A-List 2015: Food & Nightlife


Southwest Diner waiting room | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

Best Waiting Room

Southwest Diner

6803 Southwest, 314-260-7244

southwestdinerstl.com

Patrons at Southwest Diner once waited sardine-style for tables in the small space. With no room to expand, co-owner Anna Sidel dreamed up a bus—colorfully painted, comfortable, and fun—parked next door. “People want to rent the bus, but it’s not for rent,” explains co-owner Jonathan Jones. “Little kids sit in the driver’s seat to open and close the doors.” As with other buses, though, spontaneous singalongs are encouraged.

New Breakfast in the City

Kingside Diner

4651 Maryland, 314-454-3957

kingsidediner.com

A posh diner? You bet. Kingside Diner delights, from the lemon-bright umbrellas at the sidewalk café to the shade structures on the roof. Inventive riffs on diner classics include pulled pork–and–chorizo chili on a slider and such treats as Grandma Rosie’s rolled cabbage. Cheers for breakfast all day, for flatbreads and burgers, for hot coffee and a full drink menu, for daily blue-plate specials and for a kitchen open until 1:30 a.m. on weekends.

New Breakfast in the County

The Shack in Frontenac

731 S. Lindbergh, 314-736-5900

shackstl.com

The Shack in Frontenac ain’t no ordinary ride; it’s a flat-out fun trip. The airy space—gone country rustic— surprises with pops of grassy green and sprightly bouquets drawn on chalkboards set in repurposed panel doors. Humor reigns in the menu descriptions and customers’ scribblings on the walls. And the food? That’s serious business. The eggs arrive fluffy and hot, the hash browns crisp, the breakfast skillet sizzling, and the coffee hot in a pot.

One-Two Punch

Seoul Q & Seoul Taco

6665 Delmar, 314-925-8452

seoulqstl.com
seoultaco.com

Give David Choi high marks for evolution. His Seoul Taco food truck—still in service, by the way—gave birth to a brick-and-mortar location in the Delmar Loop. It was followed by migration to a larger space, pairing Seoul Taco with Seoul Q, a Korean tabletop barbecue addition. (Since then, Choi has teamed up with Strange Donuts to open a joint operation in Columbia, Missouri.) It’s been difficult to snag a tabletop since the Q side opened and for good reason: Standards such as bulgogi and kalbi are supplemented by a selection of hot pots and specialties like the Seoul Ssam Wrap, a braise of pork belly and pork shoulder.

Modern Mexican—and More

Público

6679 Delmar, 314-833-5780

With its au courant Latin food and drink, voguish art, and hip staff, Público owes its boffo success to owner Mike Randolph’s love of good food and age-old cooking techniques. Meats and seafood smoke, braise, or roast over a wood fire. Ashes from the hearth provide the alkaline element for the nixtamalization of the landrace bolita corn used in the house masa. The menu changes as new seasons unfold, but quality and creativity abide.

Trimmings

Old Standard Fried Chicken

1621 Tower Grove, 314-899-9000

oldstandard.co

The sides at Old Standard are called “trimmings,” evocative of Thanksgiving dinner, where the turkey might be the centerpiece but everything surrounding it beckons you to take second and third helpings. Served in ceramic cocottes, these trimmings include mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, Jail-House Cole Slaw, mac and cheese, Betty Meade’s Cream Corn, JC’s Brussels Sprouts, and Oleta Brown’s Southern Greens. Though technically a “snack” or appetizer, Charlotte’s Mother’s Dressed Eggs also make a great accompaniment to the chicken.

Old Standard Fried Chicken side dishes | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

Best Idea Since Purse Hooks

Winfield’s Gathering Place

10312 Manchester, 314-394-2200

winfields.net

There’s no need here to beseech your bartender to charge your cellphone behind the bar. If your phone battery is low on power, just plug it into the wall-mounted charging station between the bar and dining room. As many as eight phones can be charged at a time. There are four standard outlets, four USB outlets, extra iPhone chargers, and eight storage cubbies.

Most-Welcome Expansion

Paul Manno’s Cafe

75 Forum Shopping Center, 314-878-1274

Paul Manno’s is like that delightful pal whose company you love but whose social calendar is usually too jam-packed for the two of you to get together. The modest-looking storefront in Chesterfield is always hopping with fans of the warm hospitality and tasty Italian cuisine purveyed by the Manno family. The restaurant already did one renovation, adding 25 seats in 2012, but the house is still packed. Time to knock out another wall.

