Food & Drink

  • Best Fast Food

    Nachomama's

    "All men should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why." James Thurber, who emitted that bon mot, preferred the Algonquin to Nachomama's. Of course, Thurber didn't live in St. Louis, and he shuffled off this mortal coil more than 30 years before John and Nancy St. Eve conceived the Tex-Mex joint that… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    JaBoni's

    Few restaurants achieve the kind of smash-hit-from-moment-one success that has graced JaBoni's, the little bistro that opened earlier this year. Not only are weekend reservations mandatory, but to accommodate demand management was forced to convert the upstairs space from a low-toned, drinks-only lounge into another dining space. Not only does a devout cadre of regulars willingly drive into downtrodden Forest… More >>
  • Best Microbrewed Beer

    Schlafly Pale Ale

    What is it with beer labels these days? Say what you will about Budweiser, but the damn beer's got a helluva label. Ditto Miller, Schlitz and some of them old-school foreign imports like Heineken and Bass. But these micro-beermakers -- honest to Pete, you can't swing a dead cat in a grocery store without hitting some Old Weaselnose or the… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Steve Gontram

    It's only fitting that Steve Gontram earn accolades with the word "local" in them. First, he's a native St. Louisan who trained at the California Culinary Academy and worked at Wolfgang Puck's Bay Area restaurant, Postrio. Second, when he returned home to launch Harvest in 1996, Gontram built the entire restaurant's concept around the use of locally grown and produced… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Seamus McDaniel's - CLOSED

    In the old days, poets penned odes to ravishing women and urns. Today there is the Seamus burger, which has been wrongly shunted to the back corners of best-burger conversations around these parts for far too long. This ten-ounce hunka-hunka burnin' love bests all comers thanks to -- from the top, now -- its poppy-sprinkled kaiser bun, its fully dressed… More >>
  • Best Restaurant trend

    Dreams fulfilled

    Yes, the Cheesecake Factory opened here this past year, and its prime location (in the Galleria) and gi-normous portions will ensure that the chain prospers just fine in the 314. The real excitement in restaurants, though, is being brought on by the little man: individually owned ventures that actualize the personal visions and professional dreams of chefs and restaurateurs who… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Roasted Portobello Mushroom and Provolone

    Consider for a moment just what makes a burger a burger. We all know that modern times no longer mandate meat in the middle, but what else? Must it come on a bun? Is a palate-pleasing pairing with ketchup required? Or is a burger more than the sum of its edible parts? Is it, really, the aura surrounding the thing,… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Yia Yia's Euro Café

    Deep in our hearts, we know chain restaurants are not a good thing for local restaurateurs. We hate those chains that disguise themselves as homegrown and part of the neighborhood when all they're peddling is mediocre fare in a homogenized setting. We also know that chains are growing in popularity and that (dare we say especially in St. Louis) parochial… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Del Taco - CLOSED

    Thank you, Del Taco, for putting salt on our fries for us. Thank you, Del Taco, for crinkle-cutting our fries. If only everybody realized how simply spuds can be elevated to heavenly, unforgettable status: a few mere shakes of sodium chloride, a perfect-every-time browning technique (something that we think is helped by the fries' zigzag shape, though we have no… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    King Louie's L'Etoile d'Or Grille

    During a rare cool eve in New Orleans, we found a restaurant tucked away off the French Quarter that perfectly embodied everything good about outside dining: an open-air brick patio, lush plants and a huge, wood-burning brick oven where racks of golden-brown chickens and ducks rotated slowly over a thick bed of coals. If only something like that could be… More >>
  • Best Snow Cone

    Tropical Moose

    Forget the plastic spoon they give you and just dive in. Taking your first gulp of a Tropical Moose snow cone is the next best thing to rubbing your face in the fresh snow of a peak in the Alps. That's because at Tropical Moose they don't crush their ice; they shave it. Each cone (served in a plastic cup… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Courtesy Drive-In

