Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood - 2000
Readers' Choice: University City
A neighborhood is at its best when it's not yet "up" and just barely "coming"; when it's yet to be completely gentrified, there's a willful, renegade atmosphere in its air and the creative, adventuresome types are on full display. Benton Park is at its best right now: It's diverse, safe and still wide open to newcomers. Located in South City (borders: Gravois on the north, I-55 on the east, Cherokee on the south, Jefferson on the west), the neighborhood is anchored by two early arrivals, now thriving: Frazer's Traveling Brown Bag and the Venice Cafe. A high-end restaurant (Sidney Street Cafe) flanks the north end, a nice new bakery (the Black Bear) is at another border, and there are just enough empty storefronts to create a feeling of infinite potential. At its heart, though, is what makes every urban neighborhood interesting: shady streets, two parks, fancy South City masonry and just enough raw material to create a feeling of an urban frontier.