Food & Drink

  • Best Hot Dog

    Usinger's

    Yes, we do love Woofies (1919 Woodson Road, Overland; 314-426-6291). We've composed frickin' paeans to Woofies. We're tempted to write a poem about Woofies, set it to music and force you to listen to it while you're on hold with our receptionist. But this year we're gonna sing a new tune, a DIY number we like to call "Boil Your… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    An American Place - CLOSED

    How does "Best New Restaurant in the Past Four Decades" strike you? When we learned last year that American-cuisine pioneer/ James Beard acolyte Larry Forgione was en route to STL to open an eatery in a corner of the spiffy but iffy Renaissance Grand Hotel downtown, our hearts went pitter-pat. Hyperbole? Hardly. Understand: a veritable star in our nation's culinary… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Dressel's

    The only reason every burger aficionado in the bi-state area isn't lined up outside Dressel's is because, well, most folks don't equate "Welsh pub" with "perfect hamburger." But we know the truth, and it's killing us to keep the secret. So if you know what's good for you, you'll head Dresselward the next time the carnivorous craving kicks in. Start… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Tom Coghill

    St. Louisan blood don't run much thicker than the hemoglobin that pumps through the veins of Iron Barley chef and proprietor Tom Coghill. A north-side native previously best known for manning the stoves at Frazer's Brown Bag (one of the true feathers in this city's culinary cap), Coghill opened Iron Barley in the Carondelet neighborhood a few summers ago as… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    The Stagger Inn...Again

    The chef in the back builds the Nightmare with a shovel. He dumps a pile of chopped onions in a pot, backs up a cement mixer and pours fifteen tons of veggie chili onto it, pushes a Cheddar cheese log through a wood shredder, and then pours the mixture onto your choice of either garden or black-bean burger. We say… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Arthur Clay's

    Successful freeloading is equal parts poker, theater and ballet. It doesn't begin when the check arrives. Rather, the curtain rises when the plans are made, and a well-rehearsed script is a must. Got a birthday coming up? Win an award? Have a baby? Anything will suffice. Just casually mention it without any hint of entitlement. You want them to come… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Schlafly Tap Room

    The kind still with the potato skin on 'em, fried crisp but not too much, so the soft velvety white on the inside is still supple to the touch, still steaming. Oh, sweet starch. A touch of salt, uh-huh. Malt vinegar sprinkled over the pile, just enough spicy ketchup to provide a balanced, salty-sweet tension. It's a miracle what potatoes,… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Seki's Japanese Restaurant - CLOSED

    Dunno about you, but some days it seems like it should be enough to haul our sorry ass out of bed and drag it to the office. Showered and presentable and on time? Are you kidding? These are days when we know we're unqualified to make even the most trivial decision. (Answer the phone, or wait for it to stop… More >>
  • Best Sandwich

    The Celestial

    Brian and Brendan Marsden's Mirasol didn't just arrive on the St. Louis dining scene in the spring of 2004, it fairly exploded. Bright, brilliant, exciting and sexy, the dishes at this Nuevo Latino hotspot never cease to amaze. Better yet, Mirasol is open for lunch -- good God, one could eat there twice in one day! -- and one of… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant

    Eleven Eleven Mississippi

    Wine, we are always told, should pair well with our meal. It should complement our food, tease out the flavors, make our free-range chicken/New York strip/seared bay scallops feel good about themselves. At Eleven Eleven Mississippi, the equation is turned on its head. The wine selection at this gorgeous Lafayette Square restaurant is so well-cultivated, so consistently excellent, that the… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Sandwich

    Italian Egg Sandwich - CLOSED

    The RFT owes a debt of gratitude to the breakfast sandwich. Every week the deadline-driven staff meanders in to the office all hung over and hating life, and every week the Italian Egg Sandwich at Fabio's (formerly Salvato's) delivers us on the wings of focaccia -- and it can help you, too. First of all, this thing's the size of… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    The Black Stallion Room

    Aaaaaaaand they're off! Thursday Night has been training well lately here at Fairmount Park's Black Stallion Room, and with the odds stacked against Dusty Benches, Seven Bucks Entry Fee looks ready to deliver. Dollar Beer is definitely a crowd favorite, but don't discount Hot Wings just yet! Pasta Salad's holding its own, as is Trough of Spaghetti. But suddenly out… More >>
  • Best Fish Sandwich

