Bars & Clubs

  • Best New Bar

    Pin-Up Bowl

    But it's a bowling alley. No, it isn't, any more than Blueberry Hill down the street (also owned by Joe Edwards) is an amusement park. Yes, there are bowling lanes at Pin-Up Bowl, but that's just one slice of the pie. There's the awesome retro décor supplied by Kiku Obata & Co., featuring an Art Deco look and red walls… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    The Rocket Bar

    Just like bar patrons, all bars start to look alike after 1:30 a.m. The patrons become sexier and blurrier. The bars become smokier, more crowded and louder. It's the loud part that sets the Rocket Bar apart. While other bars are willing to let canned music serve as the soundtrack to late-night debauchery, the Rocket Bar uses its glorious jukebox.… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    The Delmar Restaurant & Lounge - CLOSED

    We go to lounges for many reasons: to listen to music, to sip bright-hued cocktails, to chat with friends. To step out, and then to sit down. To lounge. And when we seek the Platonic ideal of loungin' in the Lou, we head to the Delmar. Looking for all the world like a collaborative design effort between Raymond Chandler and… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Off Broadway

    Just because people tend to sit down while watching Off Broadway's roots- and folk-heavy acts, don't think this south-city club doesn't know how to rock. No matter how understated acts like the Long Winters and Bobby Bare Jr. might sound on record, you can bet that when they show up for work at this multilevel joint they'll be turning the… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    The Pageant

    Showing that all ages doesn't mean kids only, the cavernous watering hole that is the Pageant is tops for youngsters for the same reasons as it is for everyone else: an eclectic lineup, a great location and a comfortable, rockin' ambiance. It's also the only venue where even waiting for the show is a party; the kids in the ticket-holders'… More >>
  • Best Punk-Rock Venue

    Infierno

    Doubling as a cheap but decent Mexican restaurant during the daytime, Infierno inhabits a small, narrow space with no stage. It also serves as one of the most intimate -- and one of the loudest -- music venues in town. With local and national underground acts a few nights a week -- booked by the Dead Celebrities' own Elvis Kennedy,… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center

    The Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, known simply as "the Lemp" to its patrons, is a rock journalist's nightmare. There's no booze, it's usually hot and so packed with kids that you can't lift an arm without knocking off somebody's horn-rimmed glasses. For those same kids, however, and for fans of music that exists solely on the fringe, the Lemp is… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    The Spotlight - CLOSED

    "Anybody and everybody's been there over the course of their existence," local hip-hop promoter John (J.P.) Phillips says of the Spotlight, a.k.a. the Spot. He's not just referring to fans, he's referring to artists. "They do more live shows than anybody else, and they have more national artists." A list of acts recently featured at the Spot comprises a virtual… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Velvet

    Choosing the best dance club this year was easy. There were a few strong contenders (the Oz, we tip our hats to you -- and your renovations and your post-sunrise weekend closing time), but in 2004 Velvet really shone. When Lo and Tangerine closed, you'd think the competition would be smug. Instead, the powers that be at Velvet and Rue… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Big Dan Telle

    Good bouncers never live up to their unfortunate occupational title. The key to good bouncing, then, is never having to bounce, save for when the occasional drunken reveler pulls his pants down and proceeds to light his pubic hair on fire. Okay, kick that guy out. Maybe. Fortunately, Big Dan Telle rarely has to consider such strong-arm tactics, owing in… More >>
  • Best Club to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Lo

    A part of St. Louis died when Tangerine passed away and Lo closed its almost-hidden, nondescript door. The end was so sudden -- no wake, no final goodbye. All that was left was a hangover and four years' worth of memories of the tiny dark co-ed bathroom; the uncomfortable yet coveted benches; and oh, the cold sake infusions! Peach was… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow-Dance

    The Casa Loma Ballroom

    Most of the time, the Casa Loma Ballroom is empty and filled with sound, like a David Lynch movie. There must be some reason the brass band plays on despite its well-oiled wood dance floor being almost vacant on any given Friday night. And that purpose might be so that a wayward couple, perhaps at a crossroads, will wander in… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Jazz at the Bistro

    For the serious listener, there's much to like about Jazz at the Bistro: top-quality touring talent, respectfully presented in a nice-looking room, plus house rules that prohibit idle conversation while the music's playing. Set up as a not-for-profit organization, JATB also involves visiting musicians in educational programs at local schools and offers discounted tickets to students. While other local nightspots… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups

    The blues don't need a fancy house to live in. The blues are perfectly comfortable on the busted-down front porch of a Mississippi farmhouse, in a one-room shack off a dirt road out in the country or crammed into one end of a sweaty little neighborhood bar next to the pay phone and the cigarette machine. Some folks get nervous… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    Gary's Fine Dining

    Don't be confused by the "fine dining" appellation. This is a classic "bar bar" in a neighborhood that goes from Grand (Center) to Gaza Strip in the space of about three city blocks. Gary's resides on the border of this conundrum and thus draws in as interesting a post-show crowd as can be found in Middle America. All of which… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Krueger's

