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    400 Olive
    Located in the spacious, open lobby of the Merchant's Laclede building, which also happens to be home to the boutique, luxurious Hilton hotel, 400 Olive offers diners an upscale casual dining experience. This "urban grille" takes advantage of its location by placing diners in an elevated corner of the hotel's atmospheric charm. Lunch options include pastas, burgers and sandwiches, including a grilled crab cake sandwich and a seared tuna sandwich. Dinner entrees feature a filet, a rib eye and a tuna steak, as well as a maple-glazed pork loin and a macadamia nut-crusted salmon. 400 Olive also prepares an Amber Bock onion soup, with gruyère and provolone cheeses, and a cheesecake, savory not sweet, of smoked trout, served with an onion relish. Coffee and various desserts are also available.
    Al's Restaurant
    Al's Restaurant Just north of the flashy Lumière Place downtown lies Al's Restaurant, which has enjoyed its home along the riverfront for 85 years. The upscale restaurant serves all the perennial favorites, including escargot, lobster tails and steak tartar for starters. Al's only serves dinner, which offers a selection of steaks such as steak Diane and filet mignon or the "Italian Dinner" -- a filet alongside veal parmigiano. Not in the mood for steak? No problem: Al's also offers a variety of veal preparations, pork chops seafood and duck breast among their entrees. Reservations are recommended.
    Anthony's Bar
    Bohemian meets upper crust when the Bommarito family of five-diamond Tony's fame shakes things up at suppertime. Anthony's Bar extends its power-lunch reputation beyond the dinner hour with appetizers like a pulled pork tamale and entrées like herb-stuffed salmon and a grilled porkchop with roasted tomatoes and potatoes. The menu is brief and reasonably priced, the atmosphere casual -- if frozen in a ´70s time warp. As at Tony's, expect great attention to the food and service (the two restaurants share a kitchen).
    Araka
    Steven Caravelli, formerly executive chef at Hubert Keller's steak house Sleek, now mans the kitchen at Araka. The menu retains a focus on the cuisines of Europe's Mediterranean coast, though Caravelli intends to home in on local produce and sustainable meat and seafood. New dishes include seared diver scallops with pork belly and a quail egg, a "duo" of local beef and a "tartare" made from beets. Standard and vegetarian tasting menus are available.
    Basso
    Basso is Italian for low, and this restaurant is located in the cavernous basement of the Restaurant at the Cheshire. Part of the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Cheshire hotel on the western edge of the city, Basso boasts as its chef Patrick Connolly, a St. Louis native who made his name (including a James Beard Foundation award) in Boston and New York City before returning home. His menu is “Italian gastropub,” which in practice means excellent wood-fired pizzas and rustic pasta dishes. The “McDowell’s Golden Arcs,” with speck, delicata squash and Fontina, is a standout pizza. Among the pastas, try the mafalda, thin ribbons of pasta tossed with a beef and pork ragù, pecorino romano and breadcrumbs.
    Bici Cafe
    A neighborhood restaurant with a menu overseen by (very) prominent - and (very) busy - local chef Mike Johnson. Dishes draw inspiration from Mediterranean cuisines, not only European, but also North African and Middle Eastern. Crab cakes are spiced with za'atar and served with a harissa aioli; falafel is served in bite-size "popcorn" form. The menu is dominated by small plates, but there are also sandwiches, soups and flatbread pizzas, as well as a few pasta dishes and traditional entrées. Weather permitting, the patio is a popular seat.
    Blood & Sand
    Blood & Sand is a members-only restaurant and bar located in an otherwise unremarkable stretch just south of Washington Avenue’s loft district. If you can swing a membership or know someone who has one, you should go. Owners TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager and chef Chris Bork have created a remarkable venue: not a snobby club, but a community of people who are passionate about good food and good drink. Bork’s menu is seasonal, sophisticated and also playful: a plate of heirloom tomatoes like an abstract-expressionist painting in three dimensions; earthy sweetbreads paired with kimchi made from apple. Vytlacil’s cocktail list nods at tradition while indulging the mixologist’s impressive creativity. Service throughout is topnotch.
