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Photograph courtesy of Chandler Hill Vineyards
The editors at St. Louis Magazine have been working year-round to bring you our seventh annual A-list issue. We keep our eyes open constantly to discover the best of St. Louis and provide what information we think would mean the most to our readers, whether the subject is food to sports to media to kids' activities. This year, we've added a new dimension to our A-list: We gave our readers the chance to make their own picks. Earlier this year, we posted an online voting ballot and received responses from more than 1,500 dedicated readers. We took the Readers' Picks a step further online and posted not just the top picks—the print issue has these—but the top five picks for each voting category. Read on, and find out what we, and our readers, think makes this city great.
It’s an American staple, so we’re not sure why it took a French restaurant to produce such a juicy patty of perfection. Mais de rien! A soft Companion bun grips this beauty like a Rawlings. And the fries? Arguably the best in the Central Division.
1535 S. Eighth, 314-436-2500, eatatfranco.com
There’s no faux-meat substitution happening here: The vegetables and lentils are easily identifiable. This is a true veggie burger, folks, and represents everything vegetarian food has the potential to be, but rarely is.
2203 S. 39th, 314-771-4278, sweetartstl.com
Milagro Modern Mexican
What do you get when you drop the chalupa and eradicate all-American influences from south-of-the-border sustenance? You get quesadillas flavored with a traditionally sautéed corn fungus (yes, you read that right) called huitlacoche. You get tacos served taqueria-style, and you get little side touches like tostaditas wrapped in warm banana leaves to accompany your first-rate ceviche. What you won’t get: Corona, for starters. The amigos behind the CWE’s Tortillaria have put forth another worthy outpost for Mexican fare that tastes like it actually comes from Mexico.
20 Allen, 314-962-4300, milagromodernmexican.com
Restaurant to Brag About
A travel-writing friend-in-law recently called us, wondering what we’d include on a 36-hour, whirlwind-weekend itinerary through the Lou. “Dude, you gotta go to Winslow’s Home,” we blurted. (“Dude” being an official title at The New York Times, we’ve heard… Oh, did we mention this was The New York Times asking?) Like a City Museum for foodies, this circa-2006 general store/farm-to-table breakfast-and-lunch counter hyper-tickles all five senses, but its sandwiches and small-batch baked goods are what earn its cash-for-your-miles status among gourmands far and wide.
7213 Delmar, 314-725-7559, winslowshome.com
Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill
“Go big or go home,” they say in sports. Lester Miller went big with his eponymous eatery’s menu by going far from home, dispatching chef Brad Isaak to the East Coast to receive a crash course in meat-smoking and brining from a former Carnegie Deli owner. The resultant pastrami (not to mention corned beef, brisket, and smoked turkey breast) is so stellar, it could almost make a Redbirds fan bleed Yankee blue. (OK, we said almost.)
9906 Clayton, 314-994-0055; 14810 Clayton, 636-230-0055; lestersrestaurant.com
Vermicelli, Mangia Italiano
Happiness is Mangia’s freshly served, made-by-them pastas; torture is trying to whittle down which one to order at South Grand’s most improved restaurant. While ribbons of scallop-edged pappardelle leave us weak-kneed (fun fact: pappardelle’s root verb, pappare, means “to gobble up”), it usually sits under a hunk of protein. Mangia’s Vermicelli G.O.C. is blessedly benign, its rustic, surprisingly intricate tones accentuated by garlic, olive oil, and (grated Parmesan) cheese. G.O.C. is only one letter different from...?
3145 S. Grand, 314-664-8585, dineatmangia.com
Go Deung Uh, Han Gook Kwan Korean Restaurant
You can’t pronounce it, but just point to the go deung uh on the menu at Han Gook Kwan. The panchan, the inevitable side dishes, will arrive first: fiery kimchi; fat, salty noodles; crunchy threads of sesame-flavored seaweed. Then the fish itself: a pair of golden-brown flanks of mackerel, hot and deliciously oily and almost sweet, lightly dusted with flour and deep-fried. Every bite is exquisite. This is easily among the top 10 dishes in St. Louis.
1261 Castillon Arcade Plaza, 314-878-8893
Northwest Coffee Company
At the original Clayton outpost of Northwest Coffee (by press time, likely at the Central West End location as well), “Barista Eggs” are concocted by cracking a pair of free-rangers from Dry Dock Farms into a little steel pitcher (the kind usually used for frothing milk), then submitting them to a half-minute blast of steam from an espresso machine. Light and fluffy as clouds, they can be topped with cheese and steamed veggies, too. Simple, and simply marvelous.
8401 Maryland, 314-725-8055, northwestcoffee.com
Private Dining Room
You’re not far from the Lumière Place casino, yet you’re miles away; you’re not far from the other guests, but surrounded by curved glass walls and bolts of gauzy curtains, you might as well be; and you’re not at all far from bottles of vintage red wine—right next to them, in fact. How convenient.
999 N. Second, 314-881-7595, hubertkeller.com
Stone Soup Cottage
Stone Soup Cottage is not unlike a Maine lobster…such decadent ambrosia is not for everyday consumption, but rather an indulgence to be cherished and savored. And although the restaurant’s open only four nights a week, owners Carl and Nancy McConnell will happily accommodate a special party on an off night, even if it’s a party of two. A renovated farmhouse with only 25 seats, Stone Soup is the epitome of rustic elegance and has quickly become our hands-down favorite when the memory of the dinner has to live up to the memory of the occasion.
5525 Oak, Cottleville, 636-244-2233, stonesoupcottage.com
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie, Zettie’s Confections
Cookie perfection is hard to come by: oven-fresh with a crispy edge, chewy center, and perfect balance. But we found one with our favorite ingredients—a mix of white and dark chips, plus chunks of buttery toffee—that’s so good you may polish off more than you ever intended, like the time you nailed that entire pint (or was it a quart?) of Vanilla Bean Häagen-Dazs. Wait a minute, we may have just come up with a new pairing…
Safe Dining Bet
River City Casino
Whether you bet on the ponies or play the slots, no one likes to gamble on dinner. How ironic, then, that several of our city’s best dining bets are inside the new River City Casino. Try any of five riverboat-nuanced dining venues, from a superior buffet (yes, we said that) to burgers and comfort food, the classic (and well-stocked!) 1904 Beerhouse, and Jeff Ruby’s array of winning steaks. We’ll wager you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were.
