St. Louis Magazine's annual tribute to the best this city has to offer
(page 4 of 10)
Raciest Bingo Caller
You’ll be laughing so hard—and blushing so hotly—you won’t even know your card’s full. Dieta Pepsi, sashed Miss Gay Missouri in 1990, is St. Louis’ most beloved drag queen. She calls the cards as she sees ’em and does a whole lot of improvising, and the response is rowdy and raunchy. Just John’s, a gay bar in the Grove, rewards the crowd with bingo punch and treasures bought at the dollar store. Regulars are faithful, playing at 10 p.m. every Monday—and some even bring their parents.
4112 Manchester, 314-371-1333, justjohnsclub.com
Place to Hear the Blues
Sure, you can listen to the blues trapped inside four walls. But the river, man—the river’s where it started. Moonlight on muddy brown water; a little breeze ruffling the hot, still air; and even up on the Tom Sawyer’s top deck, you can feel that sprung rhythm coming up through your feet. Where you go depends, like life, on how fast the current’s moving—down to the J.B. Bridge, maybe, or up to the Confluence and back. You’ll hear the best: Billy Peek, Big George Brock, the Soulard Blues Band…
Riverfront, 877-982-1410, gatewayarch.com/Arch/info/act.riverboat.ent.bc.aspx
St. Louis Scottish Games
Three years without haggis? Or massed bagpipes, or men in plaid? The Scottish Games return in October, after two years when money was a wee bit tight and year-round volunteers returned to their own lives. This one’s better, they’ve decided. What could match the Calling of the Clans, their proud voices booming through torchlit mist, or the hurling of 120-pound telephone poles end over end? This year’s new lure: Tempest, a hip quintet of Celtic rockers from the Bay Area.
Forest Park, 314-821-1286, stlouis-scottishgames.com
Tango St. Louis at the Ritz
Don’t judge Michael Flanagan by his surname. He’s been dancing and teaching Argentine tango for years, and he’s persuaded the Ritz-Carlton to host free tango lessons, followed by tango music, from 6 to 10 p.m. every Sunday evening. About 60 people show up, half of them beginners eager for the lesson and half so graceful, you watch. Breathlessly. As they pick up on their partners’ cues and…the dance unfolds.
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, 100 Carondelet Plaza, 314-303-0484, tangostlouis.com
The Highlands Driving Range
Naming Forest Park’s reinvented Triple A Golf and Tennis Club after a beloved, long-missed amusement park was a stroke of brilliance. The thrills begin with 28 stalls and a 6,000-square-foot practice green and get better after dark: The Highlands lit each target, then lit the range from all directions. The artificial mats are so state-of-the-art, they mock the grass (zoysia on the greens, Bermuda in the fairways, tall fescue to foil you). The layout’s tight but beautiful. And the city finally has a range at home.
Forest Park, 5163 Clayton Ave., 314-531-7773, highlandsgolfandtennis.com
West County Tennis Ladder
The first season we played in this, we thought it was too good to be true: $30 to join a group of 350 tennis players for a half year’s worth of schedule-your-own matches? Plus a handful of free parties throughout the year, with indoor tennis and food provided? $30!?! It must just be a low rate to get a new endeavor off the ground. Nope: The ladder’s been live since 1973 (likely the same year they came up with this price). With this award, we congratulate the organizers—and request that they not change a thing (except maybe the name—players come from and play all over St. Louis).
Maramec Spring Park
The Shawnee knew first. They spoke so eloquently of the tall trees, the swift waters, and the colored earth that merchant Thomas James followed them back to what’s been called the most beautiful place in Missouri. In 1826, he dug an iron forge here, which is why you can eat at the Pick and Shovel Café and buy bait at the Company Store. But the main point’s the cool spring water and the trout that glide through it, stocked daily and amply by the Missouri Department of Conservation. For smallmouth bass, head downstream to the stretch between Scott’s Ford and the Bird’s Nest rail bridge; upstream, you’ll find the trout.
St. James, 573-265-7387, maramecspringpark.com/maramec
Chandler Hill Vineyards
In nearby Defiance, on a site once owned by a freed slave named Joseph Chandler, this relatively new Missouri vineyard and winery boasts a high-ceilinged, 5,000-square-foot tasting room, and a wine deck almost as big. It’s atop the latter where guests consume most of the vino—Chandler Hill’s own Missouri Nortons, Chardonels, and Vignoles, as well as wines the company makes in California and Washington State. There’s a full menu of dining options, as well as a new Sunday farmer’s market. We’re fans of many regional wineries, but there’s something about Chandler Hill that feels a little more sophisticated, a little extra tucked-away.
596 Defiance, Defiance, 636-798-2675, chandlerhillvineyards.com