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Photograph by Kevin A. Roberts
Photograph by Kevin A. Roberts; Prop styling by Jan Leach; Model: Hayley Keith, Centro Models; Hair and Makeup by Priscilla Case, Talent Plus; Clothing provided by Remember Me Vintage Clothing & Costumes
SHOPPING & SERVICE
DESIGNER TO WATCH
Anna Friss, Blue Bird Denim
We first saw Anna Friss’ denim during last year’s Saint Louis Fashion Week. We weren’t the only ones to take notice: She was also named Phoenix Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer last October. Friss’ designs have ’70s-style flair, but they still feel contemporary, integrating modern touches. Over time, her label’s grown to include dresses, tank tops, ready-to-wear T-shirts… And while all of her products are comfortable, denim remains Friss’ bread and butter. 877-369-9348, bluebirdapparel.com.
Molly Brown has infused West County with West Coast style at Esther, her newish Ladue boutique. As a one-time fashion-show stylist in Seattle (where her husband, former Rams place-kicker Josh Brown, once played), she stays on top of the coast’s latest trends, while keeping her store classic enough to appeal to mothers and daughters alike. Brown describes her boutique as “industrial edge meets vintage glamour.” And every detail is impeccable, from the customized hangers to the cage-enclosed chandeliers. 1556 S. Lindbergh, 314-432-5300, estherstl.com.
Byrd Style Lounge
Perhaps no boutique in town has adapted to the changing economy as well as Byrd. Last summer, owner Julie Stotlar rebranded the Clayton store as an upscale secondhand boutique, eliminating new products, cutting overhead significantly, and filling the store with consignment. Now, you can find everything from a lightly used pair of Rock & Republic jeans to a 1970s Christian Dior dress. The emphasis is on a smaller selection of high-end designers and pieces hand-selected by Stotlar herself. Given that the price tags are often at least 70 percent off retail price, there’s plenty to love. 8117 Maryland, 314-721-0766, byrdstyle.com.
Change is the one constant at this new CWE boutique, whose name derives from the Italian word for “trend.” Before opening the boutique last August, owner Chris Lanter pulled concepts from stores in Manhattan, Miami, Paris, and beyond. Not only does 10denza offer apparel and accessories, it also sells books, music, artwork, and more. With a DJ booth and iPod listening station, the store invites you to pass the time by perusing. 44 Maryland Plaza, 314-361-1010, 10denza.com.
NEW BRIDAL BOUTIQUE
Fleur de Lis Bridal Boutique
After Kristin Lucks Shelton tied the knot in 2008, she began a new chapter in her personal and professional lives. In January 2011, she and her mother, Connie Lucks, opened Fleur de Lis Bridal Boutique in downtown Clayton. With no more than 30 dresses typically in the store, the emphasis is on quality. The boutique carries labels not found anywhere else in town, such as Rivini and Elizabeth Fillmore, with dresses ranging from $1,500 to $8,000—plus veils and necklaces by designers like Erin Cole. 8109 Maryland, 314-721-2457, fleurdelisbridal.com.
After closing its women’s wing this spring, Moris Fashions decided to stick to its bread and butter—men’s fashion. Since 2005, co-owners Brian Smith and Michael Pagel have offered something for both the contemporary and the conservative. The boutique often adds newer labels like Benson, but it also delivers the staples of a men’s store, including custom suits and shirts. Add the store’s outstanding shoe selection and accessories, and it’s easy to see why Moris remains a draw in the CWE. 26 Maryland Plaza, 314-361-6800, morisfashions.com.
Among the must-peruse items inside Laurie Solet’s new location at The Boulevard–St. Louis, her private-label handbags are not to be missed. They’re usually under $100—a steal for such fashionable bags. Using real leather, color blocking, mixed media, and more, Solet re-creates today’s hottest trends for a fraction of the price. So when the weekend rolls around and you need a clutch or handbag to match that certain dress, you no longer have to break the bank. 18 The Boulevard–St. Louis, 314-727-7467; 1176 Town & Country Crossing, 636-527-4139; lauriesolet.com.
Lusso’s perfect for out-of-towners looking to grab a last-minute gift on their way home. Across from The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis in Clayton, the boutique offers options including apparel and nail polish, jewelry and stationery—plus those kitschy things that define any worthwhile gift store. Among our favorite finds: Jonathan Adler home decor, Illume candles, and pillows with messages like “No Whining” and “Call Your Mother.” 165 Carondelet Plaza, 314-725-7205, lussohome.com.
At one time, sportswear may have seemed like a logical next step for former tennis pro Alix Chesno. Instead, she specialized in something far dressier: jewelry. Today, Alixandra Collections has six locations, from Ladue to Lake Forest, Ill. The stores carry apparel, but emphasize costume jewelry, from Chan Luu necklaces to Liz Palacios rings, everyday wear to formal options. And for something unique, there’s also a station for creating charm necklaces and bracelets. 9814 Clayton, 314-997-2360, shopalix.com.
Since opening Blush in 2006, Sarah King has established a fashion oasis in downtown Kirkwood. She scours websites, magazines, and other markets to find little-known designers. Her research regularly ends up on her blog, Sunnies + Stilettos (sunniesandstilettos.com), and eventually in Blush’s inventory. Among her offerings: Omala yoga wear, Ivanka Trump and orYANY handbags, J Brand and DL1961 jeans… And accessories like House of Harlow jewelry and scarves are the perfect complement to that Amanda Uprichard blouse. 110 N. Clay, 314-965-4411, shopblushboutique.com.
LOCAL DESIGN SOLD ONLINE
Most St. Louis parents are already familiar with Petunia, Ellen Proffit’s storefront in downtown Clayton, where kids’ clothes and toys fill the bright-blue space. But the brand has gone far beyond Missouri since Proffit first began designing for her daughter, Ainsley: Last September, Sweet Petunia was the only children’s line included in the swag bags at the 2011 Emmy Awards. The label’s now in stores from Alabama to Pennsylvania, and fans around the nation shop online for Proffit’s designs. 169 Carondelet Plaza, 314-721-3133, sweetpetuniaclothing.com.
Jenny Madras, Before I Do
Jenny Madras helps couples avoid the decision fatigue—and procrastination—that can come with wedding planning. As a former catering consultant, Madras has charted the course of many weddings behind the scenes, going above and beyond to bring off clients’ big days. Now that she’s hung out her own shingle, engaged couples are scrambling for her assistance. Madras has a reputation for thinking of everything—and taking service to a new level. 314-640-2123, beforeidostl.com.
Photograph by Ashley Gieseking
Peter Huey, STL Auto Advocate
Peter Huey knows cars. For years, his father owned Huey’s Honda. When his dad died in 1999, he and his brother took over the family business, running the dealership for roughly a decade. After they sold the franchise in 2009, Huey found a different approach to wheeling and dealing: becoming a broker for customers. Today, he searches for the ideal car, calls when it’s time to test-drive, and handles the negotiating. His cut: $500 (or $800 if he finds the car and sells your old one to a private individual)—a small price to pay compared to the hassle of haggling. 314-267-6151, stlautoadvocate.com.
Rocky Oliver, Mark Savage, and Jes Savage elevate cabinets to an art form. Beyond building the basics, the custom cabinetmakers have crafted some ingenious designs over the years: speaker cabinets, wellness rooms with towel warmers built into the cabinets, drawers that house laundry hampers with mesh for ventilation. The family-owned operation can build toy storage, craft rooms, dream closets, and more. 139 Papin Mill, 636-629-2735.