777 River City Casino, 888-578-7289, rivercity.com
The Smiling Staff at Yummies
They’re wearing tuxedo shirts in a soul-food joint? And they’re smiling? Makes us wonder what’s in the Kool-Aid they dole out…yes, Yummies serves Kool-Aid, along with smothered chicken, salmon croquettes, and a decadent banana pudding it claims is fat- and sugar-free. Nothing at Yummies is expensive, and all of those smiles are free.
3149 Shenandoah, 314-226-9800, yummiessoulfood.com
Restaurant Dream Team
Kevin Willmann, Farmhaus
This time last year, we had to trek to Erato on Main in Edwardsville to experience the freshness Willmann brings to the table. And we didn’t complain. This year, Willmann opened Farmhaus, on this side of the river, and we like that even better.
3257 Ivanhoe, 314-647-3800, farmhausrestaurant.com
Whitney Fogel, Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar
Rare is the female bartender who appeals to both sexes equally—friend to all and intimidator of none. One who could sell sand in the desert, or a glass of red to the guy drinking white; one who’s as sweet as your niece’s smile, and who’s just as glad to see you. But we found her. At Remy’s, in Clayton.
222 S Bemiston, 314-726-5757, allgreatrestaurants.com
Chuck Klipfel, The Piccadilly at Manhattan
He’ll greet you at the door with a welcoming smile, exuding pride and utter confidence. You’ve heard that The Piccadilly at Manhattan was a family operation, and you connect the dots: “You must be the owner.” “No, I’m Chuck,” he beams, “but the owner is here, too.”
7201 Piccadilly, 314-646-0016, thepiccadilly.com
Simone Faure, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis
The Ritz is ready to bequeath the reigning queen of cakes her very own corner of the gift shop to display and sell her quirky creations, including made-to-order cakes shaped like exclusive purses, designer shoes, and hats. But it’s not all edible fashion. In The Grill, Simone’s classic tiramisu and toasted-apple ravioli are currently in vogue.
100 Carondelet Plaza, 314-863-6300, ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/StLouis
Casey and Jeremy Miller, The Mud House
They own a coffee shop, so forgive the name. But talk about a perfect couple: Jeremy bakes the scones and Casey crafts the lattes, right down to amazing examples of latte art. If starting the day with your caricature in your cup doesn’t put a smile on your face, well, Casey can put one there.
2101 Cherokee, 314-776-6599, themudhousestl.com
Ford had his Model T; Pi owner Chris Sommers has his “Pi on the Spot” mobile pizza truck, the latest feather in this restaurateur’s thinking cap. Baskin and Robbins had their 31 flavors; Sommers installed a milkshake bar at his Kirkwood outpost. Frat guys have cold morning-after ’za washed down with a hair-of-the-dog brewski; so does the Central West End Pi on Sundays, with a selection of suds more refined than you’d find in the mini fridge of a Psi Phi’s dorm room. This, epicurean entrepreneurs, is how you put the pi in “empire.” Or for that matter, “epicurean.”
Three locations, restaurantpi.com
Taste by Niche
As you cram your way into this impossibly small Benton Park eatery, you’ll be tempted to ask yourself, “Am I here for the cocktails or the food?” Whether your answer is Ted Kilgore’s impeccably crafted drinks or the still–exotic–for–St. Louis small plates like octopus and tongue, you’ll be correct. There are no wrong answers here.
1831 Sidney, 314-773-7755, nichestlouis.com
Blue-Plate Special, Farmhaus
Sure, 10 bucks might seem steep for a Blue-Plate Special of bacon-wrapped meatloaf or fried fluke, but these aren’t the ones slopped into a sectional plate by a guy named Mel. No, this 2010 version is lovingly prepared by one of St. Louis’ favorite chefs (See “Restaurant Dream Team”), and includes a salad, side, starch, and tea, which makes it a steal for that $10 bill. “Lunch” at Farmhaus consists of one Blue Plate per day, announced every morning on Twitter. That’s it. And if you don’t like today’s offering, we’ll bet you like tomorrow’s.
3257 Ivanhoe, 314-647-3800, farmhausrestaurant.com
Dorm-Room Dinner, 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar
When Jeff Stettner got the idea to turn his much-loved 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar into a once-a-month dining club, even he wouldn’t have guessed it would become the city’s hardest seat to score. But that’s what happens when names like Craft, Nashan, and Gontram agree to create menus using only the cooking tools you’d find in a college dorm room—a hot plate, a microwave, a toaster oven…maybe even Grandma’s old electric griddle.
1913 Park, 314-231-9463, 33wine.com
It ain’t Paris in the spring, but an evening in Clayton has its charms. And Chez Leon says “romance” better than a De Beers commercial. The dark walls, the thick drapery, and the opulent, glittery chandelier—the setting is a mecca of romantic potential. If your relationship doesn’t blossom (or at least bud) over a plate of dangerously glorious foie gras there, Mom was right: Call it quits—you can do better.
7927 Forsyth, 314-361-1589, chezleon.com
Brandade at Brasserie by Niche
First, they salt the cod in-house, rather than relying on bacalao, so they can control the flavor and texture. Second, they add butter to the mashed potatoes—enough to have basted a Thanksgiving ostrich. Then it’s blended—not a purée, not an emulsion, a combination of both—creating a creamy, smooth bowlful, rich and starchy, fragrant, satisfying. The cod-and-potato brandade at Brasserie is irresistible.
4580 Laclede, 314-454-0600, brasseriebyniche.com
Reason to Cross the River
JFires’ Market Bistro
If you can’t think of one, consider this bistro in Waterloo. It’s an old brick farmhouse, beautifully restored, in a charming setting complete with its own barn and vine-covered patio. The menu leans towards Louisiana, with crawfish étouffée and gumbo, but there’s also splendid, roasted pulled pork; steaks and chicken; wood-fired pizzas; and fresh juices. And always remember—rivers are made for crossing.
