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Food & Drink

  • Best Chicken Wings

    Weber's Front Row

    How hard is it to make a chicken wing? You just toss it in the deep fryer for a few minutes and voilà! Well, try it. You'd be surprised. Some wings don't get fried long enough and wind up with soggy skin and frozen centers. Some get fried too much and are so tough that the mere act of chewing… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    El Torito

    With immigration such a hot topic these days, it might be instructive to remind ourselves how much we benefit from a heterogeneous populace. Take Cherokee Street: It has enjoyed a renaissance as a thriving neighborhood owing in no small part to the Mexican residents who have set up shop there. It wasn't that long ago when something as simple as… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Vincent's 12th Street Market

    St. Louis is lucky to have three locally owned grocery-store chains. Schnucks, Dierbergs and Straub's have enough locations to amply provide residents with life's grocer-purveyed necessities. (Though one could argue that residents of some parts of the metro area have it better than others. Ahem.) Then there's the good people of Soulard, Benton Park and Lafayette Square, who are blessed… More >>
  • Best Potato Chips

    Billy Goat Chip Company

    Somebody really smart once said that tragedies and crises create opportunities, which could very well apply to the story of the Billy Goat Chip Company. Its erstwhile mid-city pub had a good run, until it didn't. But instead of tossing in their proverbial chips, the restaurant partners worked out a new business plan revolving around the item that had always… More >>
  • Best Meat Loaf Slider

    Bleeding Deacon Public House - CLOSED

    Admittedly, this is probably the only meat loaf slider in town. But that doesn't make the dish any less deserving of recognition. Sliders are the ideal bar snack, and the Deacon's take on them is divine. Three petite sweet rolls come stacked with buttery green beans and slices of meat loaf that are just a tad smaller than a hockey… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Someone had to put his neck on the line to judge this year's Milkshake Battle Royal, known on the streets as the Fount vs. the Crown Throwdown. After rigorous taste testing at both renowned shake crafters, the venerable Crown Candy Kitchen rose to the top over newer kids on… More >>
  • Best Ice Cube

    The "San Francisco Summer"

    There are few things more mesmerizing than a cocktail. Particularly after you've already consumed several. The weight of the glass in your hand, the strange colors that come from mixing hard liquor and fruit juice. Just give it a shake. Watch the way the liquids swirl together. Listen to the musical click of the ice cubes. It's almost hypnotic. But… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Blues City Deli

    For six years now, Blues City Deli has attracted St. Louisans to its Benton Park address: They crowd the entrance and sometimes even the sidewalk, waiting to order, and then they crowd the tables, elbow to elbow as they tear open the butcher paper in which their sandwiches are wrapped. There are twenty sandwiches, plus specials, and you can't go… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant

    Do you want jellyfish? It shivers next to matchsticked cucumbers on the plate, cold and pale with only the barest blush as a server wheels the cart noiselessly past your table. It's OK if you don't want jellyfish. No, really. The servers at Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant understand that the smooth, vinegar-dressed flesh that yields to your teeth with a… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Winslow’s Home

    Winslow’s Home has the feel of an earlier era — a happier, healthier time when the poached eggs on special were freshly plucked from a backyard coop and accented with fresh herbs just harvested from the garden. Honest, delicious food. Cheerful chitchat. A place to linger. The cozy storefront that Ann Sheehan Lipton selected for her eco-friendly market and eatery… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Franco

    When you have the best server in St. Louis, it gives you a leg up on the competition for Best Service in a Restaurant. That server is 28-year-old Angela Raines. If she doesn't know Franco's French-bistro dishes as well as the restaurant's chef knows them, then she must be no more than a whisker short. (All the more remarkable considering… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Price Be Damned)

    Truffles

    The pages of the inch-thick wine list at Truffles are encased in plastic sleeves. It must make cleaning up puddles of wine-geek drool so much more quick and easy. The list is, frankly, staggering. Top producers and top vintages abound. In prime-expense-account areas such as classified-growth Bordeaux, red and white Burgundy and California cabs, pricing is robust, but the selection… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Nobu's

    This week's meeting of the League Against Sushi-Expanding Rolls will now come to order. Let the record show that for the 212th consecutive week, LASER is meeting at Nobu's in University City. While we await our nigiri sushi — I ordered twice as much salmon as usual because it's so good, especially with that little crescent-moon of onion atop it… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Tony's

    A double-dip recession is likely, maybe imminent, maybe already here. That means conspicuous consumption is out for another year. How long is that now? Two years? Three? That is a long time to go without a visit to Tony's, the restaurant synonymous with over-the-top fine dining in St. Louis. Tony's might have loosened its weekday dress code (tie optional, but… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Pointer's Pizza

    Three great attributes of Pointer's Pizza: 1) The pizzas are really, really good. 2) One of said pizzas, the Pointersaurus, is 28 inches in diameter and costs $50 — but if you eat the whole thing you win a $500 prize. (There's a Pointersaurus box mounted on the wall near the entrance; it's about the size of a coffee table.)… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Ladies Who Lunch

    The Zodiac

    "Lunch," the verb, is not the same as "lunch," the noun. Noun lunch is something you consume quickly in the middle of the workday, either alone or in the presence of colleagues with whom you commiserate over the latest annoyances in the workplace. It's usually cheap, a matter of expedience over quality. To lunch (verb) is to dawdle over several… More >>
  • Best Beer

