40 Cheap Thrills That Keep Us Loving St. Louis For Less

Sep 27, 2017 at 6:00 am
The Chain of Rocks Bridge: Always a thrill.
The Chain of Rocks Bridge: Always a thrill. KELLY GLUECK

Page 4 of 4

The Hi-Pointe Theatre. - FLICKR/PAUL SABLEMAN
The Hi-Pointe Theatre.

Best Old Hollywood Flashback

The Hi-Pointe Theatre

1005 McCausland Avenue, 314-644-1100

Ditch the high-priced megaplexes for a truly unique movie experience at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, the area's second-oldest movie theater that's still in business today. Built in 1922, the main 414-seat theater served as the movie house's single screen until the Hi-Pointe Backlot, a 48-seat satellite theater in a building behind the original theater, opened in 2015. Family-owned since the 1970s, the theater has experienced numerous upgrades over the years, including Dolby Digital sound, a new screen and refurbished seating. Despite these additions, however, the small cinema maintains its old-school charm with details such as a turquoise curtain, old Hollywood movie posters and cozy, local vibe. The nostalgia gets especially real when Hi-Pointe features special showings of old Christmas movies on Saturday mornings in December. You'll love the prices, too: the first show of the day is only $5, and movies are $5 all day on Wednesdays. Even at later times other days of the week, adults only pay $9 and seniors and students pay $7 — a definite improvement from the double-digit price tags you see elsewhere. The deliciously addictive (and equally affordable) popcorn at the concession stand is the cherry on top. —Elizabeth Semko

Best Free Pool

Ryder's Tavern

4123 Chippewa Street, 314-899-9343

Comedian Patrick Monahan recently tweeted, "Bars with pool tables are good because you get to drink and watch very serious people ask people to move aside so they can miss pool shots." His point: Bars with pool tables are often annoying. Many times the hardcore pool sharks camp out at the lone table in the bar, taking far too seriously a game meant to be enjoyed by drunks. These billiards bullies will not abide a group of tipsy amateurs knocking around the balls for the evening. And even if a table is available, someone is going to have to dig up four quarters, which in the days of Apple Pay and Square is an almost impossible feat. Ryder's Tavern on Chippewa eliminates the downsides of most public pool tables with a low-key atmosphere and free pool table welcoming to groups of pool noobs who fear the judgment of the elite poolerati. Between games you can treat yourself to a burger and cheese curds served from the kitchen just feet from the pool table, and keep the hits coming on the nearby jukebox. Just don't forget — loser buys the next round. — Jered Schneider

The Sinkhole.

Best Place to See a $5 Rock Show

The Sinkhole

7423 South Broadway, 314-328-2309

Since opening in the fall of 2016, the Sinkhole has become the go-to hole-in-the-wall for the local DIY, noise and experimental punk scene, while offering a space for touring bands that have outgrown their buds' basements. Co-founder Mitch Kirkwood has described the cash-only Carondelet venue as a kind of "clubhouse for the music scene"; that gets it about right. Likely dating back to the 1890s, the building sports one of South Broadway's coolest facades, and beneath the exposed rafters, the cement-block walls are covered with blurry photos and setlists from shows. With a capacity of 150, the stage action is up-close and in your face. New and underground St. Louis bands dominate the schedule (the club has shows nearly every night of the week), along with stalwarts like the Homewreckers and Boreal Hills as regular openers for out-of-towners you've probably never heard of — at least not yet. And the club's bookings, led by veteran talent scout Matt Stuttler, occasionally dip into indie pop and even Americana. St. Louis may have no shortage of small music venues, but there's no better place in town to grab a beer and catch a loud, fast and messy rock & roll show. —Roy Kasten

Best Place to Stuff Your Face

Sushi Ai

Multiple locations, including 910 Olive Street

If you need a place to stuff your face, Sushi Ai can't be beat. The homegrown chain (now with three restaurants, and counting) offers a $12.99 all-you-can-eat special for lunch. The dinner all-you-can-eat special, which rings in at $19.99, includes some special rolls not available on the lunch menu. That's hard to beat in this town, especially when the offerings include favorites like the Spider Roll, an overstuffed roll positively bursting with battered soft-shell crab. There's plenty of appetizers to choose from here, including the ginger salad, sweet and crisp crab Rangoons and miso soup. It's a great spot to bring apprehensive first-timers. Don't like spicy tuna rolls? Move on to the baked salmon. With locations in Clayton and St. Charles as well as Midtown, you won't have to worry about driving too far out for a lunch date. If you're going to stuff your face, though, be sure to do just that — or get a friend to pick up your slack. Sushi Ai charges an extra fee for any sushi ordered that you don't finish. —Taylor Vinson

Best Place to Buy Clothing By the Pound

Goodwill Outlet

3728 Market Street, 314-531-0671

You really messed up this time. You got greedy and got caught, and now your significant other is out of patience and has thrown you out on your ass. The entire contents of your closet were left on the lawn for the neighbors to pick through; you have been left with nothing. What to do? Easy. Head on down to the Goodwill Outlet and buy yourself a whole new wardrobe — by the pound. You see, the Goodwill Outlet is no ordinary Goodwill store, with such amenities as "racks" and "shelves." No, here you will instead find blue bin after blue bin, priced as cheap as can be (the "expensive" stuff goes for 99 cents per pound; the cheap stuff a mere 29 cents) and ripe for the picking. "Ripe" is an appropriate word here: This is a Mad Max Thunderdome free-for-all affair of completely unsorted goods — gloves and maybe even a painter's mask are highly recommended. Deck yourself out in hand-picked secondhand duds at unreasonably cheap prices and get ready to strut your stuff for the next poor sucker foolish enough to fall for your crap. The Goodwill Outlet is here to help. —Daniel Hill

The Heavy Anchor. - MABEL SUEN
The Heavy Anchor.

