Food & Drink

  • Best Indian Restaurant

    House of India

    When the front doors open and the angle and breeze are just right, the subtle but unmistakable aroma of garam masala floods the strip mall at Delmar Boulevard and Interstate 170 like one of those plug-in atomizers set to "India." (Somebody needs to get on the stick and invent that.) House of India is the senior-citizen siren of St. Louis… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Bob's Seafood

    According to an old Japanese proverb, "A frog in a well does not know of the great sea." Here in 100 percent ocean-free St. Louis, it's hard to know the great sea and its delicious culinary treasures, which is why we are so grateful that we have Bob's Seafood to broaden our horizons. What with the miracle of modern shipping,… More >>
  • Best Breakfast with a Hangover

    Plush

    Plush. The very name is suggestive. The morning after, when your head is pounding and your stomach is roiling with perilous waves of still-undigested booze and you don't want to be around anything with any sharp corners or anything that sounds like it may have sharp corners, Plush is just right. It's soft. It slides right out of your mouth… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Miche

    Companion founder Josh Allen added miche to his bakery's bread roll late last year. To those not fluent in the wonders of flour, water, salt and yeast, this round loaf might impress only in its dimensions: Weighing in at three pounds, it resembles a boule on steroids. Or an elephant's wart. Or an old-school catcher's mitt, one of those pie… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    The Bagel Factory

    We worried in 2011 that the Pratzel's dynasty was over. Turns out we were right to fret. Though Jon Mills managed to resuscitate the area's only kosher bakery (much to his credit), the life-support span didn't last through 2012. One might argue that Pratzel's demise earlier this month was good news for multiyear "Best of St. Louis" honoree the Bagel… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    Baileys' Range

    Several St. Louis outfits make their own ice cream, but none do it quite as creatively or splendidly as Baileys' Range. Commissary chef Stephen Trouvere starts with the basics — eggs, sugar, cream — to whip up a silky-smooth Philly-style custard. From there he adds natural ingredients to create some of the most inventive flavors to be found in the… More >>
  • Best Culinary Dominatrix

    Mai Truong

    The "OR" in OR Smoothie & Cafe's name stands for "organic." But (as the café's website suggests) it could also easily stand for "original." When OR opened in 2002, serving fresh, healthful smoothies, it was a local pioneer of several food trends: juicing, meal-replacement smoothies and gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Its ability to survive for ten years proves that… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Durango Grocery

    Looking for tuttifrutti Jarritos, buñuelos mix, the perfect quinceañera dress or a pound of menudo? How about right next door to "Best Taqueria" alum (2010) Taqueria Durango. The two establishments are all that remain in a forlorn strip mall just off Page Avenue in Overland. But you wouldn't know it once you're inside the neighborhood store, where Angelica Lopez, who,… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Mama Josephine's

    In March 2010, Mary Samuelson opened Mama Josephine's, bringing to the Shaw neighborhood deep-fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, chicken and dumplings, chicken-fried steak, catfish, pulled-pork sandwiches, fried okra and all the other stick-to-your-ribs fixins' that define comfort food. The dining room is small, but the friendly staff saves it from ever feeling confined. The vibe at Mama Josephine's channels a… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Houlihan's

    Be it the décor, the food, the drinks or the conversation, it's hard not to find something to like at the Brentwood Houlihan's. For those who recall the previous mid-county Houlihan's that for years occupied the north end of the Saint Louis Galleria, this new stand-alone location is a definite upgrade — soft lighting, spa-like walls of stone and wood,… More >>
  • Best Salad

    "The Grounds"

    The menu at Foundation Grounds is minimalist for a reason. The small, environmentally conscious café focuses on exceptional dishes it can prepare with ingredients procured from local farms, artisans and vendors. And when the offerings are as solid as FoGro's, you don't miss the filler. The small selection of salads is no exception; it features two varieties appropriately titled "Foundation"… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Value)

    Robust Wine Bar

    Of the wine list at Robust Wine Bar, owner and sommelier Stanley Browne says, "[Our] philosophy is to appeal to everyone from the novice to the connoisseur. That's why we have an extensive list — from wines that are affordable to the Harlan Estates and Bryants and all the price points in between." While you can, if you're so inclined,… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove

    Robbie Montgomery's iconic soul-food spot sees slightly larger crowds these days thanks to its star turn in Welcome to Sweetie Pie's, one of the few successful shows on Oprah Winfrey's new, ratings-challenged cable network. OK, actually, by "slightly" we of course mean much, much larger — ridiculously larger, with the line to order from the restaurant's cafeteria setup often stretching… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Anthony Devoti

    Many a chef will talk your ear off about the virtues of seasonal, local produce. But few, if any, are as committed to the concept as Anthony Devoti. Peruse the menu at Five Bistro and you'll see that almost every dish features at least one ingredient (usually the plate's focal point) from a local grower or rancher. Of course, finding… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Niche

    In a town where, sad to say, serving crème brûlée in a flavor other than vanilla counts as edgy, the desserts at Niche stand head, shoulders, torso and waist above all the rest. Dessert has never been an afterthought at acclaimed chef Gerard Craft's flagship restaurant, from original pastry chef Mathew Rice (now pastry chef at Nightwood Restaurant in Chicago)… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Sump Coffee

    Sump Coffee isn't a coffeehouse so much as a sanctuary. No venti bone-dry cappuccinos or pumpkin-spice lattes here. Instead, owner and head barista (and impressive beard-wearer and motorcycle enthusiast) Scott Carey presents coffee as a beverage of great beauty and complexity. It isn't simply that he makes each drink (coffee, espresso, latte or cappuccino) to order; for each, he chooses… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company

    Pour-over coffee is all the rage among java geeks, and for good reason. This high-precision (carefully calibrated water temperature and amount of ground coffee), low-tech (pour nearly boiling water over grounds in conical filter) brewing method produces the consummate cup of coffee, fully flavored without bitterness. A pour-over coffee bar is one of the highlights of the newly renovated original… More >>
  • Best Beer

    Hommel Bier

    The Hommel Bier is not the most intriguing beer Perennial Artisan Ales makes. (That honor goes to its Abraxas, an imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs, ancho chiles, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans.) But for its unimpeachably ideal blend of brewer's art and everyday drinkability, the Belgian-style Hommel simply cannot be beat. Hops from the Pacific Northwest imbue the ale… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    GCS Ballpark

    A fan of America's favorite pastime could get fat just stepping into a stadium; the fried, sugar-coated, cheese-doused and/or salt-soaked lurks around every corner. Think hot dogs, French fries, candy, bratwursts, nachos, frozen custard, chocolate-covered bananas, soda, beer. Diets and ballpark fare don't tend to get along. But if you're really wanting to stick it to the months of starvation,… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    Straub's

    Straub's makes putting a balanced, hot meal on the table during the workweek incredibly easy. So easy, in fact, that the grocer's "Dinners for 2" are bagged up ahead of time, ensuring that you can literally grab and go with all manner of ease Monday through Friday. This special duo-dinner menu is published online each month, allowing busy folks the… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division)

    Winslow's Home

    Sometimes after a busy workday, fumbling through the freezer for dinner suffices just fine. Other nights you know you deserve better. Such times are when you head to Winslow's Home. The to-go case of this general-store-and-more is full of fresh-made, ready-to-heat-and-eat items that switch out based on seasonality. You'll find supper-worthy dishes ranging from satisfying lasagna to hearty soups, and… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    The Crow's Nest

    On This American Life's Episode 245, "Allure of the Mean Friend," Ira Glass conducts a sly experiment to see if niceness pays, literally: Two waitresses are bugged with microphones and encouraged to be sweet, attentive and friendly to a few tables while practicing neglectful and impatient service with others. The result? The overlooked tables left significantly larger gratuities than the… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant

    Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood

    Yes, when it comes to potent potables, Mike Shannon is best known for extolling the virtues of an ice-cold frosty one, but his namesake restaurant is a steak house first and foremost, and that means a lengthy list of wines. Expensive wines. Shannon's dulls the price-point sting by making it easy to navigate the selection. If you put stock in… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    La Monarca

    The owners of Taqueria La Monarca have made a few changes since opening the current location of the combination restaurant-market in 2009. They've switched the dining room and the market, so that the former now occupies the larger, brighter space. They've obtained a liquor license, and the restaurant now serves beer and margaritas (including a 72-ounce "Monster" size). Finally, they… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Chi Sushi Sake

    You might easily overlook Chi Sushi, tucked as it is into a stretch of larger restaurants toward the south end of the Central West End. That would be a mistake. This sleek restaurant serves up terrific sushi, whether you prefer traditional nigiri or elaborate modern rolls. The sushi chefs prepare exquisite nigiri, the fish draped over perfectly seasoned rice, without… More >>
  • Best Kept Secret (Restaurant Division)

    Famous Szechuan Pavilion

    Famous Szechuan Pavilion came into this world as a former snow-cone hut on Manchester Road in Brentwood. It was, at the risk of understatement, a strange set-up: You either ordered from the drive-through window or sat at one of the three or four seats at the minuscule counter inside — essentially right in front of owner Xin Cin, as she… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Tower Grove Farmers' Market

    The Tower Grove Farmers' Market remains the standout among the area's many such markets not simply because of its produce — though the produce is great, of course. The selection of farms and orchards from both sides of the Mississippi chart the progress of the growing season, from asparagus and strawberries to peaches and string beans to tomatoes and sweet… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Pint Size Bakery & Coffee

    The husband of Pint Size Bakery owner and chef Christy Augustin calls her style "punk-rock grandma." That means sweets (and savory dishes, too) made the old-fashioned way: with real butter, real sugar, farm-fresh eggs and seasonal, local produce — but with modern playfulness, like cookies that include bits of potato chips or the "Oatmeal Cream Pie," a thick layer of… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Mandarin House

    When scouting the city's best dim sum, it seemed wise to inquire where the Chinese artists, crew and staff of the Missouri Botanical Garden's Lantern Festival held their closing brunch. At Mandarin House, of course. Don't be fooled by the underwhelming strip-mall location, which provides cover for an elegant 430-seat dining room (complete with mini pagoda and fountain). One hallmark… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    La Dolce Via - CLOSED

    For the past ten years, La Dolce Via has been one of the best-kept secrets on the St. Louis restaurant scene. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Forest Park Southeast, a few blocks from the Grove's main drag, it isn't the sort of place you stumble across. But for those lucky enough to have found it, La Dolce Via… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Frida's Deli

    When viewed as a substitute or alternative for beef, meat-free burgers can get a little controversial. They fly in the face of plant-based diets that reject eating cows while confounding those who relish eating cows. But really, when a new, vibrant burger arrives on the scene, it's unfair to quibble and not just eat up. Frida's Deli opened shop in… More >>
  • Best Frozen Custard

    Mr. Wizard's Frozen Custard and Yogurt

    Going out for frozen custard is much more than a bold act of defiance that your smartphone's calorie-counting app never, ever needs to know about. After all, who doesn't love a cup of delicious, creamy custard topped generously with Magic Shell or laced with unbaked cookie nuggets? But for many the neighborhood custard stand is more than a place to… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out with Grandpa

