Best Of 2021

Arts & Entertainment

St. Louis' artists didn't let us down this year.

In a year that demanded creativity to do just about everything, St. Louis’ creative class was up to the challenge. Local artists, musicians, theaters and performers continue to do amazing work somehow — and luckily for us, figure out new ways for us to experience it. Maybe you were among the fortunate many who caught a performance or two of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear. And even if you weren’t, you can still enjoy the smarts of Foxing to take advantage of Tony Award-winning actor André De Shields’ time in town to incorporate him, in full Lear costume and on the set, into the band’s amazing new album. That delightful surprise will live as a bizarre, wonderful time capsule of this time. But there have also been reimagined concert series and streaming performances you would actually want to watch — and locals getting some well-deserved national and international attention. They’ve all provided a sky full of silver linings. —Doyle Murphy

Best of St. Louis: Reader's Choice

The people's champions shine in the 2021 Best of St. Louis Readers' Choice.


We asked, and you answered. Here are your picks for the 2021 Best of St. Louis Readers' Choice winners.

FOOD & DRINK

Best Ramen
Nudo House
Multiple locations including 6105-A Delmar Blvd. / 314-370-6970
Runner Up: Midtown Sushi & Ramen, 3674 Forest Park Ave., 314-328-2452

Best Restaurant to Close in the Past 12 Months
Southtown Pub
3707 South Kingshighway Blvd.
Runner Up: Gamlin Whisky House, 236 North Euclid Ave.

Best Chicken Wings
Syberg's
Multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560
Runner Up: Navin's BBQ, 3559 Arsenal St., 314-449-1185

Best Bakery
Nathaniel Reid Bakery
11243 Manchester Rd., 314-858-1019
Runner Up: Federhofer's Bakery, 9005 Gravois Rd., 314-832-5116

Best Greek Restaurant
Olympia Kebob House and Taverna
1543 McCausland Ave., 314-781-1299
Runner Up: Michael's Bar & Grill, 7101 Manchester Ave., 314-644-2240

Best Place for Day Drinking
Broadway Oyster Bar
736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811
Runner Up: Duke's, 2001 Menard St. / 314-833-6686

Best Sushi Restaurant
Cafe Mochi
3221 South Grand Blvd. #1013 314-773-5000
Runner Up: Sushi Ai, 910 Olive St., 314-558-7888

Best Seafood
Broadway Oyster Bar
736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811
Runner Up: Peacemaker Lobster & Crab, 1831 Sidney St., 314-772-8858

Best Burger
Mac's Local Eats
1821 Cherokee St., 314-393-7713
Runner Up: O'Connell's Pub, 4652 Shaw Ave., 314-773-6600

Best St. Louis Style Pizza
Dogtown Pizza
dogtownpizza.com
Runner Up: Syberg's, multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560

Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)
Frida's
622 North and South Rd. 314-727-6500
Runner Up: Mac's Local Eats, 1821 Cherokee St., 314-393-7713

Best Fast-Casual Restaurant
J's Pitaria
91 Concord Plaza Shopping Center,
314-270-8005
Runner Up: Syberg's, multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560

Best Tacos
Mission Taco Joint
908 Lafayette Ave., 314-858-8226
Runner Up: Taco Circus, 4940 Southwest Ave., 314-899-0061

Best Desserts
Russell's on Macklind
5400 Murdoch Ave., 314-533-9994
Runner Up: Cyrano's Cafe, 603 East Lockwood Ave. 314-963-3232

Best Frozen Pizza (Local)
Dogtown Pizza
Runner Up: Syberg's, multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560

Best Thai Restaurant
King and I
3155-3157 South Grand Blvd.,
314-771-1777
Runner Up: Pearl Cafe, 8416 North Lindbergh Blvd., 314-831-3701

Best Margarita
Chava's Mexican Restaurant
925 Geyer Ave. #3921, 314-241-5503
Runner Up: Mission Taco, 908 Lafayette Ave., 314-858-8226

Best Steaks
Tucker's Place
2117 South 12th St., 314-772-5977
Runner Up: Twisted Tree Steakhouse, 10701 Watson Rd., 314-394-3366

Best Mexican Restaurant
La Catrina
5220 Hampton Ave., 314-883-3357
Runner Up: Mi Ranchito, 887 Kingsland Ave., 314-863-1880

