Food & Drink

  • Best Asian Market

    Jay International Food Co.

    Chefs on the prowl for hard-to-find ingredients know they've come to the right place as soon as the doors to Jay International Food open and the smell hits the nose — that acrid musk that fills the air at any Asian market worth its salt. The smell that tells you there is definitely every conceivable kind of dried fish and… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Won Ton King

    It can be easy to fly past Won Ton King's strip-mall façade on Olive Boulevard, but once inside it's clear from the packed tables that this is some of the most authentic Chinese food in St. Louis. Dim sum is actually served seven days a week here, but half the fun is hailing the steaming carts as they roll past,… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Southwest Diner

    For a refreshing spin on the classic diner, head over to Southwest Avenue and spice that slinger up a bit. The corner breakfast-and-lunch joint takes all the standard American diner centerpieces and runs them through a Southwest screen. Order a burger, and you'll get it slathered in green chiles. Settle for a simple staple of eggs and home fries, but… More >>
  • Best Dining Destination

    The Wittmond Hotel

    "Come for a quiet Sunday drive. Enjoy the early blossoms and nesting birds." This poetic phrase welcomes visitors to the website of the Golden Eagle Ferry, one of the two river routes that transport guests to Calhoun County's historic Wittmond Hotel. This is sage advice, as nothing's more pleasant than traversing the back-country roads by car, languidly gazing at the… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    World's Fair Doughnuts

    World's Fair Donuts generally has a line out the door in the mornings, but it's well worth the wait. Terry and Peggy Clanton have been serving up the delicious breakfast confections almost every day since 1976, and the no-frills storefront looks like it hasn't changed much since they opened the doors. All the classic flavors are offered: long johns, fritters,… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Hammerstone's

    Every day of the week is a special day at Hammerstone's, the beloved Soulard institution known for its large patio, frequent live music and infamous Mardi Gras festivities. Now add to that list its brilliant drink specials. Monday through Thursday are all strong contenders for best drink deal in St. Louis, but our personal favorite — and the most popular… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Kim Cheese

    Once a hollowed-out Dairy Queen, one might mistake Kim Cheese's façade for a lesser hut. In actuality this is the home of an independently owned and singularly brilliant restaurant concept: Mexican-Korean fast food. For those hooked on getting a quick fix of fusion, Kim Cheese provides both size and quality for the cash. Its "burgers" are really steak sandwiches stuffed… More >>
  • Best Food Truck

    Cha Cha Chow

    Try one of Cha Cha Chow's seasoned french fries. Maybe two? Oh, you've been so good, why not? Get that hand in there and do what your heart tells you. This taqueria on wheels isn't about fine dining or tickling a refined palate. Rather, a Cha Cha Chow meal offers convenience wrapped in a taco shell and drizzled in "Cha… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Friday Luncheons at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church

    OK, so a church gymnasium is not technically a restaurant, but no one in the area serves up more authentic Greek food than Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. By now, the Friday Luncheons at Assumption should be well known, as this St. Louis tradition has been going on for years. Every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Assumption turns its… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Llywelyn's — Central West End

    Llywelyn's is all over St. Louis now with six locations, plus the one in Kansas City, but the original Central West End location is still the best. The daily happy-hour specials are not only good deals, but they're also different every day. End your weekend with Llywelyn's "Sunday Funday" from 9 p.m. to close with $3 pints, $3 premium wells,… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Filomena's Italian Kitchen

    Filomena's Italian Kitchen, the charming, fast-casual restaurant housed in a former Wolf Camera shop, combines convenience with the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal. There is no pomp and circumstance — it's mamma's cooking, lovingly packed up as if she is forcing leftovers on her children after a Sunday supper. Guests order at the counter and either take the food to… More >>
  • Best Bar Bar

    Colorado Bob's Ship of Fools

    Colorado Bob's Ship of Fools anchors the southern end of the Morgan Ford Business District, and so it's appropriate enough that the shipwrecked sailboat and wild elephant ears growing out front give whispers of what's just beyond: a bar worthy of Key West's Duval Street. Inside, a raucous group of regulars heartily greet newcomers to this cash-only booze cruise, while… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Giovanni's on the Hill

    With a guest list that includes Oprah Winfrey, Frank Sinatra and multiple presidents, Giovanni's is not exactly the place to go for some t-ravs and pizza. It is, however, the place for diners who want to experience classic Italian cuisine, impeccable tableside service and an atmosphere that oozes old-school elegance. For 40 years this icon of the Hill has been… More >>
  • Best Kept Secret (Restaurant Division)

    Claverach Farms

    Some 30 miles from downtown, near Eureka, is a magical land where acclaimed chefs prepare Sunday suppers in a refurbished barn, fields yield a kaleidoscope of organic produce, and rows of grapevines cling to the hills. Claverach Farms, St. Louis' purest incarnation of the slow-food movement, is the place to truly experience the often touted but not-so-often realized farm-to-table movement.… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Diablitos Cantina

    There's no shortage of decent margaritas around town, but how many of them use housemade tequila infusions? The "Margarita de Casa" is made with Aqui Vamos tequila, lime juice, orange juice, housemade simple syrup and triple sec — go ahead and get a pitcher. The original marg can also be made with any of Diablitos' three infused tequilas: coffee, tea… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (City)

    The Haven

    Like any good neighborhood bar, the Haven (family owned since the late '40s) feels just like home. From the outside, the brick building's houselike constructs blend right in with the primarily residential south St. Louis neighborhood it serves. This is the kind of place that hosts a Santa Claus impersonator during the holidays, where you can enjoy a cold one… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Mid-County)

    Cousin Hugo's Bar & Grill

    A Maplewood mainstay for eight decades now, this quintessential tavern thrives on keeping it old school. Sure, the joint has made a few modern-day concessions. Flat-screen TVs now broadcast the "big game." And, per county law, smokers now have to step outside (onto the bar's beautiful, tree-lined back patio). Other than that, though, the vibe at Hugo's remains decidedly mid-1900s… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

    Helen Fitzgerald's

    Psst, south-county first-graders: By the time you hit your mid-twenties, a significant life event will have taken place at Helen Fitzgerald's. Because from seemingly the beginning of time (but really only since St. Patrick's Day '92), "Let's go to Helen's" can only mean one thing in SoCo, and it ain't going to your aunt's house. Even as new places along… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (West County)

    Mulligan's Grill

    St. Louis has lots of places known for wings, but that's just one of the reasons to come to Mulligan's. West-county regulars know how great the toasted ravioli, burgers and sandwiches are, and the bartender ain't stingy with the wine pours. Mulligan's is sure to be crowded every night, and though customers have been hoping for years that owners Steve… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Acero

    Acero is one of the best Italian restaurants in town, and the small bank of outdoor seating on the patio is one of the best spots to enjoy eating al fresco on a breezy summer evening. The white lights and well-placed greenery make it a simple, unassuming spot, great for a date or catching up with friends over a few… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    Joe's Chili Bowl at The Terrace View

    Drinking outdoors is like putting an Instagram filter on everything — the grass gets greener, the light gets softer and the moment sort of slows down. There's no better place in St. Louis to experience this than the terrace at Joe's Chili Bowl. Don't be fooled by its humble name — Joe's is housed in a lovely, steel-and-glass box perched… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Pastaria

    Leave it to Gerard Craft to bring his Midas touch to a beloved St. Louis institution like thin-crust pizza. At his perpetually packed Pastaria, Craft and his team contrast the cutting-edge cuisine of his firstborn, Niche, with simply prepared Italian comfort food, informed by what real Italians eat at home. Notably absent from their findings is (gasp!) Provel cheese. Instead,… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Nate Kromat, The Scottish Arms

    The Scottish Arms boasts the most expansive and impressive collection of whiskey in Missouri, but it all would be for naught without the expert, the mixologist, the innovator, the person who takes the whiskey and delivers it to the people with a special acuity. At Scottish Arms, that person is Nate Kromat. After recently arriving from Sanctuaria, Kromat has employed… More >>
  • Best Place for Daytime Drinking

    Gringo

    Step 1: Pull up a barstool. Step 2: Leave your sunglasses on. (The rays pouring through the wall-to-wall windows of this new, Central West End cantina allow for the legitimate use of indoor shades.) Step 3: Order Gringo's exquisite namesake margarita — an addictive blend of Exótico Blanco tequila, triple sec and housemade sour on the rocks. Step 4: Enjoy… More >>
  • Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

    CBGB

    The dark, divey and smoky CBGB, one of Tower Grove's best dive bars, is the perfect place to disappear. The drinks are affordable and strong, and it's a simple task to find a private corner to lick your wounds. In the hazy light, no one will recognize you or even notice your tears. If you're feeling especially down, go to… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Basso