    Bocci Bar
    Bocci Bar, a small-plates wine bar from the owner of BARcelona Tapas restaurant, gives Clayton diners a front-row seat to the hustle and bustle of Central Avenue. The restaurant features an eclectic selection of dishes, ranging from chilled soups to Argentine flank steak. Pan-seared sea scallops with an English pea puree are delicate and well-cooked, while Korean pork is creatively served in a hollowed-out apple. The Parmesan chicken broth is a must-try. The dish features confit chicken legs and thighs with meat so tender that it falls off the bone with only the slightest prodding. The broth is rich and flavorful; kale and rice noodles round out the dish. Bocci has a small but comprehensive wine list with several flights and glass selections available on a rotating basis. Every month, the restaurant offers wines and dishes based on a particular country's theme.
    Brasserie by Niche
    Gerard Craft strikes again. The acclaimed young chef has reinvented the venerable Central West End French restaurant Chez Leon (which relocated to Clayton) as a casual mecca for your favorite French dishes, from the cheese-crusted crock of onion soup to a killer cassoulet. The prices are reasonable, the dishes unpretentious. The emphasis here is on good ingredients prepared with skill and care rather than showy technique. Consider the meltingly tender beef short ribs or a tender piece of salmon paired with braised leeks and lentils. Appetizers include very good pork ptés. The beer list is excellent.
    Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House
    Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House, which occupies a spacious address in Clayton’s Carondelet Plaza development, is a churrascaria, the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. More precisely, Brazikat calls itself (and prices itself) like a churrascaria. In fact, the Brazikat experience is no more indicative of Brazilian culture than a bikini wax. The meats, often poorly cut by the “gaucho” servers, taste overwhelmingly of mesquite smoke. As for the seafood, the less said, the better. The "35-item gourmet food bar" is a salad bar. It does not always have 35 items, either — though maybe you’re supposed to count the two containers of croutons separately.
    Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar
    Inside the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, the Brewhouse offers a bit of history alongside its beer and grub selection. A board outside alerts diners of each day's beers on tap. The "Owner's Box" is available for private parties. The walls are covered with TVs and photos that celebrate St. Louis sports history. As its name implies, the Brewhouse is serious about beer, with a hefty selection of lagers and ales ranging from Bud Light to Trois Pistoles and plenty in between. If the list overwhelms, opt for the "pick six," and the bartender will choose for you. Chicken strips, toasted ravioli and potato skins, sandwiches and salads, burgers (beef, veggie or turkey) available with two, three or four patties, or, for those who like a challenge, go for the "Tower of Doom" - twelve (yep, twelve) four-ounce patties, a half-pound of bacon, a half-pound of cheese, jalapeños and barbecue sauce. Anyone who can finish this mammoth in 30 minutes or less gets a T-shirt and their burger for free. Other entrees include bangers and mash and fish and chips as well as nightly specials.
    Burger Bar
    The second outpost of Hubert Keller's Burger Bar concept (the original is in Las Vegas) is one of the acclaimed chef's two restaurants in the Lumiere casino complex. Burger Bar offers countless variations on the standard burger, with nearly four dozen different toppings -- from different cheeses, bacons and vegetables to cranberry sauce, marinated anchovies and even foie gras -- to go with several different kinds of beef, as well as bison, turkey and a vegetable patty. "American Kobe" beef is luscious, but expensive. The menu features six "Chef's Burgers" designed by the kitchen, including the $60 Rossini: American Kobe beef with foie gras, shaved black truffle and a Madeira sauce.
    California Pizza Kitchen
    California Pizza Kitchen originated in Beverly Hills in 1985, riding the "California cuisine" wave that would come to define the culinary decade; the company now boasts 250 locations of casual sit-down eateries with modern, neutral decor and a casual-yet-upscale feel. A pioneer of envelope-pushing fusion pizzas, the chain claims to have invented the now-ubiquitous barbecue chicken pizza, an anchor of a menu that offers pies topped with everything from Thai-spiced chicken with peanut sauce and bean sprouts to bacon, avocado and mayo-dressed lettuce on three different crust options: original, honey-wheat or thin and crispy. Besides the namesake pizzas, CPK offers hungry St. Louis diners a full menu of "California twist[s] on global flavors" including enormous salads like the Spago-inspired Chinese Chicken and a so-right-now Quinoa and Arugula, plus other globe-trotting items ranging from "Tuscan" hummus and tortilla soup to fish tacos and cedar-plank salmon. California Pizza Kitchen is easy to find on Voice Places.
