The Squirrel Hill Cafe is known as many things to many people. I most notably call it the Squirrel Cage.
This place has been here since as long as I could want a beverage. A prime piece of expensive Squirrel Hill real estate - the Cage keeps the suds flowing in a business district that has seen the exodus of historical anchor stores as the property prices sky rocket and businesses migrated to the new WaterFront.
This place is best described frat meets eclectic. It's not bad - just non-descript. From the towering 2 story high ceilings to the rooms length bar, nothing jumps out at you - thats a good thing here since its low level on the lighting.
Where this place shines is the long time bartender Bill and the handpicked staff and beers.
My drinking partner for the night and myself ordered two of the varieties of Hebrew Beer in bottles - a brown and an ale.. Yuck... Schmaltz brewing aside. I have no idea if our palates weren't Kosher or if the beer had seen better days. I tried it because I hadn't previously and we were in Squirrel Hill which is a major Jewish neighborhood.
All the whining about bad beer aside, the beverages were worthy of conversation and attracted a few Polish and Italian heritage folks who asked about the beer. Maybe it was better than the Coors and Buds they were drinking I produly reported. They grind at me like a misfit in a strange land, minus a few choppers.
That's the point here. You take a Jewish neighborhood, throw in some ecelectic micros (2 or 3 coolers worth) and then attract the locals, the yocals and a tribe of misfit 20-30 somethings and turn the lights down low in a traditional old school bar - then you have the magic that makes the Cage a Pittsburgh landmark.
It's worth noting that the place attracts a large student base, as Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University ( CMU ) are nearby.