    No way in hell were we going to meet them on their turf. That's what I like about this place. It's a friggin' no-man's land. Is it the city? Is it the county? What's that, you say? It's technically in the city? Good, make those bastards come to our neck of the woods. Watch your step going down the stairs.… More >>
  • Best Restaurant For Ladies Who Lunch

    Cardwell's at the Plaza

    The ladies who lunch often reside in Ladue, Clayton, Frontenac and Town & Country, and long-time favorite Cardwell's is an oh-so-convenient stop after a morning of running "errands" at Plaza Frontenac. The ambience is casual — feel free to come straight from Pilates — but the food is great, and no one raises an eyebrow if you order a glass… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Neighborhood

    Clayton

    Just getting into Clayton can be a traffic nightmare: There's Hanley Road, Brentwood Boulevard, the Interbelt — to say nothing of the labyrinthine streets, impossible parking, and cheerless concrete-and-glass structures that greet you once you've arrived. But oh, to just live there, to be an a.m. regular at Half & Half, to somehow write off pricey wine at Cafe Napoli… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Octopus Salad at Olio

    Nowhere in the definition of "salad" is there a requirement that said dish contain leafy greens. (For reals, we checked Wikipedia and everything, so it's legit.) We add this clarification in anticipation of the barrage of comments we will get for choosing Olio's worthy-but-lettuce-free octopus salad. Allow us to explain. The octopus salad is typical of much of Olio's fare:… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Laurie Radake, City Diner

    Anyone who has ever waited tables has said some version of the following: "If I ever make a ton of money, I am going to leave a $500 tip everywhere I go." For Laurie Radake, this fantasy became a reality — not the giving, but the receiving. Her City Diner shift that July afternoon was progressing normally when three guests… More >>
  • Best Steak

    Tucker's Place in Soulard

    Sometimes it's nice to get all gussied up and head out to a fancy steak house with its expensive cuts of beef, shamefully pricey wine lists and sumptuous surroundings. Other times you just want meat. On a plate. Unapologetically simple. At these times, there is no better option than Tucker's Place in Soulard. Apparently, no one told this St. Louis… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Central Table Food Hall

    With the overwhelming array of choices laid out before patrons of Central Table Food Hall, it can be difficult to focus on just one thing. Of course, that's the whole point of this 10,000-square-foot Central West End behemoth: Take the trend of the food-hall concept (examples are Eataly in New York City and Los Angeles' Umamicatessen) and create a space… More >>
  • Best Tapas/Small Plates

    Sanctuaria

    Craft cocktails have taken on such prominence on restaurant menus that they often steal the show from the food. Certainly, no one can say that Sanctuaria falls short in the mixology department — this dark and cozy Grove spot has achieved well-deserved national acclaim for its libation prowess. At a place with such focus on the beverage department, it would… More >>
  • Best Bubble Tea

    Bubble Tea House

    Three key elements define a good cup of bubble tea: tea, milk (or suitable dairy substitute) and chewy tapioca balls called boba. Our city's bubble-tea supply feels limited, what with fewer than ten spots citywide, but Bubble Tea House stands out among them. Tucked away in Chesterfield Mall's food court, this tiny operaton nails the standard bubble milk tea with… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter

    Mama Josephine's

    Crisis alert: You just learned that your in-laws are coming over for dinner, and you're running late from work. As you vacillate between feelings of rage at your significant other and the fear of being judged, a light pops on in your head — you can fake it with the help of Mama Josephine's. This Shaw eatery is the reigning… More >>
  • Best 3 a.m. Bar

    Crack Fox

    Come 3 a.m., the Crack Fox and the night owl become St. Louis' official odd-animal couple. The Fox, however, provides alternative entertainment that stays up past most people's bedtimes. From karaoke, burlesque and kinky movie nights, to industrial, EDM, and rock shows and spins, the club attracts a fun-loving, open-minded clientele. The bar comes stocked with a full offering of… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    La Patisserie Chouquette

    To call La Patisserie Chouquette a bakery is like calling Cristal grape juice — somehow, the moniker just doesn't do justice to such elegance and refinement. Perhaps we should rename this category Food Most Likely to Be Displayed at the Met, or Best Place to Pair Pastries with Prada. However, do not let the chic style fool you — Simone… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    The Shack PubGrub

