Food & Drink

  • Best Mall Dining

    Zodiac at Neiman Marcus

    When the ladies who lunch go shopping, the Zodiac at Neiman Marcus is where they lunch. With good reason: linen tablecloths, weighty silverware, courteous, attentive table service, chic white-on-white décor -- oh, and the food's topnotch. The lunch-only seasonal menu might feature a velvety bisque, a decadent chocolate soufflé cake or the lobster cobb salad, a vertically presented triumph in… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Grandpa Mischeaux's Real Deal Barbecue & Grill

    Every morning, before opening up his storefront barbecue joint for the day, Byron Mischeaux hits the Safeway on Broadway's north side and picks up 50 pounds of ground beef. By lunch he'll have hand-sculpted that haul into 30 shot put-size, heavier-than-a-pound mounds of carnal excess -- the best burgers in St. Louis, by far. And by dinner he'll have made… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Moxy

    Years ago, when Eric Brenner was just another lifer working the line at one of the eateries on the Hill, slinging scampis and toasted ravs for the hoi polloi, he thought to himself: Why can't we do high-end food at a place like this? Later, when he transferred to a country-club kitchen, making marvelous food for the awfully wealthy, he… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Cajun crab cake sandwich - CLOSED

    Some trace the origin of the hamburger to the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904. Would we be spoilsports to point out that others date the delicacy all the way back to ancient Rome, and beyond? As edifying as it may be to read accounts of Tartar warriors toting filets off to battle under the saddles of their horses --… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    George

    How do we love George? Let us count the ways. We love that he's known to greet parties out in the parking lot -- umbrella at the ready when it's raining -- and escort them to their tables. We love that he remembers names after one visit. We love how he keeps patrons laughing throughout the meal (sometimes at their… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    O'Connell's Pub

    Ah, O'Connell's: lit low, as if it were one of Stanley Kubrick's candlelight scenes in Barry Lyndon, lovely exposed brick on the south wall, and the booths' dark wood paneling. Foursquare, reliable as rain in the springtime. An umber state of mind. O'Connell's doesn't need to serve food to maintain its lock on top-drawer-saloon status; that it does only enhances… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Cyrano's

    Back in the day, between 1960 and 1996, you didn't go to Cyrano's just for dessert. You went to Cyrano's to impress your date, to feel cosmopolitan, to practice being romantic and/or to hang with friends. Cyrano's combined the charm of a cozy atmosphere, small plates of food and big, decadent desserts that made most people swoon (before they lapsed… More >>
  • Best Roast Beef Sandwich

    O'Connell's Pub

    When you're in need of a roast beef sandwich right this instant, no one can fault you for opting for the eminently reliable and tasty Lion's Choice. But when you've got a bit more time to invest, it's got to be O'Connell's Pub. Yeah, you might have to wait for a table if you arrive during the lunch or dinner… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    King Louie's

    You are a cowboy. Daring. Adventurous. Rugged. Poor. So while the lusty cut of bone-in rib eye known at King Louie's as the cowboy steak is practically your birthright, its $38 price tag dictates that you rope in a richer rancher than yourself to cover your meal come check-wranglin' time. So long as your dining pardner appreciates the finer things… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    The Monte Cristo

    Two all-beef wieners, strawberry sauce, Swiss cheese, neither pickles nor onions, on a Save-A-Lot bun. OK, so that's a highly bastardized version of the McDonald's jingle, but then again, the Monte Cristo dog at Iron Barley is like one big middle finger flipped toward the ho-hum frankfurter. Taking a cue from his own childhood, when he used to put jelly… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Anthony's Bar

    Until recently, Anthony's Bar was strictly a lunch joint where attorneys, developers, bankers and media elite could be seen sharing bowls of potato chips in a noonday truce not unlike war-weary soldiers exchanging Christmas carols with their enemies. Now, with the coming of erstwhile downtown hipoisie tycoon Blake Brokaw, Anthony's (an offshoot of Tony's next door) has initiated dinner service.… More >>
  • Best BLT