When Vom Fass encourages customers to “Look, Taste, Enjoy,” it isn’t kidding: Customers can sample every product before buying. The store specializes in all things cask-borne: fruit vinegars, oils, wines, liqueurs… Try a little orange extra-virgin olive oil, honey balsamic vinegar, or Hazelnut Oil FassZination—or some of the single-malt Scotch the store carries in casks—to get instantly inspired. And when it’s time to check out, you can fill your own bottle or buy a gift set with hand-painted gold lettering. 7314 Manchester, 314-932-5262, vomfassusa.com.
If you were to walk a mile in Steve and Kay Rye’s shoes, you’d know just how far the business has come. Over the years, it’s moved from the Central West End to the Delmar Loop to Belleville, Ill. What hasn’t changed is the quality of leatherwork. Besides selling shoes (from boots to sandals, clogs to moccasins, including both its own handmade shoes and comfy offerings from other makers), Sole Survivor offers wallets, bags, gloves, and more. You can even order a custom-made belt, choosing the leather, the buckle, and the width. In an industry that might be considered old-fashioned, the Ryes have shown that quality is timeless. 25 E. Main, Belleville, Ill., 618-234-0214, solesurvivorleather.com.
Kelly Jackson, My BFF Network
You probably know Kelly Jackson’s work on KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5. What you might not know is her commitment to animals. Inspired by her aging Shih Tzu, Meeko, she started aarff.com—a one-stop resource for tips on caring for senior pets. Then she created My BFF Network, a service that connects senior St. Louisans with senior canines. Beyond setting up visits, the network offers services for those with difficulty caring for pets: dog-walking, pet-sitting, and oft-overlooked things like taking a dog to the vet or carrying heavy dog food. For old dogs, it’s an impressive new trick. 314-773-9663, mybffnetwork.com.
• Men’s Fashion: Mister Guy, misterguyclothiers.com
• Women’s Boutique: Blush Boutique, shopblushboutique.com
• Jeweler: Genovese Jewelers, genovesejewelers.com
• Shoe Department: Nordstrom, nordstrom.com
• Resale Boutique: ScholarShop, scholarshopstl.org
• Pet Boutique: Three Dog Bakery, threedogstl.com
• Workout/Athletic Gear: Lululemon, lululemon.com
• Alterations: Clayton Tailoring, 314-725-2234
• Caterer: Russo’s Catering, russosgourmet.com
• Florist: Walter Knoll Florist, wkf.com
• Framing: Artmart, artmartstl.com
• Shoe Repair: Cobblestone Quality Shoe Repair, cobblestoneshoerepair.com
• Specialty Dry Cleaner: American Cleaners, 314-862-1313
KWMU’s Classical Programming
When Classic 99 KFUO-FM went silent on July 6, 2010, after more than six decades, St. Louis’ radio waves suddenly had a significant void. And while the silence remains deafening, 90.7 KWMU-FM has provided some relief. On select Saturdays, the St. Louis Public Radio station broadcasts live from Powell Hall. KWMU’s Robert Peterson hosts the show alongside commentator Adam Crane of the St. Louis Symphony, and interviews with key performers air during intermission. How to fill the space between? The music plays on at Classical 90.7 KWMU-3, available via HD radio and online. stlpublicradio.org/classical.
How influential is Susan Polgar, the four-time world chess champ and first woman to qualify for the Men’s World Championship? Her reigning-champion Texas Tech University chess team is transferring to Webster University this fall to remain close to the recently relocated Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence. That would be like Duke University’s Blue Devils following Coach K to Missouri—on the heels of a national championship. Of course, the move is in no small part because of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, which has become a magnet for serious players. Now, Webster is poised to become a chess powerhouse, and St. Louis a training ground for the world’s top players. That’s one impressive chess opening. susanpolgar.com.
Chris Reimer, @RizzoTees
Technically, Chris Reimer got his job (vice president of social media at Falk Harrison) by selling T-shirts online. You know, the ones with clever sayings like “Do cities in China have Americatowns?” and “Do it for the Halibut.” But for the guy who sells a T-shirt reading “Props to my tweeps,” it sometimes seems like his real gig is tweeting: The perpetual tweeter had amassed more than 56,000 followers at last count. Then again, it makes sense that the perfect medium for a guy whose livelihood once rested on T-shirts with eye-catching messages would be limited to 140 characters. Call Reimer a man of few words—and many friends. chrisreimer.com.
When the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in April, it was the first time the team had won a playoff series in a decade—in no small part because of its star goaltenders. There were certainly some dramatic moments along the way, including Jaroslav Halak’s devastating ankle injury in Game 2 of the first round. Fortunately, Elliott was able to step in. And though the Blues would eventually lose to the Los Angeles Kings, the 27-year-old Canadian managed to rack up a slew of impressive stats during the course of the season, including the lowest goals-against average, the highest single-season save percentage, and the fewest team goals conceded (the last shared with Halak). Not bad for a one-time second-stringer. blues.nhl.com.
If former Steeler Kordell Stewart hadn’t already claimed the nickname, you might dub De Smet Jesuit High School’s Durron Neal “Slash.” After all, the 6-foot, 195-pound all-around athlete played running back, wide receiver, quarterback, free safety, cornerback, and returner over the course of the fall season, racking up more than 1,600 yards and 30 touchdowns. Named Rivals.com’s No. 9 wide-receiver prospect in the country, the University of Oklahoma Sooner will soon be making highlight reels nationwide.
Growing up in Wisconsin, John Pertzborn often called in to radio talk shows, finally convincing announcer Carl Ames to let him visit WKOW-AM’s radio studio. Pertzborn was hooked. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Journalism, landed radio and TV gigs in Wisconsin, then moved to St. Louis in 1986 for a job with KSDK-TV before joining FOX 2 KTVI-TV in 1998. He’s since won multiple Emmys, as well as a prestigious regional Edward R. Murrow Award. Today, he’s a staple on FOX 2 News in the Morning, where he makes the news both informative and entertaining—while donning his signature bow tie every Tuesday. fox2now.com.
Photograph by Ashley Gieseking
PRIVATE DINNER PARTY
Kirk Warner, Kirk’s Traveling Kitchen
Imagine bringing a five-star restaurant into your own home—without the headache of running it. That’s the idea behind chef Kirk Warner’s business, Kirk’s Traveling Kitchen. The one-time chef at Savor comes to your house for small, private dinners from a carefully planned menu, one that isn’t fussy, but is still exquisite. He explains how the dishes and drinks complement each other, then leaves you and your guests to enjoy the meal. The experience is ideal for special occasions. 636-448-8721, travelingkitchen.com.
Watching what happens on Andy Cohen’s aptly named live talk show, Watch What Happens Live, is almost as entertaining as watching what happens in his career. The man behind Bravo’s guilty-pleasure TV series The Real Housewives, Top Chef, and The Millionaire Matchmaker hails from Clayton, where his love for the dramatic blossomed. An ’86 graduate of Clayton High School, he was voted “biggest gossip” and “most talkative”—qualities that serve him well in reality TV. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
If you’re a regular on the local theater scene, you’ve probably seen Ben Nordstrom. In 2005, he broke into the local acting scene as the star of Footloose at Stages St. Louis, a part for which he won a Kevin Kline Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical. (He won another in 2011 for his performance in Stages’ Promises, Promises.) This spring, Nordstrom moved to New York. We see Broadway on the horizon. bennordstrom.com.