    If some sort of prepackaged miracle Hangover Helper existed in the supermarket, the Shack PubGrub might lose its sense of purpose. Its menu of loaded hand-cut fries, stuffed sandwiches, pizza, burgers, tacos and the like comes perfectly engineered to accompany any level of sobriety or ease any next-day suffering. Take, for instance, the "Green Eggs N Ham": boardwalk fries, crispy… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Sugarfire Smoke House

    Sugarfire Smoke House may be the new kid on the block, having opened just last September, but it now stands at the very summit of the St. Louis barbecue kingdom. The menu is innovative — no other barbecue joint in town would dare offer a smoked portobello sandwich — but it does right by all the classics as well. The… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    The Famous Bar

    There are several qualities one seeks in the perfect bloody mary, and the Famous Bar's "Quail Mary" contains each one. There's the spice that makes the pores glisten. The blessed, hangover-reducing zip of vodka — in this case, from the sinful bacon-infused vodka. And of course, a towering spear of garnishes to tamp down that midmorning appetite. The garnish is… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Grbic

    Can one live on cevapi alone? This thought crosses one's mind while biting into Grbic's juicy ground-beef sausages. Sure, we all know there are a number of deserving establishments in the area — St. Louisans have the good fortune of experiencing the oft-unnoticed Eastern European cuisine because of the robust diaspora community. However, these little nuggets of Balkan goodness are… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Black Bear Bakery

    A worker-owned and -operated collective, Black Bear respects environmental sustainability in its products, using several local and organic ingredients. The bakery is known for its near-century-old live-culture Lickhalter recipe rye breads, but it also has a large selection of specialty and whole-grain breads, bagels, buns and pastries. After a scare with going out of business last year, Black Bear is… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    The Cheesecake Factory

    The Cheesecake Factory might as well be called the Everything Factory. The chain has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a bakery in Detroit in the 1940s. Now, at its opulent Galleria location, the menu is endless and covers all manner of culinary styles: pasta, burgers, seafood, tacos, Asian fusion, pizza, steak, Southern comfort — the list… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Boardwalk CafÉ

    The large front window of Boardwalk Café is covered from top to bottom with a painted message boasting that it has the "best breakfast in town." And it ain't kidding. With dirt-cheap prices, huge portions and ridiculously quick service, Boardwalk Café has every right to make such big claims. The breakfast menu features traditional bacon and egg platters, pancakes and… More >>
  • Best Breakfast with a Hangover

    Benton Park Café

    On the weekends, breakfast is an event. It should be long, boozy and full of carbs. You've been out all night in Soulard, and suddenly your best friend drags you out of bed with promises of biscuits and gravy. But at Benton Park Café, it's not just biscuits and gravy — it's the "BP Slinger." Two beer biscuits are topped… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Crow's Nest

    For anyone sick of the typical black-bean patty offered as an alternative to beef burgers at most restaurants, the Crow's Nest has the antidote. Located on Maplewood's main drag, the Crow's Nest veggie burger is a homemade chickpea patty packed with a blend of carrots, green onions, water chestnuts, panko breadcrumbs and whatever vegetables the kitchen has on hand. The… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Cassy Vires

    This is Cassy Vires' moment. With a second successful restaurant under her belt and a nomination for Food and Wine's "People's Best New Chef-Midwest," 2013 has been a very good year for the Illinois native. Perhaps this is in repayment of sorts for her kindness shown to the St. Louis community — since the opening of Home Wine Kitchen, Vires… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Famous Szechuan Pavilion

    A onetime snow-cone stand, Famous Szechuan Pavilion now draws crowds eager to experience authentic dishes from China's Szechuan province as prepared by owner and chef Xin Lin. Recently, Lin moved the operation to Jeffrey Plaza, the strip mall just east of Interstate 170 on Olive Boulevard. The new space is certainly more restaurant-like, but it is still fairly bare bones… More >>
  • Best Cocktail Name

    All I See Is Gold

    Like any haiku worth its seventeen syllables, Farmhaus' cocktail list is a brief and beautiful thing. In that spirit, we bring you the Best Cocktail Name in haiku...which, consequently, is almost exactly how it appeared on Farmhaus' menu this spring: Ginger ale, Wheach, mint House-infused orange vodka, then All I See Is Gold… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Alaska Klondike Coffee Co.

