Food & Drink

  • Best Place For the Late-Night Munchies

    Uncle Bill's Pancake and Dinner House

    St. Louis has no shortage of late-night diners, which is not surprising, given that this is the town that invented that weird not-quite-dinner, not-quite-breakfast meal known as the slinger. No doubt about it: St. Louis folks clearly have a thing for going out drinking, then foraging for food at 3 a.m. Many end up stopping in at Uncle Bill's. The… More >>
  • Best Soul Food

    Terri's Southern Cafeteria

    Eyeing a mountain of macaroni-and-cheese and what seems to be a never-ending pile of catfish, our guest declares his dinner at Terri's Southern Cafeteria "big enough for two." He is right: After diving in and working for a half-hour, he's made barely a dent -- not a bad deal for $7. Although the portions make it seem like Thanksgiving every… More >>
  • Best Bottomless Cup Of Coffee

    Majestic Restaurant

    Forget the froufrou coffee bars. When it's just time to sit around and read the morning paper among a wide-ranging cross-section of suits and coveralls, lawyers and truck drivers, old and young, black and white and tan and yellow, nothing beats a stop at the Majestic, the decades-old corner diner at Euclid and Laclede. If you're new, the very first… More >>
  • Best Fried Mushrooms

    Michael's Bar and Grill

    Bar food is on the wane in many St. Louis establishments, poorly represented on both ends of the spectrum by kitchens that either drizzle white-cream-and-truffle sauces or rely on frozen substitutes bought in bulk at Sam's Club. But at Michael's Bar and Grill, the bar food is still battered by hand and deep-fried with loving kindness. Fries, cauliflower and their… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Sunflour Café

    We prefer pizza that doesn't require a mouth-roof scraper -- pizza without that hideous Provel cheese. We prefer pizza made by creative types for whom pepperoni is an afterthought, who approach the crust as simply a doughy canvas. The Sunflour Café makes a great pizza, filled with combinations that seem strange on paper but make sense in your mouth: The… More >>
  • Best Deli Case

    Volpi Italian Foods

    Mortadella. Coppa. Genoa and several other salamis. (Even if you don't know the names, just point, as you would in a little village in the Tuscan countryside.) Owing largely to its prosciutto, Volpi's is one of the most renowned Italian-style meat suppliers in the country, but it also has so much more than just that fabulous razor-thin-sliced cured ham. And… More >>
  • Best Businessman's Lunch

    Trautman's Bar & Grill

    If you're not a merchant -- in fact, if you're not the right sort of merchant -- you've got no business in Trautman's Bar & Grill at lunchtime. As for the lunch of merchants, Trautman's sign says it all: MERCHANTS LUNCHES. You won't even know the place is called Trautman's if you don't look at a menu, which you'll need… More >>
  • Best Diner

    South City Diner

    The South City Diner may serve diner food, but there's nothing mundane about it. The coffee is truly excellent. The chili has an extra-tomatoey flavor and compares favorably with anybody's. Everybody raves about the diner's pancakes, too. The menu also includes some unexpected items, such as pasta with pesto sauce, grilled polenta, and liver and onions. The winner of the… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Salina's Mexican Restaurant

    Two things separate a good Mexican restaurant from a great one: the frijoles and the tortillas. A great Mexican restaurant has refried beans that are smooth and flavorful, with just a hint of cheese. The tortillas are always homemade and warm. Salina's has both. It also has the ever-so-hard-to-find chili Colorado, a delicious entrée of steak cut into bite-size pieces… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Grocery Store/Deli

    Garavaglia's Deli & More

    Most St. Louisans don't properly appreciate the wealth of local grocery stores this city offers. When, weary from a day's labor, you realize you need onions, tortillas, beer and toilet paper, you are offered more than convenience from the neighborhood store. Say you've a penchant for ginger ale or a particular flavor of potato chips -- mention it to the… More >>
  • Best Raw Meat For Lunch