    Nik's Wine Bar & Bistro

    Our discovery of the BLT at Nik's was, like all great discoveries, fraught with both heartache and triumph. The journey began unremarkably enough: a late-night stop for a glass or two of malbec. We'd already eaten dinner, but our friend had not. Our server opined that the BLT was "pretty tasty." (This, we would later learn, is like calling Orlando… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Michael Roberts

    For nineteen months Atlas Restaurant has occupied a lovely space on Pershing, meshing perfectly with the sleepy-chic vibe of DeBaliviere Place. Nineteen months of fabulous piccolo fritto, nineteen months of perfect profiteroles. Nineteen months since San Francisco's loss became St. Louis' gain, when Michael Roberts, a graduate of the prestigious culinary school at the City College of San Francisco, blessed… More >>
  • Best Fish Sandwich

    Grilled wild salmon sandwich

    Not fried cod, not tuna salad, not even beer-battered tilapia. If you want to sink your teeth into the ultimate fish sandwich in St. Louis, then it has got to be the one at the Schlafly Tap Room. Theirs is a charred six-ounce fillet of genuine wild salmon, draped in a flavorful pesto mayo, crowned with cool and creamy avocado… More >>
  • Best Local Chef Without a Restaurant

    David Gilbert

    David Gilbert, formerly of Eau Bistro, believes the sensory element of the St. Louis dining scene is missing in action. He wants to change that and challenge diners to expand their culinary comfort zones. As he says: "After I'm certain that I've covered all the basics -- texture, sight, aroma, taste and sizzle -- I give very close attention to… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    Whole Foods Market

    Your sweetie telephones to request that you swing by Whole Foods on your way home from work and pick up a half-pound of Ossau-Iraty. "It's a Basque cheese from the French Pyrenees," your little Lemon Drop says helpfully, "a sheep's-milk cheese with a grayish-orange rind." She spells it for you, then adds, "They might not have it. If they don't,… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant

    Riddle's Penultimate Café and Wine Bar - CLOSED

    Every wine list tells a story. At many restaurants wine lists are composed as hastily assembled afterthoughts to the menu, or as thinly veiled attempts to turn mad coin on extortive markups. Those stories begin, Once upon a time there was a restaurant-owning schmuck who really didn't know or care about wine. Weighing in at a novella-length 30 pages, the… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Breadsmith

    Foccacia, levain, ciabatta, ficelle -- ten years ago who knew those terms had to do with bread? Where once we were happy to find a baguette in a gourmet food shop, we now can pick up a loaf of pain rustique at Schnucks, for crying out loud. But while a few of those parbaked breads shipped frozen from factories and… More >>
  • Best Décor

    Monarch

    It's a good thing we're talking about interior design here, or Monarch wouldn't even make the tail end of our list. The inner beauty that is Monarch resides in a squat brown-brick building in the heart of Maplewood. But inside it's a different story: Not just great décor, but great décors. The bar and casual bistro areas are airy, with… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    Bagel Factory

    At the New York State Fair this past August, the Bruegger's bagel chain sponsored the baking of the world's largest bagel. The 868-pound megabagel, which measured six feet in diameter and twenty inches thick, required a small crane to hoist it out of its custom-built oven. The mountain of carbs beat the previous record (held by rival Lender's Bagels) by… More >>
  • Best New Chef

    Kevin Nashan

    Kevin Nashan probably doesn't want to be mentioned here. Most likely he's fine with people not knowing that he's the new head chef at Sidney Street Café. As of December 2003, Kevin co-owns the wildly popular, twenty-year-old fine-dining landmark along with his wife, Mina and his brother, Chris -- but you won't find that information mentioned on the restaurant's Web… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Global Foods Market

    Few grocery stores can stake a rightful claim to being a bona-fide tourist destination, but then few grocery stores are as wild as Global Foods Market. The international supermarket routinely plays host to busloads of out-of-town guests whose tour of St. Louis includes less exotic destinations such as the Gateway Arch, Forest Park and the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Once inside it's… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Sekisui

    Sekisui is the best kind of chain restaurant -- the kind that doesn't look, feel, taste or act like part of a chain. That's partly because, as far as St. Louis is concerned, it's one-of-a-kind: While the Sekisui franchise began a few years back in Memphis, where a handful of outposts now operate under the name, the South Grand Sekisui… More >>
  • Best Farmer's Market

