Best Of 2017

RFT Readers' Choice Winners: 2017
Want to know the best places to eat and drink or go shopping, dancing, biking or get tatted up? We've got all the above in our list of readers' favorites. Use this roster to plan your next weekend — or the rest of your life.

Best Restaurant

Broadway Oyster Bar

736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811

Broadway Oyster Bar may serve Cajun food, but its soul is entirely St. Louis. For more than 35 years, this restaurant and music venue has been serving up étouffée, jambalaya, gator and crawfish to hungry diners, washed down with the best hurricanes this side of NOLA. And you don't have to worry about eating too much — head outside to the live music stage and dance it all off to a zydeco beat.

Best New Restaurant

Cork & Barrel Chop House and Spirits

7337 Mexico Road, St. Peters; 636-387-7030

If you don't have the cash to buy your own Big Green Egg, Cork & Barrel Chop House and Spirits has you covered. The upscale St. Peters steakhouse is the only restaurant in the entire state to cook using these coveted cookers. After just one bite of its mouthwatering steaks and chops, you'll wonder why more places don't take its lead.

Best Late-Night Eats

The Gramophone

4243 Manchester Avenue, 314-531-5700

If your idea of late-night dining means mediocre diner food and stale coffee, clearly you haven't been to the Gramophone. After an eight-year run as a music venue, this Grove eatery converted into a sandwich shop in 2015 and made St. Louis a tastier place. For proof, order the "Manchester Melt," a riff on the St. Louis classic gerber. It's magnificent any time of day but tastes so much sweeter at 2 a.m.

Best Brunch

Three Monkeys

3153 Morganford Road, 314-772-9800

If it's Sunday in south city, there is only one place to be: brunch at Three Monkeys. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the seventh day, this beloved Tower Grove South bar and grill turns itself into a multi-room culinary extravaganza with everything from shrimp cocktail to made-to-order omelets, roast beef to pancakes to pasta. Add in a complementary mimosa or bargain-priced Bloody Mary, and there's no better place to be on a lazy weekend morning.

Best Barbecue

Beast Craft Barbecue

20 South Belt W, Belleville, Illinois; 618-257-9000

When you hear the word "beast," you might think it refers to the animals that pitmaster David Sandusky has on the smokers at his wonderful Belleville smokehouse. Ask him, however, and he'll tell you something different: "Beast is an adjective; it's how we do things around here." That intensity translates into what readers say is the area's best barbecue and possibly the best pork steak on the planet.

Best Bakery

Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Café

Two locations, including 8509 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-993-5455

Long before the accolades, before winning Cupcake Wars (twice) and being selected as the best cupcakes in the entire state, Jilly's was a simple University City bakery with the singular mission of bringing St. Louis the biggest and best gourmet cupcakes it had ever seen. When you bite into one of its massive, buttercream-coated treats, you'll see it's achieved that — and so much more — even if there's nothing simple about it.

Best Burger

D's Place

900 Barton Street, 314-773-1019

As if one juicy eight-ounce hunk of Angus beef wasn't enough, the folks at D's Place in Soulard take that, add a second, and then cover them both in bacon, cheddar and an onion ring. They call this behemoth "the Danimal," but they should simply refer to it as the best damn burger in town.

Best Burger, Non-Beef Division


622 North and South Road, University City; 314-727-6500

Frida's owner Natasha Kwan has said that people often tell her that the "Frida Burger" tastes like a Big Mac. It's the ultimate compliment — to the Big Mac. At this University City vegetarian and vegan spot, even the most dedicated carnivores enjoy sinking their teeth into this secret blend of Match Meat, beans, vegetables, herbs and spices, topped with tomatoes and tahini chipotle slaw. Whether you're vegan or meat-eater, it's no matter. We're loving it.

Best Desserts


603 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-963-3232

For 40 years, Cyrano's has been bringing St. Louis not only the best desserts, but the most comprehensive dessert selection. From classic flambés to the city's best bread pudding, this Webster Groves mainstay harkens back to a time when you could grab a coffee and a slice of decadent pie after the theater — a treat that never goes out of style.

