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Food & Drink

  • Best Asian Market

    Olive Farmers' Market

    Remember how frustrating it was last time you needed dried sea cucumbers and you couldn't find them anywhere? Doesn't it just set your teeth on edge when all you want is a fish head, but the guy at the fish counter won't sell you a head without the body still intact? We feel your pain. Fortunately, so does the Olive… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    The Wine Merchant Ltd.

    Shopping for cheese at the Wine Merchant presents a challenge: not walking out of the place with two or three or four more cheeses than you intended to buy when you walked in. Challenge...or opportunity. The folks behind the counter aren't merely willing to let you taste something different; they're dying for you to do so, whether you're considering a… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    O! Wing Plus

    Steven and Heidy Song haven't reinvented the chicken wing at O! Wing Plus, the husband-and-wife team's bright, welcoming restaurant in Overland. What they have done is return the fun to a staple snack that has been buffalo-sauced into generic oblivion. The Songs' Korean heritage is the key. Not that the wings convey distinct Korean flavors; you won't find kimchi wings… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Askinosie Chocolate

    A few years ago, Shawn Askinosie was a hard-driving trial lawyer in Springfield. He worked on high-profile cases and was respected in his field. This did not make him happy. In his spare time, he began making chocolate from raw cacao beans in his law-office kitchen. This grew into a full-time business. Now Shawn Askinosie is a happy man. It… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company

    Wanna know what makes Kaldi's coffee so delicious? Go to the source. Actually you don't have to go to the source, because Kaldi's already has. The local coffeehouse chain offers two "Relationship" coffees: Over the past few years, Kaldi's buyers have forged relationships with farmers in Ethiopia (the Koke cooperative) and Costa Rica (Helsar de Zarcero) to pay a fair… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    The Tavern Kitchen & Bar

    Think carefully before bringing Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa to the Tavern Kitchen & Bar. Here the kitchen takes the dishes you love from childhood to another place entirely -- a place you won't want to leave. There is no trick here, no gimmick. There are simply classics, such as meat loaf, Tater Tot casserole and mac &… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    The Cup

    Cupcakes from the Cup are exactly what cupcakes should be. They're pretty, clean, inexpensive and, most important, deliciously light and fluffy -- moist of cake and sugary of dissolve-on-your-tongue buttercream icing. Eating one modest-size cupcake will not leaving you feeling on the verge of a diabetic coma, but rather euphoric and satisfied. A wide variety of flavors appeal to a… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Protzel's Delicatessen

    Corned beef on rye with a pickle. It's really the only thing you need to order at Protzel's Delicatessen. Five days a week if you want to -- and why wouldn't you want to, seeing as how it's made fresh every day? Maybe even for breakfast; hell, the place opens at 7:30 a.m. But those who prefer a little more… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Brasserie by Niche

    The dessert menu at Gerard Craft's Central West End restaurant is deceptively simple -- and always elegant. Pastry chef Summer Wright of course serves the sweet fare that is expected from a casual French restaurant, namely profiteroles and crème brûlée, but she does so with little touches that make them memorable and distinctly her own, like honey and lavender in… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant

    Walking into Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant midday on a Saturday can be overwhelming. Metal carts weaving in and out among tables packed with big families, old families, young families, couples, colleagues, friends or lone rangers. They have all gathered at Lu Lu for one reason: The chefs here are expertly trained in the preparation of authentic, regional Chinese cuisine, and… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    John Donut

    It's not like a doughnut ever tastes bad, but somehow they always seem to taste best in the middle of the night, whether you've woken up with a craving or you're halfway through pulling an all-nighter (working or drinking or whatever; we aren't the sort to judge). That's why John Donut exists. You can go there during daylight hours --… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    The Bagel Factory

    "Oh," a New Yorker might say, "you're just a bunch of Midwestern goyim -- what do you know from good bagels?" A lot, actually, you self-obsessed smartypants, you. We know that in order to impart that distinctive thick and shiny crust, bagels must be boiled before they're baked. We know that bagels must not contain chocolate chips or jalapeños or,… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Tower Grove Farmers' Market

    How do you know a farmers' market is no longer a bourgie affectation but an essential staple of city life? When the heat index is somewhere north of 150 degrees (OK, roughly), yet hundreds upon hundreds of St. Louisans turn out, clutching their reusable canvas shopping bags, eyeing the stands for the first peaches or sweet corn or tomatoes of… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries

    The food at Five Guys Burgers and Fries isn't drive-thru fast; you will, on average, wait about seven minutes for your food after ordering. Nor is it particularly cheap: A cheeseburger, regular order of fries and drink set us back $11.79. Seems pretty appalling, really -- until you grab the paper sack that contains your order, remove your foil-wrapped burger… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Delmar Restaurant & Lounge - CLOSED

    When a plate of French fries is prepared correctly, it's difficult to improve on the result. The potatoes must be freshly cut, not frozen. They shouldn't be served in the form of giant slabs with flakes of uncooked potato in the middle, but they shouldn't be matchsticks, either. The exterior should be crisp without being greasy. The interior should be… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Whole Foods Market

    Members of Whole Foods Market's seafood-counter staff wear orange Grundéns bib overalls, just like seasoned commercial fisherman. These folks know their stuff, but there's not much you need to ask them. Each aquatic creature they sell is fronted by a placard detailing both the provenance (where it was caught) and method (how it was caught). On a recent afternoon, for… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Salt - CLOSED

