November 01, 2018

10 St. Louis Bars with Food as Good as the Drinks

Bars aren’t just places to drink. Some of our favorites also boast food good enough to lure the most committed teetotaler. For this list, we limited ourselves to true bars, not restaurants that also have a great drinks program. (We also ruled out breweries; that’s a list for another day.) What were we left with? Ten terrific places to drink that double as inspired eateries. Stop by for a bite to soak up the booze or make a night of it; either way, you may find a new dining destination.

-- Sarah Fenske See also: St. Louis' Best Neighborhood Bars See also: 12 Bars to Take You Around the World, Without Leaving St. Louis

See also: The Best Bars in St. Louis, According to RFT Readers See also: The 10 Best Bars in St. Louis for Day Drinking

Bars aren’t just places to drink. Some of our favorites also boast food good enough to lure the most committed teetotaler. For this list, we limited ourselves to true bars, not restaurants that also have a great drinks program. (We also ruled out breweries; that’s a list for another day.) What were we left with? Ten terrific places to drink that double as inspired eateries. Stop by for a bite to soak up the booze or make a night of it; either way, you may find a new dining destination.

-- Sarah Fenske

See also: St. Louis' Best Neighborhood Bars

See also: 12 Bars to Take You Around the World, Without Leaving St. Louis

See also: The Best Bars in St. Louis, According to RFT Readers

See also: The 10 Best Bars in St. Louis for Day Drinking

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Mac's Local Eats inside Bluewood Brewing
Newly located inside Bluewood Brewing (1821 Cherokee Street, 314-376-4166), Mac's Local Eats is more than just bar food. The beloved burger spot was previously located inside Tamm Avenue Bar (1225 Tamm Avenue, 314-261-4902), but it's now set up inside the building that once housed the Lemp family's stables. Fans of chef-owner Chris McKenzie's smashed burgers and #RipFries — flecked with Red Hot Riplets seasoning — can expect the same menu items from the original location, although the chef says he'd like to expand options in the future.
Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Mac's Local Eats inside Bluewood Brewing

Newly located inside Bluewood Brewing (1821 Cherokee Street, 314-376-4166), Mac's Local Eats is more than just bar food. The beloved burger spot was previously located inside Tamm Avenue Bar (1225 Tamm Avenue, 314-261-4902), but it's now set up inside the building that once housed the Lemp family's stables. Fans of chef-owner Chris McKenzie's smashed burgers and #RipFries — flecked with Red Hot Riplets seasoning — can expect the same menu items from the original location, although the chef says he'd like to expand options in the future.

Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Olio
It’s no surprise that Ben Poremba’s Isreali-inflected wine bar, Olio (1634 Tower Grove Avenue, 314-932-1088) serves up great food. Poremba, after all, is one of the city’s most acclaimed chefs. What might be surprising to first-time visitors, though, is just how much it retains its bar feel, even though the menu items it’s serving are good enough to carry a restaurant. Located in a renovated Standard Oil filling station, the quarters are close, lending an intimate vibe. Something about the mood here makes us want to have another glass of wine and start spilling our intimate secrets — and isn’t that what all great wine bars should do? Poremba’s food isn’t cheap (we’re guessing no one else in St. Louis could get away with charging $14 for hummus), but the quality underpins the pricing (that hummus, we’ll have you know, is studded with almonds, pine nuts and even braised lamb shoulder). Grab a seat at the bar for “spritz hour” and tuck into a platter of mezze, and with or without libations, you’re sure to be feeling fine.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Silverberg
Olio