Best Wings


Two locations, including 300 North Euclid Avenue, 314-361-2828

Culpeppers may not have invented the chicken wing, but you wouldn't know that by the reverence with which St. Louisans treat this perennial favorite. Crisp, juicy, meaty, tangy and stinging with enough heat to make your eyes water — these wings have set the standard in St. Louis for more than 70 years. Here's hoping for 70 more.

Best Tacos

Kalbi Taco Shack

2301 Cherokee Street, 314-240-5544

If Korean-style short ribs, sweet and spicy jackfruit and teriyaki chicken don't come to mind when you think of tacos, Kalbi Taco Shack shows why you've been missing out. At this Cherokee Street fusion taqueria, Mexican-style staples are infused with Asian flavor, proving that good tacos have no boundaries.

Best Pizza

Pointer's Pizza

1023 S. Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-644-2000

What's better than Pointer's delectable, hand-tossed crust topped with its signature tangy tomato sauce, gooey cheese and a host of toppings? Why, the 28-inch version, of course! It may be impossible to eat the behemoth "Pointersaurus" in one sitting (go ahead and try with a friend), but we wouldn't mind making the attempt.

Best Fried Chicken


3108 Olive Street, 314-531-4668

Nashville may have given this style of hot chicken its name, but St. Louis' Southern has given it its soul. At this restaurant co-founded by Pappy's Mike Emerson and Rick Lewis (now of the newly opened Grace Meat + Three), the chile oil-dipped chicken is so fiery you'll break a sweat, but so crisp, juicy and full of flavor, you won't even notice. It's worth the burn.

Best Mexican

Taqueria El Bronco

2817 Cherokee Street, 314-762-0691

These days, you'll find everything on Cherokee Street from ramen to records, Saudi cuisine to tea. At its heart, though, the vibrant neighborhood remains the center of St. Louis' Mexican cuisine, and no restaurant represents this better than Taqueria El Bronco. Whether feasting on authentic tacos, massive tortas or overstuffed sopes diners at this neighborhood mainstay, you'll taste why this beloved taqueria is the heart of Cherokee Street.

Best Greek


6836 Gravois Avenue, 314-353-1488

Apollonia may be located in the heart of south city, but its authentic Greek food will make you think you're in the Mediterranean. For more than a decade, this delightful taverna has been serving St. Louisans classic Greek delicacies like saganaki, dolmades and moussaka, as well as what's arguably the best gyro in town. It's enough to make you want to shout "Opa!"

Best Italian

Cunetto House of Pasta

5453 Magnolia Avenue, 314-781-1135

If you haven't had the pleasure of being a guest at an Italian wedding, head down to Cunetto House of Pasta on any given weekend night. It's basically the same thing. At this Hill mainstay, the lively yet sophisticated atmosphere and perennial favorites like veal saltimbocca and chicken cardinale make every meal feel like a celebration.

Best Indian


9720 Page Avenue, Overland; 314-423-7300

When you pull up to Haveli, which is located in an industrial part of north county, you might question whether you have the right spot. One taste of its northern Indian cuisine, however, will erase any doubts. Under the guidance of owner Hema Patel, Haveli is responsible for the best vindaloo, curry and masala in town. The building may be a former Shoney's, but Patel has turned it into the Taj Mahal.

Best Chinese

Wonton King

8116 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-567-9997

Olive Boulevard, University City's unofficial Chinatown, is crowded with good Chinese food, but one restaurant consistently stands out from the rest. For years, Wonton King has been wowing diners with its Hong Kong-style cuisine, best-in-class Peking duck and specialties like the "XO Seafood Rice" — so good it's developed a cult following. Then there's the dim sum, a selection of authentic small-plates goodies so delightful you'll be glad they offer it seven days a week.

Best Thai

Pearl Café

8416 N. Lindbergh Boulevard, Florissant; 314-831-3701

From a storefront in the heart of north county, Pearl Café consistently offers the area's best Thai food, but that's only part of the story. Sure, Scott Truong knows how to cook amazing pad Thai and yellow curries, but the innovative chef/owner is always looking for ways to reimagine Thai cuisine through dishes like the "Phorito" or his forthcoming "Thai Burger." Add in the extensive beer selection and 150 different types of whiskey and you'll see why Pearl Café is so much more than your usual Thai spot.