    Long, long ago, in a strip mall not so far away (well, unless you consider Florissant the hinterlands), there was a specialty coffee roaster that brought to its patrons high-quality, single-origin coffees in a setting not intended for velvet couches and Wi-Fi. This little roaster quietly collected award after award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America while the rest… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    The Mud House

    While working for Mary Engelbreit, Casey Miller illustrated The Night Before Christmas picture book that Michelle Obama read aloud three Yuletides ago. These days, Miller owns the Mud House with her husband, Jeremy. Her artistic ability is apparent not only in the beautifully lettered chalkboard menu and caricatures drawn in latte foam, but it's also in the decorating of the… More >>
  • Best Craft Brewery

    Perennial Artisan Ales

    The draft list at Perennial Artisan Ales is an all-star lineup of beers, demonstrating the creativity and inventiveness that has gained the brewery a devoted following. Running the gamut from the rich 17 Mint Chocolate Stout to the refreshing Saison De Lis, the always-rotating taps at Perennial's tasting room require a willingness to expand beyond your typical lager or IPA… More >>
  • Best Deli/Sandwich Shop

    Salume Beddu

    Does anything more need to be said after the words "guanciale BLT"? This alone makes Salume Beddu worthy of some sort of award, yet it's only one of the opportunities patrons have to sample the housemade cured meats good enough to make an Italian artisan shake in his scarpi. Sure, Salume Beddu is a nationally acclaimed salumeria — more than… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    O! Wing Plus

    Unless you have been living under a rock (and by rock, we mean a sad place devoid of food television, blogs and magazines), you know that Korean cuisine is the hottest trend on the culinary scene. Restaurants are rushing to put kimchi on everything under the sun, and traditional pit masters face stiff competition from their Korean barbecue interlopers. O!… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Sophie's Place

    Dive bars are the refuge of the lazy. And the real. Maybe you don't feel like putting on a shirt with a collar. Or strapping your hooves into some painful heels. Or spending $15 on one drink. Maybe you just want to hang out with your friends in your pajama pants and get plastered on $15 or less. At Sophie's… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Soulard Farmers Market

    Any farmers' market with its own interstate exit sign and a lineage dating back to 1779 is the place you want to be. At the Soulard Farmers Market, patterns have emerged and evolved over the years into a loosely predictable Saturday schedule. The serious shoppers and their wheeled carts are ready to go when the market opens at 7 a.m.… More >>
  • Best Fast-Casual Restaurant

    Sauce on the Side

    Move over pizza, move over sandwiches: The calzone combines everything awesome about you both into a neat packet, stuffed full of tasty meats, veggies and more — and they might just be the perfect food. At Sauce on the Side calzones come in a variety of traditional and nontraditional flavor combinations, and they are assembled and cooked to order in… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    The Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market

    The fries from soulless fast-food dollar menus pale in comparison to those found at the Vine on South Grand Boulevard. Made fresh from hand-cut Idaho potatoes, the Vine serves up a heaping portion of delicious fries at a price that would make McDonald's executives squirm. Just $3 gets you a filling plate of crispy, well-seasoned french fries, served with ketchup.… More >>
  • Best Frozen Custard

    Fritz's Frozen Custard

    The original Fritz's Frozen Custard opened up 30 years ago in the heart of Old Town Florissant, making a name for itself (and finding inspiration for a logo) with the turtle concrete (crunchy pecan pralines, vanilla ice cream, chocolatey fudge and caramel). Now with multiple locations spread out across the region, Fritz's has brought its hand-dipped, freshly made custard to… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Keypers

    This secret south-side gem sits in plain sight on the corner of Jefferson and Shenandoah avenues, a choice spot for those looking to venture away from the bustling nightclub scene of the Grove. Instead, prepare for grownups who enjoy singing along with a piano. In addition to its gay-friendly atmosphere, Keypers is a classic piano bar equipped with a baby-grand… More >>
  • Best Hipster Bar

    Foam

    Foam is part bar, part coffeehouse, and it's this combination that draws such a hip crowd. It doesn't open until 4 p.m. — just in time to catch a late-day espresso before heading into after-dark affairs — at which point Foam switches to booze. Right when a buzz kicks in from those craft drinks, an awesome local or touring act… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    El Morelia Supermercado

    Holy Lady of Guadalupe, El Morelia Supermercado is a fun place to shop, especially on Sundays when a taco buffet — complete with seasoned pork on a vertical spit topped with a pineapple for al pastor fans — is served in the foyer. The happily crowded bazaar of colorful household goods vibrates to accordion-heavy narcocorridos wheezing from loudspeakers on high:… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream/ Frozen Yogurt

    Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream

    Sure, those frozen-yogurt chains popping up all over the place claim to peddle a healthier frozen-treat option, but when it comes down to it, you ultimately scream for ice cream — and the cherry on top of St. Louis is Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream. To celebrate a decade of ice-cream-making excellence, Serendipity recently held a weeklong bash to fete its… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Saffron Indian Cuisine

    It's funny how a food so seemingly exotic and filled with mysterious spice can evoke the comfort of Mom's home cooking. Saffron Indian Cuisine, Des Peres' bastion of Indian authenticity, balances these two moods through its expert execution of a kaleidoscope of subcontinental classics. The chicken tikka masala, perhaps Indian comfort food at its best, marries creamy tomato tanginess with… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Bissinger's at Maryland Plaza

    Bissinger's has long been a St. Louis institution, and there's no question as to why. It got a modern upgrade and a sleek new space in the Central West End a few years ago, making the experience all the more sumptuous. Desserts are divided into light, medium and full-bodied varieties. We recommend the milk-chocolate semifreddo, the silky chocolate pot de… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    G &W Bavarian Style Sausage Company

    Famous for its delectable brats and free cans of Busch beer, G&W Bavarian Style Sausage Company clearly has cornered the local market on Bavarian foodstuffs — curry ketchup anyone? — but the breadth and depth of protein-laden delights is what makes this old-school meat counter the best in St. Louis. The shop, tucked between a couple of car dealerships off… More >>
  • Best Middle-Eastern restaurant

    Café Natasha's

    Restaurant years are like dog years — after two, you are a success; after five, you are an institution. A 30-year run is rare indeed, but that's how long Café Natasha's has been bringing St. Louis its transcendent take on Persian cuisine. What began as a simple downtown lunch counter in the 1980s is now a well-established eatery off of… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (North County)

    Cugino's

    What makes for a good neighborhood bar? Is it a cozy atmosphere? Memorabilia from the area schools? A long-established presence in a location, with possibly the same décor since the 1970s? Sure, these factors all have their places. What's more important than the kitsch, however, is the ability to walk into the joint and run into a former grade school… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    The Fortune Teller Bar

    Perhaps more than any other business in the area, the Fortune Teller Bar truly encapsulates the up-and-coming revitalization of Cherokee Street with an unparalleled, winsome and esoteric spirit. As fate would have it for co-owner Sam Coffey, the bar sprung back to life after found signage revealed the building's previous life under the same name. House-pickled eggs, tarot-card readings and… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Elaia and Olio

    Who would've thought that an abandoned gas station and former drug house in one of the city's most notorious neighborhoods would transform into St. Louis' mecca of gastronomy? In just a little under a year, Elaia and Olio, the fraternal twins of Botanical Heights, has done just that, turning the bleak corner of Tower Grove and McRee into a palace… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Black Thorn Pub and Pizza

    If the two-inch crust, the soft interior dough, the layers upon layers of mozzarella and fresh toppings don't get you, then the sauce of Black Thorn's thick-crust pizza will certainly win you over. Its flavor is both zesty and spicy, with hints of cayenne pepper and brown sugar. In terms of slice density and calorie containment, a single slice of… More >>
  • Best Place for Cocktails

    Taste

    Sometimes you get sick of drinking the same ol' cocktails. When you tire of the monotony of rum and cokes or vodka tonics, treat yourself at Taste. Here, it's impossible to find a boring drink on the menu, and even the most unadventurous drinkers will be rewarded when taking a gamble on a new concoction. The bar specializes in old-timey… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Melt

    Once the clock strikes midnight, breakfast becomes fair game. And what better way to satisfy every craving in the book — salty, sweet, crispy, even spicy — than with one of Melt's hot-from-the-griddle, made-from-scratch waffles? Melt's waffles serve as perfect repositories for maple syrup and just about anything else Melt can dream up. Golden buttermilk waffles, or vegan and gluten-free… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

    Frida's Deli

    Frida's Deli caters not only to vegetarians but to healthy eaters of all kinds. With an extensive menu including vegan, raw, gluten-free, soy-free and oil-free items — which are all clearly labeled on the menu — people will rejoice and easily find something that satisfies their diets. Vegetarians need only throw a dart at the menu to find a stellar… More >>
  • Best Restaurant To Die In The Past Year

    Salt - CLOSED

    On the outside it looked like a funeral home — tall, imposing, the big S sign in front that reminded you of the Sultenfuss Funeral Parlor from My Girl — but the glimmering string of lights, the occasional open door and the passage of guests in and out let you know that there was indeed a breath of life at… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Porter's Fried Chicken

