Fuel and Fuddle in Oakland has a decade of reputation as a place to get tasty, upscale bar food
One of my favorite memories of my undergrad years at Pitt was dining at Fuel and Fuddle.
To my friends and me, it was our happy place, a place to grab excellent, upscale bar food that never disappointed.
I’ve been out of college for 10 years and only have made a few trips back since. I was eager to return to see if the stellar food that I’d come to love in college has stood the test the time, even with new owners who took over last year. I’m happy to report that it is still as delicious as it was back then.
One of the best items on the menu is the Kick-Gas Nachos: corn tortilla chips piled high and layered with melted cheddar and jack cheeses, chunks of fresh tomato and slices of fresh jalapeno, black olives, and Rosa’s Chipotle Chicken Chili and topped with a scoop of sour cream for good measure.
In college, I claimed that these were some of the best nachos in this city. And they still are. The chips are thick, crunchy and hold up to the heavy toppings nicely. The toppings are layered in between the chips, so each bite has a bit of everything.
The chili is a house specialty made with chunks of white-meat chicken, peppers, onions, kidney beans and other tasty ingredients that give it a nice zing. You can order it by the bowl or cup, and it comes topped with fresh red onion, shredded cheese and tortilla strips. Or you can have it on a salad, atop a bed of organic greens with shredded cheese, salsa, red onion, tortilla chips and sour cream.
If you want to get really “upscale” here, order the Fire-Baked Brie. A wedge of imported brie is wrapped in homemade dough and baked in the brick oven. It’s served with apple slices, a drizzle of honey and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Baked cheese is delicious — even more so when it’s wrapped in dough. This appetizer was good, but I was hoping for more apple slices. It came with three of the thinnest apple slices I have ever seen. More, thicker slices to top the melty cheese with would have been better.
Fuel and Fuddle is known for its “live-fire” pies, which come in individual servings. My favorite has been and always will be the Smoking Hen, a barbecue chicken pizza made with sweet-and-tangy barbecue sauce, chunks of white-meat chicken, creamy smoked mozzarella cheese, corn, red onion slices and cilantro. The crust is very thin and cracker-like with a crunchy cornmeal bottom. It has a slightly sweet taste and gets a nice char from the wood-fired oven.
The pies here have interesting names and equally as interesting ingredients. There’s the Smashed Potato, with seasoned smashed potatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, mild cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a drizzle of house-made buttermilk dressing. A new addition, the Fugetaboutit, is an Italian hoagie-inspired pizza with spicy pepperoni, smoked ham, provolone cheese, banana peppers, lettuce, tomato and red-wine vinaigrette.
One grievance that I had with Fuel and Fuddle back in the day was the oblong buns for sandwiches and burgers. I just thought they were weird. With new management came regular, round buns that are the foundation for various types of sandwiches and burgers.
Vegetarians will not get enough of the Grilled Psychedelic: a meaty, grilled portabella mushroom cap marinated in house-made balsamic vinaigrette and topped with mixed greens, Roma tomatoes and provolone cheese. The sides with all sandwiches here are a mixture of regular and sweet-potato fries, but either or can be alongside, if you prefer. If you like sweet potato fries, these are some of the best around, and I highly recommend ordering them as your side, whatever you order.
The Hangover Helper burger (fitting for a college bar, wouldn’t you say?) includes a custom ground-beef burger cooked to your preference and topped with melted cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and a fried egg. Hangovers are much better when you have a fried egg and bacon, amIright? This burger was large and in charge, but the fried egg could have had a runnier yolk, in my opinion. Nonetheless, it was great and will surely cure the hangover following a night of slinging back whiskey or beer.
In addition to food, Fuel and Fuddle is known for its craft-beer selection and beer cult, in which patrons drink 100 beers and get their names added to the wall. The cult has grown to include 200 beers, 700 beers, and up to 2,000 beers. That’s some heavy drinking. There’s also a whiskey cult for 100 whiskeys that had only two victors on my most recent visit.
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