Best Middle Eastern

The Vine

3171 South Grand Boulevard, 314-776-0991

You might go to the Vine because of its impossibly succulent chicken shawarma. You could be partial to its shish kafta, its falafel or even a simple plate of hummus. Whatever Middle Eastern delicacy you crave, chances are this Lebanese gem not only has it, but has the best version this side of the Levant.

Best Sushi

Tani Sushi Bistro

7726 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-296-8069

If you judged the quality of a sushi restaurant by its atmosphere, the stylish Tani Sushi Bistro would take the grand prize. But it also takes top honors for what's really important: impossibly fresh and impeccably presented sashimi and a collection of unique offerings that go far beyond spicy tuna and California rolls. This sleek Clayton eatery is the total package.

Best Vegetarian


622 North and South Road, University City; 314-727-6500

The true mark of a quality vegetarian restaurant isn't whether it's perfected the art of cooking seitan or can properly prepare tofu. Those are important, of course, and Frida's has them down, but the most telling thing about this lovely University City cafe is just how many non-vegetarians frequent it on a regular basis. Full flavors make Frida's feel complete — and delicious — even to the most dedicated carnivore.

Best Diner

City Diner

3139 South Grand Boulevard, 314-772-6100

For the past 25 years, City Diner has been a staple of the south city restaurant scene, serving hungry patrons breakfast, lunch or dinner into the wee hours of weekend mornings. But the extended hours are only part of its allure. Those fluffy pancakes, overstuffed sandwiches and blue plate-style entrees are crave-worthy any time of day.

Best Steakhouse

Tucker's Place

Multiple locations, including 2117 South 12th Street; 314-772-5977

Tucker's Place is not the fanciest steakhouse in town by a long shot — that pomp and circumstance is for the out-of-town chains. At this friendly Soulard institution and its offspring, you can wear jeans and a t-shirt while feasting on humongous, shockingly juicy steaks that come (gasp) with a baked potato and a salad. This beloved spot proves that spending more isn't the only way to attain high quality.

Best Ice Cream

Ices Plain & Fancy

2556 South 39th Street, 314-601-3604

Part of the novelty of getting ice cream at Ices Plain & Fancy is the show: Nitro ice cream, frozen to order in a cloud of cold smoke, is a sight to behold, one that's worthy of a visit in its own right. However, one taste of this silken cream will leave you convinced that the best part of Ices Plain & Fancy is eating it.

Best Coffee Shop

Coffee Cartel

2 Maryland Plaza, 314-454-0000

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Coffee Cartel serves as the Central West End's unofficial meet-up point, a place to see and be seen. If you need further proof, consider that there's a live web-cam of its patio so you can monitor the goings-on even when you're not there. Impossibly decadent coffee drinks in every flavor under the sun fuel the conversation all night long.

Best Deli

Pickleman's Deli

Multiple locations, including 20 North Central Avenue, Clayton; 314-862-2224

You could say that Pickleman's Deli is the quintessential sandwich shop, and you wouldn't be wrong. Its classic toasted subs embody everything that is great in a deli sandwich: crusty bread, fresh toppings, hearty meats. However, Pickleman's is so much more than sammies. Mouthwatering soups, fresh salads and even pizzas make this boutique chain stand out from the crowded field.

Best Bar


2001 Menard Street, 314-833-6686

Located in the former home of Clementine's in the heart of Soulard, Duke's isn't fancy and it isn't pretentious. It's just a fun spot to catch the game or have a stiff drink with a bunch of people who know how to have a good time. In other words, it's a classic Soulard bar. Duke's has a host of high-definition TVs playing whatever game you care most about, a patio that's perfect for a smoke break or outside day drinking and a full menu of bar fare.

Best Place to Sing Karaoke

Good Times Saloon

200 North Main Street, Dupo, Illinois; 618-286-9693

"The best patio bar around," Good Times Saloon has drawn raves from readers under its new owners. While the big patio is a hit for day drinking, you'll want to come back at night when aspiring Lady Gagas and Michael Jacksons strut their stuff — making this bar a draw for readers on both sides of the river.