    White Knight Diner

    Historic greasy spoons seem a diner-a-dozen in St. Louis, but only one lays claim to silver-screen stardom. In 1990 the film White Palace was released nationwide, unfurling the tale of a middle-aged diner waitress (Susan Sarandon) who meets a young advertising executive (James Spader) at, where else, her gig at the White Palace diner in St. Louis. The film, based… More >>
  • Best Dining Destination

    Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que

    If you find yourself in Cuba after a full-day float trip — weary, sunburned and let's be honest, still beer-drunk — don't stop for fast food on the way back to St. Louis. There's a mom-and-pop here off old Route 66 where you can fill your tummy: Missouri Hick Bar B Que. Owner Dennis Meiser, a master woodworker, built the… More >>
  • Best Fish Tacos

    The Royale

    The Royale has won respect for many things: its elegant Kentucky Derby parties, its cocktails and pleasant back patio. But the kitchen holds a secret known to regular patrons: The fish tacos are lip-smackin' scrumptious. The catfish fillets are crispified in a golden tortilla-chip breading that's seasoned with cumin, which leaves a pleasant smokiness to mingle with a creamy chipotle… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Global Foods Market

    A tip of the bag boy's cap to the banner year brought to us by Dierbergs (colossal new store in Des Peres, complete with a bar, covered parking and escalators) and Schnucks (one word: Schnupons). But no grocer in town inspires home cooks to step out of their culinary comfort zone quite like the humble-yet-awe-inspiring Global Foods Market in Kirkwood.… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    St. Louis Pho - CLOSED

    It's fitting that St. Louis Pho opened inside a former Burger King. For years the fast-food chain told diners to "Have it your way," and this Vietnamese restaurant's namesake dish, the classic beef-noodle soup pho, is meant to be doctored to each diner's delight: Add fresh herbs or bean sprouts or both; squeeze in some fresh lime juice and Sriracha… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood

    J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood, a very small, national chain from the same folks who brought you Houlihan's and Bristol Seafood Grill, doesn't dry-age its USDA Prime steaks, which is pretty much our only quibble about the place. It wet-ages them for at least three weeks, depending on the cut. And then it grills those steaks over mesquite wood,… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Pappy's Smokehouse

    Pappy's Smokehouse has received copious (and well deserved) praise for its barbecue — don't ask us to choose between those ribs and anything else we hold dear — but owner Mike Emerson and his staff don't get enough credit for what a pleasantly efficient operation they run. Yes, the wait to order can be long, but the line is orderly,… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Salume Beddu

    If you want to make a great sandwich, it helps to use the "best salumi in the country." That's not our call, by the way (though we're inclined to agree). In 2011, the notoriously difficult-to-please Forbes food writer Larry Olmsted declared that Salume Beddu is "making products to rival the best of Europe." The precise selection of sandwiches available during… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Sidney Street Cafe

    When contemplating the menu at Sidney Street Cafe, we're often tempted to make like that great gourmand Ron Swanson: "Bring us all the food you have." How are we supposed to choose from among the recent options of applewood-smoked duck, the trio of Missouri lamb (recently served with cheese curds — cheese. curds.) and the filet Béarnaise, stuffed with lobster… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Flying Cow Frozen Yogurt Co.

    Frozen treats should be made thoughtfully, with the customer in mind. And like many frozen-yogurt joints in this day and age, Flying Cow Frozen Yogurt Co. takes the concept a step further by putting customers in charge of their own creations. Then the midtown fro-yo shop goes the extra mile, offering a diverse array of flavors, from the über-exotic (ginger… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Risky formats

    A few things St. Louis restaurateurs shouldn't do during a halting economic recovery: 1) Open an upscale, members-only establishment that charges a monthly fee. 2) Overhaul the beloved menu that has helped make you an institution. 3) Operate a second restaurant concept within an existing restaurant, and then replace the second concept with another, even more ambitious concept. Yet local… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Neighborhood

    Central West End

    The Central West End has always been a hotbed of restaurant activity, but right now it appears to have entered something of a golden age. To the north, mainstay Dressel's has reinvented itself as not merely a great pub, but a standout restaurant. To the south, Gerard Craft's Brasserie by Niche and Taste serve as bastions of Old World sophistication… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

    Monarch

    Monarch isn't dead. Not really. And not simply because owners Aaron Teitelbaum and Jeff Orbin have retained its Maplewood address as a special-events venue. No, as long as so many of the talents who once called Monarch home continue to be major players on the St. Louis food scene, the spirit of Monarch will remain very much alive. The many… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Pi Pizzeria

    Watching a beloved restaurant continue to grow evokes mixed emotions. On the one hand, of course, you're pleased for its success. On the other hand, you worry about overreach, dilution, the inevitable loosening of standards as the pool from which both front- and back-of-the-house employees are drawn has to grow. With Pi Pizzeria, at least, your worries are unfounded. The… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    The Block

    The Block brings both the old and the new to Old Webster. Though it proudly calls itself a "neighborhood establishment," the restaurant doesn't rely on a cliché bar-and-grill menu; instead the fare is what might be called contemporary American rustic bistro: housemade pork rinds and pork confit; a grass-fed beef burger; entrées that feature beef, chicken, pork and trout farmed… More >>
  • Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant

    The Vine Mediterranean Cafe & Market

    Amid the bustle of South Grand Boulevard, the Vine is an oasis. Even on the enclosed patio in front of the restaurant, you feel transported — if not to another land altogether (you can't quite ignore the sound of St. Louis traffic), than at least to a mental space where for an hour or so nothing matters but the delicious… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Mad Tomato

    It has been quite the culinary trip for chef Vito Racanelli Jr. — from the lovably rough-and-tumble Big V's Burger Joint (now closed) to the casual, neighborhood-focused Onesto Pizza & Trattoria (still open, but Racanelli is no longer involved) to his current venue, Mad Tomato. Though the restaurant's volume can match its owner's gregarious personality, this is a decidedly more… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Tortillaria

    Tortillaria often goes unmentioned during discussions of the great St. Louis Mexican restaurants. (It certainly doesn't pass unnoticed among the workers of the Central West End, as anyone who has visited during the lunch rush can attest.) Perhaps that's because Tortillaria doesn't call attention to its fresh, casual Mexican fare. It doesn't need to. The food speaks for itself. The… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Farmhaus

    A phrase you rarely hear: "I wish every day were Monday!" But it just might be you exclaiming this after lunch at Farmhaus. At Kevin Willmann's acclaimed restaurant, Monday is fried-chicken day, the first of its weekday "Blue Plate" lunch specials. For $10 (plus tax and tip) you get two pieces of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and mac &… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    The Cup

    The Cup was the first shop in town to embrace the cupcake trend — and own it. Since opening in 2007 (as the Cupcakery), this Central West End "gourmet cupcake bakery" has toiled to distill the essence of what a cupcake should be. With seven "classic" flavors served daily and more than a dozen limited edition/seasonal/featured flavors, the Cup elevates… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Restaurant

    Iron Barley

    Iron Barley's hearty fare (overloaded "sammiches," schnitzel with spaetzle, oak-roasted pork) cries out for a delicious beer. The south-city institution delivers with a carefully curated selection of craft brews. The boom in local breweries is well represented by draft selections including Urban Chestnut's crowd-pleasing Zwickel lager and 4 Hands' Cast-Iron Oatmeal Blonde Ale. Also on tap are several national craft… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    The milkshake has seen a renaissance of sorts over the past several years, making this particular honor much trickier to bestow than ever before. Fountain on Locust turns out a trayload of magnificent frozen concoctions. Pi Pizzeria, our 2011 winner in this category, pulls out all the stops, creating gloriously gluttonous, vaguely absurdist treats that leave one calculating calories for… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Hsu's Hunan Yu

    In many ways Hsu's Hunan Yu is a perfect cliché, an idealized version of every Chinese restaurant you've ever been in. (Close your eyes and picture a small, family-owned ethnic eatery. Got it?) The Hunan Yu is a tiny hole in the wall, a storefront tucked into an old shopping strip that contains a bar that calls itself a lounge… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    PuraVegan

    PuraVegan takes common dishes like enchiladas, burgers and noodles and serves them up in a 100 percent raw, vegan, gluten-free fashion. Before the carnivores go running for the door, owner Monica Stoutenborough wants people to know that PuraVegan is by no means a "vegan club," adding that even those on the ever-so-strict paleo diet find they can eat almost everything… More >>
  • Best Pie

    4 Seasons Bakery

    Even Julia Child, she who made it her mission in life to convince ordinary American home cooks that they too could produce classic French cuisine — even Julia conceded that pie crust is problematic. It's a delicate balance: flaky yet flavorful; tender yet sturdy enough to stand up to the filling. You could spend your life trying to make the… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Florissant City Diner

    There is no Monte Cristo sandwich on the menu at the Florissant City Diner. But they can make French toast. And they have ham and cheese on hand. And powdered sugar. And there's strawberry jam in the plastic tower of jellies and preserves. And so...for you, a Monte Cristo! This tiny family-run diner is a mainstay of Old Town Florissant.… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel

    This was a very hard decision to make. We love everything that comes out of Brian Pelletier's two chocolate shops, from the basics, like the dark chocolate almond bark, to the more daring creations, like the balsamic vinegar truffle. We went back and forth. The dragées (almonds rolled in chocolate and cocoa)? The sea salt and white pepper bark? The… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Bosna Grill

    It's easy to miss Bosna Grill, nestled as it is in a nondescript Affton strip mall between a cell-phone store and an income-tax preparer, identified by a tiny sign barely visible from Gravois Road. But it's worth the hunt — even worth driving back and forth a few times before you finally find it. Because here you will find the… More >>
  • Best Sausage Factory

    G&W Meat & Bavarian Style Sausage Company

    It has been said that Bavaria is the Texas of Germany: big, likes to lord it over other states that it was once an independent country, has citizens who have a penchant for wearing silly hats to show state pride. (You know those peaky little hats with a feather in the brim? Bavarian!) It also has a reputation for making… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Ladies Who Lunch

    Home Wine Kitchen

    Living in a time and place so filled with pointless errands, nagging obligations and endlessly ringing mobile devices mean that a long, leisurely lunch out with a friend or three is a rare, longed-for luxury, like a massage or a day at the spa. Obviously, then, the arising of such an occasion must be celebrated with wine. No coincidence that… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    Carl's Deli

    During a recent visit to Carl's Deli, a construction worker whose work pants were secured to his waist with a duct-tape belt stood in line in front of an office worker in a pinstriped suit and starched white oxford. Such diversity of clientele is typical of this throwback sandwich shop, a gathering place that exudes the reassuring everydayness of a… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Lemon Grass

    Vietnamese spring rolls are a quick, easy and delicious snack. Wrap that rice vermicelli, cilantro, basil and protein of choice in some rice paper and, sure, it might not be pretty, but it'll taste almost as refreshing as those rolled by the seasoned professionals. What puts the simple appetizer in the spotlight — and makes it impossible to ever truly… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Sasha's on Shaw

    There are plenty of big patios in town. The patio at Sasha's on Shaw, on the other hand, is cozy. It almost feels like it could be your patio. "Almost," because you probably don't have a crazy huge credit line at Home Depot to cover pavers, water features, torches and tables, not to mention an unfailing green thumb and HGTV-worthy… More >>
  • Best Biscuits and Gravy

