Delectable food, great drinks, and swingin’ tunes. What better way to beat the winter blues than by visiting Con Alma?
Con Alma really is the best of both worlds: for musicians and foodies alike, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a night out on the town with your friends or partner. The downtown location, which opened in the spring of 2021, is the perfect addition to Pittsburgh’s already lively cultural district.
Whether at Shadyside or downtown, you’ll find live jazz every night they’re open. (Plus, Con Alma downtown recently added a New Orleans Brunch from noon to 3:00 on Sundays!) The music starts around dinner time so that you can enjoy everything Con Alma has to offer without missing a beat. You won’t find finer jazz musicians in Pittsburgh!
When the band starts to play and you’re trying to shake off the chill of the winter air, warm up from the cold and start your visit with a perusal of the inventive cocktail menu, which is larger than the food menu (they know what’s important). Along with around 10 seasonal cocktails, they offer Con Alma Classics like the curious Carrot Sangrita; served in two parts, this drink has mezcal, fresh carrot juice, lime, sea salt, agave, and sour orange. You can mix them together after a few sips or enjoy them separately. Want to stick with something a little more predictable? Choose one of my favorite drinks that very few places have on the menu or even know how to make: the Old Cuban. This delicious cocktail contains local Maggie’s Farm Spiced Rum, mint, angostura bitters, lime, agave, and Seltzer. They also have a nice variety of beer, from things like Guinness and Miller Lite to Modelo and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
Con Alma’s menu is as creative as the music, fusing South American and Asian cuisines. They also conveniently label their menu items gluten free, and let you know if a dish is or is able to be prepared vegetarian or vegan. For the omnivores, gluten-free, and veg friends alike, let me suggest my favorite dish to start the meal, offered at both locations and altered slightly at Shadyside: the Patatas Dulce Bravas. This dish is perfect to share and to munch on before, during, and after your meal (“dulce” means “sweet,” after all!). This dish is made with fried Japanese yams, jalapeno miso, cotija, pepita, pickled fresno, and cilantro. You can’t go wrong with this! You have sweet mixed with the heat from the jalapeno miso and fresno chili peppers, the salty cotija cheese, and the softness of the yams mixed with the crunch from the pepitas. It’s a dish that’s sure to please any palate!
Still feeling the chill in the air? Heat things up with a couple of curry dishes. The Dal Curry is vegetarian (vegan in Shadyside), and is made with Indian red lentil curry, mixed pickle, rice, and pita. At the downtown location, for seafood lovers, try the Thai Fish Curry, with black grouper cheeks, sea scallops, shrimp, yellow curry, snow peas, Chinese shitake, cilantro, chive, and rice. This is gluten free and can be made vegetarian by swapping out the fish for tofu. Just craving a good steak? The carne asada is always a great choice. A generous but not overbearing portion, this is marinated and grilled flank steak, chimichurris, rice, black beans, cilantro, jalapeno, and relish. Prepared to order, this hearty meal is sure to have you feeling satisfied by the last bite.
Even with winter temps dropping, sometimes you just need a little ice cream! Con Alma delivers by serving a seasonal selection of Leon’s ice cream sandwiches. You may see flavors like chocolate peanut butter, heath, and cinnamon oatmeal. Split one or enjoy it all to yourself.
This winter, if you find yourself wondering what to do, head to Con Alma for drinks, dinner, and some of the finest musical entertainment Pittsburgh has to offer.
Note / In order to support local musicians and the Pittsburgh music scene, Con Alma adds a $10 music charge per person during live music hours.
Con Alma Downtown is located at 613 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh
The Shadyside location is at 5884 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh
Find them both online at conalmapgh.com