    Kibbi at St. Raymond's

    There are some days when you just feel like gnawing on some raw meat for your lunch. If you're lucky, your peculiar craving will occur on a Wednesday, when the volunteers at St. Raymond's Maronite Church, just south of the Ralston-soon-to-be-Nestle complex on Chouteau, lay out an amazing cafeteria-style spread of Lebanese delicacies for lunch. One of these is the… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Rossino's

    Pizza Charlie died after 38 years on the job, and Salad Annie passed on after 25 years. Their culinary work, however, is carried on by a new generation of kitchen employees. Rossino's has three strong points to recommend it: great food, novel atmosphere and tradition. What began as a pizzeria -- the city's first -- in the basement of the… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Caffiend Cybercafe & Espresso

    The secret forces behind the conspiracy at Caffiend Cybercafe & Espresso may be exposed by a simple perusal of the establishment's bulletin board. There, you may find fliers advertising the Society for Creative Anachronism or other medieval-combat re-enactors, a gothic-poetry Web site, a Japanese-animation club, the St. Louis "polyamory" group (which proposes an alternative to monogamy, we guess) and thoughtful… More >>
  • Best Mexican Deli

    La Tropicana Market

    Conscientious readers are strongly encouraged to adjust their lifestyles, for which read "spending habits," to better position La Tropicana in their lives. What would you need that's unavailable here? The mercado side of the store offers up everything from Yerba Mate Soda to the Spanish-language edition of Motor Trend to Congo Mystic Herb Oil Candles. And while we're on the… More >>
  • Best Raw-Fish Sculptor

    Kenji-san, Sansui

    The given name for it is usuzukuri, and you won't find it on the menu at Sansui, the Central West End Japanese restaurant where master sushi chef Kenji works his magic. Nonetheless, this plate full of razor-thin slices of raw halibut served with grated radish, finely sliced scallions and the citrus-flavored soy sauce called ponzu is usually a wonder to… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Nobu's Japanese Restaurant

    In the '80s, it was cars; in the '90s, sushi. Yes, we're talking about Japanese imports. Look around St. Louis, or any American city, and you will find Japanese cars (some made in America) and Japanese restaurants everywhere. But it wasn't always like that. We remember the '80s, when there was this little hole-in-the-wall place on Delmar in University City… More >>
  • Best Weird Vegetable To Cook At Home

    Long beans at Global Foods

    Whether your geographic tendencies put you closer to Global Foods in Kirkwood or its city cousin, Jay International on South Grand, both offer a treasure trove of unusual vegetables. One that's both easy to make and not too unusual for standard occidental palates is the long bean, which looks a lot like a regular green bean, only about three or… More >>
  • Best Worldwide Horseradish Resource

    Collinsville, Ill.

    Here's something to fire up your imagination: The fields surrounding Collinsville, just a few miles across the river from the Arch, are the source of 60 percent of the world horseradish supply. Introduced into the area by German immigrants around the middle of the 19th century, the pungent root was found to thrive on a combination of the potash-rich soil… More >>
  • Best Weenie

    Home Depot

    There comes a time -- slogging through the bewildering caverns of Home Depot in search of a cotter pin or a 4mm Allen wrench springs to mind -- when you're apt to experience a paradigm shift. For you, our beleaguered do-it-yourselfer, the tortures of the damned await in the shape of some interminable home-improvement project for which, it will soon… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Character

    Andy Ayers, Riddle's Penultimate Café & Wine Bar - CLOSED

    If you've ever eaten at Riddle's Penultimate (and if you haven't, you should), you've no doubt seen the big guy with the beard, the beret and an apron bustling out of the kitchen into the dining room. That would be Andy Ayers, the world's youngest 48-year-old, Missouri-wine evangelist and all-around wine connoisseur (with 30-some Missouri and more than 300 total… More >>
  • Best Chef

    David Owens, Cardwell's at the Plaza

    It often seems that the chief litmus tests in St. Louis for appraising a dish are how much melted cheese is slathered on top, how ponderous the portion size is and how well the leftovers hold up to microwaving. But it takes ingenuity to prepare dishes with mouth feel that comes from flavor, not from fat and sheer heft. That's… More >>
  • Best Beets

