Outta the Way Cafe

$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

A neighborhood institution for nearly two decades, the Outta the Way Cafe is as hidden as its name suggests, tucked into the rear of a strip shopping center off Muncaster Mill Road. But stop in on a Friday night and you might have a hard time finding a bar stool -- and a hard time finding anyone younger than 30 sitting on one.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the attraction is cover bands that focus on music from the '60s and '70s -- think classic rock renditions of "Sunshine of Your Love," "Secret Agent Man" and "Love Me Two Times" -- or rocking blues musicians, though you'll also get singer-songwriters playing Jimmy Buffett and the Gin Blossoms. Bands set up in the red-walled dining room, where boomer-age customers sit at tables and watch supper-club style, though the music carries through the stained-glass windows that separate the restaurant from the dimly lit bar. (You don't have to pay a cover charge if you're just having a drink.)

During football season, the bar is filled with Pittsburgh Steelers fans watching their team on the 11 televisions, including two huge eight-foot screens. "It's just like being on the South Side of Pittsburgh on Sundays," co-owner Brian Marshall boasts.

The wings are the stars of the menu: Eight varieties are served, from ginger and wasabi to Cajun spice, though I'm partial to the combination Swing Wings, which feature a mix of the cafe's teriyaki and hot sauces, plus a solid shake of Old Bay seasoning.

A steady group of regulars has built up over the years, and folks hanging out at the bar make a point of getting up to greet arriving friends. At one end of the room, a "Wall of Shame" has framed photos of customers celebrating Christmases, New Year's Eves and birthdays past. "That's 18 years of fun," Marshall says, pointing out that "there's always room to add more."

Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 weekdays and features $1 off all drinks as well as appetizer specials (wings, nachos, etc.). Stop by to listen to some tunes -- there's a Thursday open mike as well as the weekend performances -- and you may eventually find your picture up with all the others.

--Fritz Hahn (August 3, 2007)