Best Wine Bar


4659 Maryland Avenue, 314-497-4449

A stylish three-story hangout in the Central West End, Brennan's is far more than just a wine bar — it's also got a terrific selection of whiskey and bartenders capable of mixing a great cocktail. But its wine list is definitely top-notch, and it offers just the vibe you want when you're lingering over a great pour — sophisticated without being snotty, laid-back without being lazy. Come for the cigars and the great vibe; stay for a glass of pinot.

Best Sports Bar


2001 Menard Street, 314-833-6686

Duke's isn't just our readers' choice for best bar; it also notched a win in the hotly competitive best sports bar category. Feast on wings, bruschetta or a sirloin steak sandwich while watching the game. Whether it's hockey, baseball or the NFL (damn those Rams!), you'll find a crowd that's eager to have a good time and a welcoming atmosphere.

Best New Bar

Tin Roof

1000 Clark Avenue, 14-240-5400

The downtown St. Louis outpost of a Nashville-based chain, Tin Roof offers Southern-influenced food, Southern-style hospitality and the kind of party-hearty good-time vibe that would be totally at home in the Music City. Grab some food, get a round of shots and listen to a cover band or a DJ — but no matter where you start the night, you'll want to close it down on the dance floor.

Best Gay Bar

Just John

4112 Manchester Avenue, 314-371-1333

This massive bar in the Grove neighborhood offers two patios, an outdoor bar and a stage for karaoke and drag shows. The roster of clever nightly specials includes "homo bingo" on Monday and Sunday showtunes, with happy hour prices all night long, as well as karaoke on both Tuesday and Thursday. Open til 3 a.m. six nights a week (and until 1 a.m. on the seventh, Sunday), Just John is always a great time.

Best Dive Bar

Cat's Meow

2600 South 11th Street, 314-776-8617

Fake dive bars may come and go, but the Cat's Meow lives forever. This wonderful Soulard dive offers cheap prices, truly stiff pours and an incomplete but vivid history of the neighborhood's Mardi Gras festivities on its weathered walls. Put down that fancy craft brew and come see how the real drinkers pass the time.

Best Cocktails

Gamlin Whiskey House

236 North Euclid Avenue, 314-875-9500

It's no surprise that you'll find the best whiskey selection in town at a bar whose entire raison d'etre is the brown spirit. What is a surprise, however, is that Gamlin Whiskey House is also the top spot to grab a cocktail. Everything on its list is whiskey-based, but that doesn't mean they're boring — at this Central West End hot spot, they've developed an endless list of delicious concoctions.

Best Beer Selection

Three Kings Public House

Multiple locations, including 6307 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-721-3388

With 30 beers on tap, 40 craft beer bottles and a cellar list that consists of unique finds, Three Kings Public House is the embodiment of the modern pub. With a selection this impressive — and a knowledgeable staff to guide you along the way — you're guaranteed to find something you like, even if you didn't know you were looking.

Best Martini

The Famous Bar

5213 Chippewa Street, 314-832-2211

Drink trends can disappear faster than an ice cube in room-temperature whiskey. In recent decades we've seen pre-Prohibition cocktails, sloe gin fizzes, tiki concoctions and choco-tinis. Then there's Famous Bar, which eschews trends in favor of a timeless excellence. Sure, you can get different varieties of martinis at this south city gem, but its classic gin version, chilled until ice crystals form in the glass, shows that some things never go out of style.

Best Margarita

Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

9748 Manchester Road, Rock Hill; 314-962-7100

On Cinco de Mayo, Hacienda gets so packed that it has to shuttle in patrons from far-off parking lots. You don't have to wait until the fifth of May to experience a fiesta at this nearly 50-year-old Rock Hill institution. Order one of its refreshing "Hacienda Margaritas," throw in a little mango or raspberry puree and let the festivities begin.

Best Irish Pub

John D. McGurk's

1200 Russell Boulevard, 314-776-8309

Maybe you go for the Guinness. Or the Irish music. Or the corned beef and cabbage and the lush outdoor garden. For nearly 40 years, this Emerald Isle in the midst of the city's French district has been giving guests from all walks of life a million reasons to love it. It's no wonder that the rest of the country has taken notice, deeming McGurk's one of the best bars in the U.S. This one is obvious.