Affordable Gourmet

Giovanni’s Kitchen

8831 Ladue, 314-721-4100

giovanniskitchenstl.com

You might not expect to find affordable fine dining at Interstate 170 and Ladue. But the Gabriele family offers some serious stuff for your appetito at the bustling Colonial Marketplace. Though the lamb chops and the filet of beef with porcini ragu are alluring, it’s hard to resist the pastas. Half-portions are available, so you can have your gnocchi and eat veal, too.

New Coffee Shop

Living Room

2808 Sutton, 314-899-0173

arthousecoffees.com

After five years of selling his Arthouse Coffee wholesale, Barry Larson opened a storefront and coffee shop, Living Room. His dual missions for the space: to provide a supportive workplace for people with disabilities and to serve up microbatch coffee and from-scratch baked goods and sandwiches. The changing daily menu includes such items as scones, roast-beef sandwiches, and vegan options.

DREAM TEAM: Five restaurant pros
Stephan Schubert

Pastry Chef

Schubert is as adept at telling jokes as he is at creating pastry masterpieces. Last March, his edible interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream dazzled onlookers; several months later, his rendition of The Wizard of Oz earned him the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Pastry Chef of the Year award. At River City Casino, the jokester chef creates everything from elaborate party spreads to cupcakes as big as basketballs.

rivercity.com

Sofia Murillo

Server

When The Original Pancake House opened in 2007 in Chesterfield, there was an ever-present crowd. It was an eye-opening experience for a 15-year-old hostess named Sofia Murillo. Such a trial-by-fire scenario exposes a person to all facets of the human psyche. The aspiring actress is now one of the best servers around. Possessing a knack for returning tableside at just the right time, Murillo is the epitome of “on it.”

originalpancakehousestlouis.com

Jerome Jenkins

Visionary-Developer

Two weeks before Michael Brown was shot, Jerome purchased a building that would eventually house his second restaurant in Ferguson, J&C BBQ and Blues. He was intent on promoting “family values and a family atmosphere.” Jerome says a sushi bar might be next, followed by grocery stores, gas stations, and “10 restaurants in all.” He coaches four youth teams, so he’s likely to open a sporting goods store as well.

cjenkinscompany.com

Lona Luo

Chef-Owner

The popularity of Lona Luo’s Tibetan barbecue steak kebobs and stir-fried red Thai rice at Soulard Farmers Market persuaded the chef and her husband to open a brick-and-mortar location in Fox Park. Word spread quickly about the deft spicing and vibrant sauces that Luo learned to make in a Chinese village. The 30-seat restaurant is now home to the wondrous Giant Rice Paper Wrap and potstickerlike dumplings that Luo pan-crisps on all sides.

lonaslileats.com

Jeffrey Moll Jr.

mixologist

Dozens of the concoctions lining bartender Moll’s mixing station at Randolfi’s were formulated by the barkeep himself. Nabbing a tincture-side seat at the bar provides a nonpareil liquid education, with Moll dispensing as many answers as imbibers have questions. The cognoscenti gather, knowing that Moll’s labor-intensive seasonal creations (such as the garnish-laden Moll’s Cup No. 3) will keep them ahead of the cocktail curve.

best natural pairing/h1>

Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Brewery

104 S. Cherry, O’Fallon, Illinois, 618-726-2244

ofallon.peelpizza.com

At Peel’s location in O’Fallon, Illinois, the house-brewed beers course directly from the in-house brewery’s tanks to the taps to the glasses. Roaring 800-plus–degree ovens disgorge perfectly charred pizzas in 90 seconds or less. The best part: Guests can watch the entire process unfold.

Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Brewery | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

classic diner & More

Goody Goody Diner

5900 Natural Bridge, 314-383-3333

goodygoody.com

We wondered if things would change when Rich Connelly sold the North City institution that’s been in his family for 60 years. We’re happy to report that it’s only improved. Sylvester “Sly” Bell, one of the best hosts in the business, still welcomes customers, encouraging out-oftowners to pin their hometown on maps of the U.S. and world. The flