Bars & Clubs

  • Best Bar Bar

    Babe's Tavern and Garden

    Never judge a bar from its street view. From the outside, Babe's Tavern and Garden doesn't look much different from its south-city-tavern brethren. Step inside and it's a different world. Refinished hardwood, cushioned seats, a cozy fireplace in the back corner. At the bar the usual cheap beer suspects mingle with three Schlafly taps. Instead of marring the cushy drinking… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary Brunch Buffet - CLOSED

    A truly great bloody mary is a little bit magic, to be honest. Not the sort of magic you see the bartenders in high-toned clubs performing, with their twirling and tossing and mixing on the fly. No, the magic of the mary is much smaller and quieter, the magic of a big heaping helping of the good stuff on the… More >>
  • Best Martini

    The Famous Bar

    With all due respect to the mangotinis, appletinis, guavatinis, melontinis and white-chocolate-double-truffle-cherrytinis out there, when it comes to the art of the martini, less is more. All the fancy ingredient lists and oddly colored gourmet liquors have failed to improve upon the classic martini. They all have their charms, but they all leave you feeling a little let down. That's… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Lily's Mexican Restaurant

    Don't let the whirring of the milkshake machine worry you, there was no miscommunication: Salvador Esparza got your order right. You're not getting some slushy kiddie drink. Lily's Special Margarita on the rocks is on its way — hand delivered by Esparza himself. Lily's Mexican Restaurant sits quietly on the corner of Kingshighway and Devonshire Avenue, serving delicious Mexican food and… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Atomic Cowboy

    With the coming workweek weighing heavy on your mind, Sunday night can be a downer. Perhaps an ice-cold can of Stag beer would brighten your mood? What if it only cost 50 cents? What if it were served at one of the most idiosyncratic watering holes in town? (Admit it: We had you at "50 cents.") Atomic Cowboy may be… More >>
  • Best Drink Menu

    Taste by Niche

    "Is peach OK?" asks Ted Kilgore, mixologist extraordinaire at Taste by Niche. The woman who has ordered the "Nectar of the Gods" — tequila, agave, lime and seasonal fruit (the peach) — nods. Kilgore takes half a peach from a bowl on the bar directly in front of the patron and oh-so-carefully slices it into thin wedges. He puts the… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Nhat Nguyen

    No one denies that Ted Kilgore, formerly of Monarch, can make magic with spirits and a shaker. But if Kilgore is a great mixologist, Nhat Nguyen of Urban on South Grand is a great bartender. A great bartender must display as much facility with customers as with cocktails, and Nguyen fits the bill. Years ago at the now-defunct Mirasol, Nguyen… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    International Tap House

    International Tap House has more than 500 beers in stock, with 40 on tap. If that's not a big enough selection, you might want to look into your treatment options. Aside from a few wines, beer's all they do at iTAP. The selection is rife with imports and American craft brews of every ilk that change based on seasonality and… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    The Bleeding Deacon - CLOSED

    The ubiquity of the search — via cell phones, online directories and the far-too-trusted Wikipedia — has overshadowed what we all used to do when we sought something special: browse. But if you take the power of search and integrate it into something that was made for browsing, you get a lazy, so 2009, bastardization of technology. Exhibit A: the… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Keeton's Double Play

    Most locals who enjoy performing karaoke know a few places to head out for an evening of cocktails and sour notes. Unfortunately, some places are so packed on certain nights that if you want to do some serious singing you have to search for somewhere new. Talayna's on Hampton (see Best 3 a.m. Bar, elsewhere in this section), for instance,… More >>
  • Best Fire Pit

    The Royale

    Many a pale and frozen St. Louisan will cower from Old Man Winter by hiding indoors. Others will head to the Royale to warm those chilled toes and fingers 'round the brick fire pit out back. Bundled up on wooden benches, complete strangers often get to chatting and growing jolly. It doesn't hurt that the bartenders are serving seasonal drinks… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Sasha's on Shaw