    There are certain things you come to expect in a diner that you might not tolerate anywhere else. A true diner is apt to be one big smoking section, and there won't be anything on the menu (certainly not the chili cheese fries) that won't clog an artery. Carcinogens and cholesterol boosters aside, you get a lot at a diner… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    Frozen Assets

    There's Chocolate Ice Cream, and then there's Really Good Chocolate Ice Cream, and then there's Serious Chocolate Ice Cream. The capitalizations here are not just for emphasis; those are the proper names of three actual flavors of frozen goodness at Frozen Assets. As impressive as that reads on paper, things get even better in person at this simple Central West… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    Spencer's Grill

    Time stands still at Spencer's Grill. Literally, as the clock (a designated landmark) on the sign outside this old-fashioned diner hasn't worked in who-can-remember-how-long, and figuratively, as walking into this one-room establishment is like stepping into a Thornton Wilder play, or at least a Garrison Keillor short story. Open only from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Spencer's Grill is a… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    A milkshake at Crown Candy Kitchen is so mighty, it determines the course of the rest of your day: which movie you go see later (better make it the frenetic, fast-paced action pic), what you have for dinner (water is a wise choice) and whether you take an afternoon nap (duh). Built on a foundation of Crown's house-made ice cream… More >>
  • Best Soul Food

    Del Monico's Diner

    It's almost not right to categorize the cafeteria-style offerings at Del Monico's as "food." That word tends to imply something in solid form, whereas everything at Del Monico's goes down the gullet like heavenly mush. Of course that's how it should be with soul staples such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peach cobbler and mac-'n'-cheese -- just four of the… More >>
  • Best Concrete

    The Cardinal Sin

    Sinful, indeed. As in, lust for just a lick propels you down to south city, envy wracks your wayward soul as those in line before you turn away from the old-school custard hut with concretes in hand, gluttony and greed double-whammy you upside the head once that paper chalice of vanilla custard, hot fudge and whole bing cherries becomes yours,… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    R.L. Steamers - CLOSED

    R.L. Steamers hasn't lost any of its whimsy since moving from its small Dogtown location (now Spaghetteria Mama Mia) to the hinterlands of Chesterfield. In fact, the same damn signs with puns that made us moan before ("Frankly, Scallop, I don't give a clam") are still sprinkled throughout the larger space. Fortunately, the move hasn't affected R.L. Steamers' reputation for… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    Kaldi's Coffeehouse & Market Bakery

    Really, all you do to make a smoothie is dump some fruit and some juice into a blender, then press the magic button. It's not that hard and takes maybe five minutes tops. But then, there's the flavor-combination factor -- and this is where Kaldi's reigns supreme: They know what fruit works with what juice and when to add some… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Citizen Kane's

    If a major Midwestern city doesn't have a good steak joint, it's time to call in the Department of Agriculture for a full-scale investigation. There are about 40 steak houses listed in the St. Louis Yellow Pages, give or take a few. But there are only a handful of really good, genuine ones. Most serve top-notch beef, and all charge… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Woofies Hotdogs

    Historians trace the sausage's beginnings to ancient Mesopotamia -- modern Iraq -- where the ancients first learned to stuff animal intestines with meat. Three millennia would pass before the concept was refined: In the 1850s, a butchers' guild in Frankfurt-am-Main unveiled a smoked, spicy sausage in a thin casing, immediately throwing off the balance of power in Europe. This sausage… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Tangerine

    Finding truly vegetarian restaurants in any city -- let alone a Midwestern meat-and-potatoes city like St. Louis -- is a daunting task. Fortunately, it's a lot easier than it used to be for non-meat eaters to find something more appetizing than an off-the-menu plate of rice and steamed vegetables. But Tangerine doesn't just nod to vegetarians, it caters to them.… More >>
  • Best Roast Beef Sandwich

    O'Connell's Pub

    Lion's Choice is a fine local chain, but it is, after all, merely a chain. The sandwich at O'Connell's, meanwhile, is one of a kind. When was the last time you ordered a roast beef sandwich and were asked how you like your roast beef cooked? Or the last time you were summarily presented with a sandwich so hefty it… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Spaghetteria Mama Mia

