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Tucked within Tower Grove South at the corner of Spring and Wyoming, BlackThorn Pub and Pizza is an old-school South-side watering hole that also happens to serve some of the city’s best pizza. The delightfully divey neighborhood haunt is well-known throughout the city for its deep-dish Chicago-style za drowning in mozzarella and their famous spicy sauce. And the kitchen also serves up thin-crust and pan pizzas, as well as a small selection of other joint staples like garlic bread and a few basic salads. If you decide to grab dinner at BlackThorn, be prepared to make an evening of it. You can expect to wait awhile for your pie whether it’s busy or not, but the chalkboard walls, shuffleboard table, and retro arcade games that give the neighborhood bar its quintessentially South St. Louis vibe - not to mention the freely-flowing drinks from a full bar - will provide more than enough entertainment to keep you occupied until the main course arrives.
There's coffee, and then there's coffee. The former is typically cheap and exists to get us through the day, while the latter is responsible for swoons and weakened knees at the simple utterance of "Blue Bottle" or "Intelligentsia." The small, passionate and tightly knit group of self-proclaimed coffee nerds behind Comet Coffee live and breathe for the seductive beverage in its finest forms.
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.
Nestled within Tower Grove South at the corner of Potomac and Roger, Friendly’s Restaurant and Pub has a laid-back South City vibe perfect for kicking back and watching the game. If you’d rather play a game of your own there’s pool and darts inside, or you can head out to the enormous beer garden and play some air hockey, washers, pop-a-shot, or a variety of other games. Aside from that, Friendly’s beer garden also has a bar of its own, tons of TVs and a heated tent for those cooler days. The food menu is large too, offering everything from pizzas, sandwiches and burgers, to ballpark staples like nachos and hot dogs. Friendly’s also offers “Home Team Specials” on food and drinks during all Cardinals, Blues, Rams, Billikens, Tigers and Illini games, as well as happy hour daily from 3-6 p.m and 10 p.m. to closing time.
This is the definition of a neighborhood coffee shop -- it's actually an old south-city duplex on Hartford Street. The coffee is topnotch and fair trade, boasting organic blends from Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, New Guinea, Brazil, Peru and Ethiopia. They even use a process called fluid bed air roasting...we're not exactly sure what that means, but we like the results. But Hartford Coffee Company is more than a place to grab a cup of joe -- sit down, have a conversation, read a book. There's a whole section filled with children's books and games, and there are electrical outlets at each table so you can plug in and get some work done. On Friday evenings you can walk in for an open-mic night, while Saturdays bring stellar local acts.
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