Nestled along the banks of the majestic Allegheny River lies the enchanting town of Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Oakmont has a thriving business district with plush canopies of trees that extend over the streets and sidewalks. It is a town that has a ton of personality and charming, friendly residents. Home to legendary Oakmont Country Club which host the U.S. Open every decade, which is arguably the most coveted trophy in professional golf. Oakmont Country Club consistently ranks as one of the top 5 hardest courses in the United States of America. Its greens are so fast that they can get up to 18 on the stimpmeter (In layman’s terms, that is like putting a golf ball on your garage floor). It is also home to Oakmont Bakery, which has become a juggernaut and is arguably the top bakery in the Pittsburgh area. It is also home to the sports bar “Carnivores”, which is a meat lover’s dream. Let us investigate a restaurant that has become a staple in the Oakmont community which nears the 30-year mark since its inception.
The atmosphere – Although Oakmont is a suburb of Pittsburgh, Carnivores is modern and trendy, and provides an atmosphere of something that you would find in the big city. It is spacious with a significant number of TVs geographically located to give you the best views to watch your favorite sports team. Its bar is circular/horseshoe-shaped and centrally located which promotes great conversation. Carnivores also has a large patio where you can eat and drink and enjoy a beautiful day.
The food – Owner John Keefe’s vision was to place the main emphasis on serving delicious food. He believes that if you serve creative culinary dishes, the rest will fall into place. He gives you your typical sports bar foods such as chicken wings, burgers, and sandwiches. However, he wanted to separate himself from the rest of the pack offering some unique culinary items as well. The craft beer selection is immense, and they are always keeping an eye out for what is trending. Let us break down the menu in further detail.
Gourmet hot dogs – So many restaurants these days are focusing on gourmet burgers which are super tasty. Carnivores wanted to go a different route and feature gourmet hot dogs which not many restaurants offer. A good hot dog uses a quality cut of meat and should be plump and juicy. Carnivores uses 100% Vienna beef and serves their hot dogs on a steamed poppy seed bun. The BYO Dog lets you pick virtually any combination of toppings you wish. The Chicago Dog features yellow mustard, bright green relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and finished with a kosher pickle spear. The Hound Dog gets a little creative, it features BBQ sauce, buffalo cheddar, sauteed onions, applewood smoked bacon, and is finished with a kosher pickle spear. Carnivores does not mess around when it comes to gourmet hot dogs.
The Joe Conte Burger (captioned) – Carnivores has several specialty burgers, but there is one, in particular, I want to highlight. Most burgers in restaurants are typically 8 ounces which is a decent portion size. This burger is double that size and features two 8-ounce patties of the perfect blend of ground meat to fat. It is seared on the flattop to create tremendous flavor. Toppings include applewood smoked bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, and American and provolone cheese. Priced at $13 with a heaping amount of shoestring fries, this is a value pick and two meals for most. For its intimidating size, it is surprisingly easy to eat. Live life with no regrets, go for it!
Sandwiches wraps and hoagies – The selection of sandwiches and wraps is vast. One of Carnivores signature items is their Marinated Oak Barrel Steak & Cheese Wrap, which is also available in a salad. Everyone goes crazy over steak, however, if steak is not prepared correctly it can be dry and flavorless. The Oak Barrel steak uses sirloin, a lean cut of steak, and an aged and marinated meat to create a flavor that is rich and succulent. The Jimbo features grade A prime shaved ribeye, hot sausage, mushrooms, onions, melted provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Carnivores’ selection of sandwiches is vast, you will not be disappointed.
Pizza and wedgies – Who does not love pizza? It is the safest pick when in doubt and most people never get sick of it. Carnivores’ pizza gives you the choice of a red or white sauce with a wide variety of toppings. Some notable toppings include capicola, chopped steak, and meatballs. The wedgies are somewhat like a calzone in that that the fillings/toppings are piled high between two pizza crusts. They are available in Italian, steak, turkey, and BLT.
Other menu items – Carnivores also has an extensive list of appetizers, soups, and salads. At the end of the day, you will find something you like!
Carnivores Restaurant & Sports Bar Final Take:
OAKMONT RESTAURANT TAKES the TERM MEATATARIAN to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL
My final take – You know you are doing something right when you have staff that literally has been a part of the Carnivore’s team for nearly 20 years. Manager Jodi Keefe understands the principles of keeping her customers happy and giving them the best dining and drinking experience possible. Not only is the food top of the line, but the service is equally exceptional. As you approach this restaurant, you are immediately drawn to the positive energy that is created from the atmosphere, employees, and patrons. Nearly 30 years of restaurant experience, great food, and genuine people, how could you go wrong?
- Taste and Flavor –
(1) Bland, no taste at all, under/overcooked/dry
(2) Edible, but below average, little to no spices, herbs, or seasonings, somewhat under/overcooked/dry
(3) Decent quality, spices/herbs/seasoning used. Not going to rave about the food but also not going to complain.
(4) Restaurant/dish lives up to reputation. Flavorful, it is clear spices/herbs, seasonings are used effectively. Dishes clearly thought out and well executed. What you would expect for your hard-earned dollar.
(5) Exceeds expectations. Not only are spices/herbs, and seasonings used to perfection, at this level, highest quality ingredients/meats used. Processes such as aging, brining, and marinating are used at this level. Food is cooked to perfection at this level and meat is unbelievably tender and juicy. You tell all your friends and family immediately about your food experience.
- Portion Size – How much food do you get, is there left-overs? 5s need to wow me.
- Affordability – Average cost of entrees and appetizers
- Ambience – The mood or feeling of the restaurant. Decorations, history, memorabilia, etc. Is it an atmosphere you could spend hours at?
To check out more amazing restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, read my first book, The Hidden Restaurant Gems of Pittsburgh: An Insider’s Guide.