    When you think cheap Italian, you often think soggy, bland garlic bread, watery marinara, pasta primavera made from frozen vegetables or Tony Soprano after his waste-management business has suffered an off month. And you certainly don't think authentic Irish neighborhood, though Dogtown is where this city's best cheap Italian food lives. Since owner Pepe Kehm executed a fantastic revamp earlier… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Hodak's Restaurant

    When you're famished and have less than $10 in your pocket, Hodak's is the place to head. For $6.40 you get a fried half-a-chicken that's the next best thing to Mom's (and maybe better, depending on the mom). Portions are nothing short of huge. The coleslaw and crinkle-cut fries that accompany each order are enough to satisfy most appetites, but… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Giovanni's on the Hill

    Giovanni Gabriele's restaurant is one of those places you go to when you're in the mood to dress up and splurge. Once the valet whisks your car away, the doorman will point to the beautiful dining room where the host will greet you and lead you to your table. Your path is lit by the soft glow of antique chandeliers;… More >>
  • Best Taco

    El Gallo Jiros

    Figuring out what doesn't belong in a taco is easier than listing what should be there. No lettuce. No cheese. No tomatoes. No crunchy shells. Instead, fried flour tortillas, the small size, doubled up so the filling doesn't soak through. Onion. Cilantro. Meat of your choice. Green and red sauce on the side, along with a lime wedge. And that's… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    India Palace

    You just got off a four-hour flight with nothing more for sustenance than Beer Nuts and a soda. Take the money you saved on that cut-rate airline and head for India Palace. The sign out front is neither obvious nor fancy, but the food and the setting (on top of the Bridgeton Howard Johnson hotel) are fabulous. No matter how… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    J & A's Bar & Grill

    At some point after 1964 -- when (as legend has it) a bar owner in Buffalo slathered deep-fried chicken wings with her own hot-sauce concoction -- ordering wings and a beer became part of this nation's food culture. We don't like the way things have been trending, however: baked wings to reduce the fat, mild sauces, serving only the oh-so-polite… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Mai Lee

    St. Louis is blessed with exceptional Vietnamese cuisine. This year the nod goes to Mai Lee, one of the area's longer-lived Vietnamese joints. Start with the pho tai, the cheap-as-dirt beef soup that's a meal in itself. Mai Lee's version is as good as it gets, with plenty of fresh mint leaves, bean sprouts and jalapeņo slices on the side.… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    The Famous Gerber

    Sometimes two wrongs make a right. Sometimes three wrongs do. The latter is the case with the Famous Gerber. Wrong No. 1: Its main ingredient is Provel "cheese." Wrong No. 2: Served on French bread and topped with a melted portion of said "cheese" (the ham hides underneath), it's got this off-putting, uniform whiteness to it. Wrong No. 3: It… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Country Café

    Many a meeting has been spoiled when someone said, "Meet me at Thai Café in the Loop." Did she mean Thai Café, Thai Country Café, Thai Seafood Café or Thai Gai Yang Café? Surely the owners know the difference, given that all four restaurants are run by the same family. But why did they choose to invite such confusion? Naming… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Smokin Al's

    We know how people react to barbecue. We've seen 'cue lovers go to the mat over sauce vs. dry, beef vs. pork, vinegar sauce vs. ketchup-based sauce, hickory vs. all other wood. To our taste buds, the worst barbecue in town is still good, because there's nothing better than gnawing on a smoky, meaty rib with an ice-cold one nearby.… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    In Soo

    In Soo creates the Chinese food that all others in this category should aspire to offer. Don't let the modest digs fool you; this is no ordinary St. Louis strip-mall Chinese. Devotees, of course, have followed the peregrinations of proprietor In Soo Jung as she trundled her Shu Feng operation from Olivette to Chesterfield and back -- hiatuses, name changes… More >>
  • Best Charity Barbecue

