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Monday, October 6, 2014

The 10 Bars With the Best Food in St. Louis

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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  • John D. McGurk's Irish Pub | Drive Social Media

John D. McGurk's Irish Pub (1200 Russell Boulevard; 314-776-8309)

A St. Louis institution since 1978, John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Garden in Soulard is known just as much for its food and beer as the traditional Irish music seven nights a week. Most of the menu is standard American bar food: perfectly done chicken wings, Southwest chicken salad, bacon-wrapped shrimp, a grilled chicken sandwich, grilled chicken penne pasta, pork chops, rib eye, beef tenderloin and more. Several Irish specialties are also included, such as Mrs. McAteer's potato soup, Murphy's Irish onion gratin soup, corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, Irish lamb stew, Guinness stew, bangers and mash and Gaelic steak. Whatever you choose, there are four large brick- and wood-clad rooms inside, a beautiful garden patio for the warmer months and an all-season enclosed patio in which to enjoy it.

  • Sanctuaria | RFT Image

Sanctuaria (4198 Manchester Avenue; 314-535-9700)

Sanctuaria offers a unique tapas experience and an innovative cocktail menu wrapped in Latin-infused décor. Chef Will Pelly's cooking style is inspired by his Cuban-born mother and grandmother. A sampling of the menu includes tuna lime coco ceviche, mango melon shrimp ceviche, wicked good shrimp, mussels with coconut and habanero, jalapeño cornbread, Cuban pork and beef chorizo sliders and a Cuban sandwich with mojo-braised pork and ham. The menu changes seasonally and features local, fresh produce, some of it from Sanctuaria's own garden.

  • The Dubliner | Drive Social Media

The Dubliner (1025 Washington Avenue; 314-421-4300)

A European-style gastropub, the Dubliner brings the Irish pub experience to Washington Avenue. The menu offers hearty traditional favorites like corned beef, short ribs braised in stout, a Guinness stew, potato boxty, bangers and mash and fish and chips. Depending on the night, a rugby match on TV, a live Irish, rock or blues band or a comedy act. Also a long-loved bar tradition is the eating competition. Plus, if you can finish off the Hot Mess (a stack of three six-ounce burgers with Swiss and Irish cheddar cheese), a pint of Guinness and a shot of Jameson whiskey in 30 minutes or less, you'll get your picture on the restaurant's "wall of shame" and a Hot Mess T-shirt.

  • Polenta Fries at Mangia Italiano | Image courtesy of Mangia Italiano

Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand Boulevard; 314-664-8585)

Known for its fresh pasta, American twists on Italian cuisine, and a 3 a.m. closing time, Mangia Italiano has been a beloved south-city restaurant for more 30 years. The regular menu includes a full list of pasta, pizza, sandwiches, paninis, desserts and appetizers. All pair well with beer and Mangia's nightly live music. There are more than 50 items on the late-night menu served until 1:30 a.m., including favorites like grilled strip steak with smoked gouda and steak sauce aioli, polenta fries, honey cayenne wings and gnocchi with three sauce options. Fun late night "south side drink combos" include the Number One (slice of pizza and a PBR), the Lo-Brow (a Stag and a shot of Ten-High) and the Hi-Brow (a PBR and a shot of Jameson). It's no surprise Mangia was just named the Best 3 a.m. Bar in our Best of St. Louis issue for the second year in a row.

  • The Royale | Steven Fitzpatrick Smith

The Royale Food & Spirits (3132 South Kingshighway Boulevard; 314-772-3600)

The Royale has the cheer and comfort of a great neighborhood bar. It was one of the first bars in St. Louis to explore the craft of classic cocktails, and the DJs spin old-school vinyl. With a small "submarine kitchen galley," as described by owner Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, the Royale offers a small food menu, but does it well. A customer favorite is the farm-raised catfish tacos encrusted in crushed corn chips and cumin, pan-fried and topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. The top-shelf grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes, pesto, cheddar and provolone cheeses must-try.

Follow Sara Graham on Instagram at @SaraSunshineSTL and Twitter at @SaraSunshineSTL. E-mail the author at

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