    Local Harvest Cafe & Catering

    American comfort food takes many forms, but none is quite so soothing and nostalgia-stirring as a piping-hot plate of biscuits and gravy. Of course, any old dive can keep a vat of second-rate sausage gravy on hand, only a precious few eateries serve up anything worth writing home about. Local Harvest Cafe treats both its biscuits and its gravy with… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Jack in the Box

    Jack in the Box has cheap grub, late-night hours and funny commercials. And with a hell of a lot of variety on the menu, something is sure to hit the spot. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, grilled sandwiches, breakfast items, tacos, salads, shakes and "snacks" that range from mini corn dogs to egg rolls will ensure that you're set. Oh, and you… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Absolutli Goosed

    The classic martini can be an intimidating drink: no frills, challenging stemware, packs a boozy wallop. Rather than get all hoity-toity about it, Absolutli Goosed aims to educate. "Our talented staff is here assist you in any way they can," the cocktail menu says sweetly, before laying out in four simple steps the proper way to order as smooth as… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    The Hideaway Restaurant & Lounge

    For almost 60 years, the bar stools at the Hideaway have served as the perfect shrink's couch for the somber imbiber. Saddle up to the bar, light a smoke if that's your thing, throw down a modest sum of cash and soak up the dark, dank vibes seeping from the smoke-stained, marooned walls. If a friendly barmaid is too busy… More >>
  • Best Decor

    Baileys' Range

    You can count on three things at any Dave Bailey restaurant (Baileys' Chocolate Bar, Rooster, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar): good food, an impressive array of adult beverages and a very distinctive look. One of Bailey's latest ventures, the upscale burgerteria Baileys' Range, is no different. With his sister-in-law, Brynne Rinderknecht, a Chicago-based interior designer, Bailey built a dining… More >>
  • Best Soup

    Pomme Cafe and Wine Bar

    Consider this cure for a blustery winter evening in St. Louis: a dry martini and a steaming bowl of soup. Not a conventional combination, but when enjoyed at Pomme Café (Pomme Restaurant's laid-back li'l sister), it can make the difference in beating the winter blues. There's usually one standard — French onion gratinée in colder months; gazpacho in summer —… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Novak's Bar and Grill

    Yes, we know that Novak's is technically a lesbian bar. But it doesn't discriminate: There are gay men on dates, whispering in the corner, and frankly on most nights we can't tell who is gay, lesbian, straight or somewhere in between. This rainbow-flag-flying watering hole situated in the Grove is just a great a bar, period. It has a full… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Cafe Napoli

    On a sun-soaked August afternoon, attorney Albert S. Watkins strides onto the terrace of Café Napoli in downtown Clayton. "Rule No. 1 of a power lunch," he says over his shoulder, nearing the host stand. "Walk up with reservations, even if they don't exist." Clad in charcoal suit and floral tie, he tells the host: "Watkins, party of three." We're… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    Urban Eats Cafe

    The smoothie menu at Urban Eats Café in Dutchtown is small, but it's choice. As in, you can expand it by taking your choice of soy milk, 2 percent or yogurt, or adding chocolate, or rum, or vodka. If you still have enough math skills to calculate the exact number of possible combinations, we're sure the results would be staggering.… More >>
  • Best Bar Bar

    The Shanti

    "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 —… More >>
  • Best Pie (Fried Division)

    The Original Fried Pie Shop

    Fried pie sounds like overkill. Sure, it's a truism that everything tastes better deep-fried, but pie is one of those foods that's perfect as it is. So we scoffed when we walked into the Eureka outpost of the Original Fried Pie Shop, a small chain that originated in Oklahoma more than a hundred years ago, took over most of Texas… More >>
  • Best Pastrami

    Pumpernickles Delicatessen

    St. Louis, it must be said, is not much of a deli town. Most of our best processed meats are Italian. And most of the time, we're pretty satisfied with salami, mortadella and soppressata. But sometimes we get a hankering for some Jewish soul food. So we drive out to Creve Coeur, more specifically to Pumpernickles Delicatessen, where the pastrami… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Kenrick's Meats and Catering

    Normally we would deliver a lecture in this space about how biggest doesn't necessarily mean best. But this year, magically, the twosome has merged in Kenrick's Meats & Catering, the south-county standby that has been the stuff of carnivorous dreams for the past 65 years. Walk through the door and you're greeted by the smell of barbecue and the sight… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Neumann's Bar and Restaurant - CLOSED

    Many paths lead to the Illinois side of the St. Louis area, and Neumann's Bar & Restaurant in Edwardsville is a place that all consumers of alcohol can appreciate. It's cheap enough for the college kids, tidy enough for the suburban sprawlers, and casual enough for the metro-east lifers. Inside its unassuming storefront, the bartenders are heavy handed, the jukebox… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream (Dog Division)

    I Scream Cakes

    There once was a puppy called Abby Who, when deprived of treats, grew crabby But a trip to I Scream Cakes To taste the two doggie flavors Kerry Soraci makes* Left the pooch feeling sated and happy *sweet potato and peanut butter and bacon… More >>
  • Best Tapas/Small Plates

    Taste

    A year and a half after relocating to the Central West End, Gerard Craft and Adam Altnether's Taste has hit its stride, with head chef Matt "Mateo" Daughaday serving small plates that pack bright ideas and big flavor. For proof you need only try his "Barbacoa" dish. A playful take on traditional street tacos, it consists of three tiny masa… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    San Bar Tavern

    The San Bar Tavern has been serving its thirsty patrons in Overland for over fifty years, situated in an unassuming old building erected in 1903. Owner Kay Genail is as humble as she is inviting. "Welcome to my old neighborhood hole-in-the-wall," she says with a smile, bubbly and extroverted. The clink-and-thud of metal meeting dirt can be heard just outside,… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    Dressel's