    Webster Lions Club

    The Webster Lions Club's barbecue concession at the Sappington Farmers' Market is a polished operation. From the custom-built twenty-foot grill-on-wheels to the picnic tables under a tent right down to the mustard self-serve station, this operation radiates professional barbecue-tending. But what keeps folks coming back is the food. The chicken is great with the Lions Club's tangy sauce slathered across… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant

    Everything that makes dim sum such a dining delight (particularly for weekend brunch) can be found in abundance at Lu Lu, the seafood-favoring restaurant that opened last fall where Chaney's barbecue joint used to be. There are more than 100 items to choose from, an awesome range of choices that span from tasty safe bets (hot-and-sour soup, shrimp dumplings, rice… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Soulard Market

    There aren't too many places left in the world where one can buy an eggplant, a bag of mini-doughnuts, 80 square feet of carpet, a live chicken, six pairs of tube socks, cut flowers, a loaf of sorghum bread and a pair of hog's balls all in one swipe. We're tremendously lucky in St. Louis to have the pleasure of… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Sekisui

    A sad fact about sushi restaurants: Even when the fish is fantastic, the surroundings often feel icky. There's almost always a weird, hushed quality to the room -- kind of like how people muffle their speech and behavior in a bookstore even though it's not a library, it's a bookstore. Restaurants are meant to be boisterous, social, outward experiences, but… More >>
  • Best Indian Market

    Peacock Market and Café - CLOSED

    The Peacock South Asian Market and Café is a family-owned and -operated business that offers home-cooked vegetarian meals on its restaurant side and, on its market side, all of your Indian shopping needs: food, music, natural healing products and a remarkably extensive Indian DVD and video selection. The market, which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. till 9… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Vietnam Palace

    Never let it be said that St Louisans lack access to a wide array of variations on the spring roll. Seemingly endless combinations of lettuces, herbs, noodles, vegetables, sprouts and tofu produce the perfect lead-in to a meal of Vietnamese or Thai origin. Some are steamed, others tightly wrapped in rice paper, some may accidentally split open to display the… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    The Asian Farmer's Market

    When you get down to it, most Asian markets are pretty much the same: They all have that intriguing, odd smell; they all carry the same selection of sauces and condiments; and every one of them sells weird candies that you never see anywhere else. There's nothing wrong with sameness, of course. The whole point of a local market is… More >>
  • Best Eggplant Caponata

    Adriana's

    In St. Louis there are basically two places you can go to find caponata, the Italian eggplant-spread appetizer: in a can and boring at a specialty grocer, or fresh and decadent at Adriana's. Co-owner Diana Guimbarda's secret is the marinating process. Guimbarda combines fried eggplant, jumbo capers, green olives, tomatoes, onions, celery, vinegar, sugar and olive oil into a rich… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Carnicería Latino Americana

    In searching for Mexican market perfection, one of the most important attributes is product density. But it's not only the quantity of products being shown off that's relevant, it's the intense and somewhat chaotic mélange of color displayed. At a quick glance, nothing should be clearly decipherable. There should be a mix of dried goods, a small select variety of… More >>
  • Best Caesar Salad

    Zinnia

    Chef David Guempel's Zinnia is a sweet spot in an improbable locale: a former gas station on Big Bend, just north of Laclede Station Road. The place is painted an unlikely color -- bright purple -- and its kitchen turns out a terrific Caesar salad. Traditionalists may quibble that the greens are not tossed tableside, as Tijuana restaurateur Caesar Cardini… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Bob's Seafood

    It all boils down to freshness -- and variety, variety, variety. That explains why about 90 local restaurants procure their fresh fish from Bob and Barbara Mepham's little store, tucked away in University City's Market in the Loop. The world has gotten smaller since the advent of overnight shipping. Fish caught in the Baltic Sea off Denmark can show up… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant

    The popularity of tapas in St. Louis seems to ebb and flow. Seems it's on the upswing again, with several restaurants either featuring tapas as their main focus or offering Spanish-influenced tapas-like dishes. Which is fine with us; what's mystifying is why its popularity ever fades: What could be better than gathering with friends, sharing small plates of creatively rendered… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Straub's