    Schlafly Coffee Stout

    Schlafly has been on an innovative roll over the past several years, and the introduction of Coffee Stout as one of its fall seasonal bottlings seemed to have been a catalyst for the burst of creativity from St. Louis' craft-beer pioneer. Coffee Stout is a magical potion made from marrying Schlafly's Oatmeal Stout to cold-brewed coffee from local roaster Kaldi's.… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Olive Farmers' Market

    Don't let the tame name and kelly-green awnings fool you. Olive Farmers' Market is a wonderland, everything you hope for when you consider the ideal Asian market: vaguely industrial vibe, brightly packaged foods that are unrecognizable as anything edible, Pocky galore, a ramen selection so large as to almost cause psychological distress (a whole aisle! Have you ever?). And where else… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Miller's Meat Market

    Before we proceed with this citation, a moment of silence, please, for the Garden Spot Market, which closed at the end of August. The Garden Spot sold dry-aged beef, processed at its own plant in Salem, Illinois. It was delicious. Now, if you want meat that fresh, you're going to have to travel for it. An hour to the southeast,… More >>
  • Best Snack

    "Pretzel Bites" at Joey B's on the Hill

    Few marriages work as well as a soft pretzel and melted cheese. Joey B's on the Hill takes the next step, though — or, rather, the next two steps. First, it gives the cheese a jalapeño kick. Second, it serves the piping-hot pretzels coated in melted butter. The result is absolutely indulgent: salty, sweet, spicy. You could easily polish off… More >>
  • Best Waffle

    The Walkaway Waffle at Tropical Moose Shaved Ice

    The Kirkwood Farmers' Market has become such a popular weekend gathering place, even in the off-season, that last winter Jack and Pat Williams, owners of the on-site shaved-ice stand known as "Tro Mo" (for Tropical Moose), decided to experiment with a new seasonal creation: the Belgian waffle. Not just any waffle, mind you. This hot, faintly sweet disc of dough… More >>
  • Best Ice-Cream Parlor

    Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream

    Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream offers ice-cream noshing beyond the norm for the dairy-treat connoisseur unimpressed by the everyday sugar rush. Nearly every flavor boasts of something novel — the shop's take on classic cookie dough is "Cookie Monster," which combines cookie dough with cookies 'n' cream, all swirled through vanilla ice cream in a lovely shade of Muppet blue. Craving… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Goshen Coffee Company

    Anyone else sick of being exhorted to eat local? We live in the Midwest. At certain times of year (known as "winter"), if we had to eat local, we'd starve. And what about coffee, the bean of life? It doesn't grow here. What to do? Ah, but wait! Coffee can be roasted locally. Here in St. Louis we're lucky to… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    BitterSweet Bakery - CLOSED

    At first blush the cakes in the case at the BitterSweet Bakery appear to be stand-ins. Their undulating layers of frosting seem too perfect to have been rendered by hand. The ribbons of solid dark chocolate, piled ever so precariously, must surely be glued together. And those single-bloom flowers! My, oh, my. They couldn't possibly be fresh — could they?… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Billie's Fine Foods

    Now this is a diner. Cozy booths jammed against the wall, a wide counter with chrome stools, over which there's a flat-screen TV showing Great Day St. Louis and graphic footage of butt-enhancement surgery (which is, it turns out, a fairly disgusting procedure). On the menu there's all the basic breakfast food: eggs, pancakes, bacon, fried potatoes and, naturally, the… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Onesto Pizza & Trattoria

    Tucked away in a sea of one-way streets, brick houses and manicured lawns of the Southampton neighborhood lies a taste of Italian café fare. Onesto, which opened in 2008 and is owned and operated by mainstay restaurateurs the Racanellis, is an unassuming corner joint with no obvious flash or flair. But the simple patio, with its flickering strings of lights… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios

    Located on a sleepy corner in Maplewood next to Ryan Hummert Memorial Park, the Stone Spiral, named for the faux-Druid ring of rocks on the patio, is nothing if not a throwback. The windows are handpainted with ads for lemonade and slushies, the interior is decorated with handmade bric-a-brac and concert posters from the '70s, and the varieties of coffee… More >>
  • Best Approximation of Texas

    Kolache Factory

    Kolaches are the original breakfast sandwich: fillings savory or sweet, baked inside a light, delicious pastry. Czech immigrants have made them quite popular in Texas — there are even festivals in their honor. (The Czech Stop, a 24-hour kolache bakery, is a must if you're traveling along Interstate 35.) Texas is the corporate home of the Kolache Factory, a small… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Pearl Café

    Brothers Tommy and Scott Truong already owned one of the area's better Thai restaurants, Simply Thai, when they opened Pearl Café just down the road. The difference between the two is reflected in the names. Simply Thai is a no-frills conversion of an old Taco Bell. Pearl Café is much warmer, with more modern décor, and these little touches make… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Bosna Gold

    St. Louis and Bosnian restaurants were made for each other: We love grilled meats, and they excel at grilling them — none more so than Bosna Gold. Cevapi might be the best known of these dishes: grilled beef sausages served on a spongy flatbread known as somun or lepinja. That bread is addictive, and it accompanies almost of all the… More >>
  • Best 24/7 Restaurant

    Courtesy Diner

    A simple test: Sit down at the counter of Courtesy Diner. Close your eyes and listen. Eggs and bacon sizzling on the flattop grill. Coffee sloshing into a mug. A newspaper rustling as the pages are turned. Classic rock or old country music humming from the jukebox. What time is it? It doesn't matter. That's the point. The Courtesy Diner… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    U-City Grill

