Best Bar Bar - 2012
"Come on in! Shiiiit," says a bartender by way of greeting to a trio of dogs who have found their way inside the Shanti's bar area from its patio. The bartender could easily be mistaken for a patron, but he happens to be banging out an air conditioner's filter on a broken-down cardboard box. The greeting given to humans — either by the staff or the stable of regulars — is no less friendly. Bar bars, even in Soulard, are increasingly smoke- and dog-free, yet the Shanti remains a hippy, tiki, tie-dyed holdout. Toucans, flamingos, peace signs, fliers, Polaroids and thank-you notes — if you can make them out from the omnipresent haze of smoke — take up much of the walls' real estate inside, and outside, an enclosed patio is home to lawn games, Hula-Hoops, faded tin beer signs and, naturally, a second bar. The Shanti has live music nearly every night and drink specials just as often, so — as the song goes — fill it, light it, shut up and close the door. And get a good buzz on.