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Primanti Brothers

46 18th St., Pittsburgh, PA - (412) 263-2142
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/24/2010 10:18:00 AM
A Pittsburgh institution since 1933, Primanti Brothers is one of America’s grand sandwich shrines. It is located down in the Strip District where the produce market thrives through the night, and it is open ‘round the clock, attracting a wide-ranging clientele of truckers, shippers, sports fans, and club-denizens with no place else to go when the bars close in the wee hours. Don’t come if you are looking for peace and quiet, for this is a hugely boisterous joint, throbbing through dawn with people drinking Iron City beer and chowing down on some of the most amazing sandwiches ever constructed.

Primanti Brothers’ Dagwoods were originally designed for truckers who hauled produce to the nearby wholesale market. While their trucks were being unloaded, they dashed in to the restaurant with a big appetite but little time to fuss over a sandwich, an order of cole slaw, and fried potatoes all nicely and separately arranged on a plate. The solution was to load hot French fries directly into the sandwich atop the customer’s meat of choice, then top the fries with Pittsburgh-style (no mayo) cole slaw and a few slices of tomato: an all-in-one meal between two pieces of bread. The sandwiches are assembled at the grill behind the bar with at the speed of light, so when the sandwich is delivered, the fries and grilled meats are still steaming hot, the slaw and tomato cool. It is common to see customers who are, shall we say, a wee bit tipsy (at 4am) sink their teeth deep into one of these big babies and pull away with the shock of the meat’s heat on their tongue.

Bizarre as the pile-up of courses sounds, Primati Brothers fans insist that such favored combinations as double-egg and pastrami (both sizzled on the grill) or steak and cheese simply do not taste right if not capped with a layer of crisp-fried potatoes and another of slaw. The double-fistful meal is presented at the counter and at tables wrapped in butcher paper that serves as a plate and also as a drop-cloth to pick up the spillage.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The capicola with cheese is my go-to sandwich at Primanti's.  The spiciness of the ham, combined with the creaminess of the fries' interior and coleslaw's vinegary tang, make for an unbeatable combination.
"The capicola with cheese is my go-to sandwich at Primanti's. The spiciness of the ham, combined with the creaminess of the fries' interior and coleslaw's vinegary tang, make for an unbeatable combination."
Cliff Strutz





Primanti Brothers serves a whole meal between two slices of bread.
"Primanti Brothers serves a whole meal between two slices of bread."
Michael Stern


Roast beef, Pittsburgh-style slaw, sliced tomatoes, fresh french fries, egg, and simply tasty bread.
"Roast beef, Pittsburgh-style slaw, sliced tomatoes, fresh french fries, egg, and simply tasty bread."
Adam Cohen


The very busy Primanti's grill.
"The very busy Primanti's grill."
Cliff Strutz


On a short counter adjacent to the grill, sandwiches are assembled faster than the eye can see.
"On a short counter adjacent to the grill, sandwiches are assembled faster than the eye can see."
Michael Stern


Among the Pittsburghers immortalized on the lengthy wall mural is Henry Mancini, Andrew Carnegie, and Bruno Sammartino.
"Among the Pittsburghers immortalized on the lengthy wall mural is Henry Mancini, Andrew Carnegie, and Bruno Sammartino."
Cliff Strutz


The doors never close at Primanti Brothers in the Pittsburgh Strip.  Walk in any time, and you are guaranteed a counter crowded with colorful sandwich devotees.
"The doors never close at Primanti Brothers in the Pittsburgh Strip. Walk in any time, and you are guaranteed a counter crowded with colorful sandwich devotees."
Michael Stern



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