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    Aya Sofia
    "Turkey coma" takes on a whole new meaning at this Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant that relentlessly tempts. Appetizer platters are resplendent with salt-of-the-earth goodness, while main courses are typically beef or lamb over rice or couscous. While most of Aya Sofia's dishes bear a close-cousin resemblance to other Eurasian delicacies such as spanakopita and gyros, the staff is quite fluent at helping to decipher and navigate the menu as needed.
    Big Sky Cafe
    Mention Big Sky to anyone who's been there, and watch their mouths water. Tim Mallett's Webster Groves eatery is one of those wondrous places where fun combinations of creative ingredients make for highly edible entertainment. Whenever you go, the big bowl of mashed potatoes is obligatory.
    Bissell Mansion Restaurant & Dinner Theatre
    I do declare, I do declare, there has been a murder, and you, sir or madam, can be a part of the action as it all unfurls, or just sit back and watch how the pieces all come together. Either way, meal and laughs will be provided. The former home of Captain Lewis Bissell, built in the 1820s and located in the north-side College Hill neighborhood, is now an everlasting crime scene, with homicides occurring every Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. For a fee, customers can witness the action and even take on a starring role if they so please while enjoying a four-course meal surrounded by the elegance of early St. Louis interiors, featuring large fireplaces, chandeliers and wooden doorways. The dinner menu, which comes with two glasses of wine, includes an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. Guests and suspects can choose from an eight-ounce strip steak, chicken Parmesan or a baked white fish served amandine for their main course. Weeknight shows are available at special group rates.
    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.
    Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery
    The phrase "comfort food" has been bandied about so much that it's become a cliché. Stale notion or not, the Blue Owl satisfies these longings in a country-diner atmosphere. Owner Mary Hostetter's Texas roots are evident in menu items such as biscuits and gravy topped with crumbled pork sausage, chicken-fried steak with country gravy and red-velvet cake. The influence of German immigrants on this region is also apparent, with German potato salad and German chocolate cake, cheesecake and pie. Even the Great Flood of 1993, whose roiling waters threatened to engulf Kimmswick, is commemorated with "levee-high apple pie."
    Blueberry Hill
    A true St. Louis landmark, Blueberry Hill has been a hotspot in the Delmar Loop for over 40 years. With pop culture memorabilia lining every nook and cranny, jukeboxes, dart leagues and toys on display, there's fun to be had by people of all ages. The menu features classic American fare like burgers, sandwiches, house-made soups and salads with vegetarian specialties as well. A late night menu is offered after 9 p.m., which includes some daytime favorites in addition to breakfast food. The extensive bar stocks 63 bottled beers and 18 draught taps, both local and imported. With multiple stages spanned across an impressive square footage, Blueberry Hill has plenty of room for touring and local bands alike. The restaurant is open every day of the year for lunch and into the wee hours of the morning, from 11-1:30 a.m.
    Boogaloo
    It's sexy-time over at Boogaloo, the Cuban-Cajun-Creole lovechild of restaurateur Mike Johnson and chef Eric Erhard, who can whip their clientele into a frenzy with seductively spicy tapas dishes like steamed mussels in a bath of coconut milk and white sangria or entrées like a luscious ropa vieja or plantain-encrusted tilapia. If that's not enough to get your motor running, try tippling on crisp mojitos or tart caipirinhas at the bar, which is rigged with actual swings to sit upon. An orgy of food, drink and fun.
    Duff's Restaurant
    High ceilings and exposed brick are the setting for this boho hangout. Though many dishes shine, get the inside scoop from your deft and diplomatic server when ordering. Sunday brunch is worth the wait (especially with mimosa in hand). Sidewalk seating provides primo people-watching at Euclid and McPherson, ever the hub of CWE society.
    El Burrito Loco
    Maybe El Burrito Loco serves the best Mexican food in town because, with its location in the far reaches of south city, it's geographically closest to Mexico itself. The burritos are superb, filled with real-deal refried beans, Spanish rice, pico de gallo and honest-to-goodness queso de Chihuahua. Less than five bucks nets you a full pound of burrito; a few dollars more puts you in pig-out heaven.
    Garavelli's is a throwback to old-school cafeteria-style dining. Guests can choose from a variety of entrées, with different choices for each night of the week. Entrées include stuffed peppers, turkey and stuffing, and white fish. For dessert, select from one of the many pie options or opt for a tried-and-true cafeteria staple: tapioca pudding. Garavelli's is also available for banquets and special events.
    Giovanni's
    Giovanni's is the ultimate Hill experience: very intimate, very Italian and very expensive. You will encounter nothing here that is not impeccable. The squadron of deferential waiters is vigilant without being pesky. They'll bring you bow-tie pasta with smoked salmon in a feather-light Alfredo sauce or a first-rate rack of lamb garnished with vegetables. Dim lights, gilt-framed paintings and glittering table settings form an elegant backdrop for both the romantic third date and the expense-account business dinner.