    Clayton Farmers' Market

    With restaurants such as The Crossing and Big Sky Café actually making quite a name for the often neglected beet, it followed that more and more would start showing up at retail everywhere from supermarkets to produce stands. The past spring and early summer at the new Clayton Farmers' Market featured remarkably elegant specimens of the Chioggia, or "candy cane,"… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Cheese

    Wine Merchant

    You won't find "Swiss" here, and the only cheddar will be white, as God intended. Indeed, comparing the kaleidoscopic array here with grocery-store fare is like comparing a vintage Chianti with Franzia. Stuffed into a small refrigerator case, you'll find fromages from small American farms and nearly every country in Europe. There's cheese aged in caves, rich cheese from sheep's… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Kruta Collinsville Bakery

    Past Best Bakery winners are typically sophisticated pâtisseries specializing in baroquely layered, impossibly rich cakes of gorgeous design. But this year we pay tribute to the less exalted neighborhood bakery, a shop where a request for a half-dozen glazed won't produce a contemptuous thin-lipped sneer. Not that you'd ever dream of ending an order with a mere six doughnuts at… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian On the Cheap

    Addis Restaurant

    St. Louis can be a harsh place for vegetarians, often obliging them to seek out the city's vendors of ethnic cuisines. The Ethiopian food served at Addis abundantly rewards such exploration. Sufficiently inexpensive to satisfy a whim but substantial enough to provide dinner and lunch the next day (or two), Addis' offerings give vegetarians an array of options. Dishes range… More >>
  • Best Shrimp Fix, Restaurant

    Fast Eddie's Bon-Air

    A dozen is never enough. Even here, hundreds of miles from the nearest saltwater, shrimp send out their siren call to those of us who delight in devouring their flesh. And when the urge strikes, one way to sate it without draining the checkbook is at Fast Eddie's in Alton, a slightly rowdy music bar where you pick up your… More >>
  • Best Shrimp Fix, Home

    Smoke House Market

    Nowhere is the renowned oxymoron of "jumbo shrimp" more pronounced than at the Smoke House Market, where, for a price (twentysomething bucks a pound), you can take home a smoked, usually maple-glazed version that for all intents and purposes could be mistaken for small lobster tails. If you're flush, get a whole pound and indulge yourself (and a friend); even… More >>
  • Best Scrapple

    Spencer's Kirkwood Grill

    OK, maybe there's not a whole lot of competition for the designation of the "best" St. Louis version of this Northeastern specialty, which is served at Spencer's Kirkwood Grill in a form that resembles unsweetened pancakes laced with bits of mystery meat and topped, if you choose, with a white gravy. It's hearty and filling, and, best of all, Spencer's… More >>
  • Best Calamari

    Trattoria Marcella

    Can one dish actually draw customers from 40 miles away? How about from Florida? Just try and get a Friday- or Saturday-night reservation without three to four weeks' notice at Trattoria Marcella. This place is, without a doubt, the hottest see-and-be-seen restaurant in town. Reminiscent of a New York bistro, Marcella serves up some of the best Italian food in… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

    Ode on a Dozen Hot Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts By Our Calendar Editor I thought I knew love Before you, little Krispy. I thought I knew life. 'Til one summer night without expectation, your red "HOT" light drew me like a moth to a ... doughnut (I wasn't even stoned). Ho! Glazed paradise! And light, fried, iced satisfaction. Now I know Sunshine in your first surrender Joy in your sweet melting heat on… More >>
  • Best Bakery Experience

    Marty's Baking

    Known primarily for its perfection of the carrot cake, Marty's Baking has, in the past year or so, exploded into one of downtown's most popular hidden treasures for lunch and Sunday brunch. This out-of-the-way spot, near Lafayette Square, has been the destination of many who agree it's well worth the drive. That's because every single menu item is 100 percent… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Harry's

    The view (overlooking Union Station, with a panorama of the downtown-St. Louis skyline), would be in and of itself sufficient reason to sit on the recently expanded deck at Harry's. Luckily, the food -- marvelous chilled soups, perfect for warmer weather, along with innovative pastas and entrées, as well as "smokehouse" items -- is pretty much just as spectacular as… More >>
  • Best Mussels

    Zinnia

    The Belgians supposedly have the best mussel recipes, but don't tell that to David Guempel, chef at "the purple gem of Webster Groves." His "mussels Zinnia," featuring a subtly sweet and herbed honey-dill sauce, are quite simply the crown jewels of moules.… More >>
  • Best Wurst

    Affton Provision Meat Co.

