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In a town with as many blues enthusiasts as St. Louis, the question of which blues club is best can be a topic of spirited discussion. BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups inhabits a historic brick buildings that oozes atmosphere, and it offers a first-rate selection of local and touring performers. BB's features a varied schedule of musical acts, a large year-round seating capacity and full-service kitchen specializing in Cajun and Creole food, in addition to a selection of American bar food.
The Hideaway lives up to its name. Tucked away just off the corner of Hampton and Arsenal in south city, the low-lit piano bar is brimming with a nostalgic glow and anonymous charm. Patrons young and old alike can enjoy a chest warming cocktail on a brisk winter evening and soak in the ambiance as lounge singers croon melodramatic melodies while twinkling the ivories.
Built by Adolphus Busch around 1914, this magnificent example of the beer-baron-bravado style of architecture now features competent lighter, updated versions of classic German cooking mixed in with basic steaks and seafood, along with a quintessential apple strudel for dessert.
Late-night dining destination Uncle Bill's (open 24/7) provides night owls with perennial breakfast/diner favorites, including omelets, biscuits and gravy, and, of course, plenty of pancakes. Specials include the 2 x 2 x 2 x 2, which fills a plate with two eggs, two pancakes, two bacon strips and two sausage links. If that won't fill you up, go for the Supreme 2 x 2 x 2 x 2, which adds hash browns to the mix. Always crowded on weekend nights.
"Eat Rite or Don't Eat At All." So it says on the coffee cups (and the souvenir T-shirts) at this no-frills 24-hour greasy spoon amid the industrial wasteland between downtown and Soulard. Folks come from miles around to fill up on the breakfast-and-burgers menu: bar-hoppers and club kids finally coming down from their late-night-into-early-morning highs; factory workers and blue-collars getting off graveyard shifts; curious newcomers who've heard about the bizarro vibe that pervades these cramped counter-only environs. To call the food at Eat-Rite cheap is an understatement -- six burgers (real-size, not White Castle-size) run $4.50. And many swear by the Eat-Rite's redoubtable slinger (for the uninitiated, that'd be fried eggs, hash browns and a burger patty, avec chili).
You wouldn't expect an unassuming, squat building on the commercial Hampton strip to be the flashiest bar in St. Louis, but it is. With dozens of sparkling disco balls, mirrored walls and a glitter-inlaid bar top, it's like the lovechild of a strip club and a disco roller rink, but one where karaoke is king. There's a feeling that what happens in this sparkling paradise stays here. The drinks aren't cheap, but the mixed ones are so strong that just one or two will have you crooning "I Want to Know What Love Is" in no time.
If there isn't a shrine to the deep fryer, there ought to be - and Porter's is the ideal location. The fried chicken might not receive as much buzz as other St. Louis institutions', but that's only because people are too busy eating it to talk about it. The breading is crisp, the meat is tender, and both are flavorful. The spicy breading packs a definite punch - but allow an extra ten to fifteen minutes for the kitchen to prepare it. The menu also includes seafood (cod, catfish, shrimp), burgers and a slew of sides.
Gianino's on South Lindbergh Boulevard, near Watson Road, offers traditional St. Louis Italian food well south of the Hill. Known for their toasted ravioli, Gianino's large menu includes several other appetizers, entrées, pastas and pizzas. Dinners can start with toasted cannelloni or melanzane fritte (fried eggplant). Entrées include chicken Marsala, Parmigiano and Gianino, a charbroiled breast served under a white-wine, lemon, garlic-and-butter sauce, with Provel, broccoli and mushrooms. Pastas, with red or white sauces, such as baked lasagna, tortellini and linguine with clams, are also available. Gianino's also offers familiar, St. Louis-style pizzas. Patrons can choose their own toppings or select from a list of specialties, such as the Cajun shrimp, chicken fajita or "Joyce's hot and spicy," a pie covered with beef, jalapeños, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Gianino's has ample dining-room seating and an outdoor patio.
Home of the original chicken sandwich--not to mention nuggets, strips, and those illustrious waffle fries, plus lemonade made from actual lemons--Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A found itself mired in controversy in early 2012 when company president Dan Cathy publicly shared his views against gay marriage. LGBT groups revolted and the media had a field day, with activists staging same-sex kissing demonstrations inside the restaurant and thousands of customers vowing to boycott the chicken chain. But ultimately the brouhaha doesn't seem to have hurt business; loyal fans are still packing the St. Louis drive-thru daily to be served by the most polite employees in the fast food world, who without fail refill drinks with a simple "My pleasure." Chick-fil-A's just a click away on Voice Places.
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.
The strip-mall exterior conceals a nice dining room featuring white linen, an eclectic art collection that includes a van Gogh-inspired Sinatra portrait and a shrine to Italian-American pop culture. Paul Manno grew up in the Italian-restaurant biz, and he turns out a very good collection of pastas, veal, seafood and the like, along with seasonal specials such as a quintessential caprese con mozzarella di bufala.
Finally, master mixologist Ted Kilgore gets a house of his own with Planter’s House. This Lafayette Square temple to mixology is a showroom for Kilgore and company’s (wife, Jamie, and business partner, Ted Charak) inspired cocktail artistry. Drinks run the gamut from the approachable “Planter’s House Punch” to the esoteric wormwood-laden “Unusual Suspect.” The joint is, first and foremost, a cocktail room, but it features an inspired food menu. The poutine is magnificent -- thick, red-wine pork gravy covers a platter of fried and smashed fingerling potatoes. Or try the duck burger, a mammoth mix of ground duck, pork and bacon is served open-face on a pumpernickel bun with Gouda and a fried duck egg. It’s quite possibly the perfect way to soak up all of that booze.
Mission Taco Joint's Soulard location is the second to its Delmar Loop flagship, slinging tacos served on housemade tortillas, innovative cocktails and more West Coast inspired Mexican fare. The dining room features plenty of natural light, a colorful mural along the back wall and plenty of seating for groups. Start with a margarita or daiquiri, gobble up some house guacamole with your tacos -- choose from cactus, brisket, duck and more -- and end the meal with some churros with chocolate sauce.
Yesterday's Bar & Grill is a restaurant and bar located in North St. Louis County.
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