Best Cocktails
Planter's House
1000 Mississippi Ave., 314-696-2603
Runner Up: Frazer's Restaurant & Lounge, 1811 Pestalozzi St., 314-733-8646

Best Brunch
Carnivore STL
5257 Shaw Ave., 314-449-6328
Runner Up: Russell's on Macklind, 5400 Murdoch Ave., 314-553-9994

Best Bartenders
Duke's Soulard
2001 Menard St., 314-833-6686
Runner Up: Kari McGinness (Cleveland-Heath), 106 N Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-307-4830

Best Doughnuts
Donut Drive-In
6525 Chippewa St., 314-623-7714
Runner Up: Old Town Donuts, 510 North New Florissant Rd., 314-831-0907

Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Pit Stop - STL
2130 Macklind Ave., 314-696-2999
Runner Up: The Original Crusoe's Restaurant, 3152 Osceola St., 314-351-0620

Best Italian Restaurant
Anthonino's Taverna
2225 Macklind Ave., 314-773-4455
Runner Up: Trattoria Marcella, 3600 Watson Rd., 314-352-7706

Best Chef
Percy Parker (Duke's Soulard)
2001 Menard St., 314-833-6686
Runner Up: Tyler Layton (Twisted Tree Steakhouse), 10701 Watson Rd., 314-394-3366

Best 3 a.m. Bar
The Gramophone
4243 Manchester Ave., 314-531-5700
Runner Up: Patrick McKeane's Pub, 3152 Osceola St., 314-351-0620

Best Patio
Molly's in Soulard
816 Geyer Ave., 314-241-6200
Runner Up: Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811

Best Barbeque
Hogtown Smokehouse
6301 Clayton Ave., 314-899-0550
Runner Up: BEAST Craft BBQ Co., 20 South Belt West, Belleville; 618-257-9000

Best Indian Restaurant
House of India
8501 Delmar Blvd., 314-567-6850
Runner Up: India Rasoi, 25 North Euclid Ave., 314-361-6911

Best New Bar
Twisted Tavern STL
3606 West Outer Rd.,
314-900-1331
Runner Up: Golden Hoosierm 3707 South Kingshighway, 314-354-8044

Best Chain Restaurant
Syberg's
Multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560
Runner Up: Lion's Choice, 6630 Chippewa St., 314-352-5466

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians
Tree House Restaurant
3177 South Grand Blvd.,
314-696-2110
Runner Up: Frida's, 622 North and South Rd., 314-727-6500

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays
Twisted Tree Steakhouse Restaurant
10701 Watson Rd., 314-394-3366

Runner Up: Tony's, 105 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-221-7007

Best Takeout/Curbside
J's Pitaria
91 Concord Plaza Shopping Center,
314-270-8005
Runner Up: Syberg's, multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560

Best Food Truck
Tuk Tuk Thai
@tuktukthaistl

Runner Up: Seoul Taco, seoultaco.com/truck

Best Cajun/Creole
Broadway Oyster Bar
736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811
Runner Up: Sister Cities Cajun Restaurant, 3550 South Broadway, 314-405-0447

Best Chinese Restaurant
Wonton King
8116 Olive Blvd., 314-567-9997
Runner Up: LuLu's Local Eatery, 3201 South Grand Blvd. 314-300-8215

Best Fried Chicken
Original Crusoe's
3152 Osceola St., 314-351-0620
Runner Up: Hodak's, 2100 Gravois Ave., 314-776-7292

Best Martini
Cleveland-Heath
106 N Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-307-4830
Runner Up: The Gin Room, 3200 South Grand Blvd. 314-771-3411

Best Bar
Duke's Soulard
2001 Menard St., 314-833-6686
Runner Up: Helen Fitzgerald's Irish Grill & Pub, 3650 S. Lindbergh Blvd., 314-984-0026

Best Pizza That Isn't St. Louis Style
Blackthorn Pub & Pizza
3735 Wyoming St., 314-776-0534
Runner Up: Katie's Pizza & Pasta, 9568 Manchester Rd., 314-942-6555

Best Coffeehouse
Sweet Em's Coffee & Ice Cream
6330 Clayton Ave., 314-875-9174
Runner Up: Rise Coffee, 4176 Manchester Ave., 314-405-8171

Best Deli/Sandwich
Blues City Deli
2438 McNair Ave., 314-773-8225
Runner Up: Gioia's Deli, 1934 Macklind Ave. / 314-766-9410