    So you like your sausage, ja? Then you'll do well to seek out and find a butcher shop tucked away above one of those Depression-era overpasses on Gravois. Affton Provision Meat Co. features an outstanding selection of both well-known and lesser-known wursts and other smoked and cured meats, along with excellent cuts of stuff to put right on your grill.… More >>
  • Best Appetizer

    Sidney Street Café

    Of all the great appetizers to be appetized in the vicinity, the mushroom strudel at Sidney Street Café floats in a high stratum. A flaky phyllo crust encloses a melange of porcini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms; Gouda and Swiss cheeses; shallots reduced with pinot noir; and herbs and spices. The strudel, which looks like little blintzes, is coated with a… More >>
  • Best Hard Candy

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    Just about everyone in St. Louis knows that the best place for an authentic soda-fountain experience is Crown Candy Kitchen. Plus you can walk away with some sweets for your sweetie from the adjoining candy counter, whose visible delights include chocolates, licorice, rock candy and any number of other traditional favorites. However, if you've really been a putz or a… More >>
  • Best Fish Sandwich

    Anthony's Bar

    As you'd expect from the folks who brought you Tony's, the most acclaimed restaurant in St. Louis, lunch at Anthony's Bar, a sleekly modern cube across the lobby of the Equitable Building from Tony's, is a cut above. And you have to see what they do with something as basic as a fish sandwich. The catch of the day is… More >>
  • Best Bubble Tea

    Little Saigon

    One the one hand, if you're a fan of the iced tea with sweetened condensed milk served in many Thai restaurants, you'll probably like this stuff just for the liquid. But the real fun of the "pearl tea" at Little Saigon is sucking the glistening black tapioca spheres that give the drink its name through a large-gauge straw and then… More >>
  • Best Selection Of Barbecue Sauces

    Bandana's Bar-B-Q

    There will be peace and stability in Northern Ireland long before people can agree what makes the best barbecue. Do you like it wet or dry? Beef or pork? Sweet or spicy? Now, as far as a good selection of barbecue sauces at the table goes, the answer is simple. Over at Bandana's, they've got three very different sauces ready… More >>
  • Best Downtown Fast Food

    Curry in a Hurry

    It's a bit of an irony: Although the only remaining McDonald's serving the core of downtown is hidden away within the questionable confines of St. Louis Centre (and the number of chain fast-food restaurants open after 6 p.m. downtown rapidly approaches zero), we do, in fact, have one of the best cosmopolitan fast-food restaurants you'll find anywhere. Maybe an egg… More >>
  • Best Downtown West Fast Food

    Pita King

    "Hold the pickles, hold the hummus/Special orders never bum us." Oops, that jingle is adapted from the one by another fast-food king. But it works for Pita King in the Union Station food court, where, for just about the price of a large No. 2 Extra Value Meal, you can instead dine on falafel, gyros, tabbouleh and other Middle Eastern… More >>
  • Best Rite Of Spring

    White asparagus at Eckert's

    Fresh asparagus is great in and of itself, but if you've never had the white variety -- never allowed to turn green, by virtue of the labor-intensive process of keeping it buried as it grows -- well, you've really missed a treat. Home cooks must remember to peel it to the tips, lest it be tough, but the resulting buttery,… More >>
  • Best Cheap-Eats District

    South Grand, St. Louis

    Just look at all the different countries on whose food you can chow down for 10 bucks or less in the South Grand district, which, with a little fudging, runs from Shenandoah down to Gravois on the street that gives it its name: The King & I for Thai (or Siamese, if you please). Wei Hong for a lotus cake… More >>
  • Best Vegan Deli