    Generic name, back-alley entrance — check, check. Menu board, speedy straight-to-the-point service — check, check. Pocket change, full belly — check, check. U-City Grill in the Loop has all the hallmarks of your perfect greasy spoon, except that the basic fill-'er-up is bibimbap with bulgogi beef: Korean comfort food. Grab a vinyl-seated stool at the counter, and with little more… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Steak 'n Shake

    No matter the time of day, if you're out and you're hungry, the red-and-white Steak 'n Shake sign gleams like the entrance to fast-food Valhalla. Stuck in a study group until 1 a.m.? Steak 'n Shake awaits your arrival. Need to feed the whole junior-varsity football team after a grueling two-a-day? Touchdown, Steak 'n Shake! Craving something that'll sop up… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Land of Goshen Community Market

    Though the Land of Goshen Community Market is often referred to simply as the Edwardsville farmers' market, the official name is more than apt. The market feels like a community gathering. That's due in large part to the setting: smack in the heart of downtown Edwardsville. And the crowds that throng North Main and St. Louis streets every Saturday from… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    The Wine and Cheese Place

    What's the best cheese to go with merlot? Uh, and what's merlot? Trust us: It's much easier to fake being fancy than you'd think. And the easiest way to fake fanciness: a wine and cheese party. Stop by the Wine and Cheese Place, and with the help of the knowledgeable staff you'll be talking cheese in no time! Stinky cheese,… More >>
  • Best Popcorn

    King Louies

    Doug Meyer swears that popcorn's been a passion since he was a kid toying around with it at his grandparents' bakery. And in a sense, it still is a hobby. The marketing exec works nights and weekends popping the King Louies kernels that stock the shelves at City Gourmet downtown, Serendipity and Sweetie's Candy & Cones in Webster Groves, and… More >>
  • Best Pancakes

    La Dolce Via - CLOSED

    It is an incredibly sad thing that La Dolce Via only serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. But let's stop yearning for what we can't have and learn to appreciate the good things in life. Like that for two days a week, we get to eat brunch at La Dolce Via! In the past year, owner Marcia Sindel has expanded… More >>
  • Best Popsicles

    La Vallesana 2 - CLOSED

    Mexicans call popsicles paletas, and you should, too: The word "popsicle" seems too quaint, too childish, for something as grown-up as the paletas at La Vallesana 2 (sister restaurant to La Vallesana, the taqueria across the street). While the paletas at La Vallesana certainly are sweet, they aren't as cloying — as fake — as, say, a Bomb Pop. You… More >>
  • Best Coffee-Shop Innovation

    Espresso Ice Cubes

    The argument for global warming has a powerful ally: Summer 2010 in St. Louis. Worried our terrestrial ball is getting a little too toasty? Just step outside into a 110- degree August afternoon and confirm those fears right quick. In addition to raising concerns for future generations, the warming planet is also a total bummer for iced coffee. Delicious at first,… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    P.F. Chang's China Bistro

    No one is going to call P.F. Chang's Chinese Bistro authentic. But, in the case of this deservedly popular restaurant, authenticity is not the goal. P.F. Chang's serves thoughtful, often innovative and always delicious Chinese-inspired food in trendy-comfy surroundings. While most "Americanized" Chinese food is a gloppy tangerine-hued horror show, the fare at P.F. Chang's is replete with fresh veggies… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

    Moxy

    For a while after it opened, Moxy was the hottest restaurant in St. Louis. Open kitchen. TV monitors above the bar flashing famous artworks. Sleek lounge vibe. All the elements were in place for just another mid-2000s flash in the pan. Yet grounding all this was the assured cooking of owner and chef Eric Brenner. Brenner didn't ignore trends of… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Food trucks

    It took the cupcake craze more than half a decade to reach St. Louis after it became the trendy dessert in New York City. By that math it should be 2015 before the area sees a representative of the hottest food trend of the past couple of years: the food truck. These aren't your father's lunch wagons. They serve anything… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Concept

    Cheese-ology Macaroni & Cheese

    After fourteen years as a medical researcher at Washington University, Bill Courtney wanted to try something new. He decided to open a restaurant. A risky proposition at any time — even more so in the midst of a sputtering economy. Yet Courtney had a way to make his restaurant stand out: mac & cheese. Who doesn't love mac & cheese?… More >>
  • Best Approximation of Kingston

    De Palm Tree

    For many Americans, Jamaican cuisine begins and ends with jerk chicken, Red Stripe beer and speakers pumping Bob Marley tunes. A visit to De Palm Tree explodes the myth, starting with seafood, from baked red snapper and shrimp sautéed in curry sauce to escovitch (pickled fish) and the national dish of salt cod and ackee (a lychee-like fruit). The menu's… More >>
  • Best Kept Secret (Restaurant Division)

    The Piccadilly at Manhattan

    The Piccadilly at Manhattan is no secret to residents of the city's Ellendale neighborhood. The Collida family opened the restaurant in the 1920s. After a five-year hiatus — and a thorough renovation — Nick and Maggie Collida reopened the Piccadilly in late 2007. Though hidden in an otherwise residential stretch at an intersection that doesn't get very much through traffic,… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Milagro Modern Mexican

    At first glance you might not recognize just how different the menu at Milagro Modern Mexican is from St. Louis' many Mexican restaurants. The dishes are familiar: tostadas, enchiladas, quesadillas. Blame the complimentary chips and salsa for luring you into a false sense of security. Look more closely. The tostadas are topped with duck and a tart, searingly spicy blood-orange-habanero… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    Café Ventana