• Best Rivalry: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
• Blog: iLoveSoulard.com
• Professional Athlete: David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
• Radio Morning Show: Mason and Remy, 93.7 The Bull, KSD-FM
• Reality-TV Star: Angie Johnson, The Voice
• Sports Talk-Radio Show: The Bernie Miklasz Show, 101 ESPN
• Talk-Radio Host: Dave Glover, FM NewsTalk 97.1, KFTK-FM
• TV Meteorologist: Dave Murray, FOX 2, KTVI-TV
• World Series Moment: David Freese’s triple and walk-off home run in Game 6 against the Rangers in 2011
Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop
Clayton’s been ripe for another salad restaurant since the demise of the Lettuce Leaf, and while Crushed Red is also about pizza, its salads are worth serious praise. Created in front of the diner, dramatically chopped with a traditional European tool called a mezzaluna, tossed, and dressed, they have a plethora of catchy ingredients, like tender brisket, barbecue chicken, roasted shrimp, and crisp strips of fried jalapeño. Order at the counter, carry away your salad, and don’t neglect the soup options. The pizza will be delivered to your table. 8007 Maryland, 314-725-8007, crushed-red.com.
LOCAL AND ORGANIC RESTAURANT
Local Harvest Café
Local Harvest is buzzing—not from local honey bees, but from its upcoming expansion (locations are slated for downtown and Kirkwood); “celebrity” chef Clara Moore, who competed in Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates; and co-owner Maddie Earnest, who has added “author” to her résumé with the publication of Missouri Harvest. Thanks to its commitment to local, organic food produced sustainably, biodegradable packaging, fair-trade practices, and a robust recycling program, Local Harvest Café lives its mantra: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Multiple locations, 314-772-8815, localharvestcafe.com.
Blood & Sand
Since opening its doors in 2011, the members-only Blood & Sand has quietly challenged the idea of what an evening of dining and drinks in St. Louis can be. Membership (now limited) affords entry to the social club and access to a progressive cocktail program led by TJ Vytlacil and Adam Frager, as well as delectable eats from Chris Bork’s kitchen. The vibe within the cozy confines is bright, relaxed, and welcoming, with much attention focused on the small details of service. We’re sold; sign us up. 1500 St. Charles, 314-241-7263, bloodandsandstl.com.
It may be a St. Louis original, but there seems to be a depressing cookie-cutter sameness to the toasted ravioli—our beloved T-ravs—found in and around our fair city. It is this sameness that makes the house-made, fist-sized dumplings from Lombardo’s family restaurants special. The dish contains seasoned meats and Italian spice (let’s be honest: It’s a meatball) tucked inside a pocket of thick pasta dough and golden fried bread crumbs. The result: an honest-to-goodness local treasure deserving of our namesake. Multiple locations, 314-621-0666, lombardosrestaurants.com.
“Ecstatic Hour,” Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar
Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar has been a mainstay of the Clayton dining scene for almost 20 years, boasting a changing array of Mediterranean-inspired dishes and an award-winning wine list. Lesser-known is Remy’s happy hour, which lures the post-work crowd with inexpensive small dishes and cocktails. So just what constitutes an “ecstatic hour”? An eclectic space to unwind, a see-and-be-seen crowd, and most important, watching the barkeep muddle fresh lime and mint into that mojito you’ve wanted all afternoon. 222 S. Bemiston, 314-726-5757, remyskitchen.com.
It’s a shocker. Scape’s vegetable lasagna, made of uncooked veggies, is so delicious, it’s easy to ignore how healthy it must be. The “pasta” is ribbons of zucchini wrapped around layers of sun-dried tomato sauce, spinach, basil, crimini mushrooms, and a “cheese” made of cashews. Its zingy flavor is nothing short of exciting. And while it’s not cheap ($24 at this writing), the labor of its construction and the taste validate the tab. Don’t feel sorry for anyone forgoing meat (or fish) for this. And do try the house-made sourdough bread. 48 Maryland Plaza, 314-361-7227, scapestl.com.
MEMORABLE SMALL PLATES
Liluma’s Side Door
While “Nests” and “Pillows” may conjure up images of a boutique home store, they’re two of Jim Fiala’s five courses at Liluma’s Side Door, perfect for mixing and matching. Perhaps the shiitake custard “Bite” and the fish-n-chips “Snack” with the donut “Afterthought”? It’ll only set you back $19. Add a $12 bottle of wine and you’re getting one of St. Louis’ best deals in one of its hidden gems. 238 N. Euclid, 314-361-7771, fialafood.com.
For those keeping score, we’re now in the third wave of coffee. So while your mom sits at home drinking her 10-cent cup of first-wave Sanka, thinking fondly of the ’60s, blissfully unaware that she missed an entire wave of coffee culture, we prefer to sidle up to Scott Carey’s bar at Sump for his scientifically precise (everything is weighed and timed) pour-overs and espressos, brewed right every time with beans shipped in from roasters around the country. In fact, Carey’s brews are so good that if anything isn’t up to his standards, it’s pulled for the day—even if that means closing shop! 3700 S. Jefferson, sumpcoffee.com.
SANDWICH FROM A SALUMERIA
Soppressata, Salume Beddu
When Mark Sanfilippo teamed up with Ben Poremba and moved the sale of their incredible encased meats from area farmers’ markets to a storefront on Hampton Avenue, you had to know equally great sandwiches couldn’t be far behind. With a small selection available each day, the chili-, garlic-, and fennel-flecked soppressata, topped with provolone, is best. Sitting within a split loaf of toasted Red Guitar bread—half of it smeared with an additional hit of lemony fennel relish, the other half with a dose of peppery, whole-grain mustard—it’s as perfect as a sandwich gets. 3467 Hampton, 314-353-3100, salumebeddu.com.
Florissant might not be the suburb you consider when craving Thai food in St. Louis, yet it’s there that brothers Scott and Tommy Truong have staked their claim—racking up “Best Thai” awards, largely due to a welcoming mix of Scott’s great cooking, Tommy’s effortless charm in the dining room, and an almost endless array of craft beer. Once you’re a regular, it’ll feel like going home each time you return…and you will return. 8416 N. Lindbergh, 314-831-3701, pearlcafestl.com.
“The Turkey Table,” Herbie’s Vintage 72
It earned its nickname because original owner Herb Balaban used to hold court there with his cronies and “talk business.” Its design (more booth than table) and location (near the bar for prime people-watching) make Table No. 30 the most requested in the CWE restaurant. An impressive list of notables has rested VIP backsides there—Bob Hope, George Burns, David Bowie, Paul Newman, Sharon Stone, Billy Joel, Susan Sarandon, and Prince Albert II of Monaco—but the brass plaque on the table bears the name of a local, Chuck Jackson, for his long-standing 8:30 p.m. Friday reservation. While many are drawn to the booth’s history or its location, some still “talk turkey” there. Marshall Faulk, for example, had his “first” drink at the table after he signed his lucrative contract with the St. Louis Rams. 405 N. Euclid, 314-769-9595, herbies.com.
Photograph by Ashley Gieseking
Boycott Companion—it’ll make the lines shorter when we visit. Sure, the locations are pleasant and comfortable, with decidedly superior breads like an outstanding crusty, flour-dusted Pain Beaucaire and thick, yeasty Bavarian pretzels. But please consider an emerald, earthy split pea–and–ham soup. Or try a golden-glossy broccoli cheddar—one with rich, thick broth studded with chicken chunks and artichoke hearts, fortified by gooey, pungent melted brie. Or the best clam chowder in town. Or tortellini Florentine. Obviously, Companion has Grandma chained to the kitchen stove, producing such extraordinary soups. Multiple locations, 314-721-5454, companionstl.com.