    Clayton Farmer's Market

    Walking toward the farmer's market in Clayton on a Saturday morning is a treat for all the senses. First the live (usually folk) music reaches your ears, then the smell of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked something-wonderful entices your nose. Brightly colored flowers sit next to eggplants so purple that they should be outlawed. You touch the bumpy squash,… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Trattoria Marcella

    In the past year Trattoria Marcella has expanded (for the second time in a decade) -- and the space still isn't big enough to contain the aromas emanating from the kitchen. The delicious smells sneak through the cracks and spill into the neighborhood in which Marcella resides, on the far western downslope of the Hill. If you're looking to impress… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Bob's Seafood

    People look at us like we're crazy when we tell them that sometimes, we like to have raw fish for lunch. Not sashimi, mind you; not a prepared plate of fish with wasabi and whatnot at a Japanese restaurant. We mean a half-pound of bluefin or Alaskan king salmon, or sometimes scallops, which we ask the always-friendly folks behind the… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Mangia Italiano

    When it comes to Italian food in St. Louis, there's cheap and crappy and there's expensive and very good. But finding that middle ground? Not so easy. Mangia Italiano's quartet of owners, all of them armed with street-level restaurant experience, resurrected and updated their small space in 2002 without losing the original Bohemian charm. Artist Wayne St. Wayne's wall mural,… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    LeGrand's St. Louis Hills Tom-Boy Market

    Longtime St. Louis Hills residents still call the place Binder's, even though Jim and Joe LeGrand bought the store on Donovan more than fifteen years ago. Regardless of what they call it, they know that LeGrand's Tom-Boy Market is the place to go for meat. Beef ground fresh daily? Got it. The thickest, choicest steaks and chops around? Check. Their… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant

    If the winner is predictable because there are so few tapas joints in town -- what, like two-and-a-half? -- that does not diminish the excellence that is Modesto. Were there a dozen such establishments in the Lou, Modesto would likely reign supreme. Modesto serves up Spanish tapas in an atmosphere that is both celebratory and comfortable, with grand windows that… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Seafood City

    Seafood City is the only grocery store we know of where you can buy your frogs' legs very fresh -- as in, attached to the live frog, which you point to, and a butcher does the rest. The same holds true for any number of fish flopping around in their tanks, fresh shellfish, and one awfully large turtle (which we… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Lily's Mexican Restaurant

    Lily's is the "I know a little place" restaurant everybody wants to discover. It's not listed in the yellow pages and only recently found its way into the white pages. And once you find it, be prepared for bit of legwork. After being seated and choosing your meal, you place your order at the counter. You fill your own soda… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    Billy Goat Restaurant and Bar

    Everybody's got their favorite [fill in the blank] and will gladly argue incessantly that their favorite [fill in the blank] is the best and you're a moron for thinking different. So it is with chicken wings. Some like their wings so hot and spicy that when they're done eating they can't feel their lips. Some like them swimming in a… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Pueblo Solis

    Don't call the guacamole at Pueblo Solis a "dip." That would imply that this otherworldly guac is merely something to liven up tortilla chips. Instead, refer to the restaurant's warm, delicious chips as "guacamole spoons." Al Solis' convivial Mexican eatery does right by the avocado, mashing it just slightly, leaving the pieces plump and firm rather than blending them into… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division)

    I Fratellini

    It seems a crime not to take your lunch at I Fratellini, considering the Clayton storefront restaurant comprises one of the city's nicest dining rooms. But alas, life is tough, and sometimes lunch must be gobbled in bland conference rooms, while tallying last month's revenue sheets or while ferrying from one job to the next. That's no reason to suffer… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Taft Street Restaurant

    St. Louis can boast the largest Bosnian population of any city in the nation, and the once German-dominated Bevo Mill area of south city, along stretches of Gravois Avenue and Morganford Road, boasts the largest number of Bosnian residents. Recently numerous Bosnian coffeehouses and delis have resurrected little, renovated store fronts where residents congregate to drink strong Turkish coffee, eat… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Romine's