    Juhari's Deli

    Anywhere else, a vegan deli would be an oxymoron. "Deli" conjures up images of cows and chickens, cut, sliced and laid out in neat little rows. "Vegan" is the antithesis of this. Juhari's, however, manages to be a great vegan deli that could convince even the staunchest carnivore that there is life beyond beef. The store features a great selection… More >>
  • Best Korean Lunch

    U-City Grill

    To all the world, it's not much more than a classic round-stooled greasy spoon, featuring eggs and burgers and working folks' diner fare. But if you know the secret password -- bibimbap -- all of a sudden the U-City Grill (behind Cicero's) is a gateway to the (Far) East, with a big bowl of rice, grilled chicken, freshly sliced vegetables… More >>
  • Best Reuben

    Penn Station East Coast Subs

    Who serves the best Reuben sandwich in town? Surprise, surprise -- it's the humble kitchens at the various franchised Penn Station East Coast Subs grinder joints. They use the same corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing as most folks, but their secret is serving it very hot on open-faced, buttered French bread. They bring it to your… More >>
  • Best Cuban Coffee

    La Tropicana Market

    Luis Trabanco's eyes twinkle with regularity as he greets and serves customers at La Tropicana, the gem of a Hispanic market he and his family run on Lindenwood just west of Kingshighway in South St. Louis. But he got an absolute glow the day we asked the Cuban native to make us some authentic Cuban coffee, almost candylike in sweetness… More >>
  • Best New Place For Frozen Custard

    Whistle Stop

    The Whistle Stop, located at Ferguson's historic train depot near the intersection of Florissant and Carson roads, offers some of the tastiest frozen treats around. Basic flavors are chocolate and vanilla; toppings include standard syrups, candies, fruits and nuts. Two Ferguson couples, the Jameses and the Cunninghams, launched the business earlier this year in conjunction with the reopening of the… More >>
  • Best Burgers

    Mickey's

    Decent seafood may be as rare as a four-carat diamond in St. Louis, but there's no shortage of good burgers in virtually every quadrant of the city and county, in such places as South St. Louis, University City and out west in Chesterfield. But even if you think you know who cooks up the best burgers in town, you've been… More >>
  • Best New Wine Bar

    33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar

    It's sleek, it's urban -- but best of all, Jake Hafner's experiment in bringing a tasting room to Lafayette Square lets you sit and quaff any over-$20 at a café table for the same price you'd pay if you took it home (which you can do, because the place is a retail wine store as well. Under-$20 wines have a… More >>
  • Best Organic Farm

    Bellews Creek Farm

    With a subscription list of nearly 60, Paul and Nancy Krautmann's Bellews Creek Farm may not be able to supply its clientele with fresh flowers weekly, but it succeeds in bringing locally grown organics to city dwellers. Those of us who have put our weekly menus into his charge are deluged with fresh vegetables and herbs, leading us to hit… More >>
  • Best Chinese

    Happy China

    What is it that makes people go gaga over Happy China? Eat at some other Chinese (buffet) restaurants and then come here, and you'll see. Other joints may have bigger buffets or tasty dishes, but Happy China has them trumped in several big ways. Just about everything on the Happy China menu is done in a distinctive way and tastes… More >>
  • Best Restaurant In Forest Park

    Meriwether's

    With sweeping glass walls looking out onto the northern edge of the magnificent park, Meriwether's is a perfect spot to fuel up before or after a stroll, golf game, museum browse or other means of enjoying the best public park in America. It also doesn't hurt that the only MetroLink stop directly adjacent to the Park is only a couple… More >>
  • Best New-Old Dining Room

    Eau

    It's always rewarding to see an old landmark rise from the dead, and the pièce de résistance of the resurrection of the Chase Park Plaza has been the dining room of the "bistro" side of Eau, a soaring, airy space of muted reds, greens and beiges that -- along with Rob Uyemura's clever, inventive menu -- has re-established the Chase… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Kirk's American Bistro & Bar

