home straight from the Ogle home on Sunday afternoon. (1) Truth be told, I was still pretty full from Primanti’s and two Ogle-morning feasts prepared by the Mrs. (2) More importantly, Pittsburgh’s not “I have a friend from…” anymore. I visited in order to spend time with Lindsey, my intern friend from the summer, and was exponentially blessed by her design, engineer, marketing, and pharmacy friends. I was satisfied. The weekend exceeded any and all expectations I may have had. I didn’t need Mad Mex, where I could ask them if they remembered an old bartender. Didn’t need my downloaded Oakland walking tour, or even my self-guided education of old Pittsburgh resident architecture – as much as I’ve become interested in it over these years.
Pittsburgh’s my town now. Home of friends of my friend – Mister Ogle and family, and Mister McNally – both stellar companions in these Pittsburgh adventures of mine. Pittsburgh’s mine, a certain destination on future road trips. Ahh, the taste of freedom.