725 N. Market, Waterloo, Ill., 618-939-7233, jfires.com
Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar
Forget the fancy-schmancy: Our palate can get overwhelmed by too many tastes or textures. That’s why we’re fans of the spinach flatbread at Balaban’s. It’s simple: the smooth, gooey nuttiness of fontina. The slightly metallic, earthy green of fresh spinach. The sweet, al dente smack of caramelized onions. A white sauce that suggests garlic and cream and sun-drenched Italian afternoons. All of it balanced, in just the right proportions, on a spectacular crackly, crusty flatbread.
1772 Clarkson, 636-449-6700, balabanswine.com
Al Waha Restaurant and Hookah Lounge
For the thousands who’ve complained that all our city lacks is a good Bedouin restaurant, life’s complete! Sautéed eggplant moussaka, meat kebabs, and hummus are familiar items here. But Bedouin specialties like fried beef dumplings; a pizza-like baked bread topped with chicken and onions; and fish cooked in tomato sauce, garlic, and ginger make for a remarkable adventure. The hookah may be hokey, but don’t miss Bedouin coffee, brewed with cardamom.
3191 S. Grand, 314-664-3940, alwahastl.com
Place to Shop for Mom and Daughter
The Little Black Dress
The Little Black Dress is the only place in town women will find chic, sail-worthy clothing from Saint James; figure-flattering beach dresses from Calypso St. Barth; and stylish ski-bunny apparel from M. Miller. And now the elegant boutique has answered local moms’ prayers by offering age-appropriate clothing for tween girls. Look for the classic and beautifully made collection of Susanne Lively dresses that are sure to make both mom and daughter happy. Even better—there isn’t a tween dress over $98.
9793 Clayton, 314-993-6060
Handbags Under $100
When it comes to handbags, who wants to fork over what you’d pay these days for a Toyota? Pocketbooks are often priced well into four figures. For those who don’t need a crocodile Hermès Birkin bag, go to Ivy Hill. The Central West End spot is the ultimate source for great-looking, eco-friendly bags at insanely good prices—we’re talking Big Buddha totes, Shiraleah clutches, and Urban Expressions hobos for less than a hundred bucks each.
304 N. Euclid, 314-367-7004, ivyhillboutique.com
Online Secondhand Women’s Clothing Retailer
Do you long for Gucci, Armani, and Prada at a steal? Surf your way to a designer-filled closet on hollywhirl.com. Run by Sue McCarthy of Women’s Closet Exchange, this website is chock-full of amazing deals—think Yves Saint Laurent handbags, Chanel gowns, and Manolo Blahnik heels at 70 to 80 percent off retail price. Take note: Merchandise online and in-store differs, so your best bet is to scope out both.
314-729-0811, hollywhirl.com; Women’s Closet Exchange, 11575 Gravois, 314-842-8405, womensclosetexchange.net
Look Like a Million Bucks Without Spending It
Blush owner Sarah King has your wallet in mind when she picks out merchandise for her trendy Kirkwood store. Stocked with clothing and accessories that will have you doing a double take on the price tag, Blush is the first to carry many of-the-moment brands like Blaque Label, Aryn K., Kersh, and Jesslyn Blake.
141 W. Jefferson, 314-965-4411, shopblushboutique.com.
In early August, Blush moves to 110 N. Clay; its phone number and website will remain the same.
Women’s Vintage Clothing
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a store by its window displays? In the case of Borough Vintage, the answer is most certainly “Yes.” Decked out in a timely theme, the vintage shop’s mannequins can be found wearing tutus and military jackets or hanging out in a modish time capsule. Borough isn’t about last season’s styles—the place lives up to its name by offering true vintage from the 1940s through 1980s. Look for quality pieces from Christian Dior, Valentino, and Lanvin.
2306 Cherokee, 314-881-9869, boroughvintage.com
Gifts for Everyone
Think of any possible gift category—wedding, baby, pooch, hostess, and so on—and Lusso has it covered. From Tokyomilk perfume to Match Pewter dinnerware to Whimsy wrapping paper, the Crescent boutique is brimming with original and tasteful items sure to please the pickiest on your list.
165 Carondelet Plaza, 314-725-7205, lussohome.com
Watches to Hand Down for Generations
College graduation, big promotion, milestone birthday—all worthy occasions to mark with an impressive watch. If you’re in the market for a timepiece that you and your grandchildren will treasure, Clarkson Jewelers is the place to go. With a stunning collection including watches from Patek Philippe, Breitling, and Maurice Lacroix, you’ll be handing down style for years to come.
1306 Clarkson/Clayton Center, 636-227-2006; The Meadows at Lake Saint Louis, 636-561-8881;clarksonjewelers.com
Need to stock up on fashion-forward duds for your next stylish holiday? Whether you’re headed to Paris or St. Barth, you’ll find everything at Valerie Mills—the selection’s the best in town. Pack your suitcase with a Tucker day dress, Halston Heritage handbag, Trina Turk bauble, and Thread Social cocktail dress, and you’ll be carry-on chic. Overwhelmed by the thought of shopping? The friendly and knowledgeable Valerie Mills staff will steer you in the right direction.
139 Carondelet Plaza, 314-727-4545, valeriemills.com
Buying fine jewelry can be daunting. There are so many factors to consider: Do the four C’s really matter? Platinum or silver? What style of setting? The folks at family-owned Genovese Jewelers have been in the biz for more than 20 years, and not only will they graciously walk you through the process, you will most likely be happily surprised by their prices. The 11,000-square-foot Creve Coeur store makes it easy, whether you’re in the market for diamonds, looking to create a custom-designed piece, or just in for a repair.
12460 Olive, 314-878-6203, genovesejewelers.com
Department Store Sales
Not only has Dillard’s gussied up its contemporary collection with pieces by the likes of Cynthia Steffe, Walter, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, the store’s also making the discount lover in all of us rejoice. At the end of each month, the mall mainstay offers an additional 30 to 40 percent off of store prices. If you’re a Dillard’s credit-cardholder, you’ll have access to the sale a day before everyone else. Whether you’re looking to buy those Emilio Pucci “investment” heels or the oh-so-affordable Gianni Bini sandals, you are certain to be saving some bucks.