    Ahi tuna reuben

    Schlafly Bottleworks' tuna reuben probably could have taken this prize on the basis of creativity alone. A tuna reuben? Well, why not? Served on a slice of Russian black bread (two slices would yield a too-dry mouthful), a tasty piece of seared ahi tuna gets a royal crowning with Swiss cheese, fresh shredded cabbage and a honey-wasabi mayo. The $9.99… More >>
  • Best Décor

    Red Moon

    Two décors live under one gilded roof at downtown's chic, fast-paced Red Moon, the first foray into the local market by a pair of Chicago-based restaurateurs. In the main dining rooms, boldly painted concrete walls sporting odd bits of stenciled graffiti stand in textural contrast to the lush, velvet curtains that divide the space, while striking canvases (mostly from local… More >>
  • Best Roast Beef Sandwich

    Love at First Bite

    It's just after sundown, and the vampire is stalking his prey. He's been pursuing his meat in the same spot now for more than 100 years. While the lack of variety may seem boring to some, he's experienced a "culinary" awakening in this locale -- a Love at First Bite, if you will. The nocturnal one waits patiently for the… More >>
  • MoKaBe\'s

    Best Coffeehouse

    MoKaBe's

    The last time we were in MoKaBe's, in the dead middle of a too-hot Thursday, a couple began an impromptu waltz. He was all feet and good intentions; she added a step-breaking shimmy to the proceedings and laughed. Everyone around watched, giggling into their coffee cups. The midday waltz was a funny sight, but not at all out of place… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Taqueria el Bronco

    Taqueria el Bronco would have a much easier go of it if it were located in Austin, Los Angeles, Miami or any number of American cities that embrace, or at least acknowledge, their Hispanic communities. Instead this hole-in-the-wall taco shack is confined to the Mexican barrio along Cherokee Street, and few outside the neighborhood know of its existence. The rest… More >>
  • Best New Coffeehouse

    Perc on the Park

    It is a fact of urban regentrification that no neighborhood reaches its sociocultural peak until a new coffeehouse opens there. Which is why, despite all the lovingly maintained houses, despite the perennial popularity of Arcelia's and SqWires and despite the glorious park from which the nabe takes its name, Lafayette Square didn't arrive until this year, when Perc on the… More >>
  • Pat\'s Bar and Grill

    Best Frogs' Legs

    Pat's Bar and Grill

    Urban folklore can't get much better than how the hell frogs' legs found their way onto the menu of an Irish dive in Dogtown that's been around since 1942. Problem is, nobody who's alive today really knows for sure how that happened. All that's left to ponder is the end result: the best (and maybe only?) frogs' legs in town.… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Soulard Coffee Garden Café

    Fast-food value meals got nothing on Soulard Coffee Garden Café's "Breakfast á la Dan." Named after a restaurant regular with impeccably frugal and distinguished tastes, the breakfast includes scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon, seasoned home-fries and a choice of toast or English muffin. And all for $3! Merci, Dan. Merci.… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    C&K Barbecue

    The C&K Barbecue experience begins and ends with agony. First you have a five-minute wait at the carry-out hut, awash in the aroma of tomato and vinegar. Torture. Then there's the drive home, fighting the urge at every stoplight to tear into the steaming, sweet-smelling takeout containers. C&K has been taunting barbecue lovers like this since 1963. And as one… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict

    Juniper Grill Bistro and Wine Bar

    When Juniper Grill opened its doors this past winter, adventurous restaurant-going folk were grateful not just for the offbeat location (a brand-new, with-it bistro in Soulard?) and the gracious prices (seared sea scallops for $17.95?) but for one dish in particular: the Kings Eggs. A happy surprise of an appetizer, the Kings Eggs are eggs Benedict gussied up in glamorous… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Diamond Mineral Springs

    Looking for good fried chicken in the city is like searching for a good martini in the sticks. The best fried chicken in the area requires a journey to the Land of Lincoln, to a former summer health resort between Highland and Pocahontas, Illinois, 40 minutes from the Arch. In its heyday in the late nineteenth century, Diamond Mineral Springs… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Shangri-La Diner - CLOSED

    If Holly Golightly had practiced her insouciant brand of hedonism just a few years longer -- waiting out the goody-two-shoes good times of the late 1950s and early 1960s and helping herald in America's groovy, post-JFK counterculture -- she wouldn't have had any more breakfasts at Tiffany's. She would have enjoyed brunches at Shangri-La, a trippy time capsule of a… More >>
  • Best Chicken Fried Chicken