    Volumes have been written about the importance of fried chicken in the evolution of American culture and cuisine. And then there are the debates: pan- versus deep-fried, flour versus cornmeal, cayenne versus black pepper. It is said that fried-chicken lover Charlie Parker earned his Yardbird sobriquet when his car hit a chicken in rural Missouri and he fried it up… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Olympia Kebob House & Taverna

    Sometimes you just don't mess with success. We loved 'em last year and we love 'em this year and locals have loved 'em for more than twenty years. At last count, there were about a dozen Greek restaurants in the St. Louis area, all of them serving gyros. But a gyro only goes so far. We want grilled lamb, we… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Tienda El Ranchito

    The minute you walk into Tienda El Ranchito, you'll know it was worth the trip across the Poplar Street Bridge. The smell of tamales wafts through the air, the walls are painted a festive orange and the volume on the Mexican vaquero movie is turned way up. The lighting is dark, the aisles are narrow and the employees are friendly… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    The Cheesecake Factory

    Americans are getting fatter...and fatter. Despite the incessant calls to reduce our carbs to zero, watch our fat grams and expend the zillions of calories we ingest each day, restaurants (mostly the big chains) know human nature better than any psychologist. They know we lose all self-control when we go out. But while some of us revel and wallow in… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    Straub's

    There's always that peaceful lull after the holidays, when your house is empty of relatives and your refrigerator is full of food. Your dinners become deliciously nonsensical: Do Aunt Gretchen's turkey Tetrazzini and Mom's pecan pie and your sister's mashed potatoes really go together? And how! The takeout counter at Straub's is much like that bounty, and you don't even… More >>
  • Best Way to Blow Your Low-Carb Diet

    The Pointersaurus Challenge

    Two people. One hour. A 28-inch pizza that weighs twelve pounds. Two meat toppings or four vegetable toppings. No leaving the room. Welcome to the Pointersaurus Challenge, staged by Pointers Pizza in Richmond Heights. If you and your podna can put away this gargantuan pizza, you win 250 bucks each (plus the $45 you paid for the pizza). In the… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    Schnucks

    Sure there are dozens of joints that'll sell you a roast chicken to go, but for our $5.49, no broiler-in-a-bag beats Schnucks' bird. Each and every chicken comes out of the grocer's rotisserie oven crisp on the outside and French-kiss juicy inside. Schnucks chickens come in three varieties: lemon pepper, barbecue and herb. Speaking of choices, consider how many Schnucks… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    Tiffany's Original Diner

    The place: A 24-hour greasy spoon, so narrow it contains only a classic countertop with vinyl-topped stools to the left, and to the right, a pinball machine, a cigarette machine, a few video games and a poster of Johnny Cash flipping the bird. An old TV hangs from the ceiling, broadcasting game shows. The time: Friday, 12:45 p.m. The lunch… More >>
  • Best Low-Carb Snack

    Uncle Jerry's Snacks

    Uncle Jerry really liked pork rinds, so Dan and Shannon Wright named their special snacks after him. Running the gamut from St. Louis Style Pork Rinds to HOT Pork Tender Bites 'Old Tyme Cracklins', they're the only pork rinds made in Missouri. And virtually fat-free! These rinds, picked up from a recipe Dan learned in Louisiana Cajun country, likely would… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Olivette Diner

    A great diner can be counted upon to offer up both the reliable and the unexpected. Of course there are regulars whiling away the day over the morning paper, of course the coffee will always be hot and fresh, of course breakfast is served anytime and of course the person pouring the coffee and serving the breakfast is probably a… More >>
  • Best Potato Chips

    Red Hot Riplets

    Fun fact: St. Louis leads the nation in Kool-Aid consumption. There are competing theories as to why this is, but we're going with the one put forward by Murphy Lee: "I need some Kool-Aid/With my Red Hot Riplets," goes the chorus of the song Lee dedicated to Old Vienna's best product. In a safety-coated world in which the wimps usually… More >>
  • Best Buttermilk Pie

    Mama's Coal Pot

    Think of pound cake soaked in milk. Yellow cake batter, a bit undercooked. Chess pie with a smidge more tang. Made with the most basic of baking ingredients -- eggs, butter, flour, sugar, pinches of vanilla and nutmeg and, of course, buttermilk -- buttermilk pie has always been a staple of classic Southern soul food, but it has never received… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    El Burrito Loco

    The eponymous behemoth at El Burrito Loco is a vegetarian burrito that weighs at least a pound. It provides more than enough food to cover both lunch and dinner, but excuse us while we gorge out in one sitting. Stuffed full of refried beans, Spanish rice, pico de gallo, Chihuahua cheese -- not some crappy jack/cheddar blend -- guacamole and… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Diner's Delight

    How do you like your tripe? At Diner's Delight the recipe calls for boiling, breading and then deep-frying the meat to golden perfection. Add two slices of bread, a wedge of onion and a dab of hot sauce and you've got the tastiest cow-stomach sandwich this side of the Mississippi. But it's not just organ food that keeps folks coming… More >>
  • Best Taco

    La Monarca

    A few forkfuls of shredded pork, a visible amount of chopped cilantro and a sprinkling of diced white onions, swathed in two warmed (not fried) tortillas. That's all there is to the tacos at this family-run Mexican grocery, Asian-happy Olive's nod to south-of-the-border food. No lettuce, no tomato, no hot sauce, not even sour cream -- who'da thunk true taco… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Annie Gunn's

    It's not your "typical" steak house, not the kind of place you get dressed up for, aiming to do some wallet-lightening wining and dining. On second thought, plan on some wallet-lightening wining and dining. Just leave your sport coat or little black dress at home, because Annie Gunn's is much more pub than club. AG's takes its meats seriously --… More >>
  • Best Fish Taco

    Salina's Mexican Café

    Certainly one of the greatest ideas in culinary history, the fish taco is nevertheless a tricky one to pull off. So it's not surprising that the dish, which enjoys huge popularity on the West Coast, doesn't appear all that often on St. Louis menus. Time was the best fish taco in town was the one created at the legendary but… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Everest Café

    Here's the thing about vegetarian restaurants: All the better if they're not vegetarian restaurants. Just because you don't ingest animal, that doesn't make you some sort of party-pooping, Debbie Downer stick-in-the-mud who can't have a good time and share a good meal with your carnivorous compadres. (And if you are, we're guessing your digits pop up in few 314-programmed cell… More >>
  • Best Ceviche

    Mirasol

    Sayonara, sushi. Although we've loved you for years -- you were our first foray into truly foreign food, after all -- there's a new raw fish in town. It's down on Delmar, across from the Pageant, and it calls out to us almost nightly: Have the Honduran, eat the Ecuadoran, sample the salmon and scallops.... We're in love. Nuevo Latino… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Arthur Clay's

    If you and your honey are of a mind to drop a hundred-and-a-half on a meal for the ages, we heartily recommend diving into Arthur Clay's seafood menu. Chef/owner Steve Scherrer knows fish, and his connections to ocean fishermen are personal. Scherrer talks weekly, and often daily, with coastal fishermen doling out their daily catch. The result: Every day Scherrer… More >>
  • Best Rarebit

    Dressel's Pub

    This city's approaching another fall, which is just a short interlude before a cold, daylight-deprived winter. Pools are already closed, open-toed shoes a no-no. As pleasantly cool evenings give way to brisk ones and six o'clock begins to look like midnight, it's hard to get motivated to do much of anything, let alone cook. But here's a rare bit of… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    King Louie's L'Etoile d'Or Grille

    Dining al fresco in St. Louis in the summer can be a crapshoot, but still we love to eat outside. Just witness the huge number of folks you see dragging picnic dinners to any of the many outdoor summer events. And there ain't nothing wrong with a picnic. But when you want to go a little upscale, L'Etoile d'Or Grille,… More >>
  • Best Macaroni and Cheese

    Big Sky Café

    Macaroni and cheese is cuisine's common denominator. Babies just starting on finger foods love it, many a college student and broke twentysomething has sustained life by eating the perfectly matched duo exclusively. The dish is simple and hard to screw up for the kitchen-challenged -- with a bit of cheesy naughtiness, the all-in-a-box powdered-cheese varieties taste fine. Making this delicacy… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Wasabi Sushi Bar

    Seems like every time we bend down to fetch a dropped chopstick another Japanese joint opens up. Fine by us -- we can never get enough good sushi. Note the good in that last sentence -- as in fresh. We've got several favorites -- Sekisui on South Grand (see "Best Chain Restaurant"), Nobu's on Olive, to name two -- but… More >>
  • Best Caesar Salad

    Frazer's Brown Bag

    Oh, the Caesar. Once a proud salad, prepared for vacationing movie stars by Tijuana chef Caesar Cardini, it's now too often besmirched by gloppy dressing or (perish the thought!) iceberg lettuce. Absolutely not so at Frazer Cameron's lauded restaurant, where the Caesar is something to celebrate. Cameron begins with beautiful whole leaves of romaine lettuce, then tosses the greens with… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Four Seasons - CLOSED

    Enough of the Vietnamese restaurants already! Just kidding. You can never have too many Vietnamese restaurants, and judging by the preponderance of new ones opening around town, the genre's giving the chop-suey biz a run for its noodles. Four Seasons took a chance by opening along a mile-long stretch of South Grand that boasts eight Vietnamese restaurants. On the downside,… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Smokin' Al's

    The blues tunes Al Solis plays as background music at his canary-yellow barbecue joint tend to stick in one's head, but for some reason his lip-smacking ribs bring to mind the words of a white-chick songstress: Nobody does it half as good as you/Baby, you're the best. Solis'll be the first to tell you how proud he is of… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Miss Saigon

    The Chinese call them chun juan and fry them. In Indonesia they're called lumpia. And the Vietnamese call them goi cuon. This last version is a paragon of its nation's cuisine, beautifully wrapped up in a chewy-soft translucent rice-paper package, a veritable salad-to-go. The rolls at Miss Saigon comprise the best local rendition of this superlative creation, combining the typical… More >>
  • Best Beer

    Stag

    The centennial of the St. Louis World's Fair gives us a once-every-hundred-years opportunity to reclaim Stag beer as our own. A little history: Before 1907, Stag was called Kaiser beer, named for the Wilhelm family of German emperors. But when Kaiser II fell out of favor during World War I, the Griesedieck Western Brewery (the lager's Belleville-based brewer) sponsored a… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    House of India

    Nearly every lover of ethnic food -- and the uninitiated friends we drag along -- has fallen in love with Indian cuisine. Just walking into House of India and getting a whiff of the pungent spices cause the nostrils to flare and the mouth to water in anticipatory delight. The aroma of garam masala, with its marriage of cumin, cardamom,… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Black Thorn Pub

    No matter that it's known as "Chicago-style"; the Black Thorn Pub's thick-crust pie is like the Gateway Arch of pizzas. It is taller than you could have imagined, seeing it with your own two eyes for the first time, and it is famous around these parts. With a cheese-stuffed crust, a spicy, robust, deep-red tomato sauce and a proudly un-frou-frou… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Yen Ching

    Mom would've made you a bowl of chicken noodle, but Mom's not around right now, and you need someone to make you something that'll make that damn cold go away or, at the very least, make you feel better. And so you head to Yen Ching, housed across the street from the Galleria in a modest, wood-paneled, blink-and-you-miss-it little building.… More >>
  • Best Crêpes

    City Coffeehouse & Creperie

    Crêpes are comfort food that's undeniably French -- i.e., rich, delicious and vaguely cosmopolitan. Nestled in the downtown Clayton business district (and somewhat recently expanded to meet overwhelming demand for these French culinary luxuries), City Coffeehouse offers a wide variety of the ultrathin pancakes. Try the Shaw Park, stuffed with turkey, spinach, Havarti and roasted red peppers, or the Mont… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant

    When you ask a fellow dim sum lover, "Where do you go for dim sum?" chances are Lu Lu will be the reply. The restaurant's overwhelming popularity is proven every weekend, when Lu Lu's dining room is packed with raucous diners, chatting away in English and Chinese, picking snack-size morsels from the hand-pushed carts piled high with bamboo steamer baskets… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Goshen Coffee Company

    Coffee is the defining beverage of our generation. Thick, rich, sexy, hot, brown coffee, the kind you want to swim in. Oh java! Whether cut with half-and-half, soy milk, two-percent, Sucanat, Sweet'N Low or taken in its unadulterated form, the brown dragon has in the past decade both fueled an economic boom and softened its bust. Who'd have thunk in… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Bu-ree

    You can't find authentic Thai cuisine in St. Louis. As the great Jeffrey Steingarten writes in It Must've Been Something I Ate, "[E]ven some of the simplest Thai flavorings and ingredients and the principles of combining them are alien to the Western palate." So here are the criteria we adopted: Keep diners interested. Don't muck it up with a please-'em-all,… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    La Pizza

    There is no onomatopoetic term that can accurately convey the sound of biting into a perfect New York-style pizza crust. But there is perfect New York-style pizza around these parts that will make that sound for you when you do bite into it, and it's waiting for you at La Pizza, the teeny-tiny joint that plenty of in-the-know U. City… More >>
  • Best Ethnic Restaurant Row

    South Grand Boulevard between Arsenal and Utah streets

    The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission has taglined the South Grand district "St. Louis' International Neighborhood." As non-visitors who take great pride in the area's ethnic eats, we can only say: Duh! With its relentless representation of Vietnamese and Thai fare, not to mention multiple Middle Eastern and Italian joints and dashes of French, Japanese, Chinese and Mexican, this… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    Tomato sandwich

    Melt Provel atop cracker-thin pizza crust smeared with tomato sauce and you get something akin to plastic lava. Yet when Minions proprietor Barb Laidlaw stacks her baguette-like sandwich bread with slices of fresh tomato and that very same Provel, your palate does cartwheels. A simple, straightforward and tasty lunch item -- the only other ingredient is fresh basil, which adds… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    The Grind

    Circa 1957, before coffee became a corporate commodity, beatniks drank strong joe in smoky shops lined with old sofas and little tables. Circa 2004, the Grind is one of those places. It is gritty and different and reminds you why you like the city of St. Louis (and cities in general, really). For starters, you can smoke inside. And… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Donut Drive-In

    A 1950s-era marquee points to the low-slung, square white building at the intersection of Chippewa Street and Watson Road. Inside Donut Drive-In, Sharon hands a little girl a doughnut to sample. The girl presses her face to the store's two glass cases, which are filled with an array of delicacies. Everything's made from scratch, Sharon says. Those -- she points… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse (Up-and-Coming)

    Rhythm & Brews

    At the tender age of nine months, Rhythm & Brews is already everything a strapping young coffeehouse should be -- including, for the time being anyway, largely undiscovered. It's got free wi-fi, local artists' work for sale on the walls, and a funky, chic, unpolished look to its stone floor and loftlike ceiling. It purchases its joe locally, from Northwest… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    SanSai

    It's no coincidence that, a few short months after Westport Plaza's Drunken Fish sushi lounge opened a second St. Louis location in the Central West End, burgeoning fast food (sorry, fast-casual) chain SanSai Japanese Grill will likewise expand to its next area outpost in downtown Clayton (which should be happening right around...now). Sushi has so permeated the American culinary landscape,… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    DB's Sports Bar

    Distractions are what you're looking for when dining solo. Either that or newfound company. Have it both ways at DB's. As at any sports bar worth its salt, TV sets aplenty broadcast the game (or the endless armchair commentary when the game hasn't started yet). There's another notable diversion at DB's -- or we should say, there are pairs of… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Posh Nosh

    Last time we noshed at the Posh, a kindly older woman with snow-white hair, black eyeglasses and the most fetching smile took our order. She looks as if she's been around forever, which is about as long as the Posh Nosh has maintained its reputation as Clayton's classic deli. (We're here to tell you: A cup of Posh Nosh chicken… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Marty's Baking

    Come Sunday morning we prefer to worship food -- specifically brunch, that holiest of meals, a testament to the healing powers of a huge spread of really awesome chow. That's why our church is Marty's Baking, our altar one of the splendidly set tables (complete with linen tablecloths and fresh flowers) back in the actual bakery part of this five-year-old… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    La Dolce Via - CLOSED

