Locations in St. Louis

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    When Dan and Pat Graham decided to shutter Graham’s Grill & Bayou Bar last December after a seventeen-year run, the next generation decided to take over the reins - but put their own stamp on things. Brother and sister business partners Devin and Alison converted their parents’ Cajun-themed bar and grill into 612 Kitchen & Cocktails, a 1920s-inspired cocktail lounge and gastropub. The restaurant is at its best when it sticks to classic bar fare: Sausage and cheese stuffed mushrooms, breaded and fried, make for an excellent snack; beer-battered fish and chips pair nicely with a cold one; and the smoked chicken is juicy and glazed with caramelized barbecue sauce. Craft cocktails are on the approachable end of the spectrum. Signature drinks such include the "Great Gatsby,” made with cucumber and basil-infused rum, lemonade and blueberry puree. A bridal shower in barware, the “Coco Chanel,” is a blend of strawberry vodka, lemon juice, pink champagne, strawberries and mint. The most austere offering — and that is a stretch — is the “Scarface.” Tequila, tomato water, triple sec and lavender-infused sour combine to make an interesting twist on the margarita. Regardless of how the younger Grahams brand it, 612 Kitchen & Cocktails is still a simple neighborhood watering hole.
    Andria's Steakhouse-Chesterfield
    The second location of the popular O'Fallon, Illinois, restaurant brings classic steak-house charm - and Andria's famous steak sauce - to west county. The menu is traditional steak-house cuisine: shrimp cocktail, baked potato and lots and lots of steak. Strip and rib-eye steaks bring a great balance of flavor and tenderness. All steaks, as well as the mammoth pork chop, are brushed with the legendary sauce. Though not cheap, Andria's is more casual and value-minded than many old-school steakhouses: Entrées come with a side and a large salad, and feel free to wear jeans.
    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.
    Atomic Cowboy
    A decade ago when Chip Schloss finished rehabbing the building at 4140 Manchester, Atomic Cowboy became a pioneer of the Grove's booming nightlife scene. Today, Atomic Cowboy is known for music performances every night of the week and a creative fresh mex menu. Food includes sweet potato empanadas with jalapeno cream, gaucho fries topped with chili con carne, Mexican spaghetti with chorizo meatballs, and all the burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas you can imagine. With a huge outdoor patio and firepit in addition to a full bar both inside and outside, Atomic Cowboy is a suitable place to let loose all year round. Food and drink specials are offered every Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. at happy hour. Other drink specials include $1 PBR nights and $0.50 Stag nights. Brunch is also served every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features huevos benedict with smoked salmon, a Mexican slinger, tres leches french toast and hot Kaldi's coffee to wash it all down.
    The long-time patrons who lamented the closure of Bryan Carr’s Pomme Restaurant and Pomme Café & Wine Bar can find respite at Avenue. The Clayton bistro, located just a few blocks away from its popular predecessors, combines the two concepts under one roof, but also allows Carr to up the ante on his classic French-influenced fare. The veteran chef keeps some of Pomme’s favorites on Avenue’s menu but also adds several successful new dishes, such as authentic cassoulet with white beans, duck confit, sausage and pork shoulder. The pork schnitzel, topped with brandy-sauteed apples, is another standout dish, and appetizers such as wild mushrooms served with buratta over crusty bread demonstrate Carr’s culinary prowess. Avenue has an excellent brunch, with offerings such as blueberry and lemon pancakes and an overstuffed ham, egg and Gruyere crepe that doubles as a hearty breakfast wrap. Pomme may still be on everyone’s mind, but Avenue proves to be a worthy followup.
    Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas
    Set in a historic home just off the cobblestone streets of old town St. Charles, Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas charms diners with its cozy atmosphere. The menu is an eclectic array of Spanish small plates, such as chorizo-stuffed dates, fried calamari and spicy pork and beef meatballs. Bella Vino offers several pastas and flatbreads; most notable is the duck-prosciutto flatbread; instead of sauce, the base is rich mascarpone cheese topped with cured duck, caramelized onions and Gorgonzola cheese. Bella Vino makes its desserts in house, and the gooey butter cake is its standout. The bottom of the cake has an almost savory, brown-butter nuttiness that is complemented by the creamy and caramely topping. Cozy up by the fireplace, order a bottle of wine and let the plates keep coming.
    Bixby's
    Bixby's brings an appreciation for contemporary seasonal, locally oriented cuisine to that old warhorse, the museum café. The lunch menu (available Monday through Sunday) includes simple but excellent entrées (grilled chicken is a standout), sandwiches, salads and appetizers (a trio of small crab cakes is excellent). The Sunday brunch buffet more than makes up for in quality what it might lack in breadth. Included in the brunch price are several items made-to-order in the kitchen, including very good eggs Benedict and a small Belgian waffle.
    Black Bear Co-Op
    Located for years in the Vandora Theater building along Cherokee Street, just west of Jefferson Avenue, Black Bear Bakery has been baking organic, whole-grain breads and bagels, cookies and cakes, and pies and pastries since 1998. The worker-owned and -operated shop also serves a neighborhood brunch on Saturdays featuring an assortment of morning and midday favorites such as buckwheat pancakes, eggs, quiches and various vegetarian and vegan items. Their café hours change on occasion, so it is not a bad idea to call ahead before heading out to eat. Lunch items include vegetarian entrées, such as a tempeh Rueben with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, and a vegetarian muffaletta with vegetarian sausage, veggies and flavored cream cheese on a muffaletta roll.
    Blackberry Cafe
    Most coffeehouses pour a good, strong cup of joe. Others have great atmosphere, and a few serve appealing food. Blackberry, a hangout that's popular among Washington University undergrads, delivers all three. Blackberry's espressos and lattes go down smooth and sock you with enough caffeine to keep you wide-eyed as you bang out that overdue lit paper. And you won't have to exist on java alone: Blackberry has a surprisingly extensive menu of Mediterranean and American fare, such as hummus, baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, wraps, pizzas and sandwiches.
    BlackFinn American Grille
    A small, higher-end national chain, BlackFinn American Grille (located in the St. Louis Galleria) offers something for everyone, from chicken tenders to crab cakes, fish and chips to Chilean sea bass. Those fish and chips bring tender slabs of haddock in a crisp jacket of deep-fried batter; the fried calamari are pretty good, as is a soft pretzel appetizer. Stop by on your way (or from) the mall's many, many shopping opportunities.
    Boathouse
    Forest Park's Boathouse lies in the heart of the park, nestled near the art museum and zoo, making it an easy go-to for weary, hungry park visitors. The patio sits next to Post-Dispatch Lake, where paddle boaters cruise by during the summer/early fall. The menu provides options for all ages, with salads, pizzas, sandwiches and a separate kids' menu. The outdoor bar offers cold beverages for those who are waiting for a table or just want to sit outside and take in the surroundings.
    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.
    Bravo! Cucina Italiana
    Part of a chain originating in Columbus, OH, the Des Peres location of Bravo! Cucina Italian sits in the West County Center complex. The restaurant focuses on affordable, family-friendly white-tablecloth dining. Weekday diners can sit at the bar and enjoy "bar bites," Bravo's take on tapas. Weekend brunch offers frittatas, omelets, and French toast stuffed with cream cheese, cinnamon and honey, among other items. Bravo's lunch and dinner choices include bruschetta, fried calamari, pizza, steak, pork chops, seafood and specialty dishes, such as veal Marsala, alongside pasta dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs and the restaurant's "signature dish" - pasta Bravo!, rigatoni with grilled chicken and mushrooms in a roasted-red pepper cream sauce. Younger diners can choose their meal from an extensive kids' menu, while grownups can sip from a large variety of wines. Bravo accepts reservations. Guests can also enjoy the restaurant's large patio.
    BrickTop's Restaurant
    BrickTop’s is a small Nashville-based chain specializing in slam-dunk high-end crowd pleasers: lobster bisque and beef carpaccio; crab cakes and meat loaf and steak frites; seared ahi tuna (as a steak, a sandwich or the main ingredient in a salad). The ambiance is Anywheresville, USA, and the cuisine isn’t ground-breaking, but the kitchen does a good job with most of it, and there’s a lot to be said for spot-on execution. Seafood dishes in particular stand out, especially the crab cakes and a skillfully grilled trout. Your server will undoubtedly ask if you’ve saved room for dessert. If you have, the key-lime pie with a macadamia-nut crust is the direction to take.
    Brio Tuscan Grille
    Another chain restaurant that capitalizes on Italian cuisine. This Ohio-based company calls itself a Tuscan steak and chop house and serves up wood-fired grilled pork chops, lamb chops, whole roasted chicken and several steaks done with Tuscan touches (i.e., rosemary and lemon). For the poultry lover, there's chicken breast cooked under a brick, a traditional Tuscan method that sears the meat while retaining juiciness. The wood-fired oven pumps out an array of pizzas and tasty flatbreads, while several pastas round out the roster. The space is huge -- nearly 8,000 square feet -- and decorated with a blend of elegance and casual flair. Yes, it's a chain. But Brio offers simple food with more than a nod toward authenticity served in a pleasant and festive, if not noisy, setting.
    Bristol Seafood Grill-Creve Coeur
    Just west of Ballas Road in Creve Coeur lies upscale seafood restaurant Bristol. Classic dishes such as crab cakes and tuna tartare intermingle with modern takes such as lobster tamales and coconut-green curry mussels on the appetizer menu. At lunch, diners can opt for a "power-lunch combo," which includes a bowl of soup or salad and a smaller selection of the restaurant's entrées, including roasted duck flat bread and sushi rolls. Naturally, the main event at Bristol is the seafood, with a large variety of entrée fish, including catfish, trout, monkfish, swordfish and salmon. For those who aren't fish-friendly, Bristol also offers steaks, a chicken dish and even a vegetarian menu. The restaurant also serves a Sunday brunch buffet and hosts special events.
    Cafe Osage
    Attached to the Bowood Farms nursery in the Central West End, Café Osage offers breakfast and lunch fare featuring produce grown in a garden across the street, bison raised by Bowood Farms and house-smoked and -cured meats. Led by chefs David Guempel (Zinnia) and David Kirkland (Frazer's Brown Bag), the kitchen turns out an excellent take on the classic BLT with thick bacon, Brie, tomato jam and arugula, as well as a fine Carolina-style pulled-pork sandwich. The space, between the indoor nursery and a courtyard, is lovely.
    Cafe Ventana
    Here you can have a light lunch of excellent hot grilled sandwiches, sip a cappuccino while you study for the LSAT or even blot out a bad day with real-deal absinthe. Located on the edge of Central West End and midtown, the cafe adds a touch of artsy French style to an otherwise industrial stretch. Thanks to the patio and annex, there are always plenty of tables and comfy chairs to occupy everyone from neighborhood SLU students and businesspeople to casual passerby. The friendly staffers take their coffee seriously, but that's just the beginning. Sure, you can caffeinate at Cafe Ventana, but you can also brunch, booze and stave off boredom with trivia, movie nights and live music. On any given night, tables get pushed aside for everything from punk to indie rock -- just a couple of the flavors offered at Cafe Ventana after hours.
    Cantina Laredo in Clayton is the first St. Louis location of the Dallas-based upscale Tex-Mex chain. The restaurant’s large, modern bar has quickly become a happy-hour hot spot, pouring stiff drinks for the area’s business clientele. On the food side, diners can expect modernized, fusion versions of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, anchored by a large selection of fajitas and enchiladas. The restaurant’s signature appetizer, the “Top Shelf Guacamole,” is prepared tableside, with accoutrements added to one’s preferences. The “Enchiladas Veracruz” features two tortillas stuffed with a Mexican version of chicken spinach dip, and the “Costillas Con Fajita” is a gigantic, searing hot platter of ribs, steak and chicken, large enough for three diners. A must-try is the “Torta de Carnitas,” smoked pork topped with goat cheese, apricot jam and an over-easy egg. Though it’s difficult to save room for dessert, one must find a way to manage: The Mexican apple pie, finished with brandy butter tableside on a searing-hot cast-iron skillet is a scrumptious end to the meal.
    This Mediterranean-style restaurant in the bowels of the Renaissance Grand caters almost exclusively to hotel guests, so the kitchen could try to get away with an uninspired menu and lazy preparations. But instead the food is excellent, whether it's a flaky and fatty striped sea bass or a lustful rack of lamb. A great place to eavesdrop on traveling businessmen or take an illicit lover on a date: Nobody you know will be there.
    Cheesecake Factory
    Cheesecake Factory is a national restaurant chain serving continental American and Italian cuisine. This location is connected to the St. Louis Galleria, with interior and exterior mall entrances.
    Chris' Pancake & Dining
    This homey south-city spot packs 'em in on weekend mornings, and with good reason: The breakfast items are out of this world. Fluffy three-egg omelets come stuffed with the usual suspects (ham, Cheddar cheese) and more exceptional ingredients (salsiccia, artichokes); heavenly pancakes (buttermilk or buckwheat) fairly flop over the sides of the plate. Come lunchtime Chris' offers a nice selection of sandwiches. This is good food served by good folks.
    City Coffeehouse & Crêperie
    In France crêpes are street food, but in Clayton they get the upper-crust treatment at this cute, bustling breakfast-and-lunch spot. The crêperie is particularly popular with female baby-boomer townsfolk in search of a quick, relatively cheap bite. And who can blame them? Nearly twenty varieties of sweet and savory crêpes (ultra-thin, ultra-light pancakes with an eggy-sweet flavor) come stuffed with endless, gourmet-quality combinations of roasted vegetables, Havarti cheese, mesquite-grilled chicken, creamed spinach, pineapple, smoked salmon, jams, bananas or classic Nutella. Soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches and Belgian waffles are available, but you don't go to Ted Drewes for frozen yogurt, do you?

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

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