    Have you ever eaten a great steak at a steakhouse and vowed to re-create that baby on your backyard grill? If you're like most folks, the vastly inferior version you end up with began with a slab of beef purchased at your neighborhood behemoth grocery store, enshrouded in plastic wrap in a Styrofoam tray equipped with one of those absorbent… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Pueblo Solis

    So important was the small but mighty protein-packed avocado that the Aztecs called it ahuacatl, or "testicle." And when they mashed it to make guacamole, they did it right, tossing in tomatoes, onions, chiles and maybe some coriander leaves. At the court of Montezuma, agave worms were included. Today Mexican restaurants add all sorts of other nonessentials, from sour cream… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Dierbergs

    We know what you're thinking: "With all the corner markets around town, plus two natural-foods supermarkets, you bozos choose a local chain that doesn't even have a store within the St. Louis city limits? What a cop-out!" OK, we'll be the first to admit Dierbergs isn't perfect. No local grocery store is perfect, which is a shame, because everyone in… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Arcelia's Comida Authentica - CLOSED

    Arcelia's has a few quirks. For instance, they charge for separate checks and for that second basket of chips. But that's not a bad tradeoff for the casual feel, the Lafayette Square ambiance and the food. We do love the food. Arcelia's serves superb Mexican food, not the Tex-Mex variety (well, okay, they cave in with the fajitas). Try pozole,… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Shaw's Coffee

    Shaw's Coffee presents those jonesing for St. Louis' best cup of joe with a true coffee mecca. Instead of bulk bins of pre-roasted beans lining the walls, a roaster dominates the richly accented main room, attesting to the management's dedication to providing the freshest coffee for its discerning clientele. Using green beans imported from the world's principal growing regions, roasters… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Olympia Kebob House & Taverna

    In a city that doesn't pay much attention to Mediterranean cuisine, Olympia mounts a nightly one-restaurant crusade toward Greek-eats awareness. First and foremost, of course, are the gyros, which are the best in town by far (perfectly charred meat, pillowy pita, rich tzatziki) and come to the table so speedily that it's akin to Clark Kent quick-changing in a phone… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    World's Fair Donuts

    When Terry and Peggy Clanton bought the doughnut business at the corner of Vandeventer and Shaw in 1976, they renamed it World's Fair Donuts because of the building's address. (Get it? 1904 Vandeventer?)They've been open almost every day since then, fourteen hours a day, except for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Perseverance has paid off: The Clantons' doughnuts are… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Grbic

    St. Louis foodies should consider themselves incredibly lucky to live in a city with one of the nation's largest Bosnian populations (and, hence, a good number of Bosnian restaurants). Yet when was the last time you went out for goulash? For that matter, has there ever been a time when you suggested dinner "in South City" and actually ventured further… More >>
  • Best Bagels (Orthodox)

    Valentine's Bakery

    Did you ever, ever, ever think you'd see the day when a salt bagel grew in St. Louis -- maybe not even St. Louis, but within the 636 area code? Well, may miracles never cease. Not only can you pick up a salt bagel and an onion bagel and a tzizel bagel (wuh?) at Valentine's Bakery on Clarkson Road, but… More >>
  • Best Ethnic Restaurant Row

    Olive Boulevard between North & South Road and Interstate 170

    The Vietnamese on South Grand is grand and, despite a drop-off in Mexican eateries, Cherokee Street's still muy bueno. But for sheer volume, not to mention exotic edibles, spend a day hopscotching along this stretch of pan-Asian storefronts: Nobu's Japanese Restaurant; East East Oriental Groceries; Lee's Cantonese; Shu Feng Taiwanese, Korean and Chinese; In Soo; Royal Chinese BBQ; Din Ho… More >>
  • Best Bagels (Midwest-style)

    St. Louis Bread Company

    We're all too aware of the fact that bagel preparations and preferences in the Midwest aren't kosher, literally or figuratively. How we like 'em -- with a softer, more cakelike inside, and disguised as desserts like chocolate chip and cinnamon crunch -- is downright blasphemous to purists. We prefer to pat ourselves on the back for thinking outside the bagel… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for a Power Lunch