    Sasha's new location on Shaw Boulevard opened last November and has steadily grown in popularity ever since. It is the perfect complement to the already thriving location in Clayton. The vibe manages to be upscale without coming off as pretentious or stuffy; there's plenty of comfortable seating and much more room to move around than in the original location. The… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Table Shuffleboard

    Hi-Way Bar - CLOSED

    Rare is the local watering hole that maintains a shuffleboard table. But a mere few blocks from the brewery, the Hi-Way Bar, named for its proximity to I-55 just across 13th Street and now in its 40th year of divey glory, still has one. Plunk in 50 cents, watch the old scoreboard light up and slide your gleaming pucks to… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Black Derby Saloon

    A good tavern should possess a certain time-warp quality. Trends come and go — infused vodkas, cavity-inducing martinis, digital jukeboxes — but a good bar should provide stability and continuity. That's why you won't find any of those electronic dartboards at the Black Derby Saloon. No sir: You'll have to keep track of your score by hand, employing good old-fashioned… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Cue & Cushion

    Shooting pool in a bar with a pool table is good fun, but where do you go when you just want to rack and shoot? The Cue & Cushion is that rarity — a genuine pool hall attached to a billiard- and pool-table dealership. ("Dealership" because these pieces of furniture are as streamlined and beautiful as automobiles. And like Volvos,… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    Apop Records

    Why, hello, gray cat. I see you there out of the corner of my eye, perched atop the broken pinball machine at Apop Records on Cherokee. Your feline eyes dart back and forth, following the flippers of High Speed, Apop's other, working pinball machine. It's a shame you don't know there's a glass pane between you and the balls and… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Erney's 32°

    A relative newcomer to the gay-bar-friendly Grove neighborhood, Erney's 32° has quickly established itself front-and-center. The brainchild of owner Mark Erney, the club draws its theme from the ice-cold vodka drinks served at the bar and inside the club's "VodBox." What, you ask, is a VodBox? Why, it's a walk-in cooler whose temp is kept just above freezing, where patrons… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Novak's Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    A ladies-lovin' kinda girl looking to frolic ought to head for the Grove. Should she desire a grown-up, cocktail-sipping (and smoke-free) crowd, she might duck into Nancy's Place. If she prefers a younger but relaxed and intimate ambiance, she might try the newly opened Bar 5. But if grinding to pop music under disco lights is what she craves, Novak's… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    Nadine's Gin Joint

    There are only four types of gin available at Nadine's Gin Joint. Blame the bar's namesake for the misnomer. "I guess Nadine just liked the sound of it," a barkeep once explained. "It's like one of those Prohibition-era places where you'd go to drink and have fun while everyone else was sitting at home wishing liquor was legal." Nadine's isn't… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Krueger's Bar & Grill

    It's amazing what a municipal border can do for a bar's atmosphere. Take Krueger's: Located in the same University City building since 1936, just a stone's throw across the line from Clayton, the place is everything the snooty establishments just down the street aren't. The bar serves bottles of Busch, the happy hour includes free food (hot dogs and po'… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Helen Fitzgerald's Grill & Pub

    For the cheapskates, happy hour at Helen Fitzgerald's really happens from 5 to 6 p.m. every weekday, when the free appetizer buffet is in play. For everyone else it's from 2 to 6 p.m. and all day Sunday. The menu features plenty of standard bar fare, as well as a few surprises (psst: the filet mignon at Helen's adjacent restaurant… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    African Palace Bar & Grill

    So Mr. and Mrs. John Q. South-City-Hipster, with your ironic bad-beer drinking and your Hee-Haw-meets-Ramones music collection, what do you think passes for culture in north county? Camaros and KSHE classics? Au contraire. Step into African Palace, Kike and Koffo Osun's little restaurant/bar near where West Florissant Avenue meets New Halls Ferry. You're greeted by artwork of Marcus Garvey, Nelson… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    Slo Tom's Lounge