It’s no surprise that Ben Poremba’s Isreali-inflected wine bar, Olio (1634 Tower Grove Avenue, 314-932-1088) serves up great food. Poremba, after all, is one of the city’s most acclaimed chefs. What might be surprising to first-time visitors, though, is just how much it retains its bar feel, even though the menu items it’s serving are good enough to carry a restaurant. Located in a renovated Standard Oil filling station, the quarters are close, lending an intimate vibe. Something about the mood here makes us want to have another glass of wine and start spilling our intimate secrets — and isn’t that what all great wine bars should do? Poremba’s food isn’t cheap (we’re guessing no one else in St. Louis could get away with charging $14 for hummus), but the quality underpins the pricing (that hummus, we’ll have you know, is studded with almonds, pine nuts and even braised lamb shoulder). Grab a seat at the bar for “spritz hour” and tuck into a platter of mezze, and with or without libations, you’re sure to be feeling fine.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Silverberg
Stellar Hog
The former Super’s Bungalow (5623 Leona Street) is now Stellar Hog -- an amazing barbecue joint that happens to be embedded within a great bar. When pitmaster Alex Cupp bought the nearly 90-year-old dive bar a few years back, regulars must have worried — but rather than change Super’s down-home vibe, Cupp’s Stellar Hog-branded barbecue has instead given us even more reason to visit. The Holly Hills institution still has the same old Budweiser Clydesdales trotting in a glass globe above the bar; the only difference is that now they’re joined by a pig motif too. Take a seat on the patio or in the surprisingly large dining area to the side of the bar and order up a plate of Cupp’s terrific barbecue. What could be better prep for a night of heavy drinking at one of St. Louis’ finest establishments?
Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Stellar Hog

The former Super’s Bungalow (5623 Leona Street) is now Stellar Hog -- an amazing barbecue joint that happens to be embedded within a great bar. When pitmaster Alex Cupp bought the nearly 90-year-old dive bar a few years back, regulars must have worried — but rather than change Super’s down-home vibe, Cupp’s Stellar Hog-branded barbecue has instead given us even more reason to visit. The Holly Hills institution still has the same old Budweiser Clydesdales trotting in a glass globe above the bar; the only difference is that now they’re joined by a pig motif too. Take a seat on the patio or in the surprisingly large dining area to the side of the bar and order up a plate of Cupp’s terrific barbecue. What could be better prep for a night of heavy drinking at one of St. Louis’ finest establishments?

Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Dressel’s Public House
One of the city’s most charming pubs, Dressel’s Public House (419 North Euclid Avenue, 314-361-1060) also happens to be serving one of its tastiest food menus, as anyone who’s sampled the justifiably famous pretzel here can surely attest. (Dunked in the accompanying Welsh rarebit, it’s so good you simply won’t be able to stop until you’ve eaten the whole thing.) This place is a bit more up-market than, say, Southtown Pub or Super’s Bungalow, but it remains a bar at its core; you’ll be equally comfortable tucking into steak frites or getting your buzz on at the bar, something few restaurants can say. In the summer, you can enjoy the surprisingly large sidewalk seating area on Euclid. The winter, however, is when Dressel’s is at its best, as the cozy environs and two fireplaces provide a perfect backdrop to the stick-to-your-ribs farm-to-table fare. Unusually for a bar, the kids’ menu is also a good one.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Silverberg
Dressel’s Public House

One of the city’s most charming pubs, Dressel’s Public House (419 North Euclid Avenue, 314-361-1060) also happens to be serving one of its tastiest food menus, as anyone who’s sampled the justifiably famous pretzel here can surely attest. (Dunked in the accompanying Welsh rarebit, it’s so good you simply won’t be able to stop until you’ve eaten the whole thing.) This place is a bit more up-market than, say, Southtown Pub or Super’s Bungalow, but it remains a bar at its core; you’ll be equally comfortable tucking into steak frites or getting your buzz on at the bar, something few restaurants can say. In the summer, you can enjoy the surprisingly large sidewalk seating area on Euclid. The winter, however, is when Dressel’s is at its best, as the cozy environs and two fireplaces provide a perfect backdrop to the stick-to-your-ribs farm-to-table fare. Unusually for a bar, the kids’ menu is also a good one.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Silverberg
Three Sixty
Three Sixty (1 South Broadway, 314-241-8439) could easily get away with crappy food or snobby service. After all, when you’ve got a view this grand — as the name suggests, it’s 360 degrees of dazzling vistas, encompassing the river, downtown and beyond — you don’t need to provide much in the way of hospitality; the beautiful people will come regardless. And since when do beautiful people even eat? Fortunately, though, the team at LHM has been unwilling to relax their standards even when they could easily do so, and so every time we’ve visited, we’ve found ourselves struck not only by the friendly service but also by cuisine that genuinely dazzles. Tuck into a tuna poke bowl or a plate of oysters at the bar on a summer night, and you’ll swear you’re in paradise. Vegetarians won’t suffer here, either; unusually for St. Louis, close to half the menu items are fair game even if you don’t believe in animals dying so you can eat
Photo courtesy of Sara Bannoura
Three Sixty