    Nadine's Gin Joint

    Come across a menu item labeled "chicken fried chicken" and you're liable to think typo. Fried chicken's fried chicken, right? Well, not exactly. True, "chicken fried chicken" is a dumb name. But it's got its culinary roots in the Republic of Texas, which plays by its own grammatical rules (cf. our current President). Indeed, chicken fried chicken is chicken fried… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Wei Hong Seafood Restaurant and Bakery

    The tapas-restaurant craze is great, but the Chinese have known for centuries how to make small-plates eating even better: Do it for brunch. That's basically what dim sum is, and the dim sum at Wei Hong, which relocated over the winter to a former movie house along a low-down stretch of Olive, does it best. Wei Hong's interior is grand… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    The Dandy Inn

    Smarty-pants experts suggest that one of the biggest causes of stress in life isn't the absence of options but rather the overabundance of unsatisfying ones. Take ordering chicken wings. What should be a simple transaction turns into a game of 40 questions: How many? Do you want them mild, medium, hot, hotty-hot, mouth afire or barbecue? Ranch or blue cheese… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Kitchen K

    Whether you're a mover/shaker or just like to be in their company (those sharp suits! those constantly ringing cell phones! those knowing nods across the room!), Kitchen K is the power-lunch place for you. The lunch crowd comprises what in this big small town passes for a heady mix, from politicos to grassroots do-gooders to out-of-town developers being squired through… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    Boston Market

    At $7.49, a whole roast chicken from Boston Market is slightly more expensive than a similar bird from most St. Louis-area grocery stores, but that extra scratch is worth it just to see your dinner still roasting on the spit, not baking under a heat lamp. Take one home and you'll learn why a national chain has been built upon… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    U-City Grill

    Accolades don't get any more literal than naming U-City Grill "Best Lunch Counter." Besides a pair of two-tops crowded along one wall, a lunch counter is literally all there is. From behind the elbow-shape counter, which seats fewer than a dozen diners, owners Mr. and Mrs. Sim -- who will smile but rarely talk, not even to one another --… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Dewey's

    From now until our sun goes supernova, people will argue about religious leaders, politicians and pizza. This last, of course, is the most universally beloved: No one hides when pizza's at the door. And of all the magnificent thin-crust pies in St. Louis -- Pizza-a-Go-Go and Vito's are also on our speed-dial -- none delights quite as much as our… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    Papa Fabarre's (in Famous-Barr, second floor) - CLOSED

    The Great American Novel is waiting to be written from behind the green velvet curtains that frame the row of booths in Papa Fabarre's. That is where St. Louis' next literary giant will begin to assume his or her place in line behind William Burroughs, Maya Angelou and Jonathan Franzen, scribbling scripture in solitude between bites of a fried-fish sandwich… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Black Thorn Pub

    Why do we bother with this category every year? Maybe it's to take into account the scant possibility that some other pizza joint might come along with a thick-crust that can top the phantasmagoria that is a Chicago-style Black Thorn pie. Pizza this dense, this formidable, this architecturally mind-blowing, this stacked with blue-collar toppings doesn't grow on trees. We're talking… More >>
  • Best Cajun/Creole Restaurant

    The Gumbo Shop - CLOSED

    The Gumbo Shop's hubby-and-wife owners, Sid and Mary Roberts, enjoyed long careers as U.S. Customs agents before dedicating their retirement years to a higher calling: crawfish étouffée. To say they make the best crawfish étouffée in town would be an insult; with its homemade, ever-so-slightly sweet roux, it might be the tastiest this side of Louisiana. In fact, the Robertses… More >>
  • Best Caesar Salad

    John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Restaurant

    Like a jazz standard or a symphony, the Caesar salad is a template -- romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons, dressing -- and execution is everything. One misstep, one substandard ingredient, and the gestalt is ruined. McGurk's is a St. Louis institution best known for its St. Pat's Day throwdown and its excellent beer selection. What's often overshadowed is the pub's… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Sweetie Pie's - CLOSED

    As a singer, Robbie Montgomery shared the stage with such A-list icons as Ike and Tina, Dr. John and Gladys Knight. Her star-studded history now graces the turquoise walls at Sweetie Pie's, Montgomery's soul-food joint in north county. Since opening the buffet-style restaurant nearly a decade ago, Montgomery and her family have been serving up candied yams, cornbread, ham hocks… More >>
  • Best Macaroni and Cheese