    California Pizza Kitchen
    California Pizza Kitchen originated in Beverly Hills in 1985, riding the "California cuisine" wave that would come to define the culinary decade; the company now boasts 250 locations of casual sit-down eateries with modern, neutral decor and a casual-yet-upscale feel. A pioneer of envelope-pushing fusion pizzas, the chain claims to have invented the now-ubiquitous barbecue chicken pizza, an anchor of a menu that offers pies topped with everything from Thai-spiced chicken with peanut sauce and bean sprouts to bacon, avocado and mayo-dressed lettuce on three different crust options: original, honey-wheat or thin and crispy. Besides the namesake pizzas, CPK offers hungry St. Louis diners a full menu of "California twist[s] on global flavors" including enormous salads like the Spago-inspired Chinese Chicken and a so-right-now Quinoa and Arugula, plus other globe-trotting items ranging from "Tuscan" hummus and tortilla soup to fish tacos and cedar-plank salmon. California Pizza Kitchen is easy to find on Voice Places.
    Carmine's Steak House
    Top-quality meat and a bona fide big-city atmosphere, but you certainly pay for the privilege. The restaurant takes up most of the ground floor of what used to be the four-story, stainless-steel-clad American Zinc Building. Be sure to take note of the miracle of engineering -- more than 50 feet of unbroken space, made possible with something called Vierendeel trusses -- that creates an open, modern atmosphere, tempered by a giant original mural across one wall. Great steaks -- even better if you're on an expense account.
    Charlie Gitto's-Chesterfield
    Another satellite of the Hill insitution, Charlie Gitto's doesn't reinvent the Italian restaurant - and it doesn't need to. The kitchen handles the classic dishes with aplomb, and the spot-on service ensures a pleasant experience for all. Standout dishes include the pork "osso buco" - a mighty shank served with risotto Milanese - and the humble but delicious bucatini amatriciana, tubular pasta in a tomato-pancetta sauce.
    Chez Leon
    The second edition of Leon Birnbaum's French restaurant affects a sleek, very dark look that can, at its best, transport diners to a place where their only concern is haute cuisine. Classic French dishes abound, from escargots to foie gras, steak frites to canard a'lorange. The experience is not cheap - several entrées cross the $30 barrier, and two diners, with tip, tax and wine, will easily break $100 - but there is a prix-fixe option: three courses for $40 (plus a supplemental charge for a few dishes).
    Cielo
    Cielo, in Laclede's Landing, is several steps above the usual St. Louis restaurant. Literally: The restaurant is on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons hotel, and the view of the Arch from its floor-to-ceiling windows is certainly one of the city's most striking. The food, too, is impressive. The contemporary Italian menu includes housemade pasta with such uncommon touches as veal cheek and oxtail ravioli. Entrees succeed on balance: A grilled Berkshire pork chop is paired with crisp Bosc pair and wilted chicory, a fantastic blend of sweet, savory and bitter. An excellent destination, provided you just hit it big at Lumiere Place next door.
    Copia Urban Winery
    Copia beat the odds, reopening two and a half years after a fire gutted the stylish and popular Washington Avenue restaurant. The look and the menu didn't change much in the hiatus. The space is outsize, with a spacious main dining room and an even bigger "wine garden" (with a retractable roof!). The menu caters to the tastes of St. Louis diners before the economy collapsed. Standout dishes include the smoked spare ribs and duck breast in a sauce of its own pan juices with candied dates and green peppercorns. If a dish sounds too 1990s-early 2000s-ish to be good - like, say, tuna with wasabi-infused mashed potatoes - trust your gut.
    The Crossing
    One of the best restaurants in St. Louis, this 70-seat Clayton establishment is the homecoming of chef Jim Fiala, who worked at the renowned Restaurant Daniel in New York. The restaurant's name indicates an intersection of French and Italian influences, which means everything from fresh fish with innovative sauces to Kobe beef short ribs. Vegetables are treated as integral elements rather than secondary side dishes, and even the desserts illustrate impeccable attention to detail.