Best New Restaurant
Navin's BBQ
3559 Arsenal St., 314-449-1185
Runner Up: Twisted Tavern STL, 3606 West Outer Rd., Arnold 314-900-1331

Best Sports Bar
Duke's Soulard
2001 Menard St., 314-833-6686
Runner Up: Syberg's, multiple locations including 7802 Gravois Rd., 314-832-3560

Best Gay Bar
Just John
4112 Manchester Ave. 314-371-1333
Runner Up: Rehab Bar and Grill, 4054 Chouteau Ave., 314-371-1333

Best Comfort Food
Grace Meat+Three
4270 Manchester Ave., 314-553-2700
Runner Up: Piccadilly on Manhattan, 7201 Piccadilly Ave. / 314-646-0016

Best Outdoor Dining
Pit Stop - STL
2130 Macklind Ave., 314-696-2999
Runner Up: John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Garden, 1200 Russell Blvd., 314-776-8309

Best Flavored Whiskey
Jack Daniel's Honey
Runner Up: Jack Daniel's Apple



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GOODS & SERVICES

Best Gift Shop
STL Style House
3159 Cherokee St., 314-898-0001
Runner Up: Urban Matter, 3179 South Grand Blvd., 314-769-9349

Best Thrift Shop
Goodwill
Multiple locations including 1727
Locust St., 314-241-3464
Runner Up: Savers, 9618 Watson Rd., 314-849-1179

Best Hardware Store
True Value
Multiple locations, including 7320 Manchester Rd., Maplewood;
314-647-1411
Runner Up: Edele & Mertz Hardware, 1822 South Broadway, 314-421-2131

Best Garden Center
Frisella Nursery
550 Highway F, Defiance;
636-798-2555
Runner Up: Flowers & Weeds, 3201 Cherokee St., 314-776-2887

Best Smoke Shop (General)
Coughing Cardinal
2131 Barrett Station Rd.,
314-996-2473
Runner Up: Emporium, 6254 Delmar Blvd., 314-721-6277

Best Car Repair
Webster Groves Complete Auto Repair
#2 S Old Orchard Ave., Webster
Groves, 314-961-2728
Runner Up: Coates Brothers Auto Repair, 6405 Manchester Ave., 314-647-2334

Best Medical Marijuana Dispensary
North Dispensary
1709 Hwy Z, Pevely; 636-224-2885
Runner Up: 3Fifteen Primo Cannabis, multiple locations including 5501 Chippewa St., 314-330-2118

Best Clothing Boutique
STL Style House
3159 Cherokee St., 314-898-0001
Runner Up: Paperdolls Boutique, 12095 Manchester Rd., 314-858-9355

Best Pet Groomer
Dogtowne Grooming
1138 Tamm Ave., 314-645-7008
Runner Up: Four Muddy Paws, 1211 Park Ave., 314-773-7297

Best Jewelry Store
Paramount Jewelers
7348 Manchester Ave.,
314-645-1122
Runner Up: Vincent's Jewelers, 11733 Olive Blvd., 314-989-9030

Best Salon
Formation Salon and Spa
8369 Olive Blvd., 314-733-5363
Runner Up: Salon Melange, 1218 Tamm Ave., 314-651-5088

Best CBD Shop
CBD Kratom
Multiple locations including 3161 Morgan Ford Rd., 314-202-8330
Runner Up: Root 66, Multiple locations including, 3737 South Grand Blvd., 314-257-0816

Best Florist
Flowers and Weeds
3201 Cherokee St., 314-776-2887
Runner Up: Walter Knoll, 2765 Lasalle St., 314-352-7575

Best Sex Shop
Hustler Hollywood
9802 Natural Bridge Rd., 314-428-5069
Runner Up: Patricia's, 3552 Gravois Ave., 314-664-4040

Best Comics Store
Apotheosis Comics & Lounge
3206 South Grand Blvd. 314-802-7090
Runner Up: StL Comics Toys & More, 4117 Old Highway 94 South, 314-537-9971

Best Grocery
Schnucks
Multiple locations including 3430 South Grand Blvd., 314-772-5500
Runner Up: Straub's, 8282 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314-725-2121

Best Hotel
Moonrise
6177 Delmar Blvd., 314-721-1111
Runner Up: Angad Arts Hotel, 3550 Samuel Shepard Dr. 314-561-0033

Best Mall
West County Center
80 West County Center Dr. 314-228-2020
Runner Up: Saint Louis Galleria, 1155 Galleria, 314-571-7000

Best Antique Store
Emporium St. Louis
9410 Manchester Rd., 314-962-7300
Runner Up: Gringo Jones, 4740 Shaw Blvd., 314-664-1666

Best Place To Get a Mani/Pedi
Beautiful Nails
Multiple locations including 8721 Manchester Rd., 314-968-9973
Runner Up: Central West End Nails & Spa, 4904 Laclede Ave., 314-776-9090

Most LGBTQ-Friendly Brand
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire
Runner Up: Arch Apparel, 2335 South Hanley Rd., Brentwood; 314-601-3122



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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Best Radio Show
The Rizzuto Show
Runner Up: The Roots' Friday Happy Hour, hosted by Charlie Hubbard

Best All-Ages Venue
The Factory
17105 North Outer 40 Rd.,
314-423-8500
Runner Up: The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., 314-726-6161

Best Blues Club
BB's Jass, Blues & Soups
700 South Broadway,
314-436-5222
Runner Up: Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811

Best Local Album
Turtle Circus — Emperor of Fools
Runner Up: Andrew & the Dolls — Gasoline

Best Live Music Venue to Close in the Past 12 Months
Bootleg at the Atomic Cowboy
4144 Manchester Ave.
Runner Up: The Ready Room, 4194 Manchester Ave.

Best Movie Theater
Hi-Pointe Theatre
1005 McCausland Ave.,
314-995-6273
Runner Up: The Chase Park Plaza, 212 Kingshighway Blvd., 314-367-0101

Best Hip-Hop Club
Pepper Lounge
2005 Locust St., 314-241-2005
Runner Up: Al's Lounge, 2731 US-67, 314-839-9850

Best Band Name
Saint Boogie Brass Band
Runner Up: Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

Best Concert of the Past Year
The Roots at the Factory
Runner Up: Foo Fighters at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

Best Radio Station
The Roots FM
Runner Up: KDHX

Best Jazz Club
Jazz at the Bistro
3536 Washington Ave.,
314-571-6000
Runner Up: The Dark Room at the Grandel, 3610 Grandel Square, 314-710-5643

Best Recording Studio
Shock City Studio
2200 Gravois Ave. #100,
314-771-3099
Runner Up: Gaslight Studio & Lounge, 4916 Shaw Ave., 314-499-7488

Best Live Music Venue
The Factory
17105 North Outer 40 Rd.,
314-423-8500
Runner Up: Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811

Best Local Artist
Saint Boogie Brass Band
Runner Up: Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

Best Film Series
St. Louis International
Film Festival
Runner Up: America's Last Little Italy: The Hill

Best Dance Company
Big Muddy Dance
Runner Up: Saint Louis Ballet

Best Rock Club
Old Rock House
1200 South 7th St., 314-588-0505
Runner Up: The Factory, 17105 North Outer 40 Rd. 314-423-8500



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SPORTS & RECREATION

Best Gym
Big Fitness Personal Training
1904 Washington Ave., 314-384-8273
Runner Up: House of Pain Gym, 12632 Dorsett Rd., 314-451-1010

Best Camping within an Hour of St. Louis
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park
Runner Up: Tom Sauk Mountain State Park (drive fast)

Best Bike Path
Grant's Trail
Runner Up: Forest Park

Best Hiking Trail
Castlewood State Park
Runner Up: Forest Park

Best Day Trip Destination
Ste. Genevieve
Runner Up: Elephant Rocks

Best Public Park
Forest Park
Runner Up: Tower Grove Park

Best Public Pool
Maplewood Family Aquatic Center
7550 Lohmeyer Ave.,
314-636-3665
Runner Up: Shaw Park Aquatic Center, 111 South Brentwood Blvd. 314-290-8590

Best Bike Shop
Big Shark Bicycle Company
1155 South Big Bend Blvd.,
314-862-1188
Runner Up: Mike's Bikes STL, 324 North Euclid Ave., 314-875-0080

Best Running Trail
Forest Park
Runner Up: Creve Coeur Lake

Best Yoga Studio
Brick City Yoga
2759 Wyoming St., 314-802-8770
Runner Up: Urban Breath Yoga, 4237 Manchester Ave., 314-421-9642

Best Bowling Alley
Saratoga Lanes
2725 Sutton Blvd. A,
Maplewood; 314-645-5308
Runner Up: Tropicana Lanes, 7960 Clayton Rd., Richmond Heights, 314-781-0282

PEOPLE & PLACES

Best Neighborhood to Live
Dogtown
Runner Up: The Hill

Best Cardinals Player
Yadier Molina
Runner Up: Adam Wainwright

Best Politician
Cori Bush
Runner Up: Josh Hawley

Best Journalist
Bill McClellan
Runner Up: Kevin Johnson

Best Place for a Last Date
Forest Park
5595 Grand Dr.
Runner Up: Ted Drewes, 6726 Chippewa St., 314-481-2652

Best Villian
Stan Kroenke
Runner Up: Rex Sinquefield

Best Blues Player
Ryan O'Reilly
Runner Up: Jordan Binnington

Best Attorney
Jennifer Mocabee
Runner Up: Jeff Singer

Best Place for a First Date
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd., 314-577-5100
Runner Up: Forest Park, 5595 Grand Dr.

Best Place to Live
Dogtown
Runner Up: Tower Grove

Best Cheap Thrill
City Museum
750 North 16th St., 314-231-2489
Runner Up: The St. Louis Wheel, 201 South 18th St., 314-923-3960

Best Activist
Cori Bush
Runner Up: Kayla Reed


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Food & Drink

Start making your plans to visit our favorite restaurants, food trucks, delis, bars and lunch counters.

When thinking through the state of affairs that is the St. Louis restaurant scene in 2021, how you feel about things, more than ever, depends upon which side of the table you sit. If you’re a diner, post-vaccine rollout 2021 has been a glorious return to some semblance of normalcy. Gone are the days of shuttered doors, curbside-only and sanitizing your takeout containers, replaced with open dining rooms, full-service experiences and actual flatware. Sitting inside the four walls of an eatery, sipping a craft cocktail and listening to the day’s specials feels so familiar, it’s tempting to see the pandemic through the rearview mirror and not as an ongoing event.

But it’s very much ongoing for those in the business. If this year has seemed like a return to normal for the dining public, it has been nothing short of a sea change for the industry, with the concept of normal being blown to bits by everything from staffing shortages to soaring food costs to the continuing financial stress that comes from enhanced safety protocols as well as a year and a half of slashed revenues due to shuttered dining rooms and reduced capacities. If the pandemic did anything to the industry, it exposed its flaws and vulnerabilities, with restaurants being forced to reckon with these things in ways that the dining public will soon be unable to ignore.

We’re witnessing a seismic shift in the industry that has been a long time coming. Going out to eat is just going to cost more. There is no way around it. Restaurants have to pay higher wages and provide benefits to their employees, and they have to be protective of workers’ quality of life. However, this money does not come out of thin air. The dining public will have to recognize that, if they want to continue to have the privilege of going out to eat, they will be paying prices that accurately reflect what goes into that. It’s just that simple.

These are fraught times for the industry, which is why we take the time to celebrate the following chefs, restaurateurs and industry professionals who refuse to be deterred from sharing their craft. Despite the daily challenges they face, they still get up every morning, turn on the ovens and polish the glassware to welcome us into their homes away from home. That they continue to do this, no matter how tough things get, is the truest form of hospitality. —Cheryl Baehr

Goods & Services

Live your best life.

Here it is, the “getting shit done” section of this year’s Best of St. Louis. If you need your groceries restocked, dog groomed or hair cut, you have come to the right place. This is the section for locals, a little help in wiping out that to-do list before it takes over. We’ve got the best place to buy cheap clothes without skimping on style, advice for finding your way in the ever-growing field of dispensaries and your best bet for knocking out all that holiday shopping that is — surprise! — just about to take over. Enough of this intro, you’ve got work to do. —Doyle Murphy

People & Places

The People & Places that make St. Louis what it is.

St. Louis can sometimes feel like one big tug of war. Filled with huge personalities, opposing ideas and neighborhoods with identities so distinct that they can seem more like a collection of countries than simple municipal divisions, this town rattles and rumbles, constantly straining against itself. But that friction is energy, and it produces some of the most interesting characters, banging around and through some of the most compelling contexts, that you will find in the entire nation. Here’s to them, and this city.
Doyle Murphy

Sports & Recreation

St. Louis has plenty to offer beyond pro sports, although those are pretty fun, too.

