Choosing the best neighborhood bar in the city is sort of like picking the cutest puppy in a basketful of golden retrievers. Not. Easy. That's because, to the delight of city dwellers and the despair of their livers, there are so many great bars in so many great neighborhoods. Cozy taverns tucked into brick buildings, elegant wine bars anchoring nightlife districts, beer-and-whiskey dives popping up in between fancy restaurants — which to choose? This year we've spun the wheel and landed on Riley's, in Tower Grove East. Maybe there's something deeply psychological about that: In a year when everything seems complicated, from weather patterns to Olympic controversies to seemingly interminable political races, it's nice to have a thoroughly uncomplicated neighborhood hangout. Of course, we don't really need to wax philosophical to plumb our love for Riley's. It's a tavern in the truest sense of the word, all dark wood and low light and friendly conversation. The beer is cold and cheap, and the bottle selection is more extensive than that at other neighborhood joints. Plus, Riley's is at a remove from the bustling South Grand district; a few blocks east of the busy boulevard, it offers a convivial respite to neighbors and strangers alike.
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