    In spite of the best efforts of countless quipsters, chickens and ducks aren't birds of a feather. They don't belong to the same family or even order of animals, let alone the same genus or species. (Your high school biology class now a blur? From broadest to most specific, it goes kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species -- just… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Schnucks

    Besides props for being the biggest grocery chain both downtown and in East St. Louis, the Friendliest Stores in Town deserve recognition for the genius way they hawk booze, turning any ho-hum shopping trip into a potential party. Any bozo knows that sticking a bag of tortilla chips next to the salsa increases the chance that a customer will buy… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    El Ranchito

    The best guacamoles are made to order and contain the perfect quantities of citrus and cilantro, not to mention the correct degree of chunkiness. At El Ranchito, the brightness of lime ideally counterbalances the buttery avocado. You've got your diced onion, tomato and cilantro, but not an excess of any, which would throw off the equilibrium and overpower the avocado.… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Carlos' Hot Dogs

    Food trucks are a dandy craze, and we're thankful they've finally arrived in the Midwest, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, for the past seven years, Carlos Pereira's hot-dog cart has anchored the intersection of Olive and Sixth streets downtown, existing in a street food-vending world all its own. A native of Portugal who worked as a chef in Canada's fine-dining industry… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    I Scream Cakes

    It's a silly old song, but oh, so true: We all scream for a cold and caloric reminder of the carefree whimsy of childhood. And looky here! Here comes Cherokee Street newbie I Scream Cakes, cheerfully providing instant gratification! The shop is decked out in bold shades of pink, orange and green and equipped with big rubber bouncy balls you… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Baumann's Fine Meats

    It's the smell that gets you. At Baumann's Fine Meats, Jim Lucas and his staff smoke their own ribs and chicken and set them out atop the stainless-steel counter, right at nose level. So while you're perusing the steaks and the pork loins and the housemade sausages and the raw slabs of ribs and the piles of wood chips you… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Lubeley's Bakery & Deli

    For several generations now, Lubeley's Bakery & Deli has been the go-to place for the good people of Webster Groves, Affton and other points south-county whenever there's something worth celebrating. Or, sometimes, if there are sorrows that need to be smothered with sugar. Lubeley's probably gets the most attention for its cakes, both the elegant, towering wedding kind and the… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Supermercado El Torito

    According to the post office, the street address for Supermercado El Torito is 2753 Cherokee Street, but the original painted numbers on the transom reflect the truth: 2743-53. Where most Mexican markets would stock a few varieties of dried and canned beans, here they take up entire aisles. There's lime-seasoned Mexican mayonnaise, nopal cactus, dried hibiscus blossoms, fresh beef tongue… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Pi Pizzeria-Kirkwood

    The milkshake bar at Pi's Kirkwood location goes over the top for all of its creations, from the ice creams exclusively custom-crafted by multiple "Best Ice-Cream Parlor" winner Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream in Webster Groves to the toasted marshmallow atop the s'mores shake. All of the shakes are thick, rich and creamy, and all of the flavor combinations -- vanilla… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Eckert's Country Store and Farms

    Eckert's can be a little overwhelming, especially on a Saturday during apple season. It's very tempting just to fill a plastic string bag with apples as quickly as possible (maybe taking a few moments to lift a small child so she can feel like she has contributed to the enterprise) and scoot home. But you'd be seriously remiss if you… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Feraro's Jersey Style Pizza - CLOSED

    New Jersey isn't known for deep-dish pizza. Jersey-style pizza is like New York-style, pretty much. The crust is a skosh thicker, the sauce a little brasher in its sweetness, but it's still thin, cheesy, fold-slice-in-half-to-eat-it pizza. In other words, Feraro's Jersey Style Pizza might be the last place you'd expect to find an excellent deep-dish pie -- but there you… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    PW Pizza

    Great pizza begins with the essentials: crust, sauce, cheese. PW Pizza, a new pizzeria from Paul and Wendy Hamilton, the couple behind Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set, succeeds on all three counts. Especially the crust: thin, but with a distinct chew and a lovely, almost buttery sweetness. The sauce is classic: tomato, its natural sweetness balanced by oregano… More >>
  • Best Pizza Dough

    Missouri Baking Company

    The most problematic ingredient in any homemade or home-baked pizza is the crust. Either it comes out of the oven with the consistency of cardboard or it puffs up so much that it's practically a loaf of bread. You could continue to rummage through the freezer case at the grocery store looking for that one perfectly reliable brand. Or you… More >>
  • Best Pork Ribs (Barbecue Division)

    Pappy's Smokehouse

    Ever since Mike Emerson opened Pappy's Smokehouse, his insanely popular midtown joint, Riverfront Times has chosen it as "Best Barbecue." For those of you keeping score at home, that'd be three years running. If this were bowling and not barbecue, you might say Pappy's was working on a three-bagger, or a turkey. But this isn't bowling, and there inevitably comes… More >>
  • Best Pork Ribs (Non-Barbecue Division)

    Salume Beddu

    If you can't pinpoint the secret to Salume Beddu's pork ribs, an occasional special on the lunch menu of south city's acclaimed salumeria, don't fret. The preparation of the ribs begins with a dry rub containing no fewer than twenty ingredients, including nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and rose petals. The rub is a Moroccan blend called ras-el-hanout, and the ribs cure… More >>
  • Best Salad