Multiple locations, 800-345-5273, dillards.com
When you haven’t hit the gym in more than a year, spend some time in Lululemon Athletica, and you’ll be dialing 24 Hour Fitness by the time you walk out the door. The superstylish workout wear (for women and men) housed in the new Plaza Frontenac store is begging for downward dogs, high-speed runs in Forest Park, or even boppin’ around town. But take heed: The store’s technologically advanced, candy-colored clothing is not for the workout wallflower—forget about disappearing in the back of spin class.
Plaza Frontenac, 314-994-7662, lululemon.com/stlouis/plazafrontenac
David Meyerkord has two professions: clay artist and licensed therapist. The pastimes mesh well. With hands of iron, he kneads your body, massaging aches and pains away. His company, Healing Touch, is aptly named. A favored gift for anyone going through a serious illness, Meyerkord’s touch works wonders on stress-ravaged bodies.
225 S. Meramec, 314-781-8337, healingtouchlimited.com
InsideOut Wellness & Acupuncture
If the furrow in your brow is ditch-deep and your jowls droop down to your collar, we have an alternative to thetraditional face-lift. Go to InsideOut Wellness and let Dr. Zach LaBoube perform a procedure called a microcurrent face-lift. You’ll complete a program of 10 visits ($85 per 45-minute session, with the last one gratis), during which the doctor or esthetician coats your face with a Vaselinelike substance and then rubs two electricity-conducting rods over your face. No pain, no cuts, and it totals out at less than a grand.
8230 Forsyth, 314-721-1701, insideoutwellness.net
Chen’s Natural Healing
It’s true, Dr. Qijun Chen’s office—bare, and on the far side of fastidious—can be a little off-putting. But he’s rightfully acclaimed for his acupuncture abilities, and if you speak Chinese, he’s quite the conversationalist. If not, be sure to go on Tuesday or Thursday, when an interpreter is present.
8363 Olive, 314-983-2788, chensnaturalhealing.com
Dr. Jeffrey Aschenbrenner
Helen Weiss, a grandame of St. Louis public relations and a legend at May Company, rarely let a week go by without having Dr. Jeffrey Aschenbrenner work his magic on her feet. She’s gone, but fortunately for us, he’s still here. He’s kind, he’s gentle, and best of all, he can chase the pain away.
Medical West Podiatry, 950 Francis, 314-726-2377
Luv ur Tan
We all know the sun can cause irreparable harm. But there are other ways to achieve the healthy glow of tanned skin. The best is Luv ur Tan, the first holistic tanning salon in town. You pick your shade (light, natural, or dark, priced from $25 to $35) and go into a roomy VersaSpa booth to get mist-free application and a blow-dry finish.
15876 Fountain Plaza, 636-527-2677, luvurtan.com
Everyone has his or her own way of fighting the ravages of time. But getting a really great facial from a master has to rank as one of the best. Certainly the best practitioner of the craft in our book is esthetician Natasha Shanayev at Jean Phillipe & Company. Aside from giving fabulous facials and concurrent massage, Shanayev pays close attention to your skin and carefully advises you on appropriate products.
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
Saint Louis City Open Studio and Gallery
Art’s fun, but it can become frustrating when dried-up markers, a small work space, or picky teachers fetter kids’ natural inspiration. Our favorite “safe space” for art: Saint Louis City Open Studio and Gallery. Make an appointment for open studio hours ($12 per hour, or $10 per hour with a 10-hour card, available during the school year only), or sign your child up for a ceramics or illustration course, and see inspiration set free—no dining-table cleanup required.
South Gate Lodge, Tower Grove Park, 4255 Arsenal, 314-865-0060, scosag.org
It’s no exaggeration to say Georgy Rock is, well, a rock of stability. She’s been spinning tales here for nearly 30 years, from the old Library Limited to ongoing gigs at Catholic Supply of St. Louis and various congregations across the city. Last June, she was ordained as a maggid, or Jewish itinerant storyteller, and in August established the Thursday Child Story Time (11:30 a.m. to noon Thursdays) at Subterranean Books. It’s the perfect combo: Book-browsing and stories, then lunch on the Loop.
Subterranean Books, 6275 Delmar, 314-862-6100, georgy-rock.com
The Elegant Child Early Learning Center
This is one of Wildwood’s best-kept secrets: a state- and nationally accredited preschool…where you can get your dry-cleaning done. Where you can get cappuccino and a breakfast sandwich—or a classy dinner and birthday cake—to go. Where your child can get a haircut while you check out a book from the on-site library. And did we mention that the learning center offers classes in martial arts, computers, dance, gymnastics, and soccer? In a word: Wow.
513 Strecker, 636-458-4414, elegantchildcampus.com
Meal Out With the Kids
Pei Wei Asian Diner
We know: It’s a chain. But it’s one where you can get a kids’ meal that’s both cheaper and healthier than the usual fast-food fare—plus a glass of wine for Mom. (No need to pack that flask!) Add gluten-free options, dishes with tons of veggies and protein, locations right off the highway, and the option to order ahead online, and you see why many mothers swear by it.
8885 Ladue, 314-656-5980; 11430 Olive, 314-656-2004; peiwei.com
Kids’ Music Series
Musical Merry-Go-Round, Off Broadway
In 2008, Paul Stark, longtime host of KDHX-FM’s Ska’s the Limit, switched genres and created a radio version of Saturday-morning cartoons, Musical Merry-Go-Round. He plays folkies and novelty standbys like Spike Jonze, but he’s also the only DJ here playing “kindie rockers,” or rockers who play music for kids, e.g. Del Fuegos frontman Dan Zanes. Stark’s not doing this to earn cool points; he plays it because it’s good. Parents love these family matinee shows, unlike the mind-zapping treacle that’s been peddled to kids in the past. Everyone wants to be there. And what promotes quality family time more than that?
3511 Lemp, 314-773-3363, musicalmerrygoround.org
Warm Springs Ranch
There’s no question: Our kids have many animal options within a short drive, including the Zoo, Grant’s Farm, Purina Farms, Suson Park…the list is long (and exemplary!). But when we heard Warm Springs Ranch, home of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, was opening up to the public, we were on board. If anything says St. Louis, it’s the Clydesdales—and now you and the kids can take a bus out to meet Clydesdale colts and fillies in their natural mid-Missouri pastureland (and spy others in the fields along the way). Say it with us now: “Horsies!” Call for tour reservations.
