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.
    801 Chophouse
    801 Chophouse’s super-size steaks are the most expensive meal in town — and that seems to be the point. The restaurant peddles opulence to holders of corporate cards, as well as regular folks who want to feel like royalty (at least for a day). For the price tag, diners will receive impeccable service, fine wines and shamefully large cuts of beef. Bone-in selections are the best offerings: The strip, rib eye, pork and veal all benefit from the extra flavor (and thicker cut). 801 Chophouse offers a variety of steak enhancements, from Oscar-style with crab and béarnaise to a bone-marrow bath. However, the high-quality steaks and chops are delicious enough on their own. Seafood is incredibly fresh, and the oysters taste straight from the coast. Side dishes are served a la carte: The creamy scalloped potatoes and lobster macaroni & cheese are excellent options — just make sure to ask for a half order so you can save room for the Grand Mariner soufflé.
    Anthonino's Taverna
    The menu reflects both the Italian and the Greek heritage of owners Anthony and Rosario Scarato. The selection tilts toward the former, with numerous pizzas and pastas available, while the Greek board focuses on the cuisine's standbys, such as saganaki (flaming cheese), dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and gyros. The pizza is very good: the crust thick, with a slight chew and a teasing sweetness; the sauce lightly applied beneath a blanket of melting mozzarella; the toppings ideally proportioned. The gyro is also good and a great value. A welcoming spot with a wonderfully friendly staff.
    Athlete Eats
    Tucked amid the bodegas and indie record stores of Cherokee Street sits Athlete Eats, a polished little café that is all about healthy eating. Owner Simon Lusky started the business as a nutrition service, providing meal plans and prepared foods to health-conscious clients, including some of the St. Louis Cardinals players, and expanded to include a breakfast and lunch counter. Athlete Eats offers a variety of juices, smoothies and guilt-free fare, including Carolina-style barbecue; a juicy, locally raised grass-fed beef burger; and hearty salads. One of the more creative offerings, the bibimbap bowl, replaces the traditional sticky rice with caulirice — grated pieces of roasted cauliflower that resembles small rice grains. Tossed with edamame, shiitakes and thinly sliced spiced beef, it’s as good, if not better, than the traditional, rice-based Korean staple. Athlete Eats only serves breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays — a shame because it’s where some of the restaurant’s best items are showcased. The gluten-free pancakes, laden with cinnamon and topped with coconut cream and maple orange syrup, are so tasty that one doesn’t miss the flour. And do not leave without trying Athlete Eats’ breakfast take on the Gerber sandwich: a garlic-studded waffle is topped with shaved ham, Provel cheese, béchamel sauce and a sunny-side egg. It’s one of the best uses of waffles in town.
    Barbarella
    For some, this place will always be the Jade Room (the awning out front even says so). It's no longer a dim neighborhood dive, the Jade Room got an uber-mod facelift in late 2009 and was renamed Barbarella, after the iconic 1968 film. The décor of incites nostalgia and wonder -- lava lamps mingle with the orange and blue geometric curves that span the walls, with designs by local artists Joseph Raglani and Jeremy Kannapell. The dim lighting and illuminating glow of nearby flat screen TVs plays well to the sci-fi aura of Barbarella. Test your inner nerd at Geek Trivia or indulge in science fiction films, including bar-favorite Dr. Who. After hours appetizers like crab rangoon and chicken curry are served until 2 a.m., thanks to the kitchen of the adjoining Mekong Restaurant.
    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.
    Billy G's
    Billy G’s, the Kirkwood hot spot, offers something for everyone with its large menu and even larger portions. A significant portion of the menu is Italian, although burgers, sandwiches, and even some southern classics round out the seemingly endless options. Of special note is the pizza, thin crust and cooked to a crispy flakiness in wood oven. The food is average, but the restaurant is always packed to the brim because of its location and self-fulfilling reputation as the place to be seen in Kirkwood. The patio is worth a visit, with several fire features (including a table with a built-in fireplace), cozy semicircle booths, and a large outdoor bar. It’s a lovely spot to reconnect with high school friends for a cocktail on a lovely day or night, just expect the food to be secondary.
