Bars & Clubs

  • Best Rock Club

    Rocket Bar

    The appeal of the Rocket Bar can be summed up in six little words: "That is a damn high stage." And it's cramped, too. When Trans Am played in the spring, there was barely enough room for them to hand off instruments to one another, and there are only three dudes in Trans Am. This is the Rocket Bar's secret… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Roxanna Ratossa
    Modesto

    Tangerine hasn't been the same since Roxanna Ratossa -- she of the sharp wit, sexy disposition and totally hot cigarette-stained voice -- left last year; a whole row of fawners were heartbroken. Some -- gasp! -- turned to drink and ended up sauced at home alone. Others followed Ratossa to Modesto (5257 Shaw Avenue, St. Louis; 314-772-8272), where she now… More >>
  • Best Club to Close in the Past 12 Months

    Galaxy

    All right, the closing of the Galaxy wasn't really all that bad -- more of a mercy killing, really, after it limped and staggered through the last year. But don't remember the Galaxy as a Clear Channel outlet with a poor sound system and a stage facing the wrong way for the length of the room; remember it instead as… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Barry Currie
    The Pageant

    This is the way Barry Currie does it at the Pageant, where he is a doorman and bouncer: Spotting trouble, be it a malcontent or miscreant, he puts on his best face and assumes a calm disposition, one that comes very naturally to him. He's like that horse whisperer or something. He approaches, places his hand on the evildoer's shoulder,… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Screamers

    From the outside, this south-side pub could be the city's ugliest bar. It takes more than a little gall to paint the name of your business in lemon yellow on cheap-looking bright-blue siding. It's like something from a bad acid trip. But ignore the godawful paint job. Take a deep breath and step inside. No one will hurt you. We… More >>
  • Best Punk-Rock Venue

    Creepy Crawl

    Most of us have the good sense to not eat near the toilet. Unsanitary! Smoking cigarettes near gas pumps is a bad idea. Unsafe! How about letting a thousand or so hardcore bands play in your living room every day of the year? Unthinkable. There's a time and place for everything. Since 1997 the Creepy Crawl has been a well-loved… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    CBGB

    From the multi-machine majesty of Dave and Buster's to the simplicity of the corner coffee shop, there are many places in St. Louis to play pinball. So what makes CBGB, a smallish bar with one lone machine, the best place to play? One word: atmosphere. On any night but Sunday aspiring wizards and seasoned ballers alike can enjoy a game… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Llywelyn's Pub

    Though there are no reported renderings of the Cheers theme song at this weekly Wednesday night warblefest, the atmosphere at Llywelyn's upstairs-bar karaoke is one in which everybody knows your name -- even if the regulars are so consistently tipsy, it's a wonder anybody remembers it. More than just an outlet for sloshed sorority girls or a showcase for American… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Velvet

    When it's the freakin' weekend, baby, and you're maneuvering down the sapphire runway that is Washington Avenue toward the matching blue Knickerbocker sign, stop at Velvet to get your dance on. After the valet and the nominal admission price, clubgoers are often greeted with not one but two or more local DJs extraordinaire -- one in the intimate Havana Lounge… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    Astroboy

    The man knows more about techno and house than you do by a long shot, and mixes the two with a deftness that comes with spinning records for the better part of a decade. Andy Ford, a.k.a. Astroboy, has a collection to die for, it's true, and this past year he started working with Final Scratch Pro, the revolutionary new… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Mangia Italiano

    "Oh man!" went the refrain from far and wide earlier this year, "Mangia got a 3 a.m. license? Now I'll never leave!" Long a regular stop on any self-respecting hipster's nightly rounds, Mangia Italiano, by the look of things, already had it all (There's reliably good food! There's Dave Stone playing amazing jazz! There's cheap Falstaff! There's Betsy!), but the… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Downtown)