Boonville, 888-972-5933, warmspringsranch.com
Four Muddy Paws
With tidy roominess for both you and your pooch, this sustainability-minded spot takes what could be a frustrating errand and helps give it a social bent—the fun vibe makes getting to know other owners (and owners’ best friends) a breeze. The helpful staff provides good advice, regardless of whether you’re in the market for what’s sold at their on-site store. Self-service washes start at just $12. A bonus tip that made us smile: If your dog’s from a shelter, bring in the papers within your initial three months together and the first bath is free.
1711 Park, 314-773-7297; 2127 S. State Route 157, Edwardsville, Ill., 618-692-4729; fourmuddypaws.com
It’s where the city’s top chefs sharpen. That not good enough? Then head to this family-owned Hill staple, and come with your own knives drawn. Or your chain saw or pruning shears—the company sharpens anything with a blade. Country music plays above the grinding machines that hug walls of exposed brick. On our last visit, we asked a staffer, “How many knives do you guys do a day?” The man paused, looked around. “A lot.”
1927 Marconi, 314-664-4005, bertarellicutlery.com
Mobile Car Wash
Mr. B’s Mobile Wash n’ Wax
A unique alternative for those seeking a cleaner ride: The car wash comes to you. In this case, the professional, genial Mr. B shows up to your home or office with a van full of supplies. He leaves a short time later, and you’re ready for a night out on the town. (Mr. B usually uses clients’ hookups and electric, though he can often make do without them.) The bill for our test car—a four-door Honda Civic—was just $12 for a wash (inside and out), bringing us to $45 for the wash and wax. We gleamed.
Southside True Value Hardware
People in St. Louis Hills have this store’s phone number memorized. Steve Ripper, his two brothers, and his four kids know how to do anything that needs doing. They’ll make screens so you can fling open long-sealed garage windows; cut a new glass pane when your kid’s been practicing his split-finger fastball; fix your lawn mower so you have no more excuses. Not only does the staff offer help the minute you walk in (hel-lo, Home Depot), but they’re genuinely interested in finding the best solution—and it’s rarely the most expensive.
6401 Hampton, 314-351-0204
We keep time, lose time, need time, make time. But the best folks to repair time are members of the four-generation family that runs Timekeepers. They learned their craft in Eastern Europe and brought it to St. Louis 31 years ago. They can fix an antique music box, restore a faded Piaget, reset an emerald that broke somebody’s heart. We showed Timekeepers Great-Aunt Mary’s Art Deco diamond cocktail ring and casually asked what it might be worth. The answer? The exact figure it brought at an Ivey-Selkirk auction the following month. They know their stuff.
17 N. Meramec, 314-721-4548; 9495 Olive, 314-991-0994; timekeepersstl.com
Since Adam Wainwright’s first career at-bat in a Cardinals uniform in 2006, when he crushed Giants pitcher Noah Lowry’s pitch out of the park, St. Louis knew it had something special in No. 50. That same year, he helped carry the Cards to a World Series victory, filling in for closer Jason Isringhausen and prevailing in clutch moments. Last year, Wainwright beat out teammate Chris Carpenter to win his first Gold Glove Award after a league-high 233 innings pitched. With his killer curveball and 92-mph fastball, the 6-foot-7 right-hander was No. 1 in wins among starters, at press time, since the beginning of 2009. When it comes to consistency, Wainwright is pitch-perfect.
Toughness is expected of a middle-school teacher—but Kelly Kozlen isn’t your typical sixth-grade teacher. On Saturday nights, Ms. Koz throws on pads and dons her No. 54 jersey when the St. Louis SLAM women’s football team takes the field at Oakville High School. A third-generation middle linebacker, she helped lead the team to its first-ever championship last year in New Orleans, landing Defensive Player of the Year honors and winning MVP in the championship after 14 tackles in a single game. As a coach for Affton High School’s freshman football squad—perhaps the first female football coach in Missouri—Kozlen proves those who teach can do, too.
The Post Sports Bar & Grill
Bench the excessive memorabilia—what a sports bar really needs are TVs, drink specials, and fellow sports fanatics. In its first year, The Post Sports Bar & Grill in Maplewood has figured out the formula. Around 20 TVs, plus a well-placed projector screen, are visible throughout the bar. Drink specials are when you need them, during Cards and Blues games. And to bolster camaraderie, The Post has an official-looking beer-pong table (ask the bartenders to set it up); five rounds of mind-numbing trivia Wednesdays at 8 p.m.; and fantasy football, baseball, and hockey leagues, with standings posted so you always know who’s in the lead.
7372 Manchester, 314-645-1109, thepostsportsbar.com
The UConn Huskies’ Division I women’s basketball team garnered plenty of hoopla this spring with its 78-game winning streak. But let’s not forget St. Louis’ own Washington University Bears and coach Nancy Fahey, who won the Division III championship in March. Fahey holds the current record for the longest winning streak in NCAA women’s basketball—81 games during a stretch from 1998 to 2001 when the Bears won four straight titles. With an astounding .851 winning percentage and a record five Division III championship wins, the team’s head coach is in such elite company that even legendary UCLA coach John Wooden has given her a nod at one time.
Local TV Show
Great Day St. Louis
We were already fans of this fairly new St. Louis talk show—on weekday mornings at 10 a.m.—as the topics covered are a combination of interesting and real-world helpful, and the mood’s upbeat without being saccharine. (The title’s taken seriously.) What turned us into admirers was seeing firsthand that the interplay between the show’s hosts, Carol Daniel and Matt Chambers, is the genuine real deal, even when the cameras are off. They’re a day-improving duo.
Tim Ezell, FOX 2
Whether he’s on-the-spot rapping with a local hip-hop star or playing wheelchair rugby with a St. Louis team, KTVI-TV’s Tim Ezell seems wonderfully comfortable in his own skin. Through segments like “Tim’s Travels” and his newer Tim Ezell Show, the gangly guy knows how to do goofy—but it’s a goofiness that doesn’t foster irrelevance, not always an easy balance for local talent on the oddball beat.
Yes, one-time Post-Dispatch gossip columnist Jerry Berger is back, and yes, we know you’ve got his website bookmarked. So-and-so’s building a massive gun safe on his vast Huntleigh property? What’s-her-name was plotting her next political move while dining out over a bone-in veal chop? Are any of these posts confirmed as fact? Who knows. Fun to read? You bet.