    Bishop's Post
    Owner Ben Bishop Jr. wanted to create a restaurant that would pay homage to Chesterfield’s roots. The result of his efforts is Bishop’s Post, a restaurant that touts “classic comfort fare,” but feels more like an American-style bistro. Bishop’s Post is a comfortable, beautiful restaurant, and its lush, landscaped patio — complete with a waterfall — is one of the loveliest in town. Food, however, is inconsistent. Appetizers range from a delicious sweet-corn and roasted green-chile tamale to a beef tenderloin bruschetta with caramelized onions, roasted garlic and Asiago cheese that is so tender it melts in the mouth. Entrees include a variety of steaks and chops, as well as bistro classics such as grilled duck breast and sautéed quail-breast medallions. Execution is spotty, but the setting and service are worth a drink and appetizer at happy hour.
    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.
    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.
    Corvid's Cafe
    Tucked into the Kingshighway Hills neighborhood of south city, Corvid’s Café is the quintessential neighborhood café — a place to gather, have a light meal or grab a cup of coffee to go. Owners John and Cindy Panian had been operating a catering company next door for eight years, and when the adjacent restaurant space (formerly World Café) became available, they jumped at the chance to put their own stamp on the place. The menu features light, classic café fare, such as tarragon-infused chicken salad and a spinach salad topped with dried fruit, sunflower seeds and Gorgonzola. The signature item is the “Crabwich,” a fried crabcake fritter served with oven roasted tomatoes, arugula and ancho chile sauce on a pretzel croissant. Other offerings include housemade pizzas and dressed-up baked potatoes. It’s the perfect place to sink into an overstuffed couch in front of the fireplace, sip a cup of coffee and snack.
    The Crack Fox
    At The Crack Fox, visitors can feel free to let their freak flag fly or simply play the role of a leisurely standby. All are welcome at this eclectic downtown dive -- just don't be surprised to see anything from burlesque and drag performances one night to bondage and gotchic industrial garb the next. EDM spins, karaoke, open mics, metal shows and more also make up the list of participatory alternative entertainment offered here, and there's a huge selection of beer and handcrafted cocktails to wash it all down with. Take, for instance, the "ginger snap" made with ginger vodka, cinnamon Schnapps and lemonade. Come in to pick your poison and meet the cast of friendly fun-loving regulars, and don't forget to bring an open mind.
    Cucina Pazzo
    Cucina Pazzo serves upscale but unpretentious Italian food from its prime spot in the Central West End. Infused with a rustic American element, Cucina Pazzo also draws influence from various Italian regions. The appetizer menu is extensive, with items such as pork rillettes, mortadella corndogs and housemade chicken and pancetta sausage with Brussels sprouts leaves and blackberry agrodolce. Most of the pastas are made in house; rigatoni al forno is a delicious bake of the tube-shaped pasta, fontina, goat cheese and an Italian sausage version of Bolognese sauce. Notable entrees include hearty short ribs with an apple balsamic glaze and marinated swordfish simply dressed with lemon caper butter and fresh herbs. Cucina Pazzo also serves brunch, and when the weather is nice, there is no more quintessential Central West End experience than a Sunday morning on its patio.
    Foam
    Foam's spacious shop on Cherokee provides plenty of space to spread out, either for a long night of studying, or perhaps drinking over some choice entertainment in an intimate atmosphere. Nightly performances include everything from local and touring bands of all kinds to open mic night and live comedy. Belly up to Foam's counter for a coffee, tea, beer or cocktail, or get the best of both worlds with the house specialty "Kosmo" made with Kamora coffee liquer, vodka, espresso and cream over ice. Snacks include fresh baked cookies and mini pizzas, but whether or not you're hungry, make sure you come thirsty.
    Frank and Carmelo Gabrielle, sons of Giovanni’s on the Hill patriarch Giovanni Gabrielle, bring Italian fine dining to the county with Giovanni’s Kitchen. Like its sister restaurant, Giovanni’s Kitchen serves from-scratch Italian cuisine, dressed down to appeal to the casual diner. Service is impeccable, and the dining room is elegant. Highlights of the handmade pasta selections include the “Mezzemaniche Alla Puttanesca,” hollowed-out tubular noodles tossed with a zesty tomato, garlic and caper sauce. The decadent casoncelli, prosciutto and cheese-filled ravioli tossed in butter, cream, porcini mushrooms and black truffles is worth the indulgence. Another must-try is the “Filetto Ai Ferri,” a thick cut beef tenderloin filet, marinated in Chianti and fresh herbs for seven days. The melt-in-the-mouth filet is grilled and served with a rich porcini mushroom ragout. Though it is difficult to save room for dessert, one must make space for the amaretti parfait -- pieces of amaretto cookies are layered with fresh cream and liquor-soaked berries for an ambrosial treat.