    It almost seems like an insult to call the food at Dressel's the Best bar food in St. Louis. Or a backhanded compliment, at least; bar food carries the connotation of something you might enjoy eating while you're getting drunk, but not so much otherwise. The food at Dressel's, on the other hand, is so amazing it almost seems a… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Kelly English Steakhouse - CLOSED

    Who goes to a steak house — one inside a casino, no less — and orders seafood? Someone who knows about the eponymous Kelly English, that's who. At his home base, Restaurant Iris in Memphis, English's progressive Southern cuisine has won wide acclaim, including the coveted "Best New Chef" designation from Food & Wine magazine in 2009 and a James… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Dressel's

    One grows weary of restaurant brunches, which aren't so much the promised breakfast-and-lunch love child as a glorified diner breakfast with cocktail options. Which is exactly why the brunch menu at Dressel's stands apart, not only for the substantial options offered within the oft-neglected "lunch" category, but for its inclusion of breakfast creations that go beyond the humdrum two-eggs-with-meat-and-toast. Here… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    International Tap House

    International Tap House — call it iTAP if you want to hang with the cool crowd — could win this honor solely on the basis of the draft selections at its locations in Chesterfield and Soulard. With 40 taps, this beer Valhalla offers revolving lineups of the best craft beers from our own back yard (Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, Schlafly… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Plush

    Plush is unlike any other club in town. Midtown's multilevel monstrosity is perhaps best described as a fever dream — an eclectic, artsy thing without care for convention. The 40,000-square-foot behemoth houses within itself a fully operational club, venue, two bars and a restaurant that serves food from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. every day. On the first floor you'll… More >>
  • Best Hipster Bar

    Handlebar

    By definition, a hipster will vehemently deny that he is one. But there's no mistaking the youthful, cyclist elite populating Handlebar. That isn't to say the bar itself is exclusive or requires a strict membership. Despite the negative connotations of hipsterdom, Handlebar offers a safe haven for all the ratchet youths of the area to flock to and flourish. Drawing… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Peel Wood Fired Pizza

    You don't have to look very hard to find the secret to Peel Wood Fired Pizza's success. Really, you don't have to look at all. It's right there in the center of the kitchen, visible throughout the restaurant: the oven, which reaches temperatures of about 800 degrees, fueled by hardwood logs. This intense heat gives Peel's pies a gorgeous, gently… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Cleveland-Heath

    You can't go home again? Nonsense. Bethalto, Illinois, native Jennifer Cleveland returned to the metro east last year from the oft-extolled climes of California, and the restaurant that she and her partner, Eric Heath, opened in downtown Edwardsville has had mouths watering on both sides of the Mississippi River since day one. Cleveland-Heath's out-of-the-gate success shouldn't have come as a… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    Super's Bungalow

    A century ago, an old farmhouse sat moldering in south city on what's now Leona Street, just south of Bates Avenue (which was then a dirt road). Kids swore it was haunted. But it endured, and right after Prohibition, a man named Pete Bley fixed it up as a tavern. Nearly 80 years later, the hard-working folks of Bevo Mill… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Siete Luminarias - CLOSED

    To say Cherokee Street west of Jefferson Avenue is the epicenter of traditional Mexican street fare in St. Louis is, of course, to speak the truth. But it also does a disservice to a restaurant such as Siete Luminarias. Here you could visit a dozen times before you got around to ordering a plain old taco. And why would you… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    Southtown Pub

    Southtown Pub might not look or feel much different from any other south-city tavern. The vibe is friendly, the décor St. Louis-standard (Bud, Cardinals) and occasionally cheeky — a sign behind the bar declares, "We don't serve women here. You'll have to bring your own." Yet Southtown has a secret weapon in the kitchen, or rather out behind it: a… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (West County)

    Kirkwood Ice And Fuel

    In 1991, life-long Kirkwoodian Steve Harris and his buddies began bullshitting after softball games about opening their own local bar where the beer would be extra cold — the way they liked it. Often, such talk leads nowhere. "In this case," Harris says, "it was like clockwork." He and eight guys bought a space on Kirkwood Road and named it… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Old Town Donuts

    We've never been much for herd mentality, but we've always been a sucker for anything with bacon on (or in) it. So it's like Old Town Donuts' bacon-caramel long john was made with us in mind. That's just hubris, of course. Old Town Donuts has been turning out perfectly made sinkers since 1968, long before many of us could chew.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Sappington Lounge

    Its sleepy, innocuous location sets the stage for Sappington Lounge. Wedged inside a strip mall between a women's clothing resale shop and a make-your-own pottery store, it's hardly south county's most hoppin' watering hole. What it lacks in flash, though, it makes up for in genial service and bottom-barrel booze prices. Sappington Lounge has changed hands in the last few… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Home Wine Kitchen

    Cassy Vires offers only one burger at Home Wine Kitchen. It's available only at lunch. You can't choose a different-size patty or one made from a different kind of meat. There is only the one, a globe of grass-fed beef enriched with a little pork belly, because everything should be enriched with a little pork belly. It should go without… More >>
  • Best Drink Menu

    Sanctuaria

    Sanctuaria's Matt Seiter has been one of the leading lights of St. Louis' surging mixology scene for several years now, and people outside of town are starting to take notice: He was a finalist for the bartending contest at this year's "Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival" in Kansas City, and last summer, the restaurant's "Cocktail Club" menu was one… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Bogart's Smokehouse

    For too long now, barbecue pedants have had to explain that the term "St. Louis-style ribs" refers to how the slab is cut, not how it's cooked, that St. Louis doesn't have its own "style" in the way that, say, Kansas City or Memphis does. (Like KC, but sweeter, is the most they'll grant.) But rather than grouse about a… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    Manzo Sausage Kitchen and Market