Best Bloody Mary

The Slider House

9528 Manchester Road, Rock Hill; 314-942-6445

No, you haven't had one too many. If you're at the Slider House and having a bloody mary, there is indeed a mini-burger hanging off the side of your glass. Even without it, this is a fantastic version of the cocktail, with fiery mix, a healthy dose of Picker's vodka and garnishes of celery, bacon and a stuffed peppadew. But the fact that you can have a meal and a cocktail all in the same glass makes this one take the prize.

Turn the page for 40 more winners in shopping, goods, arts and culture, recreation and city life. [page]
click to enlarge LouFest: Readers' choice for best festival. - THEO WELLING
LouFest: Readers' choice for best festival.

Best Park

Forest Park

5595 Grand Drive, 314-367-7275

This one's a no-brainer. With wins in multiple categories — the best place to go biking, best place to go running, best place to get stoned .... need we go on? — it's pretty clear readers are taking full advantage of Forest Park's glorious 1,293 acres. And that doesn't even mention the cultural amenities within its borders, which include the zoo, the art museum and the Muny. Forest Park really is forever.

Best City Neighborhood


St. Louis' most charming neighborhood is also one of its most entertaining — with some great bars and restaurants filling the first floor of charming brick rowhouses. The French feel and walkable proportions make Soulard a great place to go on a bar crawl... or even a totally sober walk. It's beautiful even without beer goggles.

Best Place to Out-of-Towners

City Museum

750 North 16th Street, 314-231-2489

Day or night, there's nowhere in the St. Louis area that's more fun or more unique than City Museum. The late Bob Cassilly created a place where your imagination can run wild, with tunnels, slides, treehouses and even historic artifacts. It's simply a must-visit.

Best Place to Go Biking

Forest Park

5595 Grand Drive, 314-367-7275

The city's largest park is home to dozens of recreational activities, but its cycling opportunities are a huge part of its appeal. A smoothly-paved 12.29 mile trail wends its way around and through the park, offering hills, straightaways and beautiful scenery. The only drawback? The large number of pedestrians who continue to use the bike trail instead of the walking path. Out of the way!

Best Pool

Kirkwood Recreation Station Aquatic Center

111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood; 314-984-6971

Community pools have gone far beyond the humble rectangle with a single diving board you remember from childhood. These days you need to offer water slides, obstacles and a high-filtration kiddie pool to keep families happy. Kirkwood's Recreation Station Aquatic Center has everything a family could want: a competitive-length pool for the hardcore lap-swimmers, an aquatic playground with a twisty yellow slide for the high-energy kids and a Lazy River for the less-active soakers. Kirkwood even has a "leisure pool" with a beach for the non-active poolgoer.

Best Place to Go Running

Forest Park

5595 Grand Drive, 314-367-7275

Gone are the days of joggers having to be aware for swift-moving cyclists while getting in their road work in Forest Park. A few years back the park constructed a special pedestrian path that runs parallel to the bike path, giving runners a veritable open road for logging miles. Now your greatest threat is those massive, six-babies-wide strollers that dominate the morning run.

Best Museum

Saint Louis Art Museum

1 Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072

This past year has been a busy one for the Saint Louis Art Museum, with exhibits covering Eastern and Western art alike. Textiles played a major role in the second half of the year, with shows exploring 300 years of men's fashions, the hats of modern milliner Stephen Jones, a visit from Andre Leon Talley and a small display that showed how politics become a subject for quilts and other textiles. These popular exhibits showcased the breadth of the museum's vision.

Best Gallery

Soulard Art Gallery

2028 South Twelfth Street, 314-258-4299

The Soulard Art Gallery is maintained and operated by resident artists. The former Soulard Art Market is known for monthly multimedia shows based on a theme. This combination of diverse exhibits and a welcoming attitude regularly draws a big crowd to opening nights. Clearly, the organizing artists are doing something right — the gallery is now celebrating eleven years.

Best Place for a First Date


106 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-307-4830

If you question why readers' choice for a great first date entails driving all the way to Edwardsville, clearly you've never been to Cleveland-Heath. The acclaimed restaurant founded by Ed Heath and Jenny Cleveland is both wonderful and casual, with an energetic vibe that keeps conversation flowing even as you rave about the food. The fact it doesn't take reservations is a great excuse to grab a drink while you wait.

Best Place to Escape the Heat

Saint Louis Art Museum

1 Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072

Summer in St. Louis may mean a sickening combination of high temperatures and higher humidity, but its crushing wet blanket can't touch you when you're inside the Saint Louis Art Museum. The institution maintains a climate-controlled environment, constantly measuring and adjusting the humidity and heat. Browse the galleries in comfort, enjoying room after room of fine art and finer temperatures.

Best Place to Escape the Winter

The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House

15193 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield; 636-530-0076

Winter in St. Louis can be a grim affair. The cold, the slush, the flat gray skies stretching on until May — sometimes you just want some heat and a little bit of color. A trip to the Butterfly House in mid-February is downright therapeutic. Its Conservatory Garden is 8,000 square feet of tropical paradise, filled with flights of jewel-tone butterflies and the blossoms that nourish them. With a central vault almost 40 feet high, the lepidoptera flutter freely while you warm up below.

Best Place to Get Stoned

Forest Park

5595 Grand Drive, 314-367-7275

Our leafy green oasis at the edge of the city is RFT readers' No. 1 spot for sparking up a leafy green bowl. With 6.48 square miles of trees, hills, ground cover, waterways and secluded trails, Forest Park is a quick and convenient location for enjoying a session while surrounded by Mother Nature. Yeah, it ain't legal, but that only becomes a concern if you're caught. Keep one eye open for the mounted police patrol — no matter how high you are, you're never gonna outrun a horse.

Best Music Venue

Tin Roof

1000 Clark Avenue, 314-240-5400

Also our readers' choice for "Best New Bar," this Nashville transplant offers live music almost every night of the week. Don't expect anything esoteric or off-putting here — these bands are chosen to help you have a good time. Whether they're covering Prince, leading you in live music trivia or spinning dance hits after a Cardinals victory, Tin Roof knows how to keep the party going.

Best Dance Club


4054 Chouteau Avenue, 314-652-3700

A laid-back neighborhood bar catering to LGBTQ drinkers by day, Rehab becomes a pulsing dance party after dark. Great DJs and reasonable prices keep the party going into the wee hours on Friday and Saturdays, while "all you can drink" specials on Saturdays and Sundays put the phrase to the test. If you're looking for a good time on the dance floor, readers say there's no better place in town.

Best Festival


St. Louis' homegrown music festival has long been a reader favorite — and now that it's back to local ownership, it really is better than ever. Highlights include the great food in the Nosh Pit, the numerous drink options and, most importantly, the killer lineups, which this year included Cage the Elephant, Weezer and a transcendent Snoop Dogg (as usual, don't believe what you read in the Post-Dispatch — Snoop put on a terrific show). There's simply no doubt about it: LouFest is the best.

Best Local Band

Whiskey Raccoons

With John Pressley's delicate finger-picking style and Cara VonderBruegge's soaring, soulful voice, it's no wonder readers chose Whiskey Raccoons as St. Louis' best local band. The acoustic folk duo just released its debut CD, This Is Us, in February 2017 and by August had already been chosen as finalists for a St. Louis Symphony-judged competition to perform the national anthem at a Blues game. While the group didn't win this year, they did make it to the final fourteen, out of 650 submissions — next year's competitors had better watch their backs.

Best Cover Band


FatPocket has been playing high-energy, horn-heavy hits for St. Louis music fans for thirteen years now. Initially formed by members of a Lindenwood University-based jazz quartet, the group has the chops to cover everything from James Brown to Rick James to Bruno Mars, as well as deliver more subdued sets in a solo piano or jazz trio configuration. Regardless of the number of musicians onstage, readers know that FatPocket delivers the goods.