    Porter's has long been underrated. It may not be fancy, but that's the great thing about it. You get your chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and roll in a cardboard box regardless of whether it's eat in or carry out, and all for as little as $4.99. The no-frills restaurant offers other classic comfort foods like burgers, sandwiches and desserts, but… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Tasting Menus

    A few years back it looked as if nothing could steal the thunder of the ubiquitous à la carte steak house — manly cuts of steaks, side dishes that fed an army and big-name cabernets oozed pre-recession wheeling and dealing. What could better capture the spirit of this era than a twenty-ounce hunk of mooing beef and a pound of… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    Niche

    Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries — when an occasion is a big deal a savory meal is always a good idea, especially when the moment is all about you, and your wallet stays firmly in pocket. When someone asks, "Where should we go?" don't be afraid to aim your bow and arrow for something upscale like Clayton bull's-eye Niche. With a menu… More >>
  • Best Soup

    The Fountain on Locust

    "If you can find a better soup in St. Louis...well, we'll eat it," states the Fountain on Locust's menu. The bright blue art deco ice-cream parlor doesn't exactly get by on modesty. Instead, it proclaims its offerings with immense pride, and with good reason. The midtown eatery regularly rotates 47 soup recipes made from scratch every morning, including Cajun corn… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Local Harvest CafÉ

    The brunch menu at Local Harvest Café takes traditional breakfast and lunch items and transforms them into something new and creative. The cafe makes a strong effort to support the St. Louis community by working with local farmers and donating to educational and environmental charities. With plenty of meat, fish, produce, nuts, honey, preserves and other products on the brunch… More >>
  • Best Sweet Potato Fries

    The Kitchen Sink

    There's more than one way to fashion a fry, and the chefs at the Kitchen Sink have honed their craft around the sweet-potato variety. Hand-cut sweet potatoes come piled high in a basket, shimmering under a layer of marshmallows and delivering a thick scent of cinnamon. Underneath, the fries themselves maintain their crisp exterior and inside exude a sweet, syrupy… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Mi Tierra Mexican Store

    News flash — the best taqueria is not on Cherokee Street. It's (gasp!) in Illinois! Mi Tierra, the unassuming Fairmont City outpost, serves up traditional Mexican fare in a setting that's part bodega, part butcher counter and all sublime. While taquerias have become about as ubiquitous as McDonald's and restaurants rush to put a fancy spin on humble street fare,… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Fork & Stix

    Pad Thai, tom yum soup and red and green curries make up the list of staples at any Thai restaurant. While Fork & Stix excels at these dishes, its true signature lies in its unique regional influence. Some of the Northern Thai specialties include khao soi (a curry-noodle soup featuring a deeply flavorful yellow-orange broth, egg noodles, chicken or steak… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Pho Grand

    For more than twenty years, the Trinh family's Pho Grand menu has been St. Louis' gateway from the familiar to the more adventurous aspects of Vietnamese cuisine, like fried silkworms and squid teeth. While the restaurant isn't quite Americanized enough to put ketchup bottles on the table, you won't get a pile of traditional exotic, fragrant leaves like fish mint,… More >>
  • Best Wine & Liquor Store

    Randall's Wines & Spirits

    Randall's Wine and Spirits offers 35 shelves of fun-flavored vodka to St. Louis booze consumers. "The most popular of the novelty vodkas right now is the Three Olives Tartz. It's supposed to taste like that candy, SweeTarts," one of the helpful clerks restocking bottles tells us. "The Loopy vodka by Three Olives is also selling briskly. You mix that with… More >>
  • Best Wine List (Price Be Damned)

    Elaia

    Elaia proves that an exploratory trip to Spain and France can work wonders for a wine list. At least, that's the tough gig that Andrey Ivanov had to endure when masterminding Elaia's cellar selection. The result of his labor is an oenophile's dream, as the best wines from traditional producers share equal time with more up-and-coming regions like Romania, Greece… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop

    Flashy, giant, goo-filled cupcakes with increasingly wacky flavors have been all the rage lately, but they can turn off even the sweetest of teeth. Whisk's cupcakes are the perfect antidote. Kaylen Wissinger, the pastry chef behind Whisk, started her business in 2011 as Farm Fresh Cupcakes, selling at local farmers' markets. Today, the appropriately sized cupcakes are a staple at… More >>
  • Best Wine List (Value)