    Gooseberries
    Gooseberries is a Dutchtown South-Cherokee Street gathering place where locals and passersby can go to grab a meal, a snack or just a cup of coffee. Out of a cozy, rehabbed storefront, owners Kim Bond and Ross Lessor serve an eclectic mix of breakfast and lunchtime items, including several vegan and vegetarian dishes. Bond is a pastry chef, so Gooseberries’ baked goods are highly recommended -- especially the hand pies, filled with everything from gyro meat to chicken and waffles to broccoli-cheddar. Sandwiches include a vegan beet Reuben, pulled pork, and a Gouda and cheddar grilled cheese that can be made with waffles instead of bread. The restaurant’s signature dish is “KFT”: “Krispy Fried Tofu” made with a savory blend of thirteen herbs and spices that is so tasty, it could make one forget the Colonel.
    Chef Ben Anderson’s Grapeseed serves seasonal American cuisine in the SoHa neighborhood of south city. Anderson sees the restaurant as a canvas upon which to feature locally sourced ingredients, the wares of the city’s artisans and even paintings by local artists. The menu is eclectic yet approachable, with offerings as varied as a Cuban sandwich to Chinese five-spice salmon. Though the menu changes frequently, some dishes remain as his signatures, such as the smoked turkey nachos — a platter of sweet potato chips topped with smoked turkey, spiced cranberries, micro greens, red peppers, buttermilk dressing and house brewed sweet and sour firecracker sauce. Dine at the bar next to the SoHa regulars, or grab a table in the warm, contemporary dining room for a feast that celebrates the best of the season.
    Gringo
    Created by the owners of the acclaimed Pi Pizzeria, Gringo brings a bit of the Baja to the Central West End. Its beach-shack vibe, airy interior and wrap-around patio on one of St. Louis’ primest people-watching corners make for a good way to waste an afternoon sipping margaritas. Gringo bills itself as modern Mexican food with a twist, with its name summing up its irreverent approach to traditional south-of-the-border cuisine. Guacamole prepared tableside is a spectator sport and allows diners to doctor the dip to their specifications. For those expecting traditional ceviche, the shrimp coctel ceviche is neither — think more shrimp cocktail than citrus-cured seafood. While the taco selection is eclectic, the results are underwhelming, particularly disappointing considering that the tacos are the anchor of the menu. For the especially adventurous, the taco chapulines give diners the opportunity to dine on grasshoppers. It’s high on novelty, but be prepared for a salt-bomb. The bottom line? Go for the atmosphere and drinks, but do not expect much in the food department.
    The Heavy Anchor
    Known for its penchant to host a rowdy concert or two, The Heavy Anchor is part music venue, part watering hole. A thick wall divides the two halves, so the uninterested can drink in peace or join the fray of wild heathens on the music side. The bartenders serve cocktails in Mason jars, Heavy Anchor pins to festive-up that tatty punk jacket, and, just in case your Franzia problem is so out of control that you need a fix even in full view of strangers, boxed wine. The venue itself features a mid-level stage and a full-size sound booth, but it's the kind of place where bands feel comfortable enough to skip the stage and perform on the floor should they so desire. Nautical decor stretches from wall to wall with oceanic artifacts and vibrant paintings including a glaring narwhal and a friendly blue octopus toppling a cityscape with its tentacles. Located near Bevo Mill, The Heavy Anchor is a prime spot for shuffleboard playing with a regulation board and plenty of seating. Additionally weekly festivities include the likes of movie nights and trivia. You'll find local brews on tap, as well as such hometown munchies as Dogtown pizza, Billy Goat chips and Gus' pretzels.