Best Local Politician

Lyda Krewson

It's not an easy time to be mayor of St. Louis, but our readers have appreciation for Lyda Krewson: Where many people might have run away screaming, she's squared her shoulders and dived into to a truly unenviable task. Krewson isn't a showboater — can you imagine how loudly some of our (male) politicians would have screamed if someone chucked a rock through the window of their personal residence? Krewson never made it about her. She just went back to work. Stoicism is an underrated virtue, but our readers know to give this Iron Lady credit where it's due.

Best St. Louisan to Follow on Twitter

Sarah Kendzior


St. Louis-based freelance journalist Sarah Kendzior has developed a huge following on Twitter (292,000 followers, and counting) for many reasons, but we'll stick to two: She's interesting, and she's damn smart. A progressive with an interest in authoritarian governments, Kendzior not only knows of what she tweets; she also manages to make it compelling in 140 characters or less.

Best Louisan to Follow on Instagram

Jeff Vines


Jeff Vines is one half of the STL-Style duo (identical twin brother Randy is the T-shirt company's co-founder). Jeff Vines is also our readers' choice for the best Instagram follow in town, and it's easy to see why. Vines' Instagram depicts the St. Louis we're proud to live in: gorgeous old brick houses, quirky scenes and some truly clever T-shirts. We only wish St. Louis always looked this good.

Best Radio Personality


Weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m., there's no one readers would rather spend time with than the anchor of 105.7 FM the Point's Rizzuto Show. Scott Rizzuto, better known as "Rizz," is a veteran of the alternative rock station. Previously one-half of "Woody & Rizz," he's shown in the last three years that he's just as likable with a gang of "weirdos" as he was with a co-host.

Best TV Personality

Mike Bush

For 32 years, KSDK's Mike Bush has kept St. Louis informed — news junkies and sports fans alike. But that's not the only reason readers named him the city's best TV personality. It's also that he seems so damn nice. For many St. Louisans, the father of four seems almost like their dad ... the good kind of dad, who doesn't ground you and delivers the news in a reassuring tone.

Best Morning Radio Show

The Rizzuto Show

Not only is the eponymous "Rizz" our readers' pick for Best Radio Personality, but the Rizzuto Show also won honors for best morning radio show. With regular features like "Real or Fake?" and "Craiglist Freak of the Week," Rizz, Patrico, Burton and Moon keep the laughs coming. Listening to their show on 105.7 FM the Point is kind of like hanging out in a basement with your funny guy friends — only it's happening in your car at 6 a.m.

Best Salon

Ginger Bay

Two locations, including 437 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood; 314-966-0655

Ginger Bay gets raves from insiders in west county and the Kirkwood area, who love the salon's Aveda products, relaxing vibe and talented professionals. Whether you come for a facial, massage or cut and color, you'll leave looking — and feeling — better.

Best Barber

Union Barbershop

1264 Gravois Avenue, 314-328-2411

The newest barber shop in Soulard, Union Barbershop, has much to commend it, even beyond the talented folks cutting your hair. Not many places in town can boast stacks of Playboys, a comfy waiting room, Kaldi's coffee, beer and even shots for those who like some liquid courage with their haircuts. The hip-hop soundtrack doesn't hurt either.

Best Hotel

Moonrise Hotel

6177 Delmar Boulevard, 314-721-1111

Joe Edwards' boutique hotel on the edge of the Loop is a terrific place to visit and an even better place to stay. It's not just its proximity to the Pageant, though that can't be beat. It also has a killer rooftop bar, a lovely restaurant and well-appointed guest rooms. It's not cheap, but it's worth it.

Best Tattoo Shop

Enigma Tattoos & Body Piercing

6635 Delmar Boulevard, 314-863-8288

Toph and Ty, the co-owners of Enigma Tattoos, both got their start as fine artists, and it shows in their ink work. The pair bought the shop from its longtime owner two years ago after a stint as employees, and they've made it a comfortable spot that aims to please even as its delivers quality designs.

Best Place to Get a Body Piercing

Iron Age Studios

6309 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-1499

Iron Age Studios in the Delmar Loop has been the place to go for tattoos and body piercing since 1994. Owner Brad Fink and his crew have earned a national reputation for their designs. But it's not just about a touch of ink; their piercings are top-notch, too.

