Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

Primanti Brothers

46 18th St., Pittsburgh, PA - (412) 263-2142
Posted By Michael Stern on November 24, 2014 8:35 AM
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 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 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.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
double egg and pastrami sandwich
cheese steak sandwich
corn beef and egg
Baloney, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich

23 out of 23 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Brad on November 25, 2014 7:42 AM
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.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
double egg and pastrami sandwich
corn beef and egg
hot sausage
Roast Beef and Egg Sandwich
Black Angus Steak Sandwich
Kolbassi and Cheese Sandwich
Baloney, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich
Capicola with Cheese
Roast Beef and Cheese
Jumbo Fish sandwich
Pizza
Iron City beer
cheese steak sandwich

0 out of 1 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Sam on October 2, 2012 9:45 PM
I was very excited to try my first Primanti Brothers sandwich. I was told that their best-selling sandwich is the Pitts-Burger. They are accurate in naming it that way. This sandwich is the pits. As a Philadelphian, I know a thing or two about cheese steaks. This is not it. The meat in this sandwich is a mystery. It most resembles the highly seasoned ground lamb street vendors in Philadelphia try to pass off as souvlaki. The meat has no taste other than the load of seasonings, led by black pepper, used in its preparation. The mayo-less coleslaw is the best thing on the bread. Maybe there are better sandwiches offered by Primanti Brothers but I won't be back to find out. Oh, and the service is poor, too.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
cheese steak sandwich

0 out of 3 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Keith Bailey on March 23, 2012 11:56 PM
The restaurant has a very local style. The sandwiches are large and tasty. We tried the pastrami and cheese and the keilbasa and cheese. We liked the keilbasa better. Didn't really care for the fries on the sandwich. Overall it was pretty good.
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Kolbassi and Cheese Sandwich

0 out of 1 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Patti Menow on June 26, 2011 8:16 PM
We went to Primanti during a trip to Pittsburgh for a Pirates game. It was a busy weekend and Primanti was worth the long lines. The waitress was really helpful and she suggested the capicola and cheese. It was great! The Iron City beer was also good.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Iron City beer
Capicola with Cheese

1 out of 1 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Dave on April 5, 2011 7:47 AM
I grew up near Pittsburgh, and I still visit on a regular basis when I'm in da Burgh!

My favorite is the roast beef and cheese. The coleslaw is made with a mild vinegar base; no mayonnaise. The only menu item that I'm not a fan of is the cheese steak. It's more of a hamburger: ground beef, not sliced steak like you might expect. It's still good, just not my style.

They have several locations, but the original location, in an area known as the Strip District, is the best. It has the ambiance that I really like.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
double egg and pastrami sandwich
Roast Beef and Egg Sandwich
Capicola with Cheese
Roast Beef and Cheese
cheese steak sandwich

3 out of 3 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Keith Boston on April 4, 2011 5:47 PM
You need to order the pastrami and egg, with double meat and double egg. Best locale is downtown. The others are good but there is nothing like the crowd after a Pen's game downtown.
0 star rating
Overall Rating
double egg and pastrami sandwich
Kolbassi and Cheese Sandwich
Baloney, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich
corn beef and egg

2 out of 2 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By morgan ridell on April 4, 2011 11:38 AM
Where's the meat? All hype; sorry, but an average sandwich at best.
1 star rating
Overall Rating

1 out of 2 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Janice Jones on October 25, 2010 3:30 PM
Primanti Brothers has the best sandwich I've ever eaten. My husband Jon used to live in Pittsburgh so this is his "must stop" when we visit. Last trip we ate their four days in a row! The fresh italian bread is perfect for holding the meat, fry and slaw combination. The slaw has a sweet, but tangy taste that mixes perfectly with the lightly salted french fries. You can't belief how the combination of flavors works until you try it! Enjoy! (We sure did)
0 star rating
Overall Rating

0 out of 0 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By David Schmaltz on October 25, 2010 2:35 AM
I always hate to pan a revered institution, but Primanti Brothers seemed unable to live up to its press. Sure, the atmosphere is lovely, primal greasy spoon. The beer works. So does the slaw, without which, my sandwich would have been inedible. Let's see, I ordered a "Number 2 best seller" Cheese Steak. They delivered a thin hamburger patty on spongy slices of crumb-less Italian bread stuffed with a few cold fries and a hand full of quite remarkable slaw. No cheese. The cheeseless, steakless cheese steak. Quite an innovation. They're cheap, but not very good.
0 star rating
Overall Rating

0 out of 1 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By JOEL BERARDI on May 14, 2010 12:01 PM
I started to think that maybe this place was over hyped. When I got there I saw the array of ingredients by the grill and thought - "looks like pretty mediocre stuff". But once all of those ingredients got grilled, fried and mixed on that sandwich - it was very tasty and unique.

I had a double cheesesteak which is not like a philly cheese steak but more like a hamburger. It was definitely a meal in itself. I also ordered a nice bowl of their chili which was spicy and hearty.

Worth the trip for sure - and love the dive atmosphere as well.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
cheese steak sandwich

0 out of 0 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes
Posted By Adam Cohen on June 13, 2007 10:09 AM
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.
0 star rating
Overall Rating

13 out of 14 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com