Homelessness in the suburbs—Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen shone a moving light on this reality with a series called “Motel Manor,” about those seeking temporary refuge in two motels in St. Charles County. The piece ran in 2009, and earlier this year it was named a finalist for the feature photography Pulitzer. Well-deserved. The online version is a particularly moving combination of images and audio of the St. Louisans themselves. An inspiring postscript: After this story ran, readers of the paper and stltoday.com donated $30,000 to one of the nonprofits aiding the families.
Dotage St. Louis
Twenty-four-year-old urban planner Matthew Mourning doesn’t even live here—he was born and raised in St. Louis, but now lives in Baltimore—but that doesn’t stop him from publishing highly reported and thoughtful daily posts on the latest historic preservation, development, and transportation issues facing our city. Mourning’s informed yet curious, opinionated yet civil, and largely positive. We’d welcome him to the city’s conversations, but he’s already leading many of them.
The Improv Trick
Too often, when it comes to comedy, St. Louisans look north to Chicago, and overlook our own homegrown talent. Know this: Whether you desire to dip a toe into performing yourself or simply want to see people bring the funny, Bill Chott’s got your back. The nationally acclaimed actor and his troupe of comedians are working nightly to teach and perform here—and restore our city to comedy prominence.
2715 Cherokee, 314-922-1998, theimprovtrick.com
Woyzeck, Upstream Theater
No one but Upstream is staging obscure, neglected works in translation for the stage. Artistic director Philip Boehm is clearly a perfectionist, which is why he won a Kevin Kline Award in the Outstanding New Play category for Woyzeck. How could Georg Büchner’s 1837 play, one of the most influential scripts in the German canon, be new? It was half-complete at the time of the playwright’s death. As Riverfront Times theater critic Dennis Brown noted, lots of people have bungled this play by trying to mind-read its author; Boehm just tried to tell a compelling story, and “fashioned an essentially new play.” Then he cast two of the finest actors in town—J. Samuel Davis and Brooke Edwards—in the lead roles to bring that fine script to life.
Talent to Watch
He blew everyone away when Fantagraphics Books issued his collection of graphic short stories, Abandoned Cars, last year. Print wrote that Cars “signal[ed] the arrival of a major new voice on the American literary landscape, with or without the illustrations.” Which were by no means shabby—as Booklist noted, the “beautifully crafted pen-and-ink drawing combines a master artist’s eye for detail with a predilection for the grotesque.” Now, Lane is translating one of the stories, “The Passenger,” to film. You can see it this month at Cinema St. Louis’ Filmmakers Showcase at the Tivoli Theatre (July 17 to 23, cinemastlouis.org).
It’s likely you’ve shaken your own thang along to this night-brightening seven-piece, which has been getting even the most reticent partygoers out on the dance floor since 1997. The band may cover Chicago (and Steely Dan, and Al Green, and Madonna), but it’s pure St. Louis.
Community Arts Programming
Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark: “Transformation”
Want to guarantee a yawn? Throw out that word “community”; it’s the desiccating kiss of death. But it wasn’t in the hands of Gordon Matta-Clark, who swung from buildings in harnesses with a chain saw in one hand, cooked sea-monkey soup for starving artists, poked fun at the landed gentry, and saw many topics—ecology, poverty, cities—through the eyes of a visionary. When the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts showed Matta-Clark this year, it created eight months’ worth of fun, compelling, and relevant programming around the exhibit, including lectures, projects, walking tours, art shows, and a dense, interactive website. It turned the whole city into a staging area for Matta-Clark’s work, truly transforming St. Louis in the process.
Righteous Fight for the Arts
Sarah Bryan Miller on the Classic 99 Sale
Thanks to St. Louis Post-Dispatch classical-music critic Sarah Bryan Miller, we now know why the Lutheran Church’s Missouri Synod pushed so hard to sell the city’s only classical station, 99.1 KFUO-FM, to Christian-pop outfit Joy FM, even though there were other able and willing buyers—ones who’d keep the programming intact. Though her reporting couldn’t prevent the FCC from approving the deal, it did show how crucial the station was to small arts groups, and how beloved it was to St. Louisans.
Ultimate Culture Destination
O Cherokee, why do we love thee? Let us count the ways: All Along Press, Apop Records, The Archive, ArtDimensions, bARTer Collective, Boots Contemporary Art Space, Binge and Purge, Black Bear Bakery, Carniceria Latino Americana, Casa Loma Ballroom, Cherry Bomb Vintage, Cinco de Mayo, Community Arts and Media Project, Cranky Yellow, El Borracho, El Torito, Firecracker Press, Foam, Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, Hammond’s, The Improv Trick, Jackson Pianos, La Vallesana, Lucky You Productions, MADE, The Mud House, Panorama, phd Gallery, the People’s Joy Parade, Saxquest, the Shangri-La Diner, Sleepy Kitty, Snowflake/City Stock, The Stable, Stirrup Pants Chapbooks, STYLEhouse, Tower Tacos, 2720 Cherokee…whew. And if the past two years are any guide, there is a lot more to come…
Most Amusing Bookstore
Some bookstores have gravitas; some have granita. What Pudd’nhead has is a delightful attitude. “Read for Pleasure,” its tagline urges. The sign on one shelf reads “You Really Could Do That Yourself”; another, “Ooh, More Swedish Thrillers.” New books mingle comfortably with classics, like kids and grown-ups capable of enjoying a conversation. And conversation’s the store’s real art: Its events increase monthly, from hosting National Children’s
Book Week to luring in the Salingeresque Dan Gutman to pinning down Jonathan Franzen for visits to St. Louis schools during his September 20 visit.
37 S. Old Orchard, 314-918-1069, puddnheadbooks.com
Rick Dildine, Executive Director, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Fire-fallow cultivation is not his style. The first thing Dildine did was get familiar with the city and the Shakespeare festival; then he went about tackling Shakespeare’s most intimidating show, Hamlet. It sounds like there are big things in the works for SFSL, but after seeing Dildine’s first year in his new role, we have faith that any decisions will be made gently, intelligently, and for all the right reasons.
Elevator Music Series, The Luminary Center for the Arts
How do you get folks to get out and support local bands? Find a venue with one of the best sound systems in the city, then book ’em on the same bill as national touring bands—but not as opening act. Give them fifty-fifty weight. Amp things up with multimedia projections, and make it feel more like a happening, less like a gig. Of course, it helps to book the best bands you can find—Theodore, Magnolia Summer, Sea Wolf—and hang art shows in the same space. This superlative series only runs March through October, but curators James and Brea McAnally make each show a little jewel.
4900 Reber, 314-807-5984, theluminaryarts.com
Doctor Atomic Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
The CD’s release was slowed down a week by a typo (the T in David Robertson’s name was missing), but that didn’t dampen the critical enthusiasm for Nonesuch Records’ release of SLSO performing the U.S. premiere of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony, recorded in Powell Symphony Hall. The disc was named the best classical-music release of the decade by The Times of London; Stereophile called it “essential listening for the 21st century.” Though the top-of-the-marquee piece is Doctor Atomic (and it is astounding), its companion piece, Guide to Strange Places, prompted The New York Times to rave that it was “Mr. Adams’s most complex and masterly music” thus far.
“Bring Me a Lion,” Cecile R. Hunt Gallery
Hunt Gallery curator Dana Turkovic, working with multimedia artist Adam Watkins, was the force behind January’s
“Re(SOUND),” a clever showcase of audio-installation artists from around the world. But “Bring Me a Lion: An Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art,” which Turkovic put together with Webster University art prof Jeff Hughes, is 2010’s stunner gallery show so far. Nearly 500 people packed into the gallery in March to see what was not just St. Louis’ first exhibition of contemporary Indian art, but also an unprecedented exhibit in the U.S. The curators pulled this off with a modest budget, and one room. This hat trick was, in other words, all about genius of vision—all the more to their credit.
8342 Big Bend, 314-968-7171, websterhuntgallery.blogspot.com
“Chance Aesthetics,” Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Those exhibited included Marcel Duchamp, Ellsworth Kelly, Jackson Pollock, and Niki de Saint Phalle. But what made this show sing was the way curator Meredith Malone expanded the themes inherent in the work: a sense of play, a collaborative spirit, an embrace of risk, and a sublimation of artistic ego, impulses that seem to have virtually disappeared from contemporary art.
Skinker & Forsyth, 314-935-4523, kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu
St. Louis Jewish Book Festival
For 32 years, this festival, which attracts as many as 30,000 people over its 11-day run, has hosted an amazing range of Jewish authors, from famous literary types (Nathan Englander, Naomi Ragen) to high-profile folks who have penned memoirs (Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary) to talented locals and expats (Lynne Greenberg, Lawrence Coben). This year, the event runs November 7 to 17; check the website for lineup details.
Matt Seiter, Sanctuaria
Say what you will about Sanctuaria and its Day of the Dead–inspired theme, this place isn’t afraid to experiment. It’s a tall order to fashion drinks as imaginative as owner/chef Chris Lee’s “wild tapas,” but head mixologist Matt Seiter does so with flair. Against the backdrop of a gnarly metal tree sculpture, Seiter mixes pitchers of sangria, plus a superb list of cocktails—his Prince of Jalisco, a sort of margarita-meets-espresso was a semifinalist in the Iron Bar Chef Competition in upstate New York last year. Seiter even passes on his passion by hosting “cocktail hours” to dispense wisdom about the history and art of the drink.
4198 Manchester, 314-535-9700, sanctuariastl.com
What Dave Bailey did for the crepe and dessert, he’s done yet again for the drink—which is to say, he’s found a way to elevate indulgence. Behind the bar at Bridge is a veritable library of drinks, with floor-to-ceiling shelves of 100-plus wines (more than 20 by the glass) and 200-plus beers (36 on tap). Our favorite feature? That four-sizes-fit-all chart of draft beers that allows you to sample a 4-ounce glass of Brasserie d’Achouffe for $3, then order a 20-ounce O’Fallon IPA for $5. And that list of cheeses and charcuterie…let’s just say the cheese tray will never be the same.
1004 Locust, 314-241-8141, thebridgestl.com
The best drag of drinking establishments isn’t on Wash. Ave. or in Soulard, but rather in quaint Maplewood, along Manchester Road. Start with an early dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (schlafly.com), then make your way west. Try the dirty-style wings at The Red Lion Gastropub (theredlionstl.com), catch a game at The Post Sports Bar & Grill (thepostsportsbar.com), sit in the swings at Boogaloo (boogaloostl.com), sing along with dueling pianos at The Jive & Wail (jiveandwail.com), and grab a nightcap at Monarch (monarchrestaurant.com), which will reopen in late summer after a refashioning and renovation. And for that late-night craving? A 10-sack at White Castle is a short walk away.
The Silver Ballroom
Don’t let the name fool you. The Silver Ballroom refers to pinball, and the atmosphere’s strictly not ballroom. Bold letters proclaim “RETOX CENTER” over the bar, which is covered with polyurethaned punk-rock show flyers. The jukebox selection also leans punk, with the likes of Iggy Pop and The Clash. The pub’s namesakes—seven pinball machines ranging from The Champion Pub to Apollo 13, Dr. Dude to Elvis—reside in the back room, beneath light fixtures made from Jack Daniels bottles. With pinball for 50 cents a play and $2 for PBR and shot specials, owners Steve “Doc” and Shelly Dachroeden have created an affordable punk-meets-pinball alternative on the South Side.
4701 Morgan Ford, 314-832-9223
DD’s Irish Pub & Karaoke
For more than a decade, Double D Lounge remained a no-frills Brentwood hot spot for cheap beer and karaoke. Then, late last year, current owners Donna and Rick Wideman relocated and changed the name to the less strip joint–sounding DD’s Irish Pub & Karaoke. Now there’s pool, plasma TVs, and a jukebox—yet the main attraction remains…karaoke. From 9 p.m. to close Monday through Saturday, the bar’s large stage hosts talent that ranges from American Idol–worthy to haplessly drunk. It gets packed on weekends, so submit those song requests early.
1740 S. Brentwood, 314-961-5646
When you hit the jackpot at River City Casino and it’s time to toast, step away from the slots to celebrate in traditional St. Louis fashion (read: with brews) by sipping from an enormous stein at 1904 Beerhouse. The bar’s name comes from the World’s Fair, but you might think it’s referring to the selection; there are 32 brews on tap and 100-plus bottles from around the world. Pinnacle Entertainment even worked with Anheuser-Busch InBev to develop the casino’s very own 1904 Ale. Even when you’re down on your luck, ordering a craft brew and enjoying the atmosphere is a safe bet.
777 River City Casino, 888-578-7289, rivercity.com
Vodka on the Rocks
For swanky, new-age clubs, it’s all about exuding cool—and what’s more chill than serving shots in freezing temps? First, Erney’s 32°, an upscale gay bar in the Grove, boasted a walk-in “VodBox” where you could try shots from chilled bottles. Then Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge took it one step further by creating the “Shiver Experience,” allowing customers to pay $20 to don parkas while sipping from carved-ice shot glasses in a chilled chamber, complete with ice furniture. For the experience alone, it’s worth a shot.
ErnEY’s 32°, 4200 Manchester, 314-652-7195, erneys32.com; Shiver Vodka Bar, 1130 Washington, 314-241-3900
In one fell swoop, Michael and Kelly Oliver found a way to curb drunk driving and help you avoid leaving your car parked somewhere overnight: ScooterGuy. The biz is brilliant in its simplicity. Schedule a pickup time and location, and a driver on a collapsible Italian-made scooter arrives to pick you up and drive you home. Monthly and annual memberships include discounted rates and extended hours; nonmembers can hitch a ride for $55. It’s steeper than a cab, but it’s cheaper than getting towed—or a DWI.
Rooftop Cocktails in All Directions
Pick a compass point and start climbing stairs. Go west and slow-sip Midleton Irish whiskey on Quintessential’s beautiful rooftop bar with a New Orleans–like view of St. Charles below. Head south for a chilly, bubbled tulip of Moët & Chandon on Vin de Set’s open-air roof lounge, the whole city spread out beneath you. Watch the moonrise from the “north” side of the moon at Eclipse’s Rooftop Terrace Bar, while sipping decade-old tawny port. And to the east it’s a stroll, chardonnay glass in hand, out on Cielo’s extravagant Sky Terrace, with its breathtaking pool and Mississippi overlook. St. Louis has some grand rooftop watering holes. Just don’t get too close to the edge. (Our lawyers made us put that in.)
Quintessential, 149 N. Main, ST. Charles, 636-443-2211, q-stl.com; Vin de Set, 2017 Chouteau, 314-241-8989, vindeset.com; Eclipse, 6177 Delmar, 314-726-2222, eclipsestlouis.com; Cielo, 999 N. Second, 314-881-5800, fourseasons.com/stlouis/dining.html
“I’m looking for the Oh Shit Factor,” explains DJ Raven Fox. “You want people to go, ‘Ooohhh shit!’ and run to the dance floor.” At 46, Mark Jankowski—whose stage name derives from his Native American heritage—knows what makes people move. He played Manhattan’s hottest discos during the ’80s and ’90s; became friends with artist Keith Haring; worked with Christina Aguilera, Prince, Kool & the Gang. Four years ago, he moved to St. Louis and began hosting “Escuela” house-music sessions at Upstairs Lounge. These days, he mixes everything from Stevie Wonder to Lady Gaga at big-name events like the Contemporary Art Museum’s Dada Ball and Shakespeare Festival’s Tempest Ball. But wherever he goes, his musical mission’s the same: “to move people emotionally.”
Wiggling your toes in the Florida-imported white sand at Wave Taco, you’d almost feel like you’re on vacation—if it weren’t for those passing cars and nearby high-rises. The Mexican beach–inspired atmosphere is unlike any other spot in the city. Flip-flops and swimsuits are encouraged on the outdoor volleyball courts, and bartenders serve up frozen margaritas and grilled tacos. The bar hosts volleyball leagues and beach parties throughout the summer. Just keep your eyes open when courtside: Spiked volleyballs—and drinks—can lead to some close calls.
1335 Convention Plaza, 314-241-8226, wave-taco.com
What 2720 Cherokee’s name lacks in creativity, the venue makes up for inside. Upstairs is ArtDimensions’ gallery, host to an array of local artists’ work. Downstairs in the 14,000-square-foot, two-story building is a 500-person concert venue. The range of bands is as eclectic as the space: rock, blues, hip-hop, electronica…whatever strikes the fancy of co-owner Joshua Grigaitis of events/promotions group Loyal Family. One week, you can catch guitarist Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band fame; the next, it’s rock/house/
psychedelic group BoomBox.
2720 Cherokee, 314-276-2700, 2720cherokee.com
Soulard in St. Charles County
McGurk’s Public House
Replicating John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub—west of I-270, no less—is no small undertaking. (Esquire and other mags, including this one, have dubbed the Soulard establishment one of Missouri’s best Irish bars.) After nearly a decade in business, though, McGurk’s Public House in downtown O’Fallon has earned its name. Inside the 148-year-old brick building are some recognizable touches: arching doorways and a hand-carved bar (though the effect’s diluted by a skylight and drop ceiling). Outside is the real draw: a sprawling patio with a lush garden, trickling fountain, and waterfall.
108 S. Main, O’Fallon, 636-978-9640
Place to Chill
Lola’s formula seems simple enough: fresh food and drinks + intimate patio + live music = sophisticated night life. Yet no other Loft District establishment pulls it off quite like this downtown addition, formerly occupied by Crepes in the City. The dimly lit restaurant offers a menu of crepes, sandwiches, and light appetizers like mussels and salmon carpaccio. Bar manager Matt McMullin’s libations are given monikers of nearby lofts—Cupples Station, the Vanguard—while mocktails are cleverly named for rehab centers. Live music ranges from Javier Mendoza to DJ Needles. For those looking for a relaxed-yet-vibrant night-life spot, Lola strikes the perfect balance.
500 N. 14th, 314-621-7277, welovelola.com
By Margaret Bauer, Bill Burge, Jeannette Cooperman, Nicole Benoist Edgerton, Dave Lowry, George Mahe, Christy Marshall, Rose Martelli, Jarrett Medlin, Stefene Russell, and Stephen Schenkenberg