Three Sixty (1 South Broadway, 314-241-8439) could easily get away with crappy food or snobby service. After all, when you’ve got a view this grand — as the name suggests, it’s 360 degrees of dazzling vistas, encompassing the river, downtown and beyond — you don’t need to provide much in the way of hospitality; the beautiful people will come regardless. And since when do beautiful people even eat? Fortunately, though, the team at LHM has been unwilling to relax their standards even when they could easily do so, and so every time we’ve visited, we’ve found ourselves struck not only by the friendly service but also by cuisine that genuinely dazzles. Tuck into a tuna poke bowl or a plate of oysters at the bar on a summer night, and you’ll swear you’re in paradise. Vegetarians won’t suffer here, either; unusually for St. Louis, close to half the menu items are fair game even if you don’t believe in animals dying so you can eat

Photo courtesy of Sara Bannoura
Crafted
Located in Tower Grove East, Crafted (3200 Shenandoah Avenue, 314-865-3345) is that rare establishment where the Bar Rescue pixie dust really worked — perhaps because it never needed that much rescuing in the first place. Jon Taffer’s 2016 visit transformed Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro into Crafted, a neighborhood favorite offering cocktails that are served in a French press. The gimmick is probably not necessary, but it is a lot of fun, and the combinations the bartenders have concocted are so tasty, we’d drink them out of a red Solo cup if that’s what Crafted was utilizing. In addition to that, Crafted offers a well-executed menu of bar food that’s much more creative than you normally see in south city — think edamame ravioli, flash-fried brussels sprouts and goat cheese balls. The place also serves an excellent brunch.
Photo courtesy of Crafted Staff
Crafted

Located in Tower Grove East, Crafted (3200 Shenandoah Avenue, 314-865-3345) is that rare establishment where the Bar Rescue pixie dust really worked — perhaps because it never needed that much rescuing in the first place. Jon Taffer’s 2016 visit transformed Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro into Crafted, a neighborhood favorite offering cocktails that are served in a French press. The gimmick is probably not necessary, but it is a lot of fun, and the combinations the bartenders have concocted are so tasty, we’d drink them out of a red Solo cup if that’s what Crafted was utilizing. In addition to that, Crafted offers a well-executed menu of bar food that’s much more creative than you normally see in south city — think edamame ravioli, flash-fried brussels sprouts and goat cheese balls. The place also serves an excellent brunch.

Photo courtesy of Crafted Staff
The Black Thorn Pub & Pizza
How good is the pizza at the Black Thorn Pub & Pizza (3735 Wyoming Street, 314-776-0534)? Would you believe it if we told you that famously impatient St. Louisans routinely wait more than an hour for it — or that people who don’t even like bars (yes, such people exist) have been queuing up at this dive bar for two decades just to eat it? Both things are true. Now, to like the food here, you need to like deep-dish pan pizza, which isn’t for everybody. But if that’s your jam, and you’re into some seriously heavy food, you might as well join the club. Nine-tenths of St. Louis can’t be wrong, can it?
Photo courtesy of Jenna Murphy
The Black Thorn Pub & Pizza

How good is the pizza at the Black Thorn Pub & Pizza (3735 Wyoming Street, 314-776-0534)? Would you believe it if we told you that famously impatient St. Louisans routinely wait more than an hour for it — or that people who don’t even like bars (yes, such people exist) have been queuing up at this dive bar for two decades just to eat it? Both things are true. Now, to like the food here, you need to like deep-dish pan pizza, which isn’t for everybody. But if that’s your jam, and you’re into some seriously heavy food, you might as well join the club. Nine-tenths of St. Louis can’t be wrong, can it?

Photo courtesy of Jenna Murphy
The Gramophone
When the Gramophone (4243 Manchester Avenue, 314-531-5700) announced in 2015 it was switching gears from being a music club to a “sandwich pub,” music fans were seriously bummed out — but they shouldn’t have been. After all, anyone can host live music. It takes real skill to make great sandwiches ... and the team beyond this bar has just that. The steadily increasing roster of options here are simply spectacular, with creative combinations of quality ingredients piled high. Add a side of loaded mashed potatoes or broccoli salad, and you’ve got a solid base to soak up no small amount of booze. Which is a good thing, since the vibe here remains distinctly conducive to drinking. Grab a seat on the patio or in one of the two large rooms facing Manchester and give in to the great selections of both food and drink.
Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
The Gramophone