    Little bits of Americana we wish weren't endangered species: Delivered milk. Uniformed gas-station attendants. Dressing up nice when traveling by air. The neighborhood bakery. Luckily, that last one can be easily found in St. Louis, on a tree-canopied corner in Forest Park Southeast. La Dolce Via offers ridiculously friendly service and a ridiculous array of Italian and American baked goods:… More >>
  • Best Place to Order Off-Menu

    Tony's

    Ah, Tony's. The quiet murmur of satisfied, stuffed wealth. The subtle opulence. The way you can race a server to your chair in a vain attempt to stop him from holding it out for you. The wine list, and then the other wine list if you're prepared to go all-out. You must choose, so choose wisely. But what to eat… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    "Milkshake" (with apologies to Kelis, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams) My milkshake brings all the boys to the north side! And they're like, It's better than Steak n Shake! Damn right, it's better than Ted Drewes! I can teach you, but I have to charge less than four bucks! I know you want it, The high butterfat content ice cream… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend You're in a Big City at 3 a.m.

    Coffee Cartel

    The clubs downtown have closed, but you're not ready to go home just yet. After years of chowing on the delightful Del Taco (and it is delightful) or having chili on your scrambled eggs (still delicious), your palate has become more demanding. What you need is a sandwich and a milkshake. Not only does Coffee Cartel make shakes from scratch,… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    Sushi and Smoothies

    An avocado smoothie? Sounds gross, but it ain't. Which is, come to think of it, an apt description of Sushi and Smoothies itself. A relatively new and somewhat oddly placed (across from Bob's Seafood) wonderland of Japanese-influenced fare, Sushi and Smoothies features fresh smoothie ingredients like honeydew, mango, papaya, lychee, kiwi and cantaloupe, as well as time-tested fruits like banana… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Cusumano's Pizza

    St. Louis-style pizza is a nocturnal junk food. It doesn't really come into its own until after midnight and a few rum-and-Cokes. Only then does that infamous cracker crust really ring delectable in the alcohol-blurred diner's ear. Only then does that pool of red sauce and greasy cheese register in the gullet as gastronomic euphoria. Only then is it scarfed… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    Serendipity

    Let's make some ice cream. Get some heavy cream, some whole milk, some sugar and whatever else you crave (we like to throw in some chopped-up Cherry Mashes). Don't measure anything out, just mix it together in whatever ratios feel right. Dump it in an ice cream maker, let it run until it looks like ice cream and then stop.… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Wakin' up the neighbors

    Was it only a year ago when thrill-seeking palates had to schlep to the darkest corners of the Gateway City in search of adventurous vittles? When, if you felt like hanging around neighborhoods that boasted nightlife -- the Loop, Lafayette Square, Washington Avenue, the Central West End -- you were consigned to been-around-forever restaurants that predate the first Bush administration?… More >>
  • Best Concrete

    The Great Pumpkin

    Nothing tastes like nostalgia. And no concrete we've ever tasted combines childhood winter-holiday memories with reminiscences of carefree summers past like the Great Pumpkin, a seasonal concoction whipped up August through December at Ted Drewes. Even the way the Great Pumpkin is made -- an entire slice of pumpkin pie is dumped into the mixer alongside a helping of vanilla… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

    Kirk's American Bistro

    Here's the problem with best-kept secrets: Whispers don't pay the bills. For seven years Kirk's American Bistro dished up stylish bistro fare -- butternut squash bisque, beef Burgundy, Long Island duckling and perhaps the restaurant's best-known dish, Japanese fried lobster -- to the trickling of loyal clientele unafraid of the restaurant's location on the border of the "good" Central West… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Bissinger's

    Breakfast may never be the same: Bissinger's opens at 9 a.m. Forget the cereal. Leave the eggs in their shell. You need a hot cup of freshly brewed java, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. If you're lucky and it's July, try an eye-opening chocolate-covered raspberry, the best you'll ever taste. And hey -- it's fruit! September means uniquely luscious blackberries… More >>
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