    The Good Pie

    Mama always told you to eat your spinach, and, like a brat, you never listened. But it's not all your fault -- had your mother prepared a spinach salad like the one that the Neapolitan pizza maestros at the Good Pie make, you'd be pulling a Popeye for the green stuff. The Good Pie serves its spinach salad with Gorgonzola… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Snarf's

    Snarf's blew into town this year from Boulder, Colorado, and blew out the many other fast-casual sandwich joints around town. The secret to Snarf's success? Keep the boring ol' cold cuts to a minimum. In their stead are juicy steak, tender prime rib and smoked beef brisket that would pass muster at most barbecue joints. Take the eggplant Parmesan off… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Bogart's Smokehouse

    Bogart's Smokehouse, the new venture from Pappy's Smokehouse pitmaster Skip Steele, sports a hog on its logo, but pork might be the least interesting meat on the menu here. Which is saying something, because Bogart's pork ribs are killer: smoked over apple- and cherrywood and finished with an apricot glaze that Steele caramelizes using a propane torch. Blame the thrill… More >>
  • Best Smoked Salmon

    Bixby's

    The optimal way to appreciate the smoked salmon at Bixby's, the restaurant inside the Missouri History Museum, is to eat it without any accompaniment. This, after all, is sushi-grade salmon (Shetland salmon from Scotland, to be precise), and when you spot the gorgeous dusky orange flesh on Bixby's brunch buffet, you might mistake it for sashimi. Executive chef Todd Lough… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    Northwest Coffee Roasting Company

    The soul of a smoothie is fruit. Not purées with lengthy lists of hodgepodge ingredients, just no-nonsense fruit. The Northwest Coffee Roasting Company's Clayton location keeps it simple when it comes to making smoothies: fruit, juice and yogurt. You can choose from a menu of combos, but no one will bat an eye if you dictate precisely what goes in.… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet)

    The Smokehouse Market

    If you were to judge restaurants and markets by deliciousness per square foot, the Smokehouse Market would be the runaway victor. This gourmet market is tiny -- if it's even moderately busy, passing a fellow shopper in one of its aisles becomes an intricate dance -- but you can't move an inch without spotting, at a conservative guess, three dozen… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    Winslow's Home

    Walking into Winslow's Home feels a bit like going back in time, like popping into one of the general stores that appear periodically in the Little House books, those magical wonderlands where the Ingalls family stocked up on salt pork, bolts of calico and the sticks of horehound candy that Laura and Mary so rarely got to savor. Winslow's makes… More >>
  • Best Use of Leftovers

    La Dolce Via - CLOSED

    A few years back, we declared La Dolce Via's Friday and Saturday dinners the city's "Best-Kept Secret (Restaurant Division)." And so they remain. (You, dear reader, can fix that!) But we're not here today to talk about those secret dinners. We're here to talk about the leftovers from those secret dinners, those succulent bits of sausage and cheese and fish… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas

    Here's what you do: You go to Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas on the Hill, and you say, "Chorizo pizza with mixed cheese." You see, Spanish chorizo bears almost no resemblance to its Mexican namesake. While the latter gets cooked up and crumbled into eggs or greasy cheese dip, Spanish chorizo slices dry, like salami. On a pizza, it flat-out slays… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    La Tropicana Market and Café

    In a society of chicken tenders and chicken wings and chicken pot pie and chicken soup and chicken nuggets and chicken strips and chicken salad and fried chicken and cold-cut deli chicken and vegetarian chicken, it's easy to lose sight of nature's true intent for chicken: whole and roasted. And nobody does nature's will better than La Tropicana Market and… More >>
  • Best Beef Brisket

    PM BBQ

    Pork is the unquestioned king of barbecue meats in St. Louis, but if there's ever a revolution, the flash point might be this small joint in a Chesterfield strip mall. Paul Lamers and Mark Ruck opened this, their first restaurant, after winning fans in local barbecue competitions. One bite of their sublime beef brisket, and you'll likely count yourself a… More >>
  • Best Beer

    Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

    Urban Chestnut Brewing Company co-founder and brewmaster Florian Kuplent hails from Munich, and the brewery he and partner (and fellow Anheuser-Busch alum) David Wolfe opened earlier this year combines the innovation and passion of the American craft-beer movement with a respect for the brewing traditions of Germany, a nation that for centuries mandated by law the four -- and only… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Red Guitar Bread

    Alex Carlson, owner and operator of Red Guitar Bread, sings and plays guitar for Trigger 5, a traditional-country outfit. Like his band, Carlson's bread is a throwback. There's nothing at work here but the wondrous alchemy of flour, water, salt and yeast. Carlson combines those simple ingredients to form boules, baguettes, focaccia and other breads that are chewy but not… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Five Bistro

    When word got out late last year that Newstead Tower Public House would close, it sent a chill down the spines of burger lovers throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Newstead had opened only three years prior, but in that short time its burger had leapt to the pinnacle of the local ground-beef-on-a-bun pyramid. (This paper dubbed it "Best Burger"… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    The Bleeding Deacon Public House - CLOSED

    Meat mouths often seek stupid-ass ways to semantically trip up vegetarians. Perhaps they think their witless snark will wipe the blood from their hands. (Not a chance, Sundance.) And if there's one oh-so-clever sass every herbivore has heard at least a thousand times, it's: "If you don't want to eat meat, why would you eat stuff that's supposed to taste… More >>
  • Best Barista

