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Friday, April 22, 2016

Thrillist Names Chesterfield St. Louis' "Coolest Suburb," Is Laughably Wrong

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 6:18 AM

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK/ M. NIEBUHR

Thrillist, you dummies. You gave yourself the task of finding the "coolest suburb in America's 35 biggest metro areas," and yet you screwed it up. And not in a "haha, this is gonna generate so much hate mail" kinda way, either. You shit in your hat and pulled it down over your ears when you selected Chesterfield as St. Louis' coolest suburb.

Your choice was an abject failure by your own parameters. You said there had to be a good "or at least respectable" food scene ("aim high, guys, Thrillist needs this sandwich to be at respectable or we're fucked up the dumper"), a not "awful" commute, and a place with a "history or unique elements." And you ended up with Chesterfield? Chesterfield

Chesterfield is the white bread that white bread makes its sandwiches with. If someone wanted to personify Chesterfield, they'd use that stock photo of the family that's included with every picture frame you buy. It is the sound of two outlet malls fighting each other to the death in a floodplain. It's a collection of moderately wealthy people huddled up on the far rim of the metro area doing everything they can to stymie public transportation from sullying their borders. Chesterfield is your dad in a Lacoste shirt, a Member's Only jacket and Uggs snapping his fingers to Drake while shouting "I'm dabbing!"

Let's start with Chesterfield's esteemed history, since that's something this mockery of an article used to determine cool. Hold on to your ass, because here it comes: Chesterfield was founded in 1988.

That's it. End of story. If George R.R. Martin ever wants to stop pretending he's going to finish the Game of Thrones books, he should divert his energies into chronicling the rich tapestry of Chesterfield's history, because "it was founded in 1988" sounds like the sort of cavalcade of adventures he could really sink his teeth into.

As for the commute issue, who the hell thinks the commute is part of a suburb's je nais se quoi? (This is the moment when we broach the question, "Thrillist, is your name ironic?") But even if we play by these dumb rules, Highway 40 is a shitshow going east in the morning and going west in the evening on weekdays and on any of the 300 days a year when there's a baseball game, and Ole 40 is the only way you're getting into Chesterfield. The buslines were dramatically cut back a few years ago, and MetroLink doesn't stretch that far or even bend in that direction. (Chesterfudlians will tell you that last bit is a feature and not a bug, but that's because Chesterfield is the embarrassing answer to the ugly question, "What if white flight were codified into a way of life?")

As for the food scene, we suppose Chesterfield has one. But why would we go there to find out the details when there are suburbs that have better restaurants, are closer to the city and actually have an interesting history, which are the supposedly the parameters for this thing?

Let’s take Webster Groves. Adorable downtown, leafy streets with pretty old farmhouses and some really great restaurants. Let’s take University City — a smart, diverse city with a food scene the James Beard Foundation just can’t get enough of and no less than two great restaurant districts.

Or really, let’s take Maplewood, because the more we think about it, by the criteria offered by Thrillist, Maplewood should have won this thing. One of St. Louis’ early suburbs, it was located at the end of a streetcar line. But rather than go the way of the trolley car, Maplewood has evolved in the last decade or so into one of the area's best places to live, with that perfect combo of city life and suburban amenities (read: schools you can actually send your kids to). Even devoted urbanites would gladly move outside the city limits if they found an adorable Maplewood farmhouse walking distance from its downtown.

Speaking of downtown, the commute to downtown St. Louis is an easy, breezy fifteen minutes down I-44. The one in Maplewood has a bunch of great indie shops if you don't feel like driving at all. And that restaurant scene? From Water Street to Acero, there’s a long history of excellence here — that buzzy places like Reeds American Table and Robata have also set up shop in recent months is a testament to the suburb’s well-earned status as a dining destination. That’s definitely not true of Chesterfield.

Maplewood, you were robbed. Chesterfield, continue to cosplay Pleasantville until the next flood wipes you and your shitty mallsprawl off the map. Til then, enjoy winning an award from Thrillist, the only publication we can think of dumb enough to eat your bullshit and like it.

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