    SqWires

    In terms of stone-cold requirements for qualification in this category, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has been spotted at SqWires -- and, occasionally, ambushed by civic-minded customers. But more to the point, as SqWires has become the midday destination of choice for downtown workers looking to throw intimate award luncheons or retirement get-togethers, job-seekers and ladder-climbers would do well to… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    La Dolce Via - CLOSED

    When deciding on the best bakery in town, leave it to the experts; Bar Italia, perhaps St. Louis' most perennially favorite restaurant for twenty years running, gets its bread from La Dolce Via, while Best New Restaurant JaBoni's orders both its bread and desserts from here. Both a neighborhood nosh spot and a primo carb-baking factory, La Dolce Via --… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    DeMun Avenue

    If Renoir lived in St. Louis, here is what he would paint: A decadently textured oil on canvas, the rolling grounds of Concordia Seminary to the left, the scape of DeMun's sidewalk eateries to the right, the dramatic Missouri sky fading to black above. The northern end of DeMun is a block to treasure, simultaneously quaint and cosmopolitan, and perhaps… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Black Bear Bakery

    Black Bear Bakery is a collective, something we like to see in this increasingly corporatized world, where even a loaf of damn French bread (or is it now Freedom bread?) baked in California and sold in supermarkets here is packaged to look like it came from a local hearth. And because Black Bear is a collective of six people, no… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Meshuggah

    Meshuggah is also both the best new coffeehouse and the best old coffeehouse. A few months ago, loyalists were shaking in their Docs when owner Patrick Liberto moved his shop off the unbeaten path, just off Delmar, and resettled right on the Loop's main drag. Would Meshuggah become the Blueberry Hill of java, sacrificing atmosphere for volume? Happily, quite the… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    Whole Foods

    With hundreds of varieties from around the world, there's plenty to choose from at Whole Foods. Cheeses from Wisconsin, Wales, Ireland, Belgium, England, Denmark, Australia, Wisconsin, Germany and, of course, Wisconsin. Cheeses made by the Amish and by European monks. Cheeses from sheep, goats and cows, some from raw milk, some organic. A thorough browse can take half an hour.… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    The Café at Marty's Baking

    There's an inherent tension in an all-you-can-eat brunch, at least for those of us simultaneously watching our girlish figures and runaway finances: The food and the drink are already paid for, so the more indulgent you are, the thriftier you seem. If you only have one plate of food at the fancy-best $18.50 brunch in the region, you're a fool,… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    Whole Foods Market

    Some people refer to the place as "Whole Paycheck," because you can spend five bucks a pound on organic green beans. But the takeout counter (or "prepared foods department") at Whole Foods is large, varied and never disappointing. Vegetarians and vegetarian-conscious souls can make a meal to-go as easily as the rest of us. Behind the glass cases, the array… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Tony's

    The food is terrific, the atmosphere elegant (if a bit over the top), the service superb -- even if the busboy does hover over your water glass. But you don't eat at Tony's for any of those reasons. You eat at Tony's because when you eat at Tony's you're made to feel as if you are the only customer Mr.… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division)

    Provisions Gourmet Market & Gifts - CLOSED

    Provisions is a sprawling, one-stop store for the gourmet: wine, cheese, spirits, prepared foods, cooking utensils and a large inventory of gifts, all under one big roof. But it's their takeout menu that keeps folks coming and going from breakfast till dinner. All breakfast fare is just $4.95 (for omelets, pancakes, burritos, French toast made with challah bread and more).… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant

    King Louie's

    King Louie's owner Matt McGuire describes his list as the work of someone with ADD. It's all over the place, and it's constantly changing, owing to McGuire's evolving palate and enthusiasm for odd varieties and combinations. Just when you fall in love with that spicy Ramsay pinot noir, you arrive to find McGuire's dropped it. Which is fine. Just close… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    Boston Market