Sharing space with a small grocery, the dining area at Papagayos is modest. Ignore the Mexican fare; the menu’s right side covers several Honduran dishes that make the restaurant unique: Tamales, much fatter than Mexican versions, are stuffed with vegetables and chicken wings (with the bones still in). Baleadas include flour tortillas folded over scrambled eggs, beans, and mantequilla, an Honduran salty sour cream. And a national specialty is corn flour–fried chicken, slathered in a mild pico de gallo sauce, along with fried plantain chips, rice, and beans. 6922 Manchester, 314-644-0271.
Soft-Shell Crab Eggs Benedict, Half & Half
Over the years, we’ve tasted Benedicts in countless variations. This year, we fell in love with Mike Randolph’s off-center interpretation at Half & Half. Two-inch cubes of brioche replace soggy English muffins. Two farm-fresh eggs replace often-tasteless ones. Next are a few spoonfuls of silky hollandaise, a tempura-battered soft-shell crab (cut in two) for unprecedented taste and crunch, then a scatter of baby arugula to brighten the plate. One caveat: This benny is seasonal and available only on weekends. 8135 Maryland, 314-725-0719, halfandhalfstl.com.
Intimate as the security checkpoint at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, but infinitely more appetizing, the cozy confines of I Fratellini are a largely secret spot of superior Italian dining. Other ristoranti get attention; this meal from I Fratellini’s menu, though, is one you’ll remember. Start with the beautiful presentation of caprini salad: warm goat-cheese crumbles and sun-dried tomatoes glistening with olive oil, capers, and roasted garlic. The risotto here is sublime as a main course: Lobster nuggets, asparagus slivers, and flakes of Parmesan enliven a broth-softened rice that’s glossy and tender, with each grain perfectly al dente. Every spoonful’s delightful. Dessert? Why, a superb Moscato d’Asti, sweet, bubbly-frizzante, is just right for slow sipping and contemplating the great meal you’ve just enjoyed. 7624 Wydown, 314-727-7901, saucemagazine.com/ifratellini.
Pint Size Bakery
Pint Size Bakery does so many things so well, there’s a morning rush to claim owner Christy Augustin’s perfectly chewy sugar cookies, “BLT muffins,” blueberry cheesecake bites on house-made graham crackers, and amazing oatmeal crème pies with marshmallow/buttercream filling. The secret is no secret: Pint Size trumpets its use of organic and local ingredients, and the motto “Small Batch, From Scratch” isn’t just trending now—it’s a recipe for big demand, and big success. 3825 Watson, 314-645-7142, pintsizebakery.com.
Poblano Au Gratin Potatoes, J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood
In these parts, if the question is “side dish,” then the answer is most often “potatoes.” Were we not so self-conscious, we’d go to J. Gilbert’s just for the au gratin potatoes: Sliced thin and layered with a three-cheese blend (Parmesan, Gruyère, and pepper jack) and roasted poblano peppers, orders are baked individually in bright-red mini cast-iron Le Creuset casseroles. The richness registers first, and then the poblanos kick in—it’s a one-two that’s simply sublime. West County Center, 314-965-4600, jgilberts.com.
Behold, the ice-cream sandwich: The pseudo-edible, soggy chocolate wafers have a way of winding up partly inside you and partly on you, but the ones at Colleen’s—house-made ice cream smooshed between two chewy cookies—eliminate this pesky problem, and they’re delicious. Flavor combinations are named after employees, like The Hanna, banana ice cream and a dab of peanut butter crème between chocolate cookies, and The Sarah, strawberry ice cream between chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. The latter is so luscious, it could challenge the dominance of chocolate-dipped strawberries on Valentine’s Day. 7337 Forsyth, 314-727-8427, colleenscookies.com.
If the query is for a casual yet romantic date night, we nominate Diablitos. The festive starburst luminarias and candlelit ofrendas (altarpieces) radiate soft warmth. The hand-painted, candy-colored wooden chairs and collections of skull and devil-doll folk art are festive. The salvaged wooden window shutters and rustic doors all bear a provenance. And outside, if the string lighting, fire pit, and occasional “chicken drop” game don’t chill you out, you may require a bona fide Mexican vacation. The rest of us already feel like we’re there. 3761 Laclede, 314-644-4430, diablitoscantina.com.
Chop Shop STL
When an experienced sushi chef pack ups his Ginsu knives to jump onboard a food truck, take heed. While Eliott Harris’ wasabi-buttered popcorn and wok-seared ginger-garlic chicken are addictive, and Chop Shop STL’s Big Fat Sushi Rolls take maki to oversize, comical, and delicious heights, it’s the tempura-fried Twinkie with a whipped-cream yuzu sauce, berries, and Pocky sticks that will make you swoon, even as you grudgingly trudge back to that ever-so-humble cubicle. chopshopstl.com, twitter.com/ChopShopStl.
One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar
First dates needn’t cause anxiety if plans are kept simple: Focus on finding something excellent to eat and drink in a setting that’s comfortable and that stimulates some getting-to-know-you conversation. One 19 North’s list of affordable new- and old-world wines complements a menu of small dishes—perfect for sharing and lingering over—featuring the rich flavors of Spain and the American South. Don’t want the evening to end? Being in the heart of Kirkwood has its perks: Parks, coffee, drinks—even snow cones—are a casual stroll away. 119 N. Kirkwood, 314-821-4119, one19north.com.
Photograph by Ashley Gieseking
Sam Racanelli, Mad Tomato
Sam Racanelli is mad for pizza. Bronx-born and bred, St. Louis’ acclaimed New York–style pizza pioneer is currently manning the peels at Mad Tomato (owned by his brother Vito). Sam’s not reverent about pizza, but he knows it inside out (calzones, anyone?) and from the crust up. St. Louis is losing its “There’s only one way to do pizza” mentality, he says, although the will to experiment seems to vary across town. If you like pepperoni, one of his new creations features house-made soppressata, the spicy Italian salume. 8000 Carondelet, 314-932-5733, madtomatostl.com.
The hottest dining burg is not Clayton, the Loop, or the CWE. It’s 40 minutes out, in Edwardsville, Ill. Setting the table is Andria’s Countryside Restaurant, the only place in the metro area serving 100 percent USDA Prime–certified Angus beef from Niman Ranch. Grace Manor Restaurant is charming; newcomers Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Cleveland-Heath are flat-out amazing; Bigelo’s Bistro and Global Brew are refreshing. On the horizon are a Sugo’s Spaghetteria and rumored new locations from other west-of-the-river notables. And then there’s the refurbished Wildey Theatre and Eddieville’s miles of bike paths. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to invest in an Edwardsville B&B…
REINVENTION OF A CLASSIC
Gooey Butter Cake, Who Dat’s Southern Food
If the name doesn’t make you smile, then owner Chris Salvage’s gooey butter cake will. It’s the only dessert Who Dat’s does. And half of Who’s patrons order it. Why? Salvage makes it in sheet pans and in scores of flavors—with fruit, with Oreos, and one with bananas and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that she calls The Elvis—then dishes them up in mighty $6 portions. Combining two of the world’s greatest delicacies—Cajun cuisine and St. Louis’ gooey butter cake—may be the ideal blend of French cultures. Quelle idée! 123 S. Main, Columbia, Ill., 618-281-2229, whodatsrestaurant.com.
Taquerías are diez centavos por docena here. But this one stands out. For the neophyte, it has tacos al pastor and carne asada; for the apprentice, there are headier options like cabeza, lengua, and barbacoa. But the journeymen head straight for the tripa (crispy fried beef tripe), or even better, the buche (nibbles of pork stomach), chopped and grilled and piled on a couple of supple corn tortillas, sprinkled with cilantro and onions, spritzed with lime. The texture’s slightly chewy; the taste addictive and surprisingly mild. Buche acts as a flavor trap for the roasty-toasty grilling process, sucking up all of that savory, lip-smacking goodness. Offal’s not so awful after all. 10238 Page, 314-429-1113.