    Tin Can Tavern & Grille - CLOSED

    Dinner is not a science experiment. There should be no unnaturally bright substances, no combination of the words "microwave" and "E-Z," no transformation from a gritty powder to something vaguely cheese-ish. Comfort food deserves a little TLC -- you wouldn't eat pot roast or green beans from a box. Make up for past indiscretions by ordering a heaping plateful of… More >>
  • In Soo

    Best Chinese Restaurant

    In Soo

    There was a dark, dark time -- a time before St. Louis, before our salvation -- when the mere thought of Chinese food filled us with tremendous ennui. Our shoulders slumped at the sight of orange-lacquered shrimp. Well-meaning offers of egg rolls were met with world-weary sighs. Everything looked as bleak as a half-empty steam table. And then In Soo… More >>
  • Best Pork Steak

    Phil's Bar-B-Que

    If your family were to own a barbecue joint, it'd be Phil's. The décor of this little shack -- located on Gravois Road east of Mackenzie, in the neighborhood known as Wilbur Park -- is reminiscent of your grandparents' wood-paneled basement, bedecked as it is with kitschy porcelain pigs, cookie jars and framed photos of young'uns who are probably in… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    I Fratellini Caffe & Rosticceria

    If the regulars at I Fratellini could keep the place to themselves, they would. Perhaps they'd even employ a little subterfuge: "What? What Italian restaurant? That's, um, a tarantula store. Look out!" And we could hardly fault the devotees for their deception: The beautiful, postage stamp-size restaurant seats only 35, and the rustic Italian cuisine is so extraordinary that by… More >>
  • Best T-Rav Alternative

    Bratwurst Pretzel

    If you think toasted ravioli is our town's lone contribution to the culinary arena of meat-filled-dough, might we suggest a trip to Gus' Pretzels? Located in the shadow of the A-B brewery, Gus' has reigned as a south-side institution since 1920. Known best for its hand-rolled soft pretzels, the bakery has also made a name for itself for its hot… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    10th Street Italian

    When was the last time you ate spaghetti and meatballs? Too long. Get over to 10th Street Italian, stat, and chow down on a humongo, heaping, Atkins-be-damned helping of the stuff, a glorious pile of soft pasta complemented by a quartet of honest-to-goodness homemade meatballs, prepared with grated Parmesan, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, parsley, whole milk and… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Big V's Burger Joint

    Seventeen words into this paean to Big V's glorious victuals, and already Vito Racanelli is gettin' sassy: "It's not fast food. It's Big V's." The owner's slogan is understandable -- after all, "fast food" isn't typically synonymous with super-fresh, insanely tasty eats. But lo, Vito and his coterie of cooks make our meal in about the time it would take… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Pueblo Solis

    Um, hi, Pueblo Solis. Look, there's something we have to tell you. Remember last year, when we gave you Best Guacamole and Best Margarita? We were trying to get our nerve up to say that we really like you. A lot. Maybe you've caught us doodling RFT + PS on our napkins, and maybe you want to know what's going… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Mom's Deli

    It's lunchtime on a Saturday, and Mom's is packed. A line of customers winds through the small shop, around the shelves of potato chips and Hostess cupcakes, past the refrigerated soda case (well-stocked) and the refrigerated beer case (empty, save a few bottles of Miller -- Mom's is honoring the Teamsters' strike). And here's the thing: No one minds the… More >>
  • Tortillaria

    Best Guacamole

    Tortillaria

    What malevolent force keeps guacamole from being a more omnipresent foodstuff? Lesser dips and spreads -- ketchup, mustard, all things "ranch" -- force their way onto our table as if it's their birthright, when truly, guacamole, it is you we'd like to eat every day. But all is not lost, because we've discovered a great place for a fix. At… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    Joe Boccardi's

    Sure, Provel isn't a triple-cream French masterpiece of a cheese, but it is our cheese. So how to enjoy it? Not alongside fresh fruit and fine wine -- but that's OK; Provel is a cheese of the people. And we think it sits perfectly when it's melted atop Joe Boccardi's Special Original pizza. Joined with onion, green pepper, mushroom, pepperoni… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Modesto

    Fitting, really, that Modesto is located on the Hill, home of so many Italian-restaurant workhorses. Those places, they try. Modesto? Modesto just does. Lets the food speak for itself, with very little gussying-up given to Spanish ingredients. Allows parties to meander their way through their meals (lubricated by a few buckets of sangria, natch). Rises above the ballyhooed tapas craze… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    The Bagel Factory

    OK, OK, we get it already: St. Louis is not New York. It's not even Buffalo. Nowhere near being Albany, even, let alone Ithaca. The consensus is that we hayseeds have nothing to contribute, bagel-wise, to the pool of human thought. Our bagel is usually a tuft of dough rolled wormlike and connected mouth to ass and shoved in an… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Taft Street Restaurant and Bar

    Depending on which direction you're coming from, Taft Street Restaurant and Bar marks either the beginning or the end of the Bosnian district that surrounds the Bevo Mill. More than that, though, it's the signature spot for the revival of the Gravois business district, a place for mayoral press announcements and bendy-straws in a child's glass of milk. The grace… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    LaMar's Donuts - CLOSED

    For 43 years Ray Lamar woke up saying, "Time to make the doughnuts." In the summer of 2003, he finally hung up his apron at the age of 87. By that time, the single doughnut shop he opened in a converted gas station in downtown Kansas City had expanded into 30-plus shops throughout the Midwest and South. St. Louis has… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Momos

    Just when this corner-eatery storefront off the beaten path of Delmar Boulevard looked like it was consigned to life as a cursed restaurant space, along came Momos. Just when the fuss over fusion-tapas was reaching a fever pitch -- and at the same time, feeling woefully played out at dying-to-be-trendy restaurants all across St. Louis -- along came Momos. Opened… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    The Party Pastry Shop

    When is the Party Pastry Shop not the Party Pastry Shop? Well, it's proceeding under the same name that it has been for as long as anyone can remember, but under new ownership since its purchase earlier this summer by the good people from Brick Oven Pastries (who shuttered their Fenton operation to move to Ballwin). With the new owners… More >>
  • Best Greek Lunch

    Assumption Greek Orthodox Church

    Located next door to the Missouri Athletic Club's Town and Country outpost, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church feeds hundreds and hundreds of working stiffs every week with its massive Friday luncheons. Bring ten bucks (at least) and arrive between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on any Friday (except big holidays) and choose among Greek salads, gyros, spanakopita (spinach pie), soups,… More >>
  • Companion Bakehouse

    Best Bread

    Companion Bakehouse

    Sweet Lord, life has become so much better since the Atkins diet took up residence at the Ch‰teau du Irrelevance. Not that we ever participated in that carb-hatin' fad, mind you, but just the sight of khaki-pantsed businessmen wrapping their hamburgers in lettuce leaves was enough to put us off our lunch. But no more: Bread is back, friends, and… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    India's Rasoi

    Indian cuisine -- at once spicy, sweet and savory -- is a true gastronomic delight. What's even more delightful is the sheer volume of awesome Indian food available in St. Louis. While we have fever dreams about House of India's excellent chicken biryani and crave the cheese paneer at Gokul, this year our heart belongs to India's Rasoi in Clayton.… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

    To paraphrase what Chris Rock said about drugs and drug dealers in his groundbreaking 1996 HBO comedy special Bring the Pain, chocolate peddlers don't sell chocolate. They offer chocolate; chocolate sells itself. And it certainly does fly off the shelves at Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate, a confectionery chock-full of truffles and other cocoa-laden trifles, a confectionery that is so on to… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Banh Mi So #1/Saigon Gourmet

    Black or white, hoosier or epicure, any soulful mortal's stomach swells with the same satisfied feeling after a meal at Banh Mi So #1: "Mmmmmm! Home cookin'!" Maybe it's the Vietnamese eatery's brilliant neon sign, a beacon of comfort on a dark strip of South Grand. Or the momentary difficulty of locating a menu once inside the itty-bitty dining room.… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Kaldi's Coffeehouse and Market Bakery

    The line doesn't lie. It winds awkwardly around the front room of Kaldi's, squeezed tight with irritable junkies. They hold monogrammed mugs, and their minds race with crackhead chatter: "oh lord hurry hurry hurry what's taking so long so I think this morning it'll be a double shot with a splash of 2-percent no wait maybe a straight double ooh… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Rearn Thai Restaurant

    It's time for a confession: We're having an affair with Thom. It started out casually: He got fresh with us. It escalated to a quickie here, a dinner there. Now it's a full-blown obsession. We've been sneaking out of the office to see Thom on our lunch breaks for a while now, and, God, is it good! Sometimes he'll spice… More >>
  • Best Farmer's Market

    The GreenMarket

    Who are you kidding? You're not a chef. You're not even a sous chef. You're a hack. You can't whip up a walnut sauce on short notice, have never chilled a soup in your life, let alone bisque, couldn't clarify butter even if it got you really high. But the dirty little secret? It's all in the ingredients. Of course… More >>
  • Cha Yoon Sushi & Elixir Tea Bar

    Best Sushi

    Cha Yoon Sushi & Elixir Tea Bar - CLOSED

    Once upon a time, there were some people living in a French-sounding town who were a little slow to adapt to the international ways of the world. Then one day a Japanese restaurant opened, and this mystified and terrified these people. Eventually, though, these finicky, timid people grew to like the dishes served at this new place -- as long… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Carniceria El Morelia

    Comfortably nestled in a strip mall anchored by a hardware store and Doctor John's naughty emporium is one of Bridgeton's best-hidden gems: Carniceria El Morelia. Upon entering you're liable to find owner Judi Florez on the phone or at her laptop behind the counter, but she'll be happy to pull herself away, whether it's to help you dig out reggaeton… More >>
  • Best Spring Roll

    OR Juice & Smoothie

    It's the Bragg sauce that really makes this spring roll. Trademarked under the name Bragg Liquid Aminos, it's a soy sauce made by Live Food Products of Santa Barbara, California. It tastes like regular, sushi-joint soy sauce, but with a piquant, pungent kick. (There're doses of lysine, glycine, praline and arginine in there to boot.) It's served on the side… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Central Trading Company

    Shopping list, September 28, 2005: DON'T FORGET TO P/U LAUNDRY AND D/O DVD! P/U FR CENTRAL TRADING CO.: Hello Soda cookies, Taiwan Good Taste biscuits, fried paste (2 bags), choco banana Pocky (2 packs), jar o/ The Biggest Plum King, little ink fish, cuttlefish, peeled squid in a can, young coconut juice with jelly (2 cans), hamburger haws (ingredients: haw,… More >>
  • Best Calamari

    Trattoria Marcella

    You can't swing a DeLonghi deep fryer without hitting a plate of calamari nowadays. The critter has wandered onto the menus of chichi downtown bistros, mom-and-pop Greek tavernas, south-side sports bars. Given the relatively unrefined American palate, it's a bit surprising that we gobble down squid with a fervor typically reserved for mozzarella sticks and all things "popper." But with… More >>
  • Best Takeout (Gourmet Division)

    Kaldi's Coffeehouse

    The Fancy Couple is having a dinner party again. Oh, God, the Fancy Couple, with their Washington Avenue loft (purchased, darling, not rented), their solid walnut furniture and their $1,000 dog that trundles through the living room like a yapping toupée. Last time they had one of these soirées, you brought a plate of cheese cubes, which your hosts described… More >>
  • Best Toasted Ravioli

    Finale

    When it comes to hometown favorites, toasted ravioli is the Cardinals baseball of local culinary specialties: extremely near and dear to the hearts of many, and something to be taken very seriously. To which the folks at six-month-old restaurant Finale say: Lighten up! The T-rav is but a trifle, a bar-food-level amuse bouche, and as such it is as deserving… More >>
  • Best Takeout (Grocery Division)

    City Grocers - CLOSED

    Sometimes the standard lunch fare of a bologna sandwich and a hard-boiled egg just doesn't stimulate the palate -- especially when you know that dinner will likely be a frozen entrée that comes in its own microwaveable bowl. Fortunately, City Grocers makes it easy to break free of mealtime boredom. This full-service grocery store in the heart of downtown showcases… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Atlas Restaurant

    Like a smash Broadway show whose popularity necessitates an extended run, the superlative desserts at Atlas Restaurant deserve their own spotlight. And because someone out there loves us (we suspect it's husband-and-wife co-owners Michael Roberts and Jean Donnelly), Atlas stays open late on Friday and Saturday nights, serving heavenly confections until the witching hour. If these desserts had their own… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Whole Foods

    Soft-shell crabs? Check. Tasmanian sea trout? Mmm-hmm. Octopus? Aww, yeah! If it swims, and it's edible, Whole Foods probably has it. And here comes the kicker: Somebody likely netted the little bugger just yesterday. "We are the fastest grocery store there is in going from the dock to door," proclaims seafood team leader Don Kirby. "We order by noon each… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Sofia Bistro

    With all due respect to Bar Italia's verdant, lushly landscaped courtyard -- a nationally recognized jewel for al fresco dining -- this past summer we found ourselves drawn more toward the unlikely environs of Bulgaria than the Renaissance-style splendor of Italy. Sofia Bistro is the brainchild of Bulgarian native Teddy Ivanov. Its Continental dishes sound gluttonous -- beef tenderloin stuffed… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    The Wine Merchant

    Remember when cheese came in two colors, two shapes and either with or without holes? At the Wine Merchant, the days of "American or Swiss?" are long past. The three-year-old French Comté, to which weak-kneed sorts quickly become addicted, arrives on Thursdays or Fridays, and it's typically gone by Monday. Italian Pecorinos are well-represented, as are blues from around the… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Everest Café

    The litmus test for a kick-ass vegetarian restaurant is simple: Take an omnivore there for a meal, and afterward casually drop a "Hey, did you know that place is vegetarian?" Watch the expression on his face change as he realizes he just stuffed his piehole with a bounteous feast of happy, delicious food and didn't tear into a single bite… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Bull Market - CLOSED

    Ever wonder why the steaks you get at Tony's taste so good? Sure, executive chef and owner Vince Bommarito is a master in the kitchen, but his steaks are some of the world's best. For years those steaks were available only at restaurants and one high-end local grocery store. (Hint: Its name starts with S.) But this April Savage Foods,… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    The Best Steak House

    "Next!" "Next!" "Next!" And the cooks point down the line, further and further, faster and faster, demanding orders. It's half past noon on a weekday and you're at the Grand Center institution that is the Best Steak House (established 1964), a cafeteria-style restaurant teeming with workaday life and scrumptious $12 steak dinners and side orders like $1.15 French fries or… More >>
  • Best Bratwurst

    G&W Meat & Bavarian Style Sausage Company

    "Want a beer?" If that's not the first thing your butcher asks bright and early Saturday morning when you're brat shopping for the afternoon's barbecue, consider yourself a meathead. Put down your sausage. And get over to G&W Sausage Company, conveniently if randomly located off Kingshighway between Arsenal and Chippewa. Free Busch flows every day the shop's open (Wednesday through… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Cardwell's at the Plaza

    Finding a great seafood restaurant in St. Louis is like finding a good hamburger joint in India; because of its place in the world, it's a long shot. That said, air freight has transformed the game; it's now possible to get fresh seafood in landlocked Missouri (even if coastal skeptics scoff at the notion). Arthur Clay's, Blue Water Grill, Savor… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Trader Joe's

    Have you heard the one about Charles Shaw, namesake of Trader Joe's fabulous -- and at $3 a bottle, fabulously cheap -- wines? Legend has it that the wines are so easy on the wallet because the old oenophile, while in the middle of a bitter divorce, wanted to reduce his vineyards' assets and so flooded the market with cheap… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Romano's Macaroni Grill

    Cars surround the Romano's Macaroni Grill in Brentwood like pigs at a trough. The Macaroni Grill's conceit -- chain restaurants live and die by them -- is northern Italy: aged plaster walls, Mussolini, olive oil, fresh Parmesan cheese. Ignore the externals, though. This is a chain, so a measure of uniformity is understood. The simple truth is, if you pay… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Chips

    Phillips 66

    A small sampling of the chips available at the Philips 66 on Lindell: Uncle Ray's Onion Flavored Rings, Rap Snacks Hot Sauce Flavored Pork Cracklins, Hooters Hot Wing Flavored Potato Chips (with Ranch), Jays Salt 'n' Sour, Wise Onion Rings, Old Vienna of St. Louis Cheesy Red Hot Riplets, Vitner's Tangy Cheese Potato Chips, Sundance BBQ Corn Chips, Backer's Wave… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Chili Mac's Diner

    When the discussion veers toward the best chili-mac in town, rarely do debaters touch upon Chili Mac's. Maybe that's because they're not sure what exactly to call it: The signs outside these two diners read "Ed's Chili-Mac Diner," while the takeout menus are labeled "Chili Mac's American Diner." And then in the phone book, simply "Chili Mac's Diner" seems to… More >>
  • Best Reason to Cook at Home