Best Yoga Studio

Urban Breath

Two locations, including 4237 Manchester Avenue, 314-421-9642

This yoga studio, with branches in both the city's Grove neighborhood and Maplewood, earns high marks for its mellow atmosphere and diverse group of instructors who are capable of working with any skill level. Readers says Urban Breath is great for beginners; new students can get a pass allowing unlimited classes for just $30 in a 30-day period.

Best Book Store

Left Bank Books

399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731

Big enough to hold a huge variety of books but not so big you get lost or feel like you're at one of those chain stores, Left Bank Books offers a perfectly curated selection of new books upstairs and a great used section in the basement. The children's area, too, is simply wonderful.

Best Clothing Store


Multiple locations, including 110 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-965-3655

A homegrown chain that's grown to four stores in St. Louis County, Paperdolls offers a curated assortment of chic women's clothing. Prices are reasonable (just about everything is under $150) and styles are on-trend without being stupid. Ask a well-dressed woman in Kirkwood or U. City where she got her look, and odds are good it will be Paperdolls.

Best Gift Shop

The Porch

1700 South 9th Street, 314-436-0282

A charming (and surprisingly large) gift shop in Soulard, the Porch features everything from furniture to art to a great reasonably priced collection of wine. Pick up a gift for a friend, something for your garden or just something to drink — you can't go wrong with this selection.

Best Antique Store


9410 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-962-7300

A frequent winner in Best Of St. Louis contests for both "best antiques" and "best furniture store," Emporium has done it again in 2017 with wins in two categories. The Maplewood store features vintage, one-of-a-kind home decor items, with a great, ever-changing selection.

Best Thrift Store


Multiple locations, including 4140 Forest Park Avenue, 314-371-1296

St. Louis loves Goodwill. The national chain of thrift stores often shows up in Best of St. Louis rankings, and there's little wonder why. Goodwill has been upcycling and recycling since way back, while also providing work experience, education and literary programs and career counseling for its employees. Also, you can buy a massive '70s-era Zenith TV console for a good price any time you get the urge. What's not to like about that?

Best Bike Shop

Big Shark

Multiple locations, including 1155 South Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-862-1188

Whether you're buying a brand-new bicycle or just need to tune up your existing wheels, Big Shark is ready to serve, with shops downtown, in Richmond Heights and in Chesterfield. Knowledgeable staff and a low-pressure environment keep cyclists coming back time and again for all their cycling needs.

Best Furniture Store


9410 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-962-7300

Why go to a big box store and get a particle-board dresser that will fall apart in months when you can get something made to last? The furniture at Emporium, a "unique marketplace" in Maplewood, isn't brand-new, but it is expertly crafted to stand the test of time. Multiple vendors means a selection that changes with regularity.

Best Record Store

Record Exchange

5320 Hampton Avenue, 314-832-2249

Vinyl albums continue their surprising comeback from the brink of extinction, but for Jean Haffner's Record Exchange, the format has never gone out of style. Offering 10,000 square feet of sales floor inside a former library, at Haffner's house of music, long players retain their place of pride. With everything from show tunes to novelty albums, if you can't find something to take home at the Record Exchange, you must not have been looking.

Best Jewelry Store

Paramount Jewelers

7348 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-645-1122

Since 1946, generations of St. Louisans have gone to Paramount Jewelers for engagement sets, club rings and the latest in fine jewelry. The friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help people find the perfect anniversary gift or design a custom piece for that once-in-a-lifetime special occasion. Paramount is the exclusive retail source for Tissot Watches and also handles battery replacement and watch repair. Speaking of repairs, if you have a beloved family heirloom that's been damaged, Paramount specializes in fixing antique jewelry.

Best Art Supply Store

Blick Art Materials

6300 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-6980

Blick's expanded location in the Loop has what you need. Whether you're looking for a respectable price on Winsor & Newton paint brushes, sculpting chisels or poster board for a last-minute science project, you can rest easy that the shop has it. (They can even frame the award if your kid wins.) With regular sales on essentials and overstock items, you can get something for practically nothing if you're patient. And don't forget Blick's free preferred customer program, which guarantees Blick will match competitors' prices and nets students and educators a ten percent discount. You can't beat that.