Best Place to Laugh on a Monday

The Heavy Anchor

5226 Gravois Avenue, 314-352-5226

Most bars and restaurants treat Mondays as their de facto weekend, a day off after several busy nights serving the nine-to-five crowd. But the Heavy Anchor in Bevo Mill knows what most people really need after a Monday at work: a cold drink and a good laugh. Every Monday at 10 p.m. the bar hosts the most popular open mic comedy night in the city. The free show, hosted by local comedian Chad Wallace, is an opportunity for novice and veteran comedians to test out new material. The crowds are often generous with laughs, as Mondays are also "Case of the ($1 PBR) Mondays," so most of the crowd has spent a few dollars on Pabst Blue Ribbons before venturing into the show. Although the talent ranges from complete rookies to touring veterans, during their five minutes under the hot stage lights, alone against the weathered maroon wall, they are all equal. Think you've got what it takes to make a room of strangers laugh? Put your name on the legal pad in the back and give it your best shot. If you aren't made for the spotlight, you can still sit back, kick back a few $1 beers and enjoy the show. —Jered Schneider

Best Place to Live Your HGTV Dreams


3130 Gravois Avenue, 314-357-1392

If your idea of a good time involves lounging in front of shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, you need to pay a visit to Refab ASAP. Step inside this warehouse, and you'll immediately find yourself surrounded by rooms overflowing in furniture, housewares, lumber, decor and other odds and ends to make your renovation dreams come true. But don't think of this as IKEA 2.0. The nonprofit creates jobs by providing training in deconstruction and refabrication to people who can then safely disassemble buildings and remove useful items that would otherwise be demolished by machine. As a result, the perfectly good materials from these buildings can be sold for reuse rather than being sent to a landfill. As an added bonus, the warehouse offers plenty of unique extras to complete your home or contribute to your renovation project, whether that's a funky doorknob, a toilet, a front door, a vintage chandelier or even something as random as a (fake) Christmas tree. You can further get involved in the effort by dropping off or asking Refab to pick up products you'd like to donate, or volunteer to help with deconstruction. It's a true treasure hunt that also saves the earth and creates employment. And that's something sure to get any HGTV host's approval. —Elizabeth Semko

Subterranean Books. - KELLY GLUECK
Subterranean Books.

Best Way to Get Lost

Dunaway Books and Subterranean Books

3111 South Grand Boulevard, 314-771-7150

6275 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-6100

St. Louis is blessed with a treasure-trove of great bookstores, but two of them are truly underappreciated gems: Subterranean Books in the Loop and Dunaway Books on South Grand. In keeping with their evocative names, they're each filled to the brim with hidden depths and adventures just waiting to be discovered — simply wander the stacks and see. You may think you're just stopping by for one specific work only to find yourself wondering where the last hour has gone. Meanwhile, from the moment you arrive, a palpable sense of gladness emanates from kind staff members who never seem put off when a visit becomes lengthy (and less than lucrative). The two operations are also the respective domains of very good bookstore dogs Teddy (at Subterranean) and Blue (at Dunaway). And both operations celebrate local writers in generous ways. But don't get them confused; their wonderful assortments for St. Louis bibliophiles are as distinct as the architectural spaces and neighborhoods they inhabit. While Dunaway's several floors are bursting with a wide array of rare, used and out-of-print books, the volumes cleverly tucked inside Subterranean's storefront along Delmar Boulevard are all brand new. —Evie Hemphill

Best Way to Celebrate St. Louis

Blues at the Arch Series


Don't get us wrong: Forest Park has been a fine steward of the annual Fair St. Louis Fourth of July celebration for the last four years. But remember back when America's biggest birthday party was called the VP Fair and was held at the Arch every year? There's something magical about being able to gaze out at the riverfront while standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow music-loving St. Louisans as a band performs in the shadow of the world's largest horseshoe. Fortunately, the Blues at the Arch series has kept that experience going for the last two years, hosting late-summer concerts featuring local and national blues luminaries. And frankly, these events may even edge out Fair St. Louis in terms of pure St. Louis-ness. Our city's blues history is storied, and hearing those soulful sounds on the Arch grounds qualifies in our book as the quintessential St. Louis experience. And sure, Fair St. Louis recently announced that the party would be returning to the Arch next year, but that shouldn't diminish the Blues at the Arch experience one bit. After all, which is the more St. Louis experience: Counting Crows performing for a crowd of thousands or our very own Marquise Knox doing the very same? We'll take the latter every time. —Daniel Hill