    Dapper Dan's

    The hipper sect of downtown boosters would likely argue that the surest indicator that the urban core is back will be the ongoing success of Washington Avenue hot spots like Tangerine. Tangerine's great. But the day Dapper Dan's boasts a fanny on every one of its well-worn stools is the day we'll clap our hands. Open seven days a week… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night

    Hootenanny

    It was winter of '98 when the tireless crew at Frederick's Music Lounge started enduring St. Louis' endless supply of live sonic gold every Thursday night, serving up the Stag to obliterate the inhibitions of the timid and providing a refuge for the heckled and heckler alike. According to manager and Fred-tamer Paul Stark, "Unlike many other open-mic nights, at… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Novak's Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    Novak's Bar & Grill serves up cold beer, burgers and barmaids who double as dancers. Led by Becca, two nights a week the ladies shimmy, shake and hang from leather straps on the ceiling, and customers with a buck can steal a quick kiss. But it isn't just the barmaids who go out of their way to welcome the (mostly… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    The Bastille

    Weary of oiling up his Rollerblades and flexing his pecs, Gaylord von Gayenstein, River City man's man about town, just needs a cold beer and a big ol' Reuben sandwich. But where to go amid a gay-bar landscape dominated by drum and bass? Easy: The Bastille, a tastefully decorated Soulard hangout that (along with Clementine's down the street) smartly balances… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar to Die in the Past Year

    The Drake Bar

    The stereotypical gay bar is defined, accurately or otherwise, by pulsating techno rhythms, frosted follicles and buff, shaved pectorals -- which is exactly what made a place like the Drake Bar such a barrier-breaking breath of fresh air. A piano bar with an unspoken ban on Kylie Minogue and Cher, the Drake exuded class with its velvety interior and clinking… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (West)

    Kremer's Tavern

    For no apparent reason, the guy drinking by himself decided he was going to buy a round for the dozen or so patrons in the place. We wondered: Why the generosity? "Why not?" the fellow responded. Of course, we attributed his good humor and our good fortune to Kremer's, where we always leave happier than when we arrive. And no,… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center

    Since 1998, the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center has served as a beacon and focal point to performance groups that might have a tough time booking shows in conventional venues. Proprietor Mark Sarich makes no bones about his mission in the St. Louis cultural adventure when he says, "My family has been in this building since 1930. My roots are right… More >>
  • Best Jazz or Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups

    The nineteenth-century building that houses BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups had been a private home, boarding house, reception hall, millinery, transient hotel, bar, diner and house of ill repute before Mark O'Shaughnessy turned it into a blues and jazz club for the first time back in 1976. As it turned out, our fair city wasn't quite ready to embrace its… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South)

    Venice Café

    The Anheuser-Busch brewery is one minute away and worlds apart from the Venice Café, surely the most colorful bar in St. Louis. Don't expect the A-B posters and neon beer signs that are ubiquitous at most of this town's corner bars. Decorated with bottle caps, license plates, dolls and abstract mosaics, the Venice doesn't need the advertising. A quintessential local… More >>
  • Best Biker Bar

    Woodstock Lounge

    She was sitting at the end of the bar, looking drunk, forlorn and blond (although the lights were so dim her hair hue was a matter of interpretation). It was an hour before closing, time enough for a few Bud longnecks and Rumplemintz shots before straddling the trusty Honda for the trip home. Most everyone here rides a Hog, but… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    Ardie and Tiny's

    Ardie and Tiny's, a brown-cabin bar on Collinsville Road, bears the double-edged distinction of being closest in proximity to the area horse track, Fairmount Park, thus guaranteeing a human circus inside the bar every race night. On weekends Ardie and Tiny's features live rock & roll of the roadhouse variety. If by chance you've just parted ways with a C-note… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    The Copa Cabana Lounge

    North St. Louis bars that don't scare the soup out of Caucasian folks are often described as "diamonds in the rough." Unintended or otherwise, this label is somewhat condescending. To the black folk who live in the north side's Fairground Park neighborhood, their bars are shimmering jewels -- sans the long grass -- and none is as alluring as the… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    Missouri Bar & Grill

