"It's so good that when you take a bite out of that burger, you just know that somewhere in the world a vegan is crying." — Homer Simpson
Most times we don't find ourselves agreeing with TV's favorite animated dad. But when it comes to the All-American, USDA patties at Winghart's Burger & Whiskey Bar in Market Square, we got no beef with Homer's extraordinarily exquisite ’toon taste. And judging by the people lined up out the doors and into the Square during lunchtime yesterday, plenty of Pittsburghers second the emotion.
Just five weeks after opening its doors, Winghart's specialty burghers are reaching cult status in Downtown and beyond with rave reviews online and from the Post-Gazette's own mystery diner — Munch. Of course, to stand out among the tough gustatory competition in the Square, the burghers at Winghart's are anything but wimpy. Which is why owner Zach Winghart grinds premium chuck steak on site every day. Classically trained right here in town at the Culinary institute, Zach is also is a certified butcher. So every cut of meat that ends up between a bun is choice. Just ask Branko Kapusta.
Between bulging bites of a Shipwreck Burgher — a combo of melted brie, arugula, bacon, white truffle aioli and caramelized onions — Branko, whose name sounds like "bronco," told us that "this burger beats the heck out of ___," well, you can fill in the blank. On break from his job at PPG, Branko's been keeping his eye on Winghart's, which is tucked between Starbucks and La Gondola Pizzeria, during construction the past few months. With an appetite pumped up by a hard day at the office and the balmy temps, Branko ventured into Winghart's for his first visit — and it won't be the last. "I'll definitely be back again to try to the brick oven pizzas."
That's right. Along with a half-dozen specialty burghers with names like the Denny Double Blue, named after Zach's dad and generously drizzled with bleu cheese dressing and dry bleu cheese, and our favorite, the Market Square, a mouth-watering concoction of bacon, mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, the menu features six hardwood baked pies hand-tossed at counter side. And then there are the salads, soups and sides. Speaking of sides, every burger at Winghart's tastes even better with a hefty order of fresh-cut fries that undergo a secret multi-step preparation process before they sizzle to perfection in the fryer.
Okay, we really don't like to see anyone crying in Market Square — unless there's a wedding in the works — so for all those non-carnivores out there, the Beretta Veggie special serves up a portobello falafel patty smothered with spinach artichoke spread, roasted red peppers, arugula, olives and feta cheese. Best of all, it's hefty enough for two to graze on.
As for the second half of this jumping burger joint's name, the whiskey — plus ten beers on tap — is on hold while Winghart's awaits approval of its liquor license, which hopefully will arrive in time for St. Paddy's Day. When the whiskey and beer start flowing, Zach says he'll expand his hours beyond the 6:30 p.m. closing time and eventually open on weekends. But while a cold brew might help these burgers go down even easier, Winghart's is a already a winner.