    Solo diners aren't uncommon near college campuses. It's easy to blend in among students engrossed in their studies, swilling cups of bottomless coffee. Trouble is, the joints kids tend to frequent are uninspiringly similar, in both menu and décor, to the dorms in which they live. But not Café Ventana, an elegant throwback to New Orleans' past, located on the… More >>
  • Best Fast-Casual Restaurant

    SanSai Japanese Grill

    Since its introduction to the St. Louis market in 2004, SanSai Japanese Grill has hipped our region to what West Coast diners have known for some time: Good sushi is not found only in expensive restaurants with icon-status chefs — nor should sushi lovers have to settle for blah-tasting California rolls procured from a supermarket cold case. A delicious middle… More >>
  • Best Fresh Eggs

    Claverach Farm and Vineyard

    Michael Pollan, whose books The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto have made him the de facto spokesman for the movement toward sustainable agriculture, irked even some of his supporters this past summer when in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece he wrote that we shouldn't hesitate to spend $6 for a dozen eggs. Mere weeks… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Bob's Seafood

    In Alaska there's an old folk song called "Fish Head Stew." You can probably guess what that's about, and given the 49th state's fish-rich status, it's hardly surprising that they'd have a song about chomping down on fish heads, in stew or otherwise. Here in good ol' landlocked Missourah, not so much. (We're more likely to be found singing tunes… More >>
  • Best Goat

    Pueblo Nuevo

    Bacon is so last year. Goat is the new "it" meat — or should be. At a time when pork is overexposed, steak is overpriced, and chicken is, well, chicken, goat is a refreshingly pungent alternative. Introduce yourself to its rich, funky flavor at Pueblo Nuevo, where it's the centerpiece of the Mexican restaurant's standout dish, birria. This traditional stew… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Sweet Art

    Veggie burgers — especially if they're vegan — generally aren't feisty. They're docile, meek creatures that prefer to coast on their healthy attributes. (In dating parlance, you might say they "have a great personality.") Sweet Art's vegan Sweet Burger, on the other hand, is a rebel. A wheat bun cradles a fat tomato slice, fresh lettuce and a crumbly patty… More >>
  • Best Snow Cones

    Glaciers

    Purists can argue for days about the merits of shaved ice vs. chipped ice vs. crushed ice, but when you have a summer as brutal as St. Louis just did, any kind of ice is damned refreshing. No, the vital issue is the range of flavors available for that ice, whatever its form, and for that no one can beat… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    "The Hill"

    "The Hill" mac & cheese at Cheese-ology almost qualifies as molecular gastronomy. It looks like mac & cheese, sitting there in its mini cast-iron skillet, but one bite and your taste buds scream pizza. It's the perfect union: classic American comfort food done up St. Louis style: Provel cheese in its glorious near-liquid form, a dose of marinara and good… More >>
  • Best Breakfast After a Bad One-Night Stand

    Lumière Place Casino

    You shouldn't have to resort to this. You should have sneaked out in the middle of the night. Even though it all went down at your place. But here it is Saturday morning, and for some ridiculous reason you feel the need to be hospitable. So it's off to Lumière Place Casino and the $12 breakfast buffet. The grub's actually… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Kevin Nashan

    When more than a dozen St. Louis chefs traveled to Swiss Meat & Sausage Co. in Hermann to watch the butchering of a Mangalitsa pig — a prized breed originally from Hungary — Kevin Nashan watched raptly as the master butchers took apart the hog and then was the first volunteer to attempt one of the unfamiliar cuts. His eagerness… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    U-City Grill

    Generic name, back-alley entrance — check, check. Menu board, speedy straight-to-the-point service — check, check. Pocket change, full belly — check, check. U-City Grill in the Loop has all the hallmarks of your perfect greasy spoon, except that the basic fill-'er-up is bibimbap with bulgogi beef: Korean comfort food. Grab a vinyl-seated stool at the counter, and with little more… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Neighborhood

    Lindenwood Park

    Lindenwood Park might be best known for the thoroughfares that form its boundaries: Hampton Avenue, Arsenal and Chippewa streets, and Interstate 44. Within this predominantly residential neighborhood, however, you can find a topnotch restaurant for almost any taste. Biggie's is the Platonic ideal of the neighborhood bar and grill (the veal parm's outstanding), while Stellina Pasta Café turns out terrific… More >>
  • Best Breakfast With a Hangover

    Chris' Pancake & Dining

    It's 1 p.m. on a Saturday. You're just waking up. (Too many brewskis.) Bleary-eyed, you can only think of one thing that'll make you a human being again: eggs. Specifically, eggs served with greasy, salty meat — bacon, sausage, ham or country-fried steak, or maybe all of 'em — and a side of carbs. Waffle-ridged potatoes or...pancakes! Starchy, drenched-in-syrup, buttery… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Phuc Loi

    Phuc Loi is easily missed or even ignored, a tiny storefront in a bland strip mall with a Laundromat and a check-cashing joint. But to dine here is to plunge into Vietnamese cuisine feet first. There are familiar dishes, plates of tender meat and rice served with the restaurant's delicious take on the traditional condiment nuoc cham, but these are… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Acero

    There is no Italian dish in St. Louis any better than the egg raviolo at Acero. There is no dish any less complex: a single raviolo surrounding the deep orange yolk of a farm-fresh egg. This simplicity, this beauty, goes a long way in explaining why, three years after it opened, Acero remains unique among the area's many (so very… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Yummies Soul Food Café

    Yummies Soul Food Café's name isn't boastful; it's a statement of fact. Forgoing soul food dished up cafeteria-style, servers at the small Compton Heights café seat patrons in draped chairs and offer tiny bites of the restaurant's signature banana pudding to whet the appetite. And that appetite needs to be in gear for the expansive menu, which focuses on the… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Young's Restaurant & Ice Creamery

    Popeye has his spinach. Young's Restaurant & Ice Creamery has its fried chicken. How else to explain the restaurant's survival through not one, but two eminent-domain claims, a fate that would have shuttered most restaurants for good? The fried chicken is too good to be kept from its fans. Rinsed in saltwater, light battered and pressure fried (rather than deep… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Pizza-a-Go-Go

    If we had a nickel for every snobby opinion about pizza posted on the Internet over the past couple of years, we could hire a heavyweight champion to punch each one of those self-righteous foodies right in the kisser. On second thought, we'd take the money — and the snobs — to Pizza-a-Go-Go. There's nothing flashy about the place, nothing… More >>
  • Best Bakery, Language Barrier Be Damned

    Diana's Bakery

    When you walk into Diana's Bakery, your stomach's eyes pop with desire. Huge cakey disks labeled "Galletas," flaky triangles branded as "Empanadas de Calabaza" and swollen pastries covered in colorful confections left mysteriously unidentified line the (numerous) shelves. While English translations are offered for some of these delicious goodies (galletas/cookies and calabaza/pumpkin), the majority is left unexplained. Still, the key… More >>
  • Best Mussels

    Frazer's Restaurant and Lounge

    When it comes to bivalves, no one really wants to take risks. This explains why concepts like Littleneck Larry's Diesel Stop & Clam Bar never quite took off. It also explains the popularity of the mussels at Frazer's Restaurant and Lounge in Benton Park, where the only risk is that you'll eat three whole orders by yourself. Expertly prepared and… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Donut House - CLOSED

    The only thing better than comfort food is 24-hour comfort food. Yes, Donut House never closes, but what's more notable than simply its range of hours is its consistency in offering a huge selection of deep-fried confections whose quality never disappoints — no matter what the hour. Whether they're Sunday Morning Church Doughnuts, After-Dinner Dessert Doughnuts or 3 a.m. Stumbling… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Chill

    Dieting 101 says dessert is an indulgence meant only for a special occasion. Obviously, whoever made that rule never went to Chill. The Clayton froyo emporium whips up all- natural, small batches of the stuff, ensuring that its dessert is overflowing with active yogurt cultures and is chock-full of calcium, protein and vitamins. Chill doesn't sacrifice taste for nutrition, however: Patrons… More >>
  • Best Food & Drink Blog

    One Hot Stove

    Nupur Kittur obtained her master's degree in public health from Saint Louis University earlier this year, but among the local food scenesters she is best known as the author of One Hot Stove. The blog chronicles the Mumbai-born Kittur's exploration of the vast, vast landscape of Indian cuisine. Her posts are recipes, first and foremost, enlivened with insightful commentary on… More >>
  • Best Never Went

    Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas

    Tapas restaurants come and go. Maybe they call their food "small plates" instead of "tapas," but they still want to plug into the same long-outdated trend that usually has nothing to do with actual Spanish tapas — either specific Spanish dishes or the general spirit of traveling from this bar to the next, snacking on what's good, washing it down… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    Mama Josephine's

    The true neighborhood restaurant isn't simply a restaurant that happens to exist in an otherwise residential area. Like the best neighbors, it must make you feel welcome — like family, even. Here, Mama Josephine's has a natural advantage. Mary Samuelson's cozy restaurant in the city's Shaw neighborhood draws its recipes from the owner's late mother, Josephine Spallino, who spent her… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Farmhaus

    You don't have to live on the coast to eat good seafood. Thanks to next-day air, restaurants that are willing to pay — or, rather, restaurants with customers who are willing to pay — can obtain very good fish and shellfish. A chef who understands seafood, though, is another matter. In that respect St. Louis is lucky to have Kevin… More >>
  • Best Décor

    Bobo Noodle House

    Two years after opening, Bobo Noodle House remains the hippest-looking restaurant in St. Louis. Space Architects' design is the rare one that manages to be both of-the-moment and timeless. The light fixtures are the most striking feature: Each is a cylinder from which thin black spokes protrude; attached to the end of each spoke is a sheet of paper on… More >>
  • Best Approximation of Saigon

    Pho Long

    In America the beef-noodle soup pho usually rates its own category on Vietnamese restaurant menus. In Vietnam pho usually rates its own restaurant — or simply a stall, open to the air, full of diners slurping noodles and broth. In, say, Ho Chi Minh City, a restaurant like Pho Long would be one of many pho joints. In St. Louis… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for a First Date

    Newstead Tower Public House - CLOSED

    It's an accepted fact that victory is attractive. But what of the poor skill-less souls for whom winning doesn't come all that naturally? How should that kind of player hope to get some play? Well, that kind of player should schedule a first date on a Wednesday at Newstead Tower Public House. Not only is the gastropub's menu uniformly delicious,… More >>
  • Best Place to Start Your Weekend

    Blues City Deli

    If you're so fancy that you swear by starting the weekend with some oontz-oontz at nine on a Saturday night, do yourself a favor and stop reading. Only hoosiers with bona fides will want the scoop on the city's best midday Saturday street party. Every week at 11:30 a.m. at the corner of McNair Avenue and Victor Street in Benton… More >>
  • Best Place to Induce a Diabetic Coma

    Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe

    Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe is a Norman Rockwell hallucination, from the counters lined with pies overflowing with fruity fillings to the ice-cream sodas you sip through a straw while swiveling on your stool. Homemade pies. A wide selection of phosphates, milkshakes and sundaes. A choice of 30 syrups with which to flavor your soda — all the makings of… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    Weber's Front Row

    How hard is it to make a chicken wing? You just toss it in the deep fryer for a few minutes and voilà! Well, try it. You'd be surprised. Some wings don't get fried long enough and wind up with soggy skin and frozen centers. Some get fried too much and are so tough that the mere act of chewing… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division)

    Salume Beddu

    Mark Sanfilippo is quite the specimen, but that wasn't the only reason it was always hard to pass his stand at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market. It was also the taste of his coppa romana, the aroma of his guanciale and the snow-white loveliness of his pancetta that not only compelled you to fling money at him on the spot,… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Great Harvest Bread Company

    Forget about learning the calendar at the Great Harvest Bread Company. Just remember this: closed on Sunday. Every other day brings a changing array of dense, honorable loaves that are worthy of sandwiches, toasting or snacking. A couple of styles do make daily appearances, such as the versatile honey whole-wheat and the sinfully sweet cinnamon swirl. (Good luck getting the… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Katie's Pizzeria

    Served on skateboard-size platters, the salads at Katie's Pizzeria are a little exotic (and a little overwhelming). Even the molto semplice insalata mista brings more than enough fresh greens for two; the fried artichoke salad or the grilled tuna niçoise salad could make you forget all about the café's acclaimed pizzas. Katie's makes brilliant use of shaved fennel and never… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Mills Apple Farm

    There's really no need to get fancy with a pie. As long as you've got a good crust — and, it's true, it's not easy to get that elusive mix of crisp and flaky — and good filling, you don't have to jazz it up by cutting cute little season-appropriate shapes in the crust or constructing elaborate sculptures from meringue.… More >>
  • Best Lemonade

    Sunflower Savannah

    Farmers' markets are terrific, of course, but in St. Louis the peak of the market season coincides with temperatures near 100 degrees and humidity that makes it feel like you're living inside someone's mouth. Maybe that's why the cries of "Lemonade!" that resound from Sunflower Savannah's stands at the Tower Grove and Maplewood farmers' markets are as enticing as a… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    St. Louis BBQ Bacon Dog

    It may seem like a cheat to award Best Hot Dog to a vendor at Busch Stadium, a veritable clearinghouse of cased meats. But understand that the St. Louis BBQ Bacon Dog is no ordinary frankfurter: It is nothing short of a perfect marriage between culinary fusion and American gustatory excess. As can be gleaned from its name, the BBQ… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out with Grandpa

    Bob Evans

    Is Bob Evans your favorite restaurant? Doesn't matter; it's not about you. It's about Grandpa. It's maybe not even his favorite restaurant, but here are the secrets that make it his favorite place to eat: Is Bob Evans your favorite restaurant? Doesn’t matter; it’s not about you. It’s about Grandpa. It’s maybe not even his favorite restaurant, but here are the… More >>
  • Best Approximation of New Orleans

    The Gumbo Shop - CLOSED

    The Gumbo Shop is barely big enough to contain those eating and those waiting in line to order. Yet within such cozy confines, the cuisine of New Orleans feels right at home. Yes, the gumbo is fantastic: thick and spicy and chock-full of shrimp and andouille. But this is no mere one-dish specialty shop. The jambalaya is nearly as good… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse - CLOSED

    Jeff Ruby is very proud of the steaks served at his namesake restaurant. At each table a glossy placard bearing the Cincinnati-based restaurateur's visage tells diners so. His self-regard isn't misplaced. Each steak is USDA prime (the highest grade), dry-aged, rubbed with a secret blend of twenty herbs and spices — so secret that the blend is split between two… More >>
  • Best Barista

    Jessica Jarvis

    When the doors are unlocked at 7 a.m., a small cadre of caffeine junkies will already have gathered outside Shaw's Coffee, Ltd. champing at the bit for their morning espressos. Lucky for them Jessica Jarvis is pulling the shots. Open since 1999, Shaw's has thrived in its historic Italian neighborhood — the Hill, of course, is an area where espresso… More >>
  • Best Approximation of Paris

    Brasserie by Niche

    To many Americans, a French restaurant is, ipso facto, a pretentious restaurant. Spend a few days in Paris, though, and you will discover a wealth of unpretentious, even humble, cafés, bistros and brasseries. These tend to serve the French dishes true gastronomes fall in love with: cassoulet, duck confit, steak frites. And the pâtés — oh, the pâtés. Now to… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Lemay Wok

    Lemay Wok isn't the biggest or the flashiest Chinese restaurant in town. If there is a "secret menu" of "authentic" Chinese fare, then it is a very, very secret menu. What this modest storefront wedged into the middle of a south-county strip mall does offer are tasty renditions of the Chinese and Chinese American dishes Americans have come to love:… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Joe Fassi Sausage & Sandwich Factory

    Those who like laws and sausages, an old saying goes, should not see how either is made. Laws? True. Sausages? Not so. How bad can any process be when it results in something as delicious as the salsiccia at Joe Fassi Sausage & Sandwich Factory? The sausage itself — the recipe has been passed down through eight decades to current… More >>
  • Best Underground Dinner Experience for Those Who Are Having Trouble Experiencing an Actual Underground Dinner