    The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton
    Clever, persuasive New American dishes built on a foundation of classics. For a light meal, order a couple of fanciful appetizers in place of an entrée. If you're in the mood for more substantial fare, try one of the superb game dishes, such as rabbit or pheasant. For a finale, order any sweet thing that's red and ripe -- strawberry shortcake, say, or a pear poached in zinfandel.
    Hunan Star
    Chef Tom Hsu is often credited for the popularization of the Hunan style in St. Louis, but for a while there earlier in his career, he seemed to turn up at a new location just about every year. He's managed to settle at this spot in West County, a fairly large space where he features an equally sprawling menu, with chef's specialties such as the "Romeo and Juliet" (shrimp and flank steak) and sesame shrimp.
    Hwy 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen
    The heartiest of the food found along the old Blues Highway is the stock-in-trade of this charming Webster Groves spot. From old favorites like St. Louis-style spare ribs and pan-fried chicken to stuff you may never have tried (like delicious fried tamales), you'll find something to stick to your ribs, with more than enough left over for the next day. Cajun and Creole specialities, including a gumbo dense with chicken and andouille sausage or shrimp-and-crawfish étouffée, are excellent. Alternatively, opt for a sampler featuring the plates made famous by Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: "CajAsian Potstickers," red beans and rice, and barbecue spaghetti. It all sounds good, doesn't it? It sounds even better with the soundtrack of live local blues bands that fill the room during the weekends.
    I Love Mr. Sushi
    "You came all the way from the Delmar Loop to visit us?" the server asks. In fact, I Love Mr. Sushi isn't too far from the Loop, but its narrow storefront in a nondescript Olivette strip mall lends this sushi joint the air of a well-kept secret. Inside you'll find beautiful presentations of familiar nigiri sushi and sashimi selections, as well as rolls both traditional (sweet futomaki) and Americanized (the "Texan," for example: beef, jalapeño and spicy mayo). Begin your repast with a cup of very good miso soup, and don't be shy when your server asks whether you'd like a second round. She's not teasing.
    The King & I
    A mainstay of South Grand Boulevard's impressive array of ethnic restaurants, the King & I has introduced countless St. Louisans to Thai cuisine. The menu offers several dozen selections, and all your Thai favorites are present: pad thai and other noodle dishes; fried rice; the classic tom yum and tom kha soups. The red and green curries are very good. (As always, hotter is better, but the kitchen will tweak to your preference.) The restaurant is an ideal spot for families looking for a more adventurous destination, with a few crowd-pleasing Chinese dishes and a brief, Western kids' menu.
    What could more civilized than afternoon tea? Perhaps enjoying it with Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Ladies of Lucerne, located in the historic Barn at Lucerne (a veritable treasure trove of antiques and oh-so-cute home furnishings), brings a touch of the Old World to Ballwin. High-grade loose-leaf Harney and Sons teas are served in beautiful teapots on candle-warmed caddies. Go for lunch, or for the basic Cream Tea: a potful, plus scones with Devonshire cream and house-made lemon curd. On Wednesday and Saturday, the more ambitious Afternoon Tea includes a cup of soup, house salad, a pot of tea and a three-tiered tray laden with finger sandwiches, scones and miniature pastries, with the option of buying up to the Royal Tea and the aforementioned bubbly and strawberries.
    Mandarin House
    Mandarin House is a Chinese restaurant located in Overland, Missouri.
    Following a dress down from Robert Irvine, Meglio's Italian Grill and Bar in Bridgeton has started fresh with an updated décor and menu. In a stylish and open setting, with pizza pan art on the walls, Meglio's offers a reserved menu of classic Italian dishes. Starters include fresh-made toasted ravioli and a trio of fried cheeses. Soups and salads are available, such as Tuscan soup with potatoes, sausage, bacon, onion and kale in a light cream, and a char-grilled yellowfin salad with sun-dried tomatoes, saffron yogurt, feta and lemon dust in a balsamic-honey reduction. The updated entrée menu has spaghetti and meatballs, a seared black Angus fillet, and a pan-seared fillet of bronzino served over a marinara sauce and potato hash. Meglio's also bakes Luigi's pizzas, an old St. Louis standard, rectangular and crispy, with several different toppings offered.
    Miller's Crossing in Hog Hollow
    Hidden in a small strip off of Olive Boulevard in Chesterfield, Miller's Crossing in Hog Hollow provides a family-friendly setting for barbecue, burgers and upscale pub fare. TV screens offer live sports in each of the separate areas - dining room, bar, private party room. On Saturdays during the summer, Miller's Crossing fires up their large outdoor barbecues for some all-day pig roasts, offering a variety of pork specials.

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