    The lobby of the Ritz-Carlton is a nice place to avail yourself of a martini, but let's be honest: It's no place to grab a basket of wings and a brew. Even those who are lodging in style at the Ritz would be well advised to walk a block down Forsyth Bouelvard to Krueger's to satisfy their bar bar jones.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    Whalen's Restaurant and Irish Pub

    Whalen's' historic past went up in flames when a fire ripped through the landmark watering hole this past August. A favorite of NoCo locals and college students from UMSL (located just down the road), the bar had operated as Whalen's for a good 30 years and under various other names for a good 30 years before that. But spill not… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Schottzie's Bar and Grill

    While many restaurants aspire to be something they aren't, Schottzie's rejoices in what it is: south county's most come-as-you-are watering hole. The waitstaff isn't sucking up for a tip; they just truly don't mind if patrons put one measly drink on their debit card. They don't give clever names to brain sandwiches, and simply call the appetizer section of the… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Javon's Restaurant - CLOSED

    When Ron Malloyd opened Javon's Restaurant two years ago, it took a certain amount of intestinal fortitude: Malloyd's chosen location, downtown East St. Louis, has been a commercial sinkhole for decades. And yet Malloyd, a lifetime resident, does a robust lunch takeout business and sells more than his share of Cognac to a loyal clientele who appreciate his effort to… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Fridays at Harry's Restaurant & Bar

    Do people really go to Happy Hour anymore? You bet they do. Witness Fridays at Harry's, where the hottie-heavy crowd for cheap drinks and eats can be three deep. Harry's hosts a Happy Hour every weekday from 4 till 7 p.m., but it's on Friday that the staff breaks out the free brats, burgers or whatever else they decide to… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night

    The Stagger Inn...Again

    Maybe it's the infectious friendliness of this legendary Edwardsville establishment, the obscure microbrewed beer specials, the ample stage -- got a six-piece rock band with trumpet? No sweat! -- or the sterling sound system with functioning monitors. Whatever it is, the Stagger's twice-a-week open-mic get-togethers are more addictive than karaoke and ten times as musical. No one abuses the mic… More >>
  • Best Beer Glass

    The Chalice

    Fast Eddie's is built for crusaders of booze who don't like to wait till the weekend -- or sundown, for that matter -- to get their sip on. A maniacally busy, down-home bar that can smell pretense coming from nine blocks away, Fast Eddie's is also more than happy to provide communion for folks whose schedules don't permit Sunday Mass… More >>
  • Best Bar Patio

    Yemanja Brasil

    Painted in the colors of the Brazilian flag and about as cramped as the streets of Rio during Carnaval, the postage stamp-size patio at Yemanja (really not much bigger than the restaurant's few-tabled, brick-walled interior) just looks like a party. The wooden deck is all twists and turns, almost like a hamster maze, allowing for little tête-à-têtes here and there… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Night (Comedy Division)

    The Red Sea

    Wednesday comedy night at the Red Sea is the wildest, most diverse and funniest open-mic comedy night you're likely to find this side of Chicago. Roughly half the performers are polished, insightful and hilarious. But it's the other half that's the most entertaining -- the ones who are hilariously unfunny. "I hate winter," begins one regular's "joke." "So cold, gray… More >>
  • Best Drag Show

    The Complex - CLOSED

    The Complex is a model of gay diversity; most nights the racial makeup of attendees pretty well mirrors the racial makeup of the city. But it doesn't stop with queer folk and fag hags. Anyone who loves to booze in a raucous atmosphere would be wise to invest the $3 cover and take advantage of the Complex's all-you-can-drink-for-$10 special (available… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Winfield's Bar

    You can go one of two ways: Go to a hall and play by the hour with your partner. Or shoot on a down-and-dirtier coin-op table at a bar. This year we're going with the latter, because there are so damn many of them, and they're where most people, bush leaguers and hustlers alike, play. Joints with one, maybe two… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    King Louie's

    Austere and comfortable, King Louie's bar pulls off the rare Zen exacta of holding two contrary ideas simultaneously. A woman in a little black dress and pumps sits beside a refined barfly who's saddled up alongside a filthy-rich couple deep in conversation with a finicky wine snob. This is important, this comfort and austerity. You're drinking cocktails, after all, the… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Fred Friction

    There's an old army rule that states that the person in charge of packing the parachutes has to jump out of planes on a regular basis. If we make this a metaphor for bartending, then Fred Friction is a Green Beret. He may not have the deftest hand at mixing a Cosmopolitan, but hey, there are bras hanging from the… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Mike Talayna's Juke Box Restaurant

    Talayna's karaoke night is not for everyone. In fact, come to think of it, karaoke in general may only be for the severely intoxicated. Talayna's greatness owes not to its song roster, which includes far fewer New Order selections (one) than some might prefer. (Ahem.) It's not due to the clientele -- your basic assortment of grungy regulars and crewcut… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    Pink Galleon Billiards & Games

    Introduced to the public in 1931, pinball offered an affordable distraction from the impoverished reality of the time. And for a glorious time, the bumpers-and-flippers game was king. But then came the video game, with its grab-you-by-the-eyeballs graphics, and old grandaddy pinball was relegated to the kitsch corners of Americana museums and dive bars. But for the chosen few, pinball's… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    The Famous Bar

    If beer is food, then a bloody mary is a full-course meal, and there's no better place to get your liquid square than the Famous Bar. The bloodys here take center stage, as a chalkboard behind the bar lists the standards. There's the classic Famous bloody, served with the traditional slice of lime and celery stalk; the dirty bloody, garnished… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    John D. McGurk's Irish Pub

    It's a dangerous combination, thirst and hunger, because usually you quench the former to such an extent that sating the latter becomes iffy. You are this drunk because you haven't eaten, dumbass, so you're willing to gobble up anything with salt on it. Flavor becomes secondary to filling the gut with something that'll absorb the poison -- specifically, meat and… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Dollar Bin - CLOSED

    The timing is perfect: late-night Bump Day, Wednesday. You've already endured three days of insipid labor for The Man and yet are faced with another two to muddle through before payday and the wild wild weekend. You're nearly broke, desperate for release. You want action. Check that -- you want drunk action. You want hot guys, luscious ladies. And if… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    The Rec Room

    Dilettantes might hold romantic notions of English pubs and bristle boards, but many diehard American darters are opting for soft-tip pay machines. "Soft tip scores for us," says Michael Wiestling, general manager of the Lake St. Louis-based American Darters Association. "It's not as intimidating." Wiestling lives and breathes darts, but when he's looking for a relaxing game of Cricket, he… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Tiffany's Original Diner

    The best jukebox in the area isn't the one with the best selection. Not much has changed about it since the diner it's housed in changed its name from Morgan's to Tiffany's. But as a soundtrack to the goings-on in the tiny, smoke- and grease-filled room it sits in, it's perfect -- Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" playing at a… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Pueblo Solis

    They kick your ass, but the process is a delicious one. One of them'll give you 180s, two'll give you 270s, and three'll give you full-on whirlpool bed spins. And you'll love them. Pueblo Solis makes the finest margaritas in town. There are other good ones, yes, but none will consistently kick your ass so wonderfully. First -- and most… More >>
  • Best Evidence that Hoosiers Exist on the North Side

    Broadway Bistro - CLOSED

    Four words: Lingerie Show Happy Hour. It takes place every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at this cheap, large, aesthetically who-gives-a-crap watering hole in the shadow of Interstate 70 amid the tow lots and abandoned buildings of Broadway's north side. While a couple of girls mingle in their skivvies with a few handfuls of local factory and warehouse workers… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Freddie's Bar

    So, you're looking for the beautiful people. Well, mister, steer yourself down Manchester Avenue to Freddie's Bar. Nestled along St. Louis' GLBT strip in Forest Park Southeast, Freddie's hosts a raucous karaoke sing-along every Wednesday and Thursday night. It's live DJs on other nights and tea dancing on Sunday. The drink specials abound -- as do the firm young men.… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up Fortysomethings

    Brio Tuscan Grille

    Got MILF? Get some weeknights at the bar at Brio, a veritable buffet of well-preserved west-county women and the polo-shirted men who flirt on them like something out of a Bonobos Gone Wild video. It's probably no coincidence that this local outlet of the upscale Tuscan restaurant chain is located beside Plaza Frontenac. The foxy ladies who sip frilly-tinis (Lemontini,… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Pin-Up Bowl

    The King of Beers, or maybe just beer in general, definitely has a frosty-mug handle on this city. But when St. Louisans need to escape the hops-and-barley chains and break out of the easy-to-hold-glass mold, where should they turn? We say try the pioneering Pin-Up Bowl, proudly situated on Delmar just east of Skinker in the Loop. The '50s kitsch-style… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    The Way Out Club

    He left you. And who can blame him? You suck; you're worthless; you'll never love again. Drag your sorry ass to the Way Out Club. Sit at the bar, so the wall will isolate you from the pounding rock of the stage in the next room. Ask the bartender for something strong. You'll get it in spades. Three drinks in,… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Novak's - CLOSED

    When is a bar more than its building? When it's Novak's. Losing her original Manchester Road location didn't seem to faze the energetic Nancy Novak -- she just shifted business to the cozy upstairs bar at Magnolia's and started work on a new Novak's. Mag's upstairs bar is lean, smoky and stocked with an ample supply of whatever liquid you'd… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    Growlers Pub - CLOSED

    Founding Father and colonial party dude Benjamin Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." The best manifestation of His love is Growlers' tally of a divine 132 brews. The British beer empire is well represented, but so are less-obvious locations, from Kenya to China. Growlers' drink menu -- which also serves as… More >>

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