    The first martini was distilled London gin with a whisper of dry vermouth. Today, it's anybody's guess. The mark of a good martini: chilled and icy, with a shimmer of freeze on top. For the best martini in town, ask bartender Tim Flachsbart at Kirk's American Bistro & Bar in the Central West End. The Suzanne Sugarbaker and Jackie-O can't… More >>
  • Best Truffles

    Truffes

    Wanna see a chocolate-lover purr? Give him or her a box of freshly handmade chocolate truffles -- hard dark out, soft dark in -- from Truffes. At roughly $20 a pound (about $1.75 apiece), they need to be savored, but unlike the potato chips, in this case we betcha can eat just one.… More >>
  • Best Maitre'd

    Leon Bierbaum, Chez Leon

    To the socially unskilled among us, the definition of the word maître'd is "intimidation at the door," a stuffy host in a dark suit out to prove to your date what a social klutz you are. Unless, that is, you take your date to Chez Leon in the Central West End. When you enter Chez Leon, the first face you'll… More >>
  • Best Caramel Fish

    Miss Saigon

    Caramel? Nah, not really. It does, in fact, have just a hint of sweetness, but it's actually a black-pepper reduction that also mixes in hints of tang and saltiness, and it's served in a clay pot suitable for a miniaturized first act of Macbeth. The thick brown sauce roils over the edges of four pieces of catfish divided into steaks… More >>
  • Best Butcher Shop

    Le Grand's Tom Boy

    Remember Sam the butcher from TV's Brady Bunch? He always put a little something extra in the bag for Alice. South St. Louis has its own version of the local butcher at Le Grand's Tom Boy and Catering. Behind an old-fashioned meat counter, the owners are ready to carve a 3-inch sirloin or slice up a pound of Boar's Head… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Two Cents Plain

    Tucked in a nondescript storefront on Olive Street downtown, this New York-style deli may not look like much from the outside. Inside, it's another matter: Owner Jack Carl serves up the best corned-beef and pastrami sandwiches in town, along with slaw and potato salad, matzo-ball soup and other deli staples. He also dishes up wisecracks: "Is that your daughter?" he… More >>
  • Best Culinary Francophile

    Eddie Neill

    OK, so first (after dabbling with a place called T.P. Neill's and subsequently running other people's restaurants) he introduces St. Louis to the rustic joys of the Provençal style of French cooking and later expands to a second location. A few years later, he augments his beef daube with onglet, opening a more citified spot called Eddie's Steak & Chop.… More >>
  • Best Cookies

    Kirkwood Bakery

    This bakery in downtown Kirkwood serves up one of the most addictive treats in the St. Louis area: the smiley-face cookie. These sugar cookies are drenched in icing -- bright blue, pink, yellow or green that dries to form a shiny, hard coating, then painted with a smiley face. Anybody who has tasted one will tell you these supersweet treats… More >>
  • Best Brunch Atmosphere

    Piper Palm House

    The restored Piper Palm House is an oasis of serenity, a place to sip coffee on Sunday morning and eat, if not beignets, then the spongy shell-shaped cookies known as madeleines. (It's somewhat appropriate, given that the restaurant is named Caf Madeleine.) Tall, restored nine-over-nine windows rise to a vaulted ceiling that tops out around 30 feet, and a… More >>
  • Best Worst Drink

    Frederick's Music Lounge

    "If you have to ask what's in Cock Soup, you shouldn't be drinking it," says Fred Friction, owner of Frederick's Music Lounge. Cock Soup isn't for those with weak stomachs. Hell, after drinking it you'll be lucky if you have any stomach left. The main ingredients of this wonderfully horrible concoction are chicken broth, Fighting Cock whiskey, Worchester sauce and… More >>
  • Best Use Of Rhubarb

    King Louie's

    Kirk Warner, chef at King Louie's, near the St. Louis University hospital complex, must have memorized his Larousse Gastronomique the same way the devout memorize their bibles. How else would he have remembered that "the world's greatest culinary encyclopedia" actually mentions rhubarb compote as a fitting accompaniment to fish dishes? And the tartness of the rhubarb, usually thought of as… More >>
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