Heads up Five Guys, your reign as the face of Oakland’s hamburger scene is coming to an end.
Three days ago, Pittsburgh’s own Stack’d moved into the corner of Forbes Avenue and Oakland Avenue, expanding from its original Shadyside operation into the hole Joe Mama’s and Olio Trattoria’s left behind.
The restaurant specializes in custom-made burgers and fries, yet food fades to the background the moment you walk in, where a wave of chatter, pop radio and sports television overwhelms the place. During Sunday’s Steelers game, the restaurant’s group-friendly tables and bar were overflowing with patrons high-fiving and yelling at one of the restaurant’s five TVs.
We were seated after a five-minute wait. The waitress handed me and my friends menus and offered us waters, but the varied list of pale ales and lagers made water an afterthought. Unlike Hello Bistro, Stack’d’s burgers are not prearranged. Diners fill out a menu card, checking off what kind of bun you want, how big of a patty you crave, if you are a ketchup, Thai chili or pierogi on top of your burger kind of person. The questions go on and on.
I ordered what I thought was a simple barbecue Swiss bacon burger, but when the heap of meat arrived at my table, I was unsure if I’d be able to finish it.
Its sheer height at six inches, stacked with four strips of bacon, letuce and tomato on top of two thick patties, was intimidating. “Too big to fail” does not apply to burgers, but at that height any sandwhich is bound to topple over. One of Stack’d’s subtleties is the small wooden stick that holds each sandwhich together — the mark of a true gourmet burger and often-overlooked secret that keeps the burger together long enough to enjoy it holistically.
Stack’d also offers alternatives for piled-high burgers too, like wings and salads. What it doesn’t have, though, is a dollar menu. Though Stack’d offers far more toppings than Five Guys’, which are free, only the first four come free of charge. With shareable appetizers hanging around $7 and burgers ranging from $8 to $15, high-quality meat doesn’t come cheap, but you do get a side of fries and any topping you could want for those $15.
Though its prices might not be, Stack’d’s hours are college-weekend friendly. The kitchen stays open until 1 a.m., and the bar serves drinks until 2 a.m. every day, making it an ideal spot to grab a late night meal or have a quick last drink for the night.
The high ceiling and exposed piping emphasize the space’s tight limitations as a sit-down restaurant and not a bar, but Stack’d has other allures, like its Oakland-exclusive grilled cheese and weekly deals.
Management hasn’t announced all of the restaurant’s specials yet, but according to previous Pitt News coverage, they won’t be the same as its Shadyside counterpart. At the moment, every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to midnight is half-off burgers and $7 Miller Lite pitchers every day from open to close.
With college students begging for another sit-down restaurant with tasty, cheap food that’s not pizza, Stack’d joins Five Guys and Hello Bistro in yelling for burgers to be the new norm.