Primanti Brothers

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

There are Primanti Brothers all over the place in Pittsburgh and as far away now as Florida, but the original, in the Strip District, remains a worthy destination. It is open ‘round the clock, attracting — in addition to culinary tourists — 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 at night if you are looking for peace and quiet, for this can be 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 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, Primanti 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.

Directions & Hours

8am - 10pm
  • Monday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Thursday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Saturday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Sunday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM

What To Eat

Pastrami and Egg Sandwich

DISH
Corned Beef & Egg

DISH
Roast Beef and Egg Sandwich

DISH
Kolbassi and Cheese Sandwich

DISH
Capicola with Cheese

DISH

Primanti Brothers Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Primanti Brothers?

2 Responses to “Primanti Brothers”

Brad

November 25th, 2014

I would love to know how 23 people would combine to rate this place as a three star. This sandwich is legendary. People come to Pittsburgh just for this, and it was a finalist for “best Sandwich in America”. If you’ve never tried it you must and get it as is. My only suggestion would be not to get the cheesesteak. Even though it’s one of the best sellers, it is a hamburger, and a bad one at that. But people love it (Pittsburghers are not known to be adventurous when it comes to food). My favorite and go to is cappicola and egg as egg is available on any sandwich. The fish is also excellent, plus pastrami, cajun chicken and corned beef are all great too. Order the pizza for the kids as most will likely turn their noses up at the sandwiches and the pizza is excellent and cheap. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but just a few years ago, you could add a slice to any sandwich for $1.

Reply

Adam Cohen

June 13th, 2007

This twenty-four hour mecca for tired truckers found within the Strip District of Pittsburgh has a notable reputation for kick-ass sandwiches, and blessedly the word of mouth lives up to the lipid-engorged glory.

As you enter the dimly lit, surprisingly small space, the walls, covered with caricatures of some of Pittsburgh’s favorite offspring, capture your attention. Peruse portraits of Mike Ditka, Michael Keaton (dressed as Batman) and a misspelled Jeff Goldblum. The menu, on placards posted above the counter, displays various sandwich meat options, along with Pittsburgh-style chili and the number one seller, Iron City Beer. I selected roast beef, Ryan went with corned beef, and we tore into our heaping mounds of steaming meat, grease, and slaw.

Inside this improbably high sandwich is a mound of your selected meat covered with tomato slices, Pittsburgh-style coleslaw (no mayo), full-flavored french fries and, for real die-hards, a well-done sunny-side up egg between two slices of rye bread. Outstanding. A+++. Reminiscent of Gene and Jude’s hot dog stand in River Grove, Illinois. This Primanti Bros. sandwich is served without a plate; it’s presented on a sheet of wax paper that glistens after the sandwich slowly disappears.

Primanti is a highly, highly recommended place. I would say it is easily among my top five food places of all time. I will be going back to this original location as soon as time permits.

Reply

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