    Referring to Swiss cheese as Emmentaler is a transparent way to hint that you're down with the highbrow without actually having to know anything interesting. It's much better to, say, swap mizithra, a Greek cheese made from sheep's milk, for ricotta in a recipe and drop that tidbit on guests who ask, "What's in that?" Pick up a hunk of… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Blood and Sand

    These days, when any bartender with a shaker and some exotic bitters can dub him or herself a "mixologist," it's vital to know ahead of time that an establishment's ambience will be as classy as its drinks. Members-only Blood & Sand guarantees a sophisticated experience from the get-go. Not only do members pay a fee ($10 or $15 per month),… More >>
  • Best Bar Trend

    Ice

    A few months ago, a 2010 recipe for ice cubes on Food.com went viral. Actually, it wasn't the recipe, which was posted as an amusingly passive-aggressive attack on those who forget to fill empty ice-cube trays, that went viral so much as the comments several hundred in-on-the-joke variations ("a touch of salt is so important") and gripes ("the coldness kind… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Gas Station

    U-Gas

    When the crumbling Ponderosa Steakhouse on Hampton Avenue was finally demolished, near-south siders breathed a unison sigh of relief. When local quickie-mart chain U-Gas opened last year, those same mouths cheered for gustatory joy: Around the holidays, warm, homemade (and free!) chocolate-chip cookies were given away to every customer. Sweet! Also sweet: the U-Gas beer selection. For starters, there's the… More >>
  • Best Cocktail Name

    Grounds for Divorce

    Most of the time, a trip to the pub is a social occasion with lots of friends and boisterous laughter over pitchers. But occasionally, on darker days, it can be a solo affair. There is sidling involved. And when that world-weary ass hits the stool, there's a particular type of drink to order. The "Grounds for Divorce" is one such… More >>
  • Best Craft Brewery

    4 Hands Brewery

    There's no shortage of formidable craft breweries in St. Louis, and only time will tell which will fade and which will blossom. 4 Hands Brewery's recipe for success doesn't require a reinvention of the wheel or lofty experimentation; rather it taps into the most likable aspects of American craft brews to produce some of the boldest flavors in town. Whether… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Momos Ouzaria Taverna

    For those who delight in the many wonders of Mediterranean cuisine, Momos Ouzaria Taverna is a delight of many wonders, from its well-thought-out menu to its colorful décor and warm ambiance. Htipiti, a roasted-red-pepper spread zinged with capers, feta cheese and olive oil to be scooped up with warm pita bread, is dangerously easy to fill up on, but given… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    "The Porchetta Louie"

    The key to making Provel palatable is moderation. (In the sense that this summer St. Louis received a moderate amount of rain.) The key to making Provel palatable and enjoyable is to employ it only as an accent for other, better ingredients. The key to making Provel not merely palatable and enjoyable but a cause for celebration is to visit… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Weber's Front Row

    If you grew up in Webster Groves, chances are Weber's Front Row has played a part in your life at some point or another — working in the kitchen, maybe, while Sis waited tables. Or it's where you celebrated a victory for home team, grabbed a beer after class at Webster University, or as the go-to place for to-go food… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Pearl Cafe

    Pearl Cafe isn't dangerous because it dares diners to complete its "King of Spice" challenge: a series of four dishes, ranked from "Level 25" to "Level 100," each spiked with an increasingly more potent blend of hot chiles (including the fearsomely scorching ghost pepper). The challenge is strictly voluntary. No, Pearl Cafe is dangerous because even if you stick to… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Tavolo V

    Keep a copy of the menu after you order at Tavolo V, the most recent entry in Michael Del Pietro's rapidly growing culinary empire (Sugo's Spaghetteria, Babbo's Spaghetteria, Pazzo's Pizzeria, Via Vino Enoteca). Once the food arrives, you'll want to check that you've received the correct dish, not something more expensive. Once you taste it, you'll want to check again.… More >>
  • Best Gyro

    Go! Gyro! Go!

    The bedrock of a fine gyro is the meat, of course, and food truck Go! Gyro! Go! doesn't disappoint. Owner Nick Cowlen and his staff slice tender strips of meat, the traditional combination of beef and lamb, from hunks turning on spits right there on the truck. Its flavor offers lamb's natural grassiness, rounded out by richer beef, with a… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Sassy JAC's

    Garlic fries are a high-wire act. A timid kitchen doses its fries with just a hint of garlic (or, worse, a splash of some kind of ungodly garlic-infused oil). These impart none of garlic's pleasures but still, somehow, manage to ruin your breath. A careless kitchen tosses its fries with so much garlic that a single bite is like going… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe

    We romanticize the past as a simpler, quieter time. This is probably inaccurate — we're guessing people ate lunch at their desks just as much in 1962 as they do now — but Jennifer's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe does a great deal to contribute to the illusion. The drugstore soda fountain was all but dead when pharmacist Jennifer Rich imported… More >>
  • Best Food Truck

    Guerrilla Street Food

    Most food trucks fill an existing niche, bringing tacos, pizza or whatever to the places where the people are many but the restaurant options few, or boring (or both). With Guerrilla Street Food, however, Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo have created their own category: badass, progressive Filipino cuisine that just happens to be served from a truck. Guerrilla's signature dish,… More >>
  • Best Fast-Casual Restaurant

    Crushed Red

    Smart fast-casual operators focus on doing a few items really well: noodles, say, or burritos and tacos. The team that opened Crushed Red earlier this year — prolific local restaurant consultant Chris LaRocca; chef Jason Tilford of Barrister's and Milagro Modern Mexican; former Panera national bakery director Mike Marino; and father-son investors Ralph Kalish Jr. and Powell Kalish — are… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Spice-n-Grill

