Bonito Bar Delivers Chill Vibes, Fresh Cocktails in University City

The new bar within the renovated Frida's is the ultimate neighborhood spot

click to enlarge Bonito Bar in Frida's.
Jessica Rogen
Bonito Bar in Frida's.

Serene dark aqua walls. Moody blue bar underlighting. A flock of tiny plastic birds hang from a gold curved gold ceiling. The new Bonito Bar is the perfect backdrop for a bright cocktail.

“It's a lot of fun,” co-owner Natasha Kwan says. “People love it. They're really enjoying the drinks, hanging out, saying they've never seen anything like it. You know, the vibe is cool.”

Kwan, and her husband Rick Roloff (Station No. 3, Diego’s Cantina), opened the figurative doors to the new bar within their renovated restaurant Frida’s (622 North and South Road, University City; 314-727-6500, last month. Long a vegan restaurant, Frida’s reopened at the same time as a pescatarian concept. 

“We’re more California cuisine now,” she says, noting that they carried forward the top sellers from the original Frida’s menu. “People are loving it. They are putting salmon on everything.”

When Kwan and Roloff closed for renovations, they knew reopening with a bar presence was a priority. Before, people were often surprised that Frida's sold drinks since there was no bar in the restaurant.

click to enlarge Cocktails feature fresh juices.
Jessica Rogen
Cocktails feature fresh juices.

Now, there are no more surprises. The curved bar is immediately visible when entering Frida’s. The aforementioned gold ceiling and flock of birds adorn the area, which is filled out by a handful of high-top two seaters. The full food menu is available at the bar, and the full bar menu is available in the dining room. 

Bonito and Frida's offer a wide selection of cocktails and a smaller menu of wine and beer. Like at all of Kwan and Roloff’s restaurants, the cocktails tend to feature fresh juices. 

“We do everything in house,” she says. “Our signature cocktails across the board with all three are margaritas and Paloma.” 

The bar menu also holds a nice selection of mocktails, something that was important to Kwan because more people are choosing not to drink — but she still wanted them to be able to get something special to go with their food.

click to enlarge That gold ceiling and flock of tiny birds is unique.
Jessica Rogen
That gold ceiling and flock of tiny birds is unique.

That’s certainly more than possible now, and guests can do so in a chill space that evokes the owners’ travels to Miami, Mexico and Latin America. 

“We want our neighborhood folks to just come in, to be able to walk in and have a drink,” Kwan says. “It’s been really great to see a lot of our regular customers, new faces, people from our other restaurants coming in and hanging out.”

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About The Author

Jessica Rogen

Jessica Rogen is managing editor for the Riverfront Times. Send her your food, arts, film, theater, music and other culture happenings.
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