    It is easy to walk into the Mo Bar, a dilapidated establishment that the downtown-revitalization craze has so far overlooked, and start making fun of its patrons, at least in your head. There are ne'er-do-wells and crotchety chain smokers and myriad rundown-looking folks who do not give off the impression that life has treated them well. They are being treated… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    RJ's Place - CLOSED

    The beer's cheap. The jukebox is fantastic. The food's good. But we really love the house plants on top of the cigarette machine. Set in a residential neighborhood kitty-corner from the town's volunteer fire station, RJ's is the quintessential corner tavern, the kind of place where no one minds if you put your feet up on the neighboring barstool while… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Café Eau

    In all but the most wintry months, cocktail hour comes at or just before sunset, when work and light have waned and the mind and palate seek new engagements. Tucked into the west end of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Café Eau has the spirits, the space and the company to compress a rapturous season into that dusky hour. Behind… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Saleem's

    A superb Bloody Mary isn't just a cocktail; it's a perfectly executed chemistry experiment that you can't replicate at home, no matter how many times it's explained. As with martinis, the maker is critical. The best Bloody you've had in your life might not be there the next time if the same bartender isn't on duty. If God bestowed upon… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Maya Café

    A great wall separates the two subspecies of margarita: powdered sweet-and-sour mix on one side and real juice-based mixers on the other. We, of course, prefer the latter (although, ironically, many very authentic Mexican-owned joints serve the former), because it isn't flammable in powder form. Plus, it tastes better, and mixed with a basic non-ugly tequila (expensive tequila in a… More >>
  • Best Martini

    The Ritz-Carlton Lobby Lounge

    Shaken, not stirred. Olives, no twist. 94-proof gin. Juniper berries, no exotic blends or weird botanicals. Absolutely no vodka. No Kool-Aid flavorings, either -- forget the cranberry, pineapple, apple liqueurs. We're traditionalists, if not purists. Think Nick Charles, still in his silk pajamas, scanning the afternoon newspapers, shaking off a hangover and Nora's pooch, Asta. Nick knows a true and… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow Dance

    VFW Post 3944

    The Friday night hot spot in Overland, VFW Post 3944 is the kind of place where karaoke isn't for besotted ironists with a taste for the '80s -- it's a for-real entertainment option here. Try to pull off a drunk version of "Walking on Sunshine" here, though, and you'll be met with dumb stares from the hardcore military men and… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Blueberry Hill

    First-time users of the famed jukebox at Blueberry Hill might get confused. Intimidated, even. The CD covers with the track and album numbers aren't inside the box, where you push the little arrow buttons to flip through until you find what you want. There's no way the thousands of CDs available here could be represented inside that little window. Instead,… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Saratoga Lanes

    The tables are flat and smooth, the KSHE that roars from the sound system totally ass-rockin', the balls solid, the cues straight enough, the tips firm enough, the beer cold and the tables usually available. What more do you need from a pool joint? Centrally located Saratoga in Maplewood has it all, and while there are "nicer" places where the… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    Cicero's

    Beer. It's not as simple as it used to be. At Cicero's, ordering a beer can be a paralyzing prospect, especially if you're at the bar, where the line of taps runs the full length and the nearby cooler is stocked with just about anything you might conceivably ask for -- and lots more. The basics (Bud and its variations,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North)

    Mimi's Subway Bar and Grill

    Mimi's wasn't always Mimi's, but it has been an underground (literally) neighborhood drinking establishment in old Ferguson for nearly 50 years. And it shows. The old linoleum tile floor, the scuffed-up tables, the carved wood bar, the early Reagan-era Atari-like Galaxian console game and a few long-in-the-tooth patrons make you feel as if you've slipped into a time when, well,… More >>

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