    Chef's Night

    So you're curious about these "underground dinners" you've overheard folks talking about. You've always considered yourself interested in the cultural vanguard and passably well informed (if not, as a rule, an actual participant). And you might not be a "foodie" (don't you detest that word?), but you certainly know your way around a menu if you do say so yourself.… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    Don Carlos

    Devotees of roast chicken will espouse its many charms: the succulent meat, the satisfaction of stripping every morsel from the bird, the sweet grease that coats fingers and face after a job well done. We'd never admit as much to our cardiologist, but the not-so-secret pleasure of a whole roast chicken is the skin — the crisp, salty shell that… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    Culinaria

    Hardworking, hungry people of downtown, munching your soggy, lettuce-stuffed sandwiches: There is a better way! There are fresh panini! There's a compact salad bar! There's gazpacho and gelato and stacks of ham and salami the thickness of a phone book stuffed between the halves of a fresh baguette! There're weird-but-delicious cold buckwheat salads! Best of all, you don't have to… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    Black Bear Bakery

    A good bagel is like a New Yorker: thick-skinned, but with a soft, yielding interior that explains a tendency to consistently vote Democrat in presidential elections. A good bagel is no-nonsense. It doesn't need any of those froufrou streusel toppings, cloyingly sweet chocolate chips or seasonal variants that are a desperate cry for attention; a good bagel is like a… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Pueblo Solis

    When you sit down at south-city Mexican mainstay Pueblo Solis, you'll be offered guacamole before your drink order is taken. That's how good it is: Patrons come to the restaurant with avocados on the brain, and everything else takes a back seat to the chunky, salty, slightly tart green stuff. The guac goes best with Pueblo's housemade chips (served complimentary,… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Whipt Cream - CLOSED

    When the question is "Want a cupcake?" the answer, invariably, is yes. But when the question is "Want a cupcake from Whipt Cream?" the answer involves everything from vigorous nodding to gleeful applause to knocking over a coworker in the mad scramble to get to the box. This Chesterfield bakery turns out some of the most beautiful, most delicious cupcakes… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Newstead Tower Public House - CLOSED

    The burger at Newstead Tower Public House is never exactly the same burger twice. That's its beauty. Unlike so many burgers, merely the end product of an agricultural-industrial process, the patties more often than not formed by a machine in another state and thawed in the restaurant kitchen, this is a product made by human hands. The patties are irregularly… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries

    There's an infinite number of wrong ways to make French fries, but only one right way. Five Guys Burgers and Fries makes them the right way: hand-cut in the store from fresh potatoes — a chalkboard tells you the exact location from which the day's potatoes hail — blanched and then fried to order. The result is a fry with… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Café Madeleine

    Water gently splashing into a marble basin, light filtering in through high windows, starched white tablecloths and places set just so amid sculptures and bountiful green plants — the Piper Palm House is so elegant that it nearly verges into cartoonishness. Nearly. Brunch (served buffet style, $21.50 adults, $9.95 kids ten and under) brings an astonishing bounty, and not in… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Farmhaus

    Farmhaus is not, in fact, a farmhouse. The cuisine isn't German. Owner and executive chef Kevin Willmann chose the name as a tribute to his heritage, several generations of Illinois farmers, and his first solo restaurant works as a sort of biography-in-food of the supremely talented chef. Yes, locally sourced ingredients are a dime a dozen these days and no… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Cyrano's

    Carolyn Downs, owner and pastry chef at the popular Webster Groves café Cyrano's, doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. Her desserts are classics, perfected: The key lime pie is as velvety as the richest cheesecake and sings with key lime's signature balance of sweet and tart. Carrot cake is perfectly moist, the flavor rounded out by toasted coconut atop the… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Value)

    Duff's Restaurant

    "Value" isn't the same as cheap. It's about getting quality at a fair price. Duff's offers great value that unjustifiably flies under many people's radar. The food is tasty, well prepared and reasonably priced, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the wine list is a treasure. At any given time, Duff's offers about 30 reds, 30 whites and a smattering of… More >>
  • Best Approximation of El Salvador

    Tres Banderas - CLOSED

    You won't find much Salvadoran cuisine at Tres Banderas, an Ellisville restaurant that serves mostly Mexican fare. But you don't need much more than the pupusa, one of El Salvador's most famous dishes. A pupusa is a corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, meat or beans. Think of a tamale smushed into a quesadilla. Tres Banderas offers a choice of three… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Mayuri

    When the Indian restaurant Ruchi became Mayuri in 2009, local fans of Indian cuisine worried. Ruchi was one of the area's best Indian restaurants — this publication had dubbed it so in 2008 — its large and varied lunch buffet especially beloved. Thankfully, the menu remained more or less the same, and the quality of the dishes and the variety… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Anthonino's Taverna

    Anthonino's Taverna flies the flags of both Greece and Italy, but one bite of the gyro will leave no doubt where the restaurant's heart lies. The sandwich is overloaded with delicious gyro meat (lamb and beef, though the gamy nature of the former is more apparent), tangy tzatziki sauce, feta cheese and roasted red peppers. Other standout dishes include topnotch… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    The U - CLOSED

    Only two years into its operation, the U is famous far beyond midtown for its mouthwatering selection of hamburgers, hot wings and griddled sandwiches served well into the wee hours (3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday!). In January the U launched a successful foray into breakfast and brunch options, dishing up omelets, pancakes and some of the city's most potent… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Taqueria Durango