    When Indian Food shuttered in 2010, fans of Shaheena Khan's Indian and Pakistani creations feared that they'd never again taste anything so sublime as her beef nihari, that heady stew spiked with cilantro and lime. As it happened, they had to wait only a year and a half for Shaheena and her husband, Zahid, to return to University City, this… More >>
  • Best Cajun/Creole Restaurant

    Riverbend Restaurant and Bar

    Sam Kogos left New Orleans for the best — maybe the only — reason: a woman. His wife, a St. Louis native, wanted to be closer to her family. We should all be grateful. Last year Kogos, who'd owned a restaurant in New Orleans for fifteen years, opened Riverbend Restaurant & Bar in a corner spot just south of the… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Epic Pizza and Subs

    The Soulard neighborhood is a study in symbiosis. Proximity to the Mississippi River made it a natural place for our fur-trapping forebears to settle. Later, the proximity to a certain major brewery made the 'hood an ideal place to grab a few cold frosty ones. That symbiosis carries through to modern-day nightlife: With so many bars to frequent, there's always… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Steve's Hot Dogs on the Hill

    Fans of local music got to know Steve Ewing during the 1990s as the kinetic frontman for the Urge, a band whose hyper amalgam of punk and ska found an audience at home and abroad. Ewing has long since traded his dreadlocks for a clean-shaven head, and in the past few years he has focused on building the perfect hot… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Vom Fass

    Don't go to Vom Fass on an empty stomach...unless you're ready to take a cab home. The German boutique in Maplewood — one of just seven in the United States — may not look like a place to get boozed up, but walls of absinthe, brandies and whiskies don't lie. And neither do the salespeople here when they invite you… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Seafood City

    This market bears less resemblance to a city than it does to a food carnival. The sheer volume and variety of products is mind-blowing — there's no other word for it. More than a dozen kinds of tofu. An entire aisle dedicated to the ramen noodle. Obscure Asian greens and enough sacks of rice to dam up a leaky levee.… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    The Wine Merchant Ltd.

    A stinky-foot smell greets your entry into the Wine Merchant Ltd. in downtown Clayton. It's just its cheese counter (and a stellar one, at that). Get past that and you'll find one of the finest wine selections in the region. While a supermarket might stock one offering from the famed French region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the Wine Merchant had no fewer… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Adam Lough

    You don't go to Brennan's for designer cocktails, and you don't go for a blurry stream of canned domestics and shots of paint-thinner-flavored brown liquor. The former cigar bar (you can still get that in the private lounge upstairs or the now-adjacent tobacconist) is a perfect middle ground, the one truly comfortable neighborhood bar in the generally aggressive Central West… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Midwest Sports Hockey Inc

    Attitudes Nightclub and Novak's Bar & Grill are the long-time giants of St. Louis lesbian nightlife. But instead of hitting the same two bars, grab your gals and try something new. As the Arch Rival Roller Girls enter their eighth season of throwing elbows and thrilling fans, this fiercely inclusive sport has gained a stronghold in St. Louis' LGBT community.… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Diablitos Cantina

    The little devil in you knows it's five o'clock somewhere. But even when you don't have the luxury of leaving work early to sit in a bar, Diablitos has a $4 margarita waiting for you until dinnertime...and then again around bedtime. Worker drones flock to Diablitos for a refreshing splash of color, loud music and generous happy-hour specials. A rotating… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    Three Sixty

    Rooftop bars are not a new idea, not even for St. Louis, but a rooftop bar looking into our beloved Busch Stadium? That is a long overdue flourish. Open just a year, Three Sixty atop the Hilton St. Louis downtown has become a can't-miss, offering a bird's-eye view to the city while maintaining a fun, urban vibe. Glass walls and… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Julia's Market Cafe

    Head to historic Soulard Market on Saturdays, and it won't take long to figure out the early-morning shoppers' drink of choice: the bloody mary, whether as breakfast or a cure-all for a wicked hangover. Choosing the ripest produce with a bloody mary in hand is a tradition as powerful as the market itself. Some customers don't even shop, choosing instead… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Milagro Modern Mexican

    The margarita, like the martini, is a cocktail of simple, ineffable beauty that a generation of overeager and/or clueless bartenders (or, God help us, "mixologists") have either needlessly complicated with unnecessary extra ingredients — remember the prickly-pear margarita boom? No? We blocked it out, too — or dumbed down by cutting corners with sour mix and other such abominations. Not… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    Sandrina's

    For most people, the basic requirement for a great 3 a.m. bar is to serve drinks until 3 a.m. Revelers want to keep the party going, fueling one last push of early-morning debauchery before heading home. Sandrina's, in the conveniently located Southwest Garden neighborhood, takes the service to the next level with a kitchen that's open until 2 a.m. The… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Frazer's Restaurant and Lounge

    Here at RFT, we love all manner of drink specials, from your penny pitchers of cheap beer to your tequila Tuesdays. However, Frazer's Restaurant & Lounge really speaks our language with its free bottle of house wine, an extra-special Monday-night special. To get at this offer, all you have to do is order two dinner entrées and enjoy. There is… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Married Men

    Cafe Eau

    It's not hard to meet married men — nearly half of all households are still headed by husband and wife — but it is considered uncouth to pick up those men in their actual houses. Instead, swank it up at Cafe Eau in the Chase Park Plaza. The hitched, well-to-do dudes who frequent this place can be broken into two… More >>
  • Best Public Restroom

    Venice Cafe

    Want to feel like the king of the jungle while you're using the john? Of course you do, and the safari-themed "Explorers Club" at the Venice Café is where you can make that happen. A pair of ceramic lions guard this roomy, bamboo-thatched loo stocked full of curios — antique trunks and model sailboats — to keep the eye busy… More >>
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