St. Louis' neighborhoods are gems in their own right: full of history, great people and, as far as Gut Check is concerned, fantastic food. Each week we'll take you into a specific neighborhood and point you in the direction of the best places to grab some bites.
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As its name implies, midtown is the city's geographic center. Once a hub of industrial activity, the neighborhood has more recently remade itself into the nexus of art and culture in St. Louis with venues like the rehabilitated Powell Symphony Hall, the classic Fox Theatre and the Contemporary Art Museum. Experiencing all that edification, though, builds up an appetite. Luckily, midtown has plenty of options, ranging from fine Italian to some of the best barbecue around.
Plush (3224 Locust Street; 314-535-2686) With 40,000 square feet to play with, Plush is a fully operational club, venue, bar and restaurant, with plenty of room to spare. On any given night, you could grab a bite from a menu full of eclectic American food that borders on greasy spoon but with modern twists (meatloaf cupcakes, for example), check out the band playing in the unique concert space, head up to the second floor for some Ping-Pong, or pull up at a stool at the more intimate bar upstairs. RFT named Plush the "Best New Bar" in 2012, and things have only gotten better for this jack-of-all-trades, one-of-a-kind establishment.
Pappy's Smokehouse (3106 Olive Street; 314-535-4340) The line of hungry patrons spilling out the door and around the corner is a testament to the popularity of this pillar of barbecue perfection. The ribs here are legendary, the smoked goodness, truly addictive. You can't go wrong with any of the staples -- pulled pork, brisket -- and the sides by themselves would be enough to justify the trip (fried corn on the cob!). We named Pappy's "Best Barbecue" in our "Best Of St. Louis" issue three years in a row after it opened, and it was only after the emergence of Bogart's, run by Pappy's former pitmaster, that a new winner was crowned. Pappy's, however, hasn't lost its edge by any means, and the lines keep growing...
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