A stable of 17 burgers—hand-formed patties of Missouri grass-fed beef, bison, pork, lamb, chicken, or veggie served up on house-made buns—ensures that Baileys’ Range has a burger for every patron. Purists looking for traditional toppings can opt for the Basic, but we recommend delving into the menu for a handful of can’t-miss combinations: a smoked beef patty with caramelized onions; a Carolina barbecue burger topped with smoked pork shoulder and slaw; and an eye-opener of a breakfast burger with a pork sausage patty, fontina cheese, home fries, bacon, syrup, and a sunny side up egg. Yes…it’s a mouthful. 920 Olive, 314-241-8121, baileysrange.com.
Joy Luck Buffet
Chinese food doesn’t thrive on buffet lines. That said, a busy one is best, and Joy Luck throbs with activity on weekend nights. Sure, there’s the safe stuff, but we’ve found spicy cold crawfish, a mountain of shrimp, tender frog legs, and superb hot and sour soup (beef and pork are scarce, no surprise at $9 per adult). There are frequent small-batch replenishments, and housekeeping on the line is almost constant. The nonbuffet food, especially from the a la carte menu (which is in English), is worth investigation, too. Or experience hot pot, a communal dish popular with diners of distinction. 8030 Manchester, 314-645-9982.
DINING DREAM TEAM
Chris Sommers, Pi
How’s this for a story? Sommers bought the recipe to his favorite pizza and then parlayed it into the biggest local restaurant success story in years, even garnering a presidential endorsement along the way. His Pi On The Spot was the first food truck to hit local pavement; he was the first restaurateur to sign on to downtown’s ambitious Mercantile Exchange (MX) project; and just recently, disgruntled with the inefficiencies of social media, he created Sqwid, a rewards app that integrates with social networks and allows businesses to interact with customers in real time. Multiple locations, 314-727-6633, restaurantpi.com.
Cassy Vires, Home Wine Kitchen
If the subject is St. Louis’ best, then Cassy Vires’ Home Wine Kitchen is deservedly mentioned, no matter the category: for lunch, for brunch, for its burger, as best new restaurant. The weekly menu changes every Tuesday, right after the popular No Menu Monday, when a three-course dinner is at the whim of chef Vires—a night when picky eaters have been known to eat their peas and beets. Would that dear old Mom had such magic. 7322 Manchester, 314-802-7676, homewinekitchen.com.
Aleks Jovanovic, Truffles
Aleks Jovanovic could work in sales or promotions, or be a great motivational speaker—he’s that infectious—so we’re lucky that his passion is food and wine. Talk to him long enough, and it may become yours as well. He’ll have you craving items you never knew you liked, have you blind-taste a wine you otherwise never would have tried, and then offer to sell you a bottle practically at cost. How often does your doggie bag get to go home with a companion? 9202 Clayton, 314-567-9100, www.todayattruffles.com.
Sara Swain, Trattoria Marcella
Swain’s been at Trattoria Marcella for eight years, so there’s nothing she hasn’t heard, seen, or tasted. You’ll know her by her winsome laugh—between a chortle and a rumbling giggle—heard almost as often as customers ordering Tratt’s signature fritto misto (i.e., all the time). Immediately and eminently likeable, her only affectation is a mildly—but properly—rolled R when she says prosciutto. Swain will be part of the lunch crew at the new Marcella’s Mia Sorella, meaning more evening time for her three young children. 3600 Watson, 314-352-7706, trattoriamarcella.com.
Chris LaRocca, Culinary Architects
If we started rattling off all of St. Louis’ LaRocca-inspired restaurants, we’d miss dinner—so we’ll just focus on the last two: EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery, a 390-seater he opened late last year, at a time when no other independent had the chops to wrestle a 12,000-square-foot dinosaur, and Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop, a pizza and chopped-salad restaurant that’s so busy, a Clayton cop directs street traffic there at lunch. Next up? “I’ve got at least half a dozen viable ideas,” LaRocca says, “just waiting for the right time and place.” 314-267-1686, email@example.com.
• Restaurant: Sidney Street Café, sidneystreetcafe.com
• Bakery: McArthur’s Bakery, mcarthurs.com
• Burgers: O’Connell’s Pub, saucemagazine.com/oconnells
• Coffeehouse: Kaldi’s, kaldiscoffee.com
• Deli: Blues City Deli, bluescitydeli.com
• Desserts: Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, baileyschocolatebar.com
• Everyday Casual Dining: Blueberry Hill, blueberryhill.com
• First-Date Restaurant: Boathouse Forest Park, boathouseforestpark.com.
• Mexican: Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, haciendastl.com
• Pizza: Pi, restaurantpi.com
• Tapas: Modesto, modestotapas.com
• Vegetarian: Local Harvest Café, localharvestcafe.com
• Food Event: Taste of St. Louis, tastestl.com
PUBLIC GOLF COURSE
Annbriar Golf Course
When Golf Digest ranks a public course in rural Illinois among the nation’s top 500 places to play, you know it’s something special. Twenty years ago, architect Michael Hurdzan carved a 6,841-yard course from a one-time family farm near Waterloo, Ill. Standing at the tee on the signature 11th hole, peering down into a valley with a meandering creek, it’s hard not to be distracted by the scenery. Consider the $26 twilight fee after 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better course around for the price. 1524 Birdie, Waterloo, Ill., 618-939-4653, annbriar.com.
SPORT MEETS SPORTS BAR
Tee’s Golf Grill
Imagine playing Pebble Beach Golf Links or The Old Course at St. Andrews Links with friends—while a server delivers slingers and beers. OK, it might not be the healthiest sport you’ve ever played, but it beats the expense and travel to golf’s hallowed courses. Tee’s Golf Grill, which opened in Chesterfield in mid-February, houses multiple 330-square-foot aboutGolf PGA Tour simulators that let you play a round (with your own clubs) year-round. It’s $25 per hour weekdays, $40 weekends, regardless of your party size. 103 Chesterfield Valley, 636-489-2848, teesgolfgrill.com.
Pickle Springs Natural Area
Before you walk, you have to drive—nearly an hour and a half south on Interstate 55. But that’s the point: to get away from it all. Start at Crown Valley Winery (23589 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve, 866-207-9463, crownvalleywinery.com), where you can sip a glass of wine (responsibly) and see the big cats at Crown Ridge tiger sanctuary (crown-ridge.com). Then continue to nearby Pickle Springs Natural Area, where a 2-mile trail winds past waterfalls and canyons, through an odd rock formation creating a double arch, and out to a scenic overlook. Sitting on the giant rock, surrounded by the sounds of songbirds and rustling leaves, you can breathe deep…and relax. Dorlac Road, Ste. Genevieve County, 573-290-5730, mdc.mo.gov.
Perhaps it’s apt that The Big Chill was the last movie to play at the Wildey Theater in the mid-’80s: Before undergoing a recent renovation, the theater sat empty for more than two decades. Then, last April, the one-time opera house reopened, just in time for its 102nd anniversary. The venue has since hosted movies, concerts, and more. Now, with the Illinois burg’s dining scene also on the rise, it’s only fitting that the Wildey’s marquee glows bright once again in the heart of Edwardsville. 252 N. Main, Edwardsville, Ill., 618-307-2053, wildeytheatre.com.