    You know the drill: It's getting late, you're hungry and another pizza is out of the question. And really, how much macaroni-and-cheese can you feed the kids and still keep a clear conscience? That scenario, and variations on it, explain why an increasing number of people are picking up whole rotisserie-roasted chickens at their local grocery stores. It's called "home… More >>
  • Best Décor

    Iron Barley

    What's wonderful about Iron Barley's interior is that it looks like the food tastes: Southern-fried with a sense of humor. Just as chef and proprietor Tom Coghill refuses to take his menu too seriously -- hot dogs are smeared with jelly, grilled cheese sammiches (yes, "sammiches") are paired with peanut butter -- so is his sense of visual style both… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Vito's

    Nothing -- not even the Cardinals' pitching -- starts an argument faster than the issue of who has the best pizza in town. There are many variables that must come together to create a great thick-crust pie: The dough must be freshly prepared and allowed to rise peacefully for an adequate interval; the sauce must be fresh and straightforward; the… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Blueberry Hill

    You were thinking Tony's or Giovanni's for this category. Well, while we wholeheartedly coo over the levels of attentiveness and care at those two fine eateries -- see "Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays" and "Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)," respectively -- time and again the help at Blueberry Hill manages to be surprisingly professional, adept, adroit and chummy even… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Pizza-A-Go-Go

    Sometimes we're of two minds about this Best of St. Louis business. Every once in a while, we feel a little hesitant about announcing a winner. Pizza-A-Go-Go presents just such a case. It's not that we're lukewarm about the recommendation -- quite the contrary. But enough people already know about Pizza-A-Go-Go. What's it going to accomplish, clueing in more folks… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    La Bonne Bouchée

    Don't let the frou-frou name fool you. While the sweets purveyed at this storefront bakery and light-bite eatery are un peu français here and there -- mousse lining a layer cake, some éclairs and napoleons on the pastry menu -- La Bonne Bouchée is all about big, tall, crown-like American cakes. No wonder, then, that it's become the wedding-cake maker… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Two Cents Plain

    As it says on Jack Carl's business card, "2¢ Plain" used to mean a large glass of seltzer with no syrup. What can you get for a couple pennies nowadays at Jack Carl's Two Cents Plain? "Nothing!" he'll yell at you if you're dumb enough to ask. What he does have, however, is worth prying your wallet open a few… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

    Hungry Buddha

    How highly were hopes pegged on this storefront stir-fry establishment. Blake Brokaw's lunch-only, vegan-friendly restaurant, opened in the winter of 2000 adjacent to Tangerine (Brokaw's loungelike bar and restaurant that pretty much gave birth to Wash. Ave. nightlife), was supposed to cast a crucial spotlight on downtown's daytime potential. It also introduced the metro area to a whole new kind… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Deli

    Eternity Vegetarian Deli and Juice Bar

    To survive as a vegetarian deli in this meat-centric city is an accomplishment in itself; that the Eternity Vegetarian Deli and Juice Bar manages to thrive speaks volumes to the quality of food served up at this Central West End emporium. Whether you eat your meal on-site or take cartons home, Eternity never fails to satisfy. Barbecue, gyros, fish fillets,… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat and Get Gas

    Gator Flats

    Who'da thunk you could get award-winning blackened red snapper while filling up your SUV? If you said to yourself, "Only in Chesterfield," you'd be right. But this ain't the swanky part of Chesterfield, with all the strip malls and fancy cars; this is the old, rural, pickup-drivin' section of town. Between 5 and 10:30 a.m., folks show up at Gator… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    The Chocolate Bar

    White chocolate-coated jumbo Bavarian pretzels. Venezuelan fudge. Chocolate chip cookies. Dark chocolate hazelnut crispies. Grand Marnier-soaked currant ganache truffles. Praline and semisweet chocolate truffles. Vanilla white chocolate ganache truffles. Chocolate-covered dried pineapple rings. Chocolate-covered caramel. Milk chocolate almond clusters. Super-dark chocolate fudge. Deep chocolate fudge cookies. Double chocolate hazelnut biscotti. "Frosty Frosty" chocolate cake. Brownie trail mix. Hot Valhrona chocolate… More >>
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