    There's Alka-Seltzer for sale at Slo Tom's for the pain in the brokenhearted's gut. Buck-twenty-five cans of Stag help, too. So does a jukebox loaded with the saddest music in the world: Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Hank Williams. Even Dr. Hook, because only the truly miserable need to hear "A Little Bit More" in the middle of the afternoon with… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (West County)

    Larry's Tavern

    Think west-county neighborhood bars and it's hard to not get stuck in Westport, distracted by chains or places that are a bit more cushy than bars in other parts of the metro area. That ain't the case with Larry's Tavern. Located across Manchester Road from a new subdivision advertising houses starting in the $300,000s and backed up to the chichi… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Jailhouse Rock

    Trenton, Illinois, barely qualifies for Metro East inclusion, but it's closer than Memphis when you need an Elvis fix. Located in a huge former community center in Trenton's tiny downtown (about fifteen miles west of O'Fallon off Highway 50), Jailhouse Rock provides some of the coldest beer in the metro area — and so much more. Need a new pair… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Off Broadway

    Since coming out way ahead of the curve and making its venue non-smoking a couple of years ago, Off Broadway has consistently improved in pretty much every way a venue can. Sure, the smoke-free nature of the club makes it inviting to folks who don't want to come home smelling like the inside of one of those cigarette-butt receptacles, but… More >>
  • Best New Rock Club

    The Firebird

    In January, near-downtown music venue the Bluebird closed for a few weeks. Usually such a move signals that a club is in the throes of death, but in this case the pause was for some much-needed remodeling. A few weeks later, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the venue reopened as the Firebird. The improvements were small but important:… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Club Casino - CLOSED

    At Club Casino it's hot, sweaty, crowded, loud and the party don't stop till the break of dawn. Da Beano, as regulars call the east-side nightspot, is one of the longest-lived hip-hop clubs in the St. Louis area. Owner Ced Taylor opened the club as a concert venue for R&B acts in the '70s. Now rap superstars such as Gucci… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Upstairs Lounge

    Some of us still like our dance clubs to whiff faintly of the underground. It's not that we want a dive or a lounge or, worse, a red-carpet casino circus ring. We don't want to be seen or to see anybody else who wants to be seen. It's not that we're snobs, we're just getting too old (or we're otherwise… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow Dance

    Hide Away Restaurant & Lounge

    The motivation for visiting a low-lit piano bar can vary widely depending on one's mindset, age and current company. For some it's a very real trip down memory lane or a mellow, anonymous atmosphere to take the edge off of a hectic day. For others it can be a place that somehow induces nostalgia for a simpler time (that he… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    The Billiken Club at Saint Louis University

    A lot of older folks like to stick their noses up at the all-ages venues in town and complain how the crowds there make them feel like they're stuck in a casting call for High School Musical 4, but the reality is, if you write off the Billiken Club, you're missing out on some of the best concerts this city… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    Fred's Six Feet Under

    Let's get one thing straight: Nothing has replaced or ever will replace the twang-punk-open-mic-PBR-and-a-shot glory hole that was Frederick's Music Lounge. Not even the new establishment, operated by celebrity tippler and Stag swiller Fred Friction, a genuinely underground (as in the basement of Iron Barley) bar that makes his former south-city establishment look like Lush. Cramped, damp, dark and as… More >>
  • Best Open Mic

    Atomic Cowboy

    Open-mic nights are a gamble, no matter which side of the mic you're on. As a performer you're laying bare your songcraft and hoping the audience applauds; as a listener you have to contend with this songcraft-baring and hope it goes down easy. This tension is nicely dissipated at the Atomic Cowboy's open mic, held each Monday. Helmed by the… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Cougar Hunting

    The Jive & Wail - CLOSED

    So you say you saw a parade of underdressed, lasciviously lifted, high-heeled, spray-tanned sexpots on the streets of Maplewood? It's Thursday, bro. Cougars are on the p-r-o-w-l. Jive & Wail, a piano bar/bar/hookup factory, has been hosting a two-fer-one Ladies Night for a year or so now, during which time it has consistently bested itself as the place to hunt… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Sol Lounge/Reference - CLOSED