Polar Plunge Tubing Area, Hidden Valley
What began with an uphill battle ended with a downhill descent—a 1,200-foot descent, to be exact. The entire city of Wildwood rallied around Hidden Valley Ski Area in 2008, when owner Tim Boyd threatened to close the slopes following a dispute with the city over a proposed snow-tubing run. Today, that addition is a reality, with three-hour passes available for $22. And despite this year’s mild winter, the ski resort has plans for a $2 million expansion. When Aspen and Art Hill aren’t options, Hidden Valley’s the best around. 17409 Hidden Valley, 636-938-5373, hiddenvalleyski.com.
• Bowling Alley: Tropicana Lanes, tropicanalanes.com
• Family Attraction: Saint Louis Zoo, stlzoo.org
• Hiking: Katy Trail, bikekatytrail.com
• Public Golf Course: Missouri Bluffs Golf Club, mobluffs.com
• Winery: Stone Hill Winery, stonehillwinery.com
• Movie Theater: Wehrenberg Theatres’ Ronnies 20 Cine, wehrenberg.com
• Parade: Dogtown Hibernian St. Patrick’s Day Parade, stlhibernians.com
Red, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
From the first line, this show had critics and audiences rapt. A study of stormy painter Mark Rothko, Red won six Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Play, and the Rep was one of the few companies outside New York granted permission to produce it so soon after its Broadway run. That trust wasn’t misplaced. The sentiment we repeatedly heard: This is why we go to the theater. The Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, Webster University, 130 Edgar, 314-968-4925, repstl.org.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
SFSTL director Rick Dildine realizes there’s more than one kind of outdoor theater. There’s Shakespeare Glen—the past few productions in Forest Park have been the most-attended SFSTL shows to date—but sometimes you have to take Will S. into the streets. During Shake38, SFSTL produced Shakespeare’s entire canon around town, and this spring’s Shakespeare in the Streets had Benton Park, Gravois Park, and Cherokee Street residents performing a version of The Tempest at the corner of California Avenue and Cherokee Street. 314-531-9800, sfstl.com.
No other St. Louis venue caters to music fans from age 2 to 72. On Sunday afternoons, toddlers rock out at Musical Merry-Go-Round’s kindie music matinees, while during the week, shows flow between genres and demographics (freak rock to alt-country, college kids to old folkies)—though you’ll always see a mix of ages, tastes, and temperaments here. 3509 Lemp Avenue, 314-773-3363, offbroadwaystl.com.
Citygarden Audio Tour
There’s no way to overstate how great Citygarden is, from the multimedia screen to the pink flamingos to the fact that Kristeen Young shot the video for “Fantastic Failure” in front of the big Greek head. The audio tour is as much a love letter to St. Louis as it is a curatorial documentation, narrated by the artists, plus Ozzie Smith, Christine Brewer, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Joe Buck, and other local celebs. Download it here. Ninth Street between Market and Chestnut streets, 314-241-3337, citygardenstl.org.
Peabody Opera House
It’s hard to remember how hopeless it once seemed that Kiel—now Peabody—Opera House would reopen. After years of stops, starts, and politics, the Art Deco/Beaux-Arts building began its $79 million renovation in 2010. Despite a few setbacks (including a glue fire!), it opened on schedule last fall, with a sparkling red-carpet gala hosted by Ellie Kemper. Jay Leno told jokes, Aretha Franklin sang, and St. Louis knew: It’s for real this time. 1400 Market, 314-499-7600, peabodyoperahouse.com.
Yeyo Arts Collective
Blame it on Warhol, blame it on Christie’s—in the 21st century, the art market has turned undeniably crass, with old masters disappearing into oligarchs’ mansions. That’s why the world needs more arts collectives like Yeyo. Founded by a group of women artists of color, it is dedicated to women’s art and issues. The group is also intergenerational, mentoring girls and working with artists well beyond their sixties, and holds family-friendly shows that make art accessible to mothers and children. Gya Community Gallery & Fine Craft Shop, 2700 Locust, yeyoarts.blogspot.com.
The 48 Hour Film Project
Perhaps the best-known jump from this fest was Love Stalker, a romantic comedy that began as a short in the 2009 competition, then blossomed into a full-length feature at the St. Louis International Film Festival in 2011. No matter the fate of the film, the screenings are a fun way to see the work of our talented local film folk, from established talents like Carson Minow to film students who may be destined, in five to 10 years’ time, to become household names. 48hourfilm.com/stlouis.
Fort Gondo Poetry Series
Poets Jennifer Kronovet and Jessica Baran kicked off their new readings series just last fall, and they consistently fill the house, which is weird for poetry readings that have been around 10 years, let alone 8 months. The readers are a mix of innovative nationals and locals, and All Along Press prints lovely letterpress broadsides of each poet’s work for individual readings, then binds them in an anthology at season’s end. 3151 Cherokee, www.fortgondo.com/poetry.
Strange Folk Festival
Last year, Autumn Wiggins perfected Strange Folk: She added a beer tent. But it was already the biggest outdoor indie craft fair in the Midwest, hosting 15,000 to 20,000 people looking for juice-pack wallets and cutely weird stuffed animals at 150 booths. Wiggins makes it hard to resist, with food options from barbecue to veggies, craft workshops, live music, kids’ activities, and free Wi-Fi access in the park. September 29 & 30, Community Park, 401 E. Fifth, O’Fallon, Ill., strangefolkfestival.com.
SOHA Studio and Gallery
Opened last June by artist Julie Malone, SOHA filled two voids: It provided a fine-art gallery presence in its namesake neighborhood, and it offered kids’ and adult art classes. Though you can find kids’ art classes all over, the ones held at SOHA aren’t your standard fare—where else can your kid learn to build his own robot? And for grown-ups, Malone’s enlisted painters like Emily French to teach nonintimidating courses. 4915 Macklind, 314-497-5202, sohastudioandgallery.com.
Tower Groove Records
One of the virtues of this record label/artists’ collective is, well, its virtue. Founded by musicians and artists who wanted a way to support and promote the St. Louis music scene, it has the goal of artists collaborating, rather than competing. Launched last August, the collective has thrown a huge rock ’n’ roll carnival Labor Day weekend, worked together with Lo-Fi Saint Louis’ Bill Streeter on a series of videos, organized music showcases, and rolled out a fantastic double-vinyl compilation for Record Store Day—all in less than a year. towergrooverecords.com.
Photograph by Ashley Gieseking
PUTTING THE RECREATION IN RE-CREATION
Kara Clark Holland, Reclaimed Places: Picnics
Artist and urbanist Kara Clark Holland’s formative experiences led her to ponder orphaned urban spaces—particularly those seen as a blur from the car. So Holland began hosting picnics under overpasses, in tiny pocket parks, and in grassy triangles like the one near the old South Side National Bank. Picnics are a good way to connect with the ground beneath you. Yet the person who has the brightest epiphany—and this is deliberate—is the one doing the double take inside a Honda after spotting people eating sandwiches in a sea of daffodils next to Highway 40. facebook.com/reclaimedplacespicnics.
• Art Destination: Saint Louis Art Museum, slam.org
• Arts Event: Saint Louis Art Fair, culturalfestivals.com
• Blues/Jazz Venue: Broadway Oyster Bar, broadwayoysterbar.com
• Festival: Soulard Mardi Gras, mardigrasinc.com
• Museum: City Museum, citymuseum.org
• Theater/Theater Company: Fox Theatre, fabulousfox.com
• ’70s-Inspired Band: Dr. Zhivegas, drzhivegas.com
• ’80s-Inspired Band: That ’80s Band, that80sbandstl.com
• ’90s-Inspired Band: Killing Vegas, myspace.com/killingvegas
LATE-NIGHT DATE NIGHT
Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar
Kathleen McGowan (nicknamed “Blondie” as a kid) plotted her Washington Avenue restaurant for years, minding every detail: cozy sitting areas, generous hours, a menu that ranges from sandwiches named for relatives to desserts named for iconic blondes. It’s a place so inviting, you can share wine flights late into the evening—and return the next morning for a Blonde Benedict. 1301 Washington, 314-241-6100, blondiesstl.com.