    Dominic's Trattoria in Clayton in the apartment building across from Shaw Park, related to the Dominic's on the Hill, offers a wide range of regional Italian fare in a casual atmosphere. Smaller antipasto items include carpaccio, calamari and portobello mushrooms with peppers in a spicy piccante sauce. The menu features several pasta dishes, such as linguine with clams and a white sauce, ricotta ravioli, fettucine alfredo and a simple naked pasta, with penne served with butter, Parmesan and basil. Entrées include a number of fish, veal, chicken and beef dishes, such as chicken with pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms in a cream sauce, a fillet served in a red wine-and-mushroom sauce and homemade salsiccia with white beans and escarole. Dominic's has a separate lunch menu and is available for special events and private parties.
    Eclipse
    As you might expect from the man who brought St. Louis Blueberry Hill and the Pin-Up Bowl, the restaurant inside the Moonrise Hotel features plenty of retro kitsch: paintings of ray guns and rockets, moon- and space-related tchotchkes behind glass. The menu veers toward contemporary bistro cuisine, including steak frites, roasted chicken and trout grilled on a plank. Appetizers include a topnotch (and spicy!) calamari starter in jalapeno-garlic butter and a lobster beignet (basically, lobster in a doughnut). Breakfast and lunch are served daily. The cocktail menu is excellent. For a change, try the Blood & Sand, a Scotch-based creation infused with citrus and herbs. In addition, the rooftop offers unmatched views of “one of the 10 Great Streets in America” (dubbed by the American Planning Association) all the way to the arch underneath a rotating moon, said to be the world’s largest. The newly opened New Moon Room offers an additional all-season indoor/outdoor space with bottle service.
    Elaia
    Elaia brings elegant modern dining to the city's up-and-coming Botanical Heights neighborhood. The cooking of owner Ben Poremba is Mediterranean in the broadest possible sense: His mother hails from Morocco; he himself is a native of Israel who studied in France and Italy. He is confident enough to combine any or all of his influences in a single dish, and he shifts with ease from sophisticated compositions (a parfait of foie gras so delicate you spread it on toast as carefully as you'd polish your great-grandparents' china) to rustic fare (a salad with slivers of pressure-cooked pigs' ears). An à la carte menu is available, but ambitious diners should consider the tasting menu: a dozen or so courses that showcase the full range of Poremba's skills and talents. Elaia isn't cheap (the tasting menu costs $100 per person), but it belongs on the very short list of St. Louis' very best restaurants. Diners seeking a more casual experience can visit the adjoining wine bar, Olio.
    Eleven Eleven Mississippi
    One of the most popular restaurants on the square (though technically, it's a few blocks away), Eleven Eleven Mississippi is the perfect spot for a dinner party or an intimate dinner date for two. The restaurant bills itself as a "Wine Country Bistro," and the wine list is up to the challenge along with a menu featuring variations on casual Northern Italian and California fare. Wild boar is a house specialty -- that's right, wild boar. The soft lighting and graceful décor helps create an intimate atmosphere to ensure things go well on that first date.
    Gamlin Whiskey House
    Gamlin is unapologetically masculine with rustic decor, a hearty menu and what seems like every brown liquor under the sun. The spirits list includes selections from every major whiskey producer - all available neat - as part of a flight or in a craft cocktail. Signature drinks like the Bees Knees, a delicious blend of Knob Creek Rye and ginger ale over honey-laced ice cubes, showcase Gamlin's cocktail creativity. Ask one of the expert bartenders for a quick lesson on the nuances between Kentucky Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and Irish and Scotish whiskey, single-barrel bourbon, 12-year single malt Scotch, 20-year old bourbon, small-batch whiskey and rye, or just dive in solo. Whiskey may be the theme, but Gamlin does not skimp on the food. The menu is unfussy, with items like rib eye, pork steak and bourbon-brined chicken providing hearty comfort. The "Moon Dance Farm Pot Pie" is especially noteworthy, its beef-laden tomato broth made rich with tender meat, vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes. Sure, Gamlin is a little indulgent, but, after a few Manhattans, we don't really care.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

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