    Penzeys Spices

    Cooking is so very satisfying, so very sexy -- though you'd be forgiven for not thinking so, given our nation's strange culinary proclivities. Heat-'n'-eat meals, fad diets and telechefs who insist on kicking things up to notches unknown are the foodie equivalents of a cold shower or an ill-timed phone call from your mom. Get back into the groove at… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Eat Rite Diner

    We love using the word "dining" ironically. Like when we show up at the Eat Rite at 3:25 a.m. with a caravan of skunk-drunk friends, all of us feeling locked and loaded after a night of suds-slinging in Soulard or clubbing on Wash. Ave., and we're all "No! Sleep! Till Sauget!" That's when we fill up on the Eat Rite's… More >>
  • O\'Fallon Smoked Porter

    Best Beer

    O'Fallon Smoked Porter

    It's all good, of course, so the idea of calling one "Best" is to suggest that others are less good, which simply isn't true. But O'Fallon Smoked Porter comes in a very big bottle, which automatically makes it better than most because there's more of it. Plus, it's a huge beer, this rich, dense concoction created locally by Fran and… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Restroom

    Savor

    Folks often knock before entering the restrooms at Savor, the global-cuisine emporium that opened this past spring in the Central West End. Sometimes they'll even call out "Hello?" as they cautiously push the door open. That may seem odd, given that Savor's bathrooms are multi-stalled. But the tentative entrance owes to the fact that they're chaperoning in a member of… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    Coffee Cartel

    Oh, life, you confound us with your choices! From what university to attend and what class to skip to what low-paying job to take and which days to call in sick, we're nearly overwhelmed. Throw in choosing what cereal to buy in that never-ending aisle and which dirty clothes to wash when you have only enough quarters for one load… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past 12 Months

    JaBoni's Bistro

    Who would have guessed that the "Best New Restaurant" of 2003 would require an epitaph in 2005? Back when Forest Park Southeast was barely habitable, Jann Brigulio and Bonnie Stevens blazed a trail on Manchester Avenue. The restaurant reeled us in with a gorgeous interior straight out of a Bogart-Bacall movie, and with the creations of chef Ramon Cuffie, who… More >>
  • Best Snow Cone

    Concord Lanes & Arizona Action Park

    Tropical Moose Shaved Ice in Kirkwood is a perennial favorite, but the more adventurous among us steer to the Sno-Cone Village at Concord Lanes & Arizona Action Park. This 46-year-old fun farm offers bowling, batting cages, mini golf, a climbing wall...and snow cones. Sally up to the purple hut, choose a flavor, pay a buck-fifty and enjoy snow-cone bliss.… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Rising to the top

    Recently, an RFT writer's uncle sent her an e-mail saying he'd be coming into town on business. He asked where he should take his clients for dinner. "When I think of St. Louis, all I think of is Applebee's," he wrote. That may have been the case a few years back, but not any more. St. Louis now has some… More >>
  • Best Concrete

    Banana Pudding

    With all due respect to Ted Drewes -- Your custard is legendary, sir/Your mix-ins divine/But sometimes we're just not up for the trek to south city, sir/And the long wait in line -- Mr. Wizard's knows how to make a damn good concrete. The Banana Pudding is a deceptively simple concoction, blending vanilla custard with sliced bananas and crushed-up vanilla… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    Serendipity

    Slinging ice cream in a frozen-custard town can be a lonely gig. Good thing, then, that Serendipity owner Beckie Jacobs is a people person. Ted Drewes is a great guy and all, but have you seen him spread the love by, say, whipping up fresh peach ice cream and sorbet using local Kamp's Orchard peaches, and then giving the stuff… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Iggy's

    We're already salivating in anticipation miles before your green-and-white stripes finally come into view. Rising out of the asphalt like an enormous Starlight Mint, your roof simultaneously steals our breath away and takes us back to simpler times. You're always waiting for us in the same spot whenever we need you; your canopies gallantly protecting our resting bums from the… More >>
  • Best Remedy for Insulin Shock

    M&M Double Chocolate Chip cookies

    Few things in life compare to the taste-bud bliss of homemade cookies straight from the oven -- still warm, still chewy, deliciously gooey. Tucked away in its bakery section, Schnucks has miraculously managed to replicate this experience, with M&M Double Chocolate Chip cookies. These chewy chocolate cookies -- envision, if you will, an extra-fudgy brownie -- are made even chocolatier… More >>
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