    The word is out: Several of the best traditional Mexican restaurants in St. Louis are located near the airport. Still, Overland's Taqueria Durango feels like a hidden gem, a modest space set far enough back from the road that, without a GPS device, you'll almost certainly have to double back to find it. Inside you can enjoy stellar tacos. The… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Eovaldi's Deli

    When your deli is located inside the Oldani Brothers Salami factory, chances are you make a mean Italian sandwich. Sure enough, Eovaldi's nook-like location on the Hill can pile on the salty cured meats with the best of them — favorites likes Genoa salami, mortadella and coppa are available, as well as the more pedestrian deli meats. Eovaldi's long list… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Pi Pizzeria

    Chris Sommers and Frank Uible have had quite a ride since opening the original Pi two and a half years ago: a trip to the White House to cook for the restaurant's highest-profile fan, Barack Obama; new locations in Kirkwood, the Central West End and Chesterfield; a food truck, nicknamed Pi on the Spot, to capitalize on Pi's popularity and… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Banh Mi So #1 — Saigon Gourmet

    There are any number of reasons that Banh Mi So #1 – Saigon Gourmet is the perpetual winner of this category. There's the neon sign in the front window brashly declaring that the restaurant's spring rolls are the best in town. There's the simple alchemy of noodles, mint, basil and rice paper. (You choose your protein; we're partial to shrimp.)… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Kakao Chocolate

    Just four words: bacon sea-salt caramels. You need to know more? Really? Fine. In the three years since Brian Pelletier abandoned a career in PR to run Kakao Chocolate (pronounced "ka-kay-oh"), he has been steadily pushing the boundaries of confectionery. There are truffles in unexpected flavors, including smoke, green tea and spiced rum; barks that mix dark chocolate with white… More >>
  • Best Sparkling Lemonade

    Lemon Grass

    It would be easy to describe the sparkling lemonade, or soda chanh duong, at Lemon Grass as "lemon-flavored sparkling water" or "lemon soda," but neither quite captures why the drink is so refreshing. The flavor is too clearly lemon, wonderfully tart (though not overwhelmingly so), to mistake it for mere sparkling water; while it is sweet, it doesn't have the… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Pappy's Smokehouse

    Pappy's Smokehouse has never been a secret. More or less from the day it opened in February 2008, it has been a smash hit, a mecca for St. Louis barbecue hounds. The lunch-hour line is legendary. (Pro tip: Call in your order ahead of time.) Bad news: That line only grows. Good news: The line grows as people outside of… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Dunkin' Donuts

    [THE SCENE: A school lunchroom. A Krispy Kreme doughnut and a LaMar's doughnut share a table, where they munch cafeteria food. A Dunkin' Donuts doughnut enters with a tray and looks around for a place to sit.] KRISPY KREME: So check out the new girl. [Gestures to Dunkin’ doughnut] LAMAR’S: Yeah, I know. Can you believe it? She’s been gone ten whole… More >>
  • Best Dining Destination

    17th Street Bar & Grill

    Barbecue geeks don't visit the original 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, Illinois, so much as make a pilgrimage there. Founder Mike Mills is a legend in the barbecue scene, an unprecedented three-time winner of barbecue's best-known award, the Grand World Championship at Memphis in May's Super Bowl of Swine. As if Mills hadn't received enough acclaim, in a… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Winslow's Home

    Winslow's Home has the feel of an earlier era — a happier, healthier time when the poached eggs on special were freshly plucked from a backyard coop and accented with fresh herbs just harvested from the garden. Honest, delicious food. Cheerful chitchat. A place to linger. The cozy storefront that Ann Sheehan Lipton selected for her eco-friendly market and eatery… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Restaurant

    The Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

    It might be more appropriate to rename this category "Best Restaurant in a Beer Bar." The attractive new downtown spot from restaurateur Dave Bailey (Baileys' Chocolate Bar, Rooster) boasts a list of draft and bottled brews so lengthy that it might take you a pint or two before you even reach the food. American craft brewers such as New Belgium,… More >>
  • Best Tapas/Small Plates

    Taste by Niche

    The great American chef Thomas Keller prefers to build a meal out of a succession of small courses because he believes that after a few bites the act of eating a dish — no matter how good — loses its excitement and becomes rote. You can see for yourself at Taste by Niche, where the prodigious talents of Gerard Craft… More >>
  • Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant

    The Vine Mediterranean Café & Market

    Middle-Eastern restaurants, like their brethren in most other cuisines, tend to become known for one dish. You go here for the falafel, there for the chicken shawarma and another place altogether for the meat shawarma. When a restaurant opens that is able to nail not just one or two but a variety of traditional favorites, it's a cause for celebration… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    VegaDeli

    Nestled in a nondescript strip mall in Chesterfield, VegaDeli somehow manages to break just about every preconception we could have about vegetarian food. First off, it is strictly vegan, in a town that unabashedly embraces dairy. It even eschews faux meats, bucking the notion that those who kick the flesh habit simply long for a return to the comfort foods… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Papa Fabarre's - CLOSED

    A power lunch doesn't have to take place at the poshest spot in town. In fact, power lunches might best be undertaken in more subtle surroundings. Like at Papa Fabarre's. Located on the second floor of the downtown Macy's, tucked behind the menswear department, Papa Fabarre's practically screams discretion. Not only does the eatery offer high-backed booths, but said booths… More >>
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