    La Mancha

    What's a woman to do when her dream of running a not-for-profit coffee shop and art gallery is sunk by doubters who fear the venture will hemorrhage money? If the woman in question is Veronica Holden, she bids goodbye to her staff, cadges furnishings from friends, lobbies her ward's alderwoman and re-launches the venture under a new name. Oh, and… More >>
  • Best Dining Destination

    Sycamore

    When chef Mike Odette was named a semifinalist in the "Best Chef: Midwest" category of the James Beard Foundation Awards in 2009, a few big-city partisans might have frowned, but those who have made the journey to Columbia to dine at Sycamore said, "Damn straight." Odette is a terrific chef, and Sycamore deserves a wider audience. This is a restaurant… More >>
  • Best Food Truck

    Pi on the Spot

    One year after St. Louis' food-truck scene exploded, let us acknowledge the truck that started it all: Pi on the Spot, the mobile version of the wildly popular Pi Pizzeria. Pi on the Spot's being first isn't important in and of itself. (Indeed, if you want to expand the discussion to all food trucks and not simply those riding this… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Olympia Kebob House & Taverna

    Olympia Kebob House & Taverna founder Peter Nicholas immigrated to St. Louis from Greece and opened his modest little joint on McCausland Avenue 31 years ago. The business has remained in the Nicholas family through the decades, and during that time the restaurant has acquired an ever-expanding coterie of devotees. They come for the the full range of Greek favorites:… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Haveli

    A new metric for evaluating Indian restaurants: How spicy are the dishes on the lunch buffet? Not every dish in the Indian culinary repertoire is intended to pack heat, but when those that should are available, too many kitchens tamp down the Scoville count for a general audience. That's not the case at Haveli. If you happen to spot chana… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Anthonino's Taverna

    A few disclaimers before we begin...by "cheap" we mean "affordable." By "Italian Restaurant" we in no way mean to imply that Anthonino's Taverna serves Italian cuisine exclusively; the ownership duo of Anthony and Rosario Scarato encompasses both Greek and Italian heritage, and their restaurant's menu reflects that fact in a big way. (The spanakopita, the horiatiki salata and the gyros… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Acero

    This town has an abundance of red-sauce Italian joints (to put it gently). And if you're in the mood for simple, hearty food like someone's Italian American mama used to make, that's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. But sometimes you've got your palate dialed up for something more, shall we say, refined. Not better, necessarily,… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Milagro Modern Mexican

    For the second straight year, Riverfront Times has settled on Milagro Modern Mexican as our pick for Best Mexican Restaurant. It's no fluke, either. Milagro is more than a very good Mexican restaurant; it's a very good restaurant, period. Much of the credit belongs to chef Jason Tilford. His cooking isn't flashy, and neither is he. Content to let his… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    Olivette Diner

    The rock band Head East shot the back cover of its first album, Flat as a Pancake, inside the Olivette Diner. Back then the place was called the Rite-Way, and "Never Been Any Reason" was inching its way up Billboard's singles chart. More than three decades later, a framed copy of Pancake hangs on the diner's wall, and it's a… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Milagro Modern Mexican

    It would be very easy for Milagro Modern Mexican to rest on its laurels — and not only because in 2010, its first year of existence, we honored it as "Best Mexican Restaurant." Simply put, there is nothing else quite like Milagro in St. Louis, no bar of contemporary and traditional Mexican fare against which the restaurant can measure itself.… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Central Café & Bakery

    Central Café & Bakery presents what philosophers term the Pita Paradox (or Pitadox, if they're in the faculty lounge). On the one hand, the freshly baked pita at this Central West End restaurant is so terrific that you'll want to time your visit to its emergence from the oven, order hummus and baba gannouj — both of which are served… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Restaurant

    The Good Pie

    You don't need anyone to tell you that beer and pizza go well together. Heck, "go well" doesn't even begin to describe it. The relationship reaches its pinnacle at the Good Pie, midtown's Neapolitan pizzeria. The pizza is terrific, the beer list equally so. Exhibit A: The draft selection is usually among the first — often the first — to… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    Quincy Street Bistro

    Quincy Street Bistro meets all the obvious requirements for a great neighborhood restaurant: It exudes a casual, come-as-you-are feel; the staff is friendly; the grub is tasty and inexpensive. Whether you want a beer and a bite while you watch the game or a sit-down meal with friends and family, you'll be satisfied. The burgers are excellent — the "One-Eyed… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Salt - CLOSED

    Calling Salt a "new" restaurant doesn't feel quite right. In part that's because St. Louis diners got to know owner Wes Johnson's cooking at the Shaved Duck and Eclipse before he opened this, his first restaurant. His love of duck fat is once again on display: duck-fat frites, sorghum-lacquered duck, duck fat-fried chicken (see, ahem, "Best Fried Chicken"). What's more,… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Bar Italia

    There are, generally, two types of good outdoor dining: the leafy green oases, and the sidewalk tables that are ideal for seeing and being seen. It's a rare restaurant that manages to combine the two — which brings us to Bar Italia. Located barely a stone's throw from one of the busiest pedestrian hotspots in the city, the Euclid/Maryland nexus,… More >>
  • Best Place for Ladies Who Lunch

    The Woman's Exchange

    Tucked into a tony retail strip on Clayton Road, the Woman's Exchange seems oh-so decadent with its gift shop full of frilly collectibles and its "tea room" catering to the city's distaff society set. But then that's before you learn that the Woman's Exchange is a 120-year-old charity established to market the crafts and handiwork of working women (thus the… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Billie's Fine Foods

    Tucked away on South Broadway just south of Lafayette Avenue lies Billie's Fine Foods, which is rapidly becoming a favorite among nocturnal sustenance seekers in the Soulard area. The joint is distinctively old-school: lunch counter, ample table and booth seating, Cardinals memorabilia adorning the walls. Think Mel's Diner (if you're old enough, that is). With the exception of a few… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    The Buttery

    Some dine alone because they're lonely. Others dine alone to avoid the hassle of their fellow humans. Then there are the hungry folks who can't be bothered to fire up a stove. The Buttery caters to all these people, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It's a classic bargain-basement greasy spoon: burgers, melts, sammies, deep-fried sides and breakfast… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out With Grandpa

    Fast Eddie's Bon-Air

    Grandpa may be getting older, but for God's sake, he's not dead. You may not be able to help him fulfill his dream of owning a motorcycle (Grandma says no, so he'll have to keep putt-putting around the neighborhood on his moped), but the very least you can do is stop taking him out for pancakes. Grandpa's sick of pancakes.… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Triumph Grill

    During his prime at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, gossip columnist Jerry Berger often cataloged bits of hearsay under the heading "Overheard at Beffa's." It was a reference to the nondescript cafeteria on Olive Street where the city's movers and shakers used to converge at midday. (By "nondescript" we mean the place didn't even bother to announce its existence with a… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Neighborhood

    Valley Park

    When it comes to restaurants, we're led to believe that the suburbs are redoubts of mediocrity. You need only drive any major suburban thoroughfare, counting the national chains, to know there's more than a little truth to this stereotype. Yet there are exceptions, such as Valley Park — specifically, the intersection of Big Bend and Dougherty Ferry roads. Yes, a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    Café Provençal

    Any old French joint can broil the cheese on a bowl of soup, but Café Provençal doesn't stop at superheating the Gruyère chapeau atop its crock o' French onion. At this little piece of southern France — relocated some years back from Clayton to a Kirkwood strip mall — co-owners Eddie Neill and Josh Bentrup (who's also the chef) have… More >>
  • Best Breakfast with a Hangover

    Square One Brewery & Distillery

    Some Sunday mornings, going facedown into a slinger just won't cut it. No, occasionally a hangover is sufficiently fierce to require some hair of the dog that bit you. (OK, um, more than occasionally.) Square One Brewery will set you up, not only with the beer(s), wine(s) or cocktail(s) of your choice, but with breakfast and brunch eats a wee… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past 12 Months

    An American Place - CLOSED

    It might be hard to believe now, mid-Great Recession, but in the heady days of 2004, An American Place seemed like a beginning. Here was a restaurant whose gorgeous, opulent design wouldn't have seemed out of place in New York or Chicago. Here was a bona fide superstar chef, Larry Forgione, one of the nation's very first advocates of local,… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Barbecue - CLOSED

    For a long time, St. Louis barbecue has been synonymous with St. Louis-style ribs. The problem is that St. Louis-style ribs don't involve a meat-cookin' genre; they're a butcher's cut. If you're in search of a style of barbecue distinct to our city — in the way that dry rub belongs to Memphis or beef brisket is the specialty of… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood

    You could, of course, buy a steak from the butcher, take it home, toss it on the grill (or into a cast-iron skillet), cook to your desired level of doneness and serve it up with some potatoes and a side of vegetables and a nice red wine, and you'd have as good a meal as you could find at any… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    DeMun Oyster Bar

    The oyster shucker at DeMun Oyster Bar stands on a raised platform behind the bar. The resemblance to an actor or musician on a stage can't be coincidence. The restaurant has a kitchen, but the shucker is the star. His task, straightforward but essential, is to ensure that your oysters, shipped to St. Louis daily from the Pacific Northwest, reach… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Farmhaus

    Eric Scholle first worked with Farmhaus owner and chef Kevin Willmann in Edwardsville, Illinois, at Erato on Main. Scholle lived in apartment above the restaurant while it was under construction. He met with Willmann and told him, in so many words, that a job was the least Willmann could offer as payback for all the noise and disruption. Scholle's gambit… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Mom's Kitchen

    After operating at the corner of Goodfellow Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive for more than a decade, Mom's Kitchen moved to new digs five miles to the southeast, on Delmar Boulevard just outside the shadow of the City Museum. There's not much more on this stretch of Delmar than car-repair shops, but Mom's exerts sufficient soul-food power to… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Prime 1000

    On Washington Avenue, maybe more so than anywhere else in St. Louis, beauty can blind you to the truth. And, make no mistake, Prime 1000 is a beautiful restaurant, seamlessly blending the old (exposed brick), the new (modernist light fixtures) and the timeless (swank leather seats). Thankfully for carnivores, beyond all this sizzle, there is steak — prime cuts, in… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Rooster

    Once upon a time, a lazy little caveman awoke on a Sunday too late for breakfast but too early for lunch. Out of necessity and hunger, he combined the two and chowed down. When the other cavemen heard the unmistakable sounds of their bro's gustatory enjoyment, they asked him what he'd invented. With a satisfied smile, he grunted, "Brunch!" So… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Tani Sushi Bistro

    Tani Sushi Bistro is the rare sushi restaurant that will appeal to fans of both old-school sushi and contemporary "Americanized" rolls — you know: the flashier, the better. And you don't get much flashier than Tani's "Oh My God" roll, a combination of shrimp tempura, shrimp, crab and avocado that's set on fire at your table, though the colorful "Samba"… More >>
  • Best Tapas/Small Plates

    Robust Wine Bar

    As St. Louisans we understand that going out for tapas here will never be the same as exploring the storied streets of Spain, the promised land of paella and jamón ibérico and naps. We get it. But the tapas experience is just as much about atmosphere as it is about food, and Webster Groves' Robust Wine Bar has atmosphere in… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Yia Yia's Euro Bistro

    To call Yia Yia's a chain feels a bit like sacrilege. This is no cookie-cutter feeding trough with cutesy drinks and heat lamps and servers who address you as "bro." The only thing "chain" about Yia Yia's is the fact that, yes, there are multiple locations (although you'd have to go to Kansas City, Little Rock, Wichita or Denver to… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    La Tejana Taqueria

    You can buy booze at La Tejana Taqueria. Cowboy boots, too. In fact, you enter this north-county joint through the adjacent liquor store. Buy a bottle of beer while you're passing through. (You'll pay slightly above retail if you drink it with your meal.) The dining room is about as casual as a dining room can be — the menu… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Addie's Thai House

    Louis and Muay Brinckwirth met at a Thai restaurant in California where they both worked. Luckily for us, they moved to St. Louis before they pursued their dream of opening their own Thai restaurant. Addie's Thai House, named for their daughter, is quietly elegant: The décor, much of it bought by the couple in Thailand, is gorgeous; the quality of… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    SweetArt

    Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians and vegans are just like the rest of us. They have hopes and dreams, and when you cut them they bleed blood (albeit iron-deficient blood). And every so often they crave hunks of juicy meat. Here in St. Louis, vegetarians overcome their meat cravings at SweetArt, located in the Shaw neighborhood. SweetArt has mastered oxymoronical… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Mai Lee Restaurant

    As St. Louis' first Vietnamese restaurant, Mai Lee's place in local culinary history is guaranteed. But when owner Lee Tran and her family announced their plans to move from the western edge of University City to a strange new location — the ground floor of a parking garage in Brentwood, sandwiched between the Best Buy/Sports Authority colossus and the South… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Price Be Damned)

    Annie Gunn's

    The wine program at Annie Gunn's features the talents of not one, but two of St. Louis' most decorated wine pros: Glenn Bardgett, who was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award this year for his work; and John Cain, former sommelier at Truffles (another restaurant with a top-notch list). So, yeah, Annie Gunn's is a place where you can… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Joy Luck Buffet

    Let's be clear about this: Joy Luck Buffet isn't a secret, best-kept or otherwise. At lunch and dinner, patrons shuffle in a steady parade from tables to buffet and back again (and again). But even the most regular of regulars might not be aware that Joy Luck has a "secret" menu. Actually, the staff calls it an "authentic" menu, an… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Café Ventana

    Since the dawn of time, a successful coffeehouse has required two things: the ability to manage the pre-office morning rush, and beaucoup electrical outlets for layabouts to keep their laptops humming while they sip and loiter. Café Ventana succeeds on both counts and oh, so many more. Situated on the border where midtown gives way to the Central West End,… More >>
  • Best Décor

    Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

    Words can't quite capture the awesomeness of the décor at Dave Bailey's downtown restaurant, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar — how, even on your second or fifth or eleventeenth visit, you do a double take. What to admire first? The chandeliers custom-built from twigs to resemble giant birds' nests? The tall wooden shelves of beer, wine and liquor behind… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Chuck-A-Burger

    Imagine a flashback to the '50s — a simpler time with simpler foods, with drive-up dining and a few stiff, dine-in booths. Friendly waitresses take orders of signature burgers, fries, shakes and malts, returning with arms full of hot food and frosty drinks to satisfy the most primitive of mealtime cravings. More than half a century later, St. Louis' own… More >>
  • Best Bar Bar

    Foley's Irish Bar

    Not so very long ago, St. Louis was lousy with bar bars. Ones thick with cigarette smoke that served scrumptious (if simple) hamburgers, while the same old jukebox played the same old songs with comforting predictability. They sat on so many neighborhood corners, these bar bars, but with each one that goes smoke-free or starts serving precious sliders instead of… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Dry Dock Tavern

    Lemay's diamond in the rough, the Dry Dock Tavern, has been in business for more than 25 years, ever since co-owner Jim Gannon and some friends/coworkers from Bevo Mill decided to go all in and open their own traditional American tavern. "The Dock" is the perfect watering hole for any red-blooded American who enjoys glacier-cold beer while taking in up… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Three Kings Public House

    It was a sad day when the final drink was served at Riddle's Penultimate Café & Wine Bar, home for decades to hungry and thirsty denizens of the Delmar Loop. Thankfully, the owners behind the newest incarnation of the space — Three Kings Public House — have done a stellar job creating an inviting, convivial drinking establishment. The physical space… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Hard Times Lounge

    The best pool games are played in one of two types of venues: the large, spacious pool halls where the action's spread across the floor and the dim, smoky dives, where a lone pool table is squeezed into the backroom. Hard Times Lounge belongs to the latter category. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it establishment squeezed into the streetscape of Olive Boulevard between… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    El Leñador

    A German beer garden-turned-Mexican restaurant, El Leñador has earned a reputation among those in the know as the new Cherokee hot spot. As you walk in you can find a cozy bar to the right, with a spacious hall to your left. Dimly lit with a dance floor and an assortment of tables, it feels like a bingo hall mixed… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    O'Connell's Pub

    Let's be honest: Late-night bars don't exactly have a reputation for attracting sterling clientele. Most often patrons end up at a 3 a.m. bar when they are five or six drinks deep — and looking to continue the party by any means necessary. That's why O'Connell's, the venerable Irish pub at the foot of the Hill, is such a fine… More >>
  • Best Bar Name

    Fucifino's

    Do we have to draw you a map?… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar

    Though a wine bar by name, 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar has always done right by beer. Indeed, original owner Jake Hafner is now opening a craft brewery, the Civil Life Brewing Company, in Tower Grove South. Dylan Mosley is the head brewer at the Civil Life, and for many years the beer list at 33 — as the… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    The Famous Bar

    It only looks like a dive bar from the outside. Inside, the Famous Bar is a gem — a subtly stylish, perfectly lit paradise where they mix a mean cocktail without an inch of pretension. And there's simply no better drink to try here than the classic "Famous Bloody Mary." No premixed Zing Zang here; you can watch the bartender… More >>
  • Best Bar Bathroom

    Thurman Grill & Provisions

    If you are a bleeding-heart cat lover, we'd advise you to stay far from the bathroom at Thurman Grill & Provisions, the corner bar that serves as unofficial headquarters for the Shaw neighborhood. If you really do need to use it, close your eyes. And stop reading this right now. OK. Now for the rest of you: On the walls… More >>
  • Best Cocktail Name

    Creeping Death

    Well, they all are, when you stop to think about it.… More >>
  • Best Drink Menu

    Taste

    When Taste (formerly known as Taste by Niche) relocated from Benton Park to the Central West End earlier this year, it gained a larger dining room, a broader selection of food and an expanded menu of Ted Kilgore's cocktail creations. This last change was especially welcome. Kilgore is the unquestioned dean of St. Louis mixologists, and his creativity is on… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Just John's Club

    What makes a gay bar great? Stiff ones? (We mean drinks, you pervert!) Hot dudes? Atmosphere? Yes, all of that, plus something else: the unquantifiable feeling of being where the action is. Just John's, or JuJo for those in the know, is owned by two lovely men who've been partners for fifteen years. You've seen their float in Pride. You'll… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Pi Pizzeria

    In recent years Pi pizzerias have taken over St. Louis, not only because of their cornmeal crusts and tasty toppings, but because of the specialized nature of each location. Cozy on the corner of Euclid and McPherson, Pi in the Central West End's specialty is its bar, and the bar's specialty is happy hour. Pi's bar opens at 11 a.m.;… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Riley's Pub

    Riley's Pub, located just a block east of the hustle of the South Grand strip, is nominally an Irish bar, as the well-poured Guinness and regular Irish folk sessions should make clear. So it's not exactly a shock that the pub's 100-disc jukebox has a double dose of Pogues for your pint-raising pleasure (and, trust us, rabble is roused so… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Novak's Bar & Grill

    The young man was gleaming, sweat coursing down his bare mahogany torso. His Pittsburgh Pirates cap was cocked at a jaunty angle and his hightop sneakers beat a tattoo on the bar. Lovely young women danced on the bar to his right and left, and folks lined up between the dancing feet to buy each other frou-frou shots before rejoining… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Pueblo Solis

    The "Cadillac" margaritas at this friendly family-run eatery are, simply, divine. There's none of that treacly too-sweet crap you get at lesser Mexican places, just good, tart lime juice, Sauza Gold, Grand Marnier and a little splash of sour mix. They would knock you on your ass if not for the bounty of chips and salsa brought to your table:… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Cielo Bar

    Whether you're seated inside at the swanky modern bar or lounging outside near the fireplace under the stars, Cielo Bar, located on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, is so stunning it will take your breath away. Once you've gotten it back, best order a dirty martini, stat. They make them strong here, with three giant olives if… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    O'Malley's Irish Pub

    When you order food at a bar, you are committing to that bar. You have decided that this bar is special enough to dedicate at least the next hour of your life to it. O'Malley's Irish Pub is the type of bar that makes such investment worth it. It's small, dark, grimy and nestled deep on Cherokee Street's Antique Row,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    Harlem Tap Room

    Painted across the brick exterior of Harlem Tap Room are the words, "Every Goodbye Ain't Gone." As translated by Keith Green, the third generation of the Nance family to run this bar in the Ville, the motto reminds people that leaving isn't the same thing as never coming back. And Green should know: A native St. Louisan, he moved to… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Danno's American Pub

    You can learn a lot about the history of the relatively young Danno's American Pub just by looking at the bar's exterior. An iconic Route 66 sign hangs from the entrance, serving as a reminder that the Cruisin' Route 66 was once located here. A neon green cocktail glass hearkens back to when the spot was known as George's Visions.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (West County)