Three Kings Public House
The name isn’t a reference to the wise men or that movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg. It refers to the trio of owners (though you might also give the honor to those guys painted on the brick wall above the bar: Elvis, King Kong, and King Henry VIII). Since opening last summer, Three Kings has nicely filled the space long occupied by Riddles Penultimate Cafe & Wine Bar. Snag a seat at the round leather booth closest to the door, and it’s easy to spend an entire evening devouring dishes and ordering rounds, all while watching the passersby along Delmar Boulevard—a spot fit for a king. 6307 Delmar, 314-721-3355, threekingspub.com.
There was a time when it was debatable where you could find the best view in town. No more. Three Sixty, the $7 million bar atop Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, provides a place to peer into Busch Stadium, gaze at the Gateway Arch, or watch the sun set in the direction of Forest Park. Couple the view with a swanky interior and chef Rex Hale’s menu, and it’s a place so hip that even Bono had to acknowledge it—more than once—when U2 performed downtown last summer. 1 S. Broadway, 314-241-8439, 360-stl.com.
Lester’s, Central West End
Lester Miller doesn’t go halfway with anything. So when he purchased the CWE building formerly occupied by Companion, he set about transforming the space in a big way. He built a rooftop deck with large-screen TVs, added scads of sports memorabilia, and moved the bronze Stan Musial statue once standing in front of the Ladue location to Maryland Avenue. Now, it’s hard to imagine the place as anything but a sports bar—where a Cards game pairs nicely with pastrami, potato pancakes, and a bucket of beer. 4651 Maryland, 314-932-6040, lestersrestaurant.com.
Given his surname, it seems inevitable that Jeffrey Grieshaber would adopt the moniker DJ Greasy. He and his brother, Dave Grieshaber (a.k.a. DJ Grieslightning) launched Soundz Xtreme in 2000 and have since done shows from the Captain Morgan tent at Soulard Mardi Gras to a mix show on Z107-7 KSLZ-FM. These days, you can find Grieshaber at The Pepper Lounge on Friday nights, when he mixes old-school songs from the past two decades with today’s chart-toppers. facebook.com/GreasyDJ.
SYMBIOTIC SOCIAL SCENE
International Tap House/Epic Pizza & Subs
Epic Pizza & Subs owner Todd George might have stumbled onto a new business model: the symbiotic social scene. Last December, the one-time general manager at Lumière Place strategically opened up shop next door to the International Tap House in Soulard, where patrons are able to meander back and forth, ordering a little of Column A from Epic and polishing it off with Column B at iTap. One more complementary offering: Epic serves exclusively Anheuser-Busch InBev beers—perhaps the sole brand that iTap doesn’t offer among its 500-plus varieties. 1711-A S. Ninth, 314-436-3742.
The Vino Gallery
Among the few things that pair better with a glass of merlot than a bar of dark chocolate: a vibrant work of art. Such is the thinking behind Alex Head and Rachael Buehrer’s gallery in the Central West End. The store specializes in artisan wines (appropriately enough), as well as fine art. And besides hosting wine classes, The Vino Gallery pleases customers with a true work of art while you peruse the paintings: complimentary wine tastings on weekdays after 5 p.m. and all day Saturday. 4701 McPherson, 314-932-5665, thevinogallery.com.
DINNER AND DANCE
It’s hard to pick the best aspect of Plush, midtown’s sprawling, 40,000-square-foot new night spot. There’s chef David Zimmerman’s menu, with its smoky bacon-wrapped shrimp and cheesy grits, plus an affordable beer list (draft Delirium Tremens for $5!). And the music’s impressive, too, with a different band almost every night. Then there are the rooms upstairs, where you can play ping-pong and shuffleboard, or nab a seat with a view. Our advice: Try all of the above, and make a night of it. 3224 Locust, 314-535-2686, plushstl.com.
Photograph by Kate McDonald
WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Fox & Hounds Tavern, The Cheshire Inn
When Bob O’Loughlin overhauled the historic Cheshire Inn in 2010, he was careful to keep at least one part of it nearly the same: Fox & Hounds Tavern. After all, the beloved hangout has remained a local fave since the 1920s. Resembling an English hunting lodge, the tavern’s red couches, dark wood, and crackling fireplace provide an ideal setting to sip whiskey and sample small plates. And waiting to greet you at the door: that same stuffed grizzly that’s stood guard for years—far more formidable than any burly bouncer. 6300 Clayton, 314-647-7300, cheshirestl.com.
Created in the ’30s and named for the 1904 World’s Fair president, Francis Park remains a 60-acre gem in the heart of St. Louis Hills, with its serene lily pond and stone bridges. And while the walking paths and tennis courts are popular during the day, it’s at night that the park really shines. Find a quiet spot to lie back and gaze skyward with your significant other, or join the St. Louis Astronomical Society (slasonline.org) at Tamm Avenue and Itaska Street each month (the next time being July 25 at 7 p.m.). 5300 Donovan, 314-289-5300, stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/parks.
Justin Cardwell, BC’s Kitchen
It can’t be easy, following in the footsteps of chef Bill Cardwell. Other kids have tried following in Dad’s footsteps with only mixed results: Jeff Jordan and Rumer Willis come to mind. At BC’s Kitchen in Lake Saint Louis, however, Little Cardwell mixes cocktails and chitchat with impressive ease—earning him the right to serve up drinks at competitions around the nation. At last summer’s Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans, for instance, he represented St. Louis by whipping up an impressive Pineapple White Wash. Cardwell’s continually experimenting, as evidenced by the house-made falernum used in his drink recipes and the posts on his @HeyBartenderSTL Twitter feed (e.g., “Newest project. Alcohol crystals. I really love molecular gastronomy.”). We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Cardwell family’s next generation. The Meadows at Lake Saint Louis, 11 Meadows Circle, Ste. 400, 636-542-9090, billcardwell.com.
Joe Dirt and the Dirty Boys Band
This hair band might not take its name too seriously, but it seriously knows how to rock. Consider the credentials: Guitarist Jerry Jost and drummer John Pessoni play for The Urge, while lead singer Mark Thomas Quinn and bassist Kevin Gagnepain are members of El Monstero (the popular Pink Floyd cover band). You’d be hard-pressed to find better renditions of Van Halen and Led Zep, though the band also plays The Beatles and Tom Petty. Joe Dirt really puts on a show—even if it does share the name of that mullet movie starring David Spade. joedirt.net.
The Civil Life Brewing Company
Jake Hafner has quietly left an indelible mark on our drinking scene. First, he opened 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar, that Lafayette Square establishment where nary a sign is to be found, but inside are oenophiles aplenty. Then, after selling 33 Wine Shop to Jeff Stettner, Hafner set out to conquer his next spirit: beer. He teamed up with brewers Mike Bianco and Dylan Mosley to serve up pints of German Wheat, British Bitter, Munich Dunkel, and more. And while Civil Life taps are popping up at pubs from Brentwood to Ballwin, the best place to grab a brew is its South City HQ. 3714 Holt, www.thecivillifebrewingcompany.com.
Orbit Pinball Lounge
Before you assume that Orbit is a place for teens, note the sign in the window: “21 & Over.” That’s in no small part because the new establishment serves adult drinks. (Families might instead check out CP Pinball, a past A-List winner, in the Metro East.) With pinball machines and Skee-Ball lanes, owner Michael Stivers’ Maplewood haven is ideal for hipsters, gamers, and kids at heart. 7401 Hazel, 314-769-9954.
City Diner at the Fox
Twenty years ago, the late Joe Pollack wrote about a new restaurant filled with Formica tables. “The aura makes South City Diner feel like a successful veteran,” his Post review noted, “and not a newcomer to our dining scene.” Today, the place is an institution. And just 3 miles north resides its little brother, City Diner at the Fox. Two years after opening, all of the ingredients are there: Formica tables, blue-plate dinner specials—plus a few modern touches. And though it’s not open 24/7 on weekends like its South Grand counterpart, you can still grab breakfast and a cup of joe at 2 a.m. 541 N. Grand, 314-533-7500, saucemagazine.com/citydiner.
There was a time when St. Louisans reveled aboard the boats—and we’re not talking casinos. They found an escape in music and drinks while traveling down the Mississippi River. Though the tradition has long since faded, there’s still the rare opportunity to see greats like Big George Brock, Billy Peek, and The Oliver Sain Revue belt out the blues and carry on a tradition started two centuries ago. This month’s Blues Cruise boards July 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, and reservations are required. 50 S. Leonor K. Sullivan, 877-982-1410, gatewayarch.com.
• City Neighborhood Bar and Grill: McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden, mcgurks.com
• County Neighborhood Bar and Grill: Cicero’s, ciceros-stl.com
• Bartender: Charlie Myers, McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden
• Dance Spot: The Pepper Lounge, thepepperlounge.com
• Happy Hour: McGurk’s Irish and and Garden, mcgurks.com
• Lounge: Fox & Hounds Tavern, The Cheshire Inn, cheshirestl.com
• Sports Bar: The Post Sports Bar & Grill, thepostsportsbar.com
• Wine Bar: Sasha’s Wine Bar, sashaswinebar.com
• New Brewpub: Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, urbanchestnut.com
HEALTH & FITNESS
Jason Owen, Dominic Michael Salon
Jason Owen has been a stylist at Dominic Michael Salon for 18 years, but he stopped cutting hair long ago. Instead, he focuses on hair color, giving his legion of loyal customers hair with highlights, lowlights, and dimension. His secret? He always considers a client’s lifestyle and personality when coloring hair. Oh, and he does brows, too. 8220 Forsyth, 314-721-4230, dmsalon.com.
Pam’s Barber Styling
It might be hard to get an appointment at Pam’s Barber Styling—it’s pretty much just Pam—but her old-fashioned shaves are worth it. She breaks out the hot towels, the bare blade, and the foamy cream. It beats an electric shaver for smoothness any day of the week. 7643 Wydown, 314-925-8425, pamsbarberstyling.com.
St. Louis Salt Room
Relaxing in this spa, lined with Dead Sea salt, is like a modern seaside retreat, and it’s rumored to alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma, and psoriasis. Some report that salt therapy can also reduce anxiety and help you sleep—and with sessions priced between $12.50 and $35, you can rest soundly. 2739 Sutton, 314-647-2410, mysaltspa.com.
Stonewater Spa & Boutique
With the express manicure, Stonewater’s nail techs can take even the most haggard dishpan hands and make them beautiful in less than 25 minutes—though additional pampering is also available. Ask for Izabela, who’s been doing nails for more than a decade. Plaza Frontenac, 314-569-2111, halcyondaysspa.com.
PLACE TO GET FIT—AND SEXY
Lola Van Ella Studios
Lola Van Ella’s classes take a different approach to working out than your typical trainer session. After stretching out during her studio’s Cardio Tease class, participants do burlesque and dance moves to uptempo music. Being fit never looked so flirty. 2646 Cherokee, 314-865-0819, vanellaproductions.com.
Kamren Holbert, Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis
Before moving here, Kamren Holbert was a massage therapist for the Nebraska Bears, a semipro football team. So he was the perfect candidate to do Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports-therapy massage at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis’ luxurious spa. Not only does Holbert exercise to meet his job’s physical demands, he also starts his day with an hour of tai chi or meditation. That way, he can be as calm as the de-stressing services he provides. 999 N. Second, 314-881-5800, fourseasons.com/stlouis.
• Hair Salon: Studio Branca, studiobranca.com
• Manicure/Pedicure: Ladue Nails & Spa, laduenails.com
• Yoga/Pilates Studio: Performance Pilates, performancepilatesstl.com
• Spa: Ginger Bay Salon and Spa, gingerbay.com
• Fitness Instructors/Trainers: Michael and Monika Nobs, Performance Pilates, performancepilatesstl.com
Lass and Laddie
The trick with this fabulous kids’ store is finding it open. Go after 11 a.m., and be sure to get there before 4 p.m. Better yet: Call first. You’ll be glad you did. All of the clothes are handmade and sourced from around the world, including Australia and New Zealand. While you’re finding the perfect outfits for the kids, they’ll be enchanted by the costumes and toys. Our personal favorites are the little slip-on sundresses, just like their grandmothers used to wear. 161 W. Jefferson, 314-822-1886.
Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden
Bless all of those young Schnucks for funding this lovely oasis, named after their mama, for the city’s children. Touring a place with plants can have limited appeal to the under-20 set, but add a limestone cave, spelunker’s slide, treehouse, and prairie village, and it’s a place where any child is raring to go. Climb aboard the steamboat to relive the grand ol’ river days. 4344 Shaw, 314-577-5100, mobot.org.
For years, parents trekked to Chicago and New York to fulfill their kids’ desires to visit American Girl. Finally, we have one here. The nearly 11,000-square-foot space houses endless vignettes of fabulous situations for dolls. Stop by the beauty salon, where your child’s doll is placed in a tiny salon chair and given a chosen coif. And make reservations at the Bistro for “doll-friendly dining” for lunch, early dinner, or tea. 2020 Chesterfield Mall, 877-247-5223, americangirl.com/stores/location_stl.php.
Designed by the late creative genius Bob Cassilly, City Museum is like a modern-day Neverland. Ride a Ferris wheel overlooking downtown St. Louis, or commandeer a bus hanging off the roof. Swing from a trapeze. Ride conveyor belts. Crawl through an underwater tunnel. Swing from ropes Tarzan-style. See the world’s largest pencil and the world’s largest pair of underwear. It’s a must for kids and adults alike. 701 N. 15th, 314-231-2489, citymuseum.org.
Miss M’s Candy Boutique
Now 2 years old, this entry into the world of all things sweet consists of one long room, with several long glass counters, and all things candy. Every candy bar imaginable is there, as are jars of flavored gummy bears and a wall of M&Ms. But hold off on visiting till Saturday, the only day of the week that Miss M’s makes bacon chocolate. As we know, everything’s better with bacon. 6193 Delmar, 314-721-7000, missmscandy.com.
Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café
Jilly’s makes cupcakes, but it also serves some savory with that sweet. Under the auspices of chef Dana Holland, Jilly’s offers a tasty lunch. The For the Wee Ones section of the menu includes grilled cheese, PB&J, and other faves. And for the nostalgic adult, the original Famous-Barr French onion soup alone makes it worth the trip. 8509 Delmar, 314-993-5455, jillyscupcakebar.com.
• Birthday-Party Venue: The Magic House, magichouse.com
• Kids’ Clothing Store: City Sprouts, citysprouts.com
• Kid-Friendly Attraction: Saint Louis Zoo, stlzoo.org
• Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Fitz’s, fitzsrootbeer.com
• Sports Camp: Vetta Sports, vettasports.com