    Balaban's

    What were Francophiles to do when Balaban's, the 37-year-old Central West End landmark closed? Thankfully, the beloved bistro carries on in Chesterfield as a restaurant and gourmet market. However, it's the wine program at Balaban's that makes it stand out from the crowd. Unlike most restaurants, which often charge a substantial markup for the privilege of enjoying wine service in… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Hodak's

    Hodak's is home to a winning (and heartburn-inducing) St. Louis combination: fried chicken, Budweiser beer and Cardinals baseball. Since it was founded in 1962, the restaurant has changed locations and been through more facelifts than Joan Rivers, but it has maintained its old-school charm as well as its status as the go-to spot for dynamite fried chicken. The reason is… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Mission Taco Joint

    Mission Taco Joint clearly has nothing to hide — you can actually watch its workers making fresh tortillas through a window on the Delmar Boulevard side of the restaurant. There's also a walk-up window and an outdoor standing area, both of which provide a delicious venue for people-watching. Inside, Mission is almost always packed, but if you can find a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    Chubbies

    What better place to expand one's waistline than at a burger joint actually called "Chubbies"? Even the letters in its bright orange logo are horizontally challenged. At the Delmar Loop's newest burger establishment — just opened in February — the menu seems tailor-made to lure twenty-year-old undergrads from Washington University: burgers, wings, cheese fries, cheesesteaks. Those kids may still have… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Iowa Buffet

    Iowa Buffet cooks up the best little affordable burger between buns that you've probably never heard of — until now. Sorry, regulars, but this old-fashioned hideaway is just too good not to share. Think of it this way: Sweet owner Carolyn McKinney has kept the cozy hole in the wall open for 26 years, and we're hoping to help her… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Cyrano's

    When someone says Cyrano's we think one thing: glorious, magnificent desserts. Hell, some people skip dinner altogether and just get dessert — with some aperitifs, of course. The menu changes seasonally, so you can often enjoy new creations like peach gooey butter cake. Don't worry, though: The classic Cyrano's standbys are always on hand, like the caramel brioche bread pudding. Try… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

    Cutter's

    On any given night, on a quiet stretch of road on the east side of Belleville, Illinois, the expansive parking lot at Cutter's slowly begins to fill up with motorcycles, work vans, beaters — this enormous neighborhood bar takes all comers, but it's primarily a blue-collar kind of watering hole. Service here is expedient and no-nonsense. In fact, to order… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    Auntie Anne's Pretzels

    Eating alone doesn't have to be a shameful thing. Enter the Saint Louis Galleria, walk past the past the food court and endless sunglasses kiosks, and go, my child, to Auntie Anne's Pretzels. It doesn't matter what kind of pretzel you order; the outer surface will be crispy, suffused with a butter whose flavor hits with a kind of lab-tested… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Brennan's

    First dates are scary and unpredictable. For those brave enough to head into battle, Brennan's provides a classy-yet-affordable backdrop for any number of potential first-date scenarios. Scenario No. 1: Romance. Two people who already like each other will find conversation comes easy in the warm, wood-paneled atmosphere, especially after a couple of glasses of wine and the intimacy of sharing… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Men

    Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

    Boys who like beer knew about Flying Saucer's impending landing in downtown St. Louis months in advance. On its first day it was packed to the gills with nary an empty seat at the bar. Why? Because 80 beers on tap. Because 150 more in bottles. Because Busch Stadium is within spitting distance. Because boys like beer and baseball. Now,… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Women

    Blood & Sand

    Note the name of this category is "Best" and not "Easiest," because at Blood & Sand suitors will find several obstacles in their paths. Firstly, only dues-paying club members and invited guests of members may wine and dine at this private establishment (and enrollment is currently closed). Second, once he makes it past the front doors, an eligible individual must… More >>
  • Best Public Restroom

    The Mud House

    When you're on the toilet, it's nice to have something to look at other than a smartphone or a magazine. In the restroom of the Mud House on Cherokee Street, look up, down and all around for some hands-free entertainment! Much of the wall space is lined with vintage board games. Sorry! next to Stratego above Monopoly, which is only… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

    The number of excellent craft-beer bars in St. Louis continues to grow, but with 55 taps and more than 200 bottles, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar sits atop the list. What separates Bridge is the massive and constantly evolving draft menu, on which you can find the brewery, beer name, where said beer hails from, style and ABV. If… More >>

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