    Smitty's

    A friend once described Smitty's as a "1950s 'air-conditioned' south St. Louis tavern tucked into a Chesterfield strip mall." We can't argue with that assessment. From its wood-paneled walls to its shuffleboard table and the personalized license plate above the bar reading "I-Gota-P," Smitty's is about as unpretentious a place as you'll find in the far-flung regions of west county.… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    Café Eau

    The Chase Park Plaza Hotel recalls nothing so much as a landmark Manhattan destination, from the façade's 1920s ornamental work to the blue glow of the restored penthouse. But if the Café Eau patio, located in the courtyard of the Chase, were in New York, the valet parking wouldn't be gratis, the drinks would be weaker at twice the price… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Sanctuaria

    Don't be scared off by the giant gothic-looking sign marking Sanctuaria's location in the Grove neighborhood — or by the tag line of "Wild Tapas!" accompanying its name on that marquee. The flavors here may be bold, but the place itself is stylish and urbane. You could take a promising first date here or your most fabulous friend; as long… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    The Sports Attic - CLOSED

    Like lots of sports bars, Brentwood's Sports Attic doesn't have much need for traditional overhead lighting — the blue glow of big-screen TVs and the red hue of neon Budweiser signs keep the place appropriately low-lit and low-key. It's telling, then, that the biggest source of light in the room comes from right above the dartboards. Honest-to-God white light bulbs… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    34 Club

    We'll just come out and say it: When we grow up, we want to be Anita at the 34 Club. On Friday nights, Anita Andell treats this venerable Central West End institution like her own living room, casually dispensing beer and mixed drinks along with wisecracks and advice. She may not be a genius mixologist like Ted Kilgore at nearby… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    J & A's Bar & Grille

    The spiffy retro sign outside this Central West End dive promises Budweiser on tap. Although it doesn't serve plain old Bud on tap, J&A's does pour Bud Lite, Bud Select and Michelob Golden Light draughts. But the other delights you'll find here can't be summarized quite so easily on a marquee: cheerful barkeeps, a menu of cheap pub grub, the… More >>
  • Best Specialty Margarita

    Chava's Mexican Restaurant

    Generally we are not fans of any margarita but the tradicional. Order a strawberry one, and we'll call you a sissy; order one with blue Curaçao and we'll laugh you out of the room. Don't even think about suggesting a frozen one! But all those maxims, we're pleased to report, fall away when we're at Chava's. At this Soulard Tex-Mex… More >>
  • Best Trend

    Smoking Bars

    "Warning: Smoking allowed here." Upon first encounter with this sign early this year, one might be forgiven for thinking it was a cheeky joke. But such signs were standard issue for the bars that got an exemption to the city/county smoking ban that went into effect January 1 — and became the harbinger of hope for drinkers looking to find… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    Yesterday's

    The neighboring businesses have all given way in the past two decades to Mexican restaurants and Hispanic retailers. But at Yesterday's, it's still like — well, you know. Time stands still at this tavern and eatery just south of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Photos of silver-screen legends line the wall above the bar, and an ancient jukebox weighs down a… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Three Sixty

    There's nothing modest or unassuming about our preferred lounge experience. Instead, we're looking for a night out in which our entire evening is elevated — and everything at the hotspot Three Sixty, open since July in the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, is way up there. From the high-speed elevator that shoots you almost 400 feet straight up to… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    St. Louis Gast Haus

    The U.S. economy is a mess. The E.U. economy is a mess. But even in the most buzz-killing of economic times, sweet, sweet beer continues to be a top seller worldwide. And much as reliable, thrifty Germany will probably end up bailing out the screwed-up economies of Greece and Spain, closer to home, St. Louis Gast Haus' happy hour will… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Luna Cafe

    According to legend, the large neon sign with the martini glass in front of Luna Cafe once doubled as a cryptic invitation for the johns who enjoyed cruising Route 66 in search of hookers. In the mid-1900s, the building's basement served as an illegal gambling outfit and the upstairs floor was a brothel; when a girl was available, the bar… More >>
  • Best Place to Booze (Outside of Church on the Lord's Day)

    Montelle Winery

    Whether you're a leather-clad Harley rider or fresh out of Sunday church services, you're welcome at Augusta's Montelle Winery on a Sunday afternoon. You enter through the main hall, where free samples of reds, whites and rosés are poured by an informed staff. Once you select your favorite, you might also grab some cheese, sausage and crackers at the cashier… More >>
  • Best Place to Explore Your Inner Chef

    Kitchen Conservatory

    Let us tell you a bit about your inner chef. Sure, this hidden-away part of you doesn't particularly mind your outdated kitchen or the recipes your inner control freak chooses to prepare over and over again. But if you allowed your inner chef to spend more time on the front burner (so to speak), you would find yourself at the… More >>
  • Best Place to Relax After a Long Workweek

    Iron Barley

    If your idea of dinner on a weekday involves checking out the takeout case at Straub's or Whole Foods Market or maybe seeing what frozen goodies from Trader Joe's you have stashed away in the freezer, then you aren't likely to be desperate to cook a tremendous meal on Friday night when you get off of work. Who is? That's… More >>
  • Best Year-Round Carnival

    Mr. Harry's Carnival Foods

    When you step inside the kaleidoscopic, circus-tent-like space of Mr. Harry's Carnival Foods, the scent of popcorn combined with just a hint of sweetness takes you out of the suburban strip-mall setting and back to your younger days, when corn dogs were considered a food group and you ate every funnel cake you could get your hands on. Oh, yes,… More >>
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