    Some enjoy basking in the waves of social electricity a big, crowded lounge emits. Others prefer a more subtle, intimate lounge. Brian Schmitz's building at 4239 Lindell Boulevard — the only 3 a.m. establishment in the Central West End — offers both. On the top floor sits Reference, so called because the bar itself is a glass case filled with… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Jazz at the Bistro

    Hailed as one of the best jazz clubs in the nation, Jazz at the Bistro technically isn't a nightclub at all. It's a concert series put on by the not-for profit organization Jazz St. Louis in a restaurant and bar officially known as the Bistro at Grand Center. While this particular form of behind-the-scenes prestidigitation reflects the current economic realities… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups

    The blues — the music and the state of mind — can be found all over town, but its true home is downtown on Broadway, just a little bit south of Busch Stadium. Operating in a restored nineteenth-century building that's been (among other things) a boarding house, transient hotel and house of ill repute, BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups anchors… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Mike Cracchiolo

    At five-feet-eleven inches tall, Mike Cracchiolo admits he doesn't have what you'd call a bouncer's build. "A good bouncer is not there to win fights. A good bouncer is there to end fights," Cracchiolo says of the art keeping unruly rockers in check. "It's more of a psychological game than a physical game." Cracchiolo, who has put in time at… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Like It's Your Civic Duty

    Cat's Meow

    It's nearing last call on a Friday night and a rowdy group of twentysomethings just stumbled through the front door of the Cat's Meow. Through a thick haze of cigarette smoke, a few grizzled regulars shoot them looks of contempt. The interlopers take seats and send a representative to the bar, which is draped with a racy rainbow of Mardi… More >>
  • Best Trend

    Going non-smoking indoors

    A smoking ban in St. Louis (or St. Louis County, for that matter) isn't yet enacted, but local smokers could be forgiven for feeling that one is already on the books. In the past year, the vast majority of shows at the Pageant and Blueberry Hill's Duck Room have been deemed non-smoking — most by request of the artist performing… More >>
  • Best Kept Secret (Bar Division)

    The History of the Naked Lady Painting

    The first thing you notice when you walk into Bossanova is the naked lady behind the bar. It's traditional for saloons to adorn the premises with an ornately framed nude, but this one transcends both tradition and easy interpretation: the huge painting, titled Dawn, lights up the long, cool space with a mysterious glow. At first glance it's of the… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Chi - CLOSED

    A typical tab for two at Chi, the chic sake and sushi bar in the Central West End, can easily total $100. Visit the place between 4 and 6 p.m., however, and the same meal can be had for half the cost. While not every item on Chi's menu is discounted during happy hour, there are enough options to satisfy… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    Mike Talayna's Juke Box Restaurant

    One of the many splendid effects of alcohol is that it lowers inhibitions. Not only does this ease the nerves when it comes to pickup lines, it also makes singing in public seem like a fantastic idea. After last call at the local 1:30 a.m. watering hole, even the most self-conscious crooner will be ready to belt out a few… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    Brennan's Wine, Food & Tobacco

    On a warm evening in the Central West End, conversation, smoke, laughter and wine breath will surely be blooming off the sidewalk tables in front of Brennan's. This, we're here to tell you, is the perfect vantage point from which to marvel at the rich parade of humanity — from chic to shabby, cool to clueless — that inhabits the… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    Mimi's Subway Bar & Grill

    Oh, the Slider. Is there a more perfect bar food? Full of fat and protein, these little morsels mop up a gutful of booze better than any other comestible. At Mimi's Subway Bar & Grill, there's nothing fancy about the slider. Or anything else, but since when is that a bad thing? Classic quality goes a long way in a… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Moonrise Hotel (rooftop terrace)

    "We like the moon," sang the Spongmonkeys (of the website Rathergood.com and, later, Quiznos ads), "'coz it is close to us." Nowhere closer, in fact, than the Rooftop Terrace that sits atop Joe Edwards' new Moonrise Hotel. Here a giant moon looms above you as it rotates from light to dark to light again. It is impressive — though not… More >>

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