St. Louis, rightly, makes all the lists of best sports towns, largely because of Cardinals and Blues fandom. Add in some good college basketball and that brief, glorious, maybe-not-completely-finished reign of the Battlehawks, and it’s a sports lover’s dream. But we don’t get enough credit for the opportunities for self-powered diversions here. A world-class public parks system, abundant local bike shops, kayaking outfitters, a growing network of running paths, all manner of outdoor fitness classes and some of the finest dive-bar bowling alleys known to man make this town an underappreciated hot spot for action and adventure. And while we might be a little salty about the slight, it means it’s even easier to go and do what you want.
Doyle Murphy

The Gateway Arch Grounds
Pretend you’re a tourist and knock out your run in Gateway Arch National Park (11 North Fourth Street; 314-655-1600), while enjoying one of the city’s greatest sights. Get there early, and you’ll not only avoid the majority of said tourists but see the sunrise reflect off the Arch. It’s a scene that will still awe you, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. The new expansion offers wide, paved paths that meander through the grounds. A quick, 1.5-mile loop is infinitely customizable, depending on how hard you want to go. Feeling like Rocky? Hit the stairs that rise away from the Mississippi River. Add onto the route with a jog across the Eads Bridge to the north, or cruise west through Downtown, hopscotching from one park to the next until you reach Soldiers Memorial. Curl around and come back into the park along the north side of Kiener Plaza. In warm weather, you can finish up with an outdoor yoga class that convenes on Tuesday mornings into early October. Don’t let the tourists have all the fun. —Doyle Murphy
Naturally Pure Salon
Some people think that they must go to Clayton and spend $800 for high-end hair coloring and styling, but Naturally Pure (564 South Gray Avenue; 314-963-7101) offers an easier (and much cheaper) option. Tucked away on a quiet corner in Webster Groves, the salon appears calm on the outside, but on the inside, the large space is a flurry of activity. Not only do they take every precaution to keep their clients safe from COVID-19, they also remodeled during the lockdown, expanding their square footage and adding more space between each stylist’s area. Upon entering you’ll notice good vibes all around, and once they’ve fixed up your hair, you’ll understand why every client there is so happy. Naturally Pure uses quality Aveda products and produces top-notch work that costs a fraction of what you’d expect based on the result. Friends will tell you that your new hair looks very expensive (even if it wasn’t), and isn’t that always the best compliment? —Jaime Lees
The Ready Room
The design of the Ready Room was basically a couple of rectangles with a bar in the smaller of the two. It felt like you could have just as easily run a scrap metal business out there, and not because someone had tried to costume it in some kind of industrial chic (this is not a subtweet!) aesthetic. No, it was simply functional: Here is a big room that can hold a band and about 800 people. Enjoy. And people did enjoy. It debuted in 2014 with Of Montreal and, over the years, drew in national acts, such as Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, the Psychedelic Furs, Built to Spill and Run the Jewels. There were no seats, so people just sort of flowed in and around the room, bumping into friends along the way. The Ready Room closed in March 2020 in what was billed as a temporary concession to the pandemic, but it became clear after a couple of months (the real estate listing that May was a pretty good clue) that it wasn’t coming back, at least not there. The space was eventually claimed by former Alderman Antonio French, who owns Taha’a Twisted Tiki next door, and he reopened it as Hot Java Bar with plans to expand beyond concerts to a wider variety of events. There are some interesting plans for the future, but we can’t help being a little sad about the past. —Doyle Murphy
The Factory
You can forgive those who initially were skeptical about the prospect of a major new venue opening in Chesterfield. For years, the St. Louis County suburb has been best known as the spot where two outlet malls fought to the death for control of a flood plain, with city-dwelling types loath to visit. And while some of those folks will surely still grumble, the opening of the freshly built 3,000-capacity venue the Factory (17105 North Outer 40 Road, Chesterfield; 314-423-8500) in July rapidly silenced many of its critics. With a thoughtful layout, a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, and an exclusive booking deal with veteran production company Contemporary Productions, the Factory quickly filled its upcoming shows roster with a slew of heavy-hitting acts — Deadmau5, the Roots, New Found Glory, Marc Rebillet, Nikki Glaser, just to name a few — and definitively made the case for why St. Louis music fans should consider venturing west of I-270. —Daniel Hill