    The downtown location of India Palace may lack its sister restaurant’s aesthetic charm, but what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in flavor. The extensive menu is filled with classic Indian dishes such as the rich navratan korma and tangy chicken tikka masala. The lamb vindaloo is a must-try. Hunks of tender lamb are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce that is not for the faint of heart, but its potpourri of exotic spices make the dish multidimensional. The dark horse of the menu, however, is the aloo palak, a mix of skillet-fried potatoes, garlicky spinach, onions and coriander seeds. It’s such a simple dish, but its perfect execution make it magical. Monday through Saturday, India Palace puts on a respectable lunch buffet. The kitchen keeps the steam table filled with a rotation of its house specialties, giving diners a chance to sample a variety of the same dishes that it serves at night. It’s a great way for the uninitiated to sample a spectrum of items before flying blindly at dinner — or for those overwhelmed with too many excellent choices to have a taste of everything.
    Joey B's On The Hill
    Joey B's on the Hill might be more sedate than the original Joey B's on the Landing, but its neighborhood bar-and-grill ambiance is winning. The lengthy menu features standard bar-food fare like wings, T-ravs and potato skins, as well as pasta, burgers and sandwiches. The St. Louis-style pizza is popular, and those seeking a more substantial meal will find steak on the menu. The bite-size soft pretzels are fantastic: buttery sweet and served with a spicy jalapeño-cheese sauce for dipping. The dining rooms offer numerous flat-screen TVs to keep tabs on all the games.
    Joyia Tapas
    Tapas has been all the rage for a while now, and that's fine by us, just as long as Joyia keeps serving small plates of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine -- Middle Eastern and Northern African as well as southern European. The sprawling menu includes familiar dishes (hummus, gyros, meat and seafood kebabs), as well as more ambitious fare, like the lamb tagine, with the meat, apricot and orange rind in a broth perfumed with saffron, or try the chorizo rollos: miniature burritos with sausage, bean, onion and more wrapped in phyllo. Tapas implies small plates, but many of the dishes are large enough to share...yeah, that's crazy. We wouldn't share, either.
    Lona Luo and Pierce Powers got their start peddling silks and bags to Soulard Market-goers. When a food stall finally opened, they decided to take advantage of Luo’s culinary background and start selling handmade dumplings in the side. Word spread of their delicious offerings, and eventually the husband and wife team developed enough of a fan base for a larger venture -- a brick-and-mortar storefront for Lona’s Lil Eats in Fox Park. The pair describes their cooking as Asian comfort food, and elements of Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine are all represented at the fast-casual restaurant. Diners choose from a few protein options (beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, shrimp), decide how they want it served (platter or wrap) and select various sauces and accompaniments. The barbecued beef with smoked vinaigrette and jasmine rice, wrapped in giant rice paper is a must try, along with the chicken and lemongrass pesto tortilla. First-time diners are encouraged to order the comprehensive “Five Star Platter,” which represents a large chunk of the menu. All of the proteins are served with two “staples” (such as stir fried wild rice or rice noodles), two side dishes and all of the sauces. Of note is the “Lona-Q”, Luo’s version of a sweet and savory teriyaki. And don’t leave without trying those famous handmade dumplings. They are what put the restaurant in the map.
    Mangia Italiano
    Mangia Italiano is a classy 3 a.m. bar right in the middle of South Grand. There is plenty of free live music to be had, from Vinyl Fight DJ spins to the Dave Stone Trio’s incomparable jazz. The draft beer offers lots of local selections, with many more in bottles (Stag in cans for the neighborhood hipsters). The wine list has some good-value priced options with an emphasis on Italian varietals while serious cocktails with house infusions round out the drink list. Those looking to make a bad late-night decision can indulge in the pizza and other comfort foods. If you've been around the block a few times and remember Mangia from its humble beginnings as a smoky little bar, check out the newly expanded space and game room downstairs. There's also a lovely mural by neighborhood painter Wayne St. Wayne that appears to depict the history of the world, from Romulus and Remus to Monica Lewinsky - you’ll find something new each time you look at it. If the inside gets too packed, sit outside and enjoy a drink and some of South Grand’s best people watching.
    Melt
    When Melt, originally located in the south Carondelet neighborhood, moved to Cherokee Street, it expanded everything from its square-footage and menu to its hours and entertainment initiatives. Serving up savory and sweet waffles, wheat grass shots and an array of beverages (including a full bar), Melt's prepared to meet late night appetites, not to mention hungry breakfast-goers. One of its new location expansions includes a live music stage that hosts everything from folk to punk rock.

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