When the Gramophone (4243 Manchester Avenue, 314-531-5700) announced in 2015 it was switching gears from being a music club to a “sandwich pub,” music fans were seriously bummed out — but they shouldn’t have been. After all, anyone can host live music. It takes real skill to make great sandwiches ... and the team beyond this bar has just that. The steadily increasing roster of options here are simply spectacular, with creative combinations of quality ingredients piled high. Add a side of loaded mashed potatoes or broccoli salad, and you’ve got a solid base to soak up no small amount of booze. Which is a good thing, since the vibe here remains distinctly conducive to drinking. Grab a seat on the patio or in one of the two large rooms facing Manchester and give in to the great selections of both food and drink.

Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Fortune Teller Bar
Cherokee Street’s Fortune Teller Bar (2635 Cherokee Street, 314-250-6007) previously played host to Ari Jo Ellis’ sausage shop the Cut. But while food lovers mourned when Ellis moved down the street to open Morning Glory Diner, they shouldn't have; its replacement, Spice of Life, is also quite good.  Like its predecessor, the Cut, SöL is no more than a tiny window with an almost-as-tiny kitchen at the back of the Fortune Teller — more concession stand than actual restaurant. And, like the Cut, it's an absolute delight. There is a cohesion to their small menu, which reads like a marriage of thoughtful bar food and barbecue. Baba ganoush has smokehouse flavor, while SöL's nachos are a significant upgrade from standard bar nachos. And don't get us started on that terrific cheesecake. 
Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Fortune Teller Bar

Cherokee Street’s Fortune Teller Bar (2635 Cherokee Street, 314-250-6007) previously played host to Ari Jo Ellis’ sausage shop the Cut. But while food lovers mourned when Ellis moved down the street to open Morning Glory Diner, they shouldn't have; its replacement, Spice of Life, is also quite good. Like its predecessor, the Cut, SöL is no more than a tiny window with an almost-as-tiny kitchen at the back of the Fortune Teller — more concession stand than actual restaurant. And, like the Cut, it's an absolute delight. There is a cohesion to their small menu, which reads like a marriage of thoughtful bar food and barbecue. Baba ganoush has smokehouse flavor, while SöL's nachos are a significant upgrade from standard bar nachos. And don't get us started on that terrific cheesecake.

Photo courtesy of Mabel Suen
Party Bear Pizza + Tiny Chef inside the Silver Ballroom
Located inside the Silver Ballroom (4701 Morganford Road), these two chefs are feeding the south side's pinball wizards. Chris Ward's Party Bear Pizza does a great job reinterpreting St. Louis-style pizza for the non-Provel set. His crust is thin, but not cracker thin, and crisps up magnificently so that there is no soggy center as is often the case with St. Louis-style pies. It can handle toppings quite well — a good thing considering the pizzas are slathered with about a quarter-inch thick layer of garlic and sauce and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. While Party Bear offers the easy comfort you want out of a pizza counter in a bar, Tiny Chef's Korean fare pushes the boundaries of the sort of food you'd expect from such humble digs. Melanie Meyer cooks with purpose; this is not simply a parade of excellent dishes but a journey of self-discovery. This passion is evident in her outstanding bibimbap, a bowl of warm, sticky rice covered in a flawlessly-cooked over-easy egg with fragrant pickled carrots and shockingly crunchy kimchi.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Party Bear Pizza + Tiny Chef inside the Silver Ballroom

Located inside the Silver Ballroom (4701 Morganford Road), these two chefs are feeding the south side's pinball wizards. Chris Ward's Party Bear Pizza does a great job reinterpreting St. Louis-style pizza for the non-Provel set. His crust is thin, but not cracker thin, and crisps up magnificently so that there is no soggy center as is often the case with St. Louis-style pies. It can handle toppings quite well — a good thing considering the pizzas are slathered with about a quarter-inch thick layer of garlic and sauce and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. While Party Bear offers the easy comfort you want out of a pizza counter in a bar, Tiny Chef's Korean fare pushes the boundaries of the sort of food you'd expect from such humble digs. Melanie Meyer cooks with purpose; this is not simply a parade of excellent dishes but a journey of self-discovery. This passion is evident in her outstanding bibimbap, a bowl of warm, sticky rice covered in a flawlessly-cooked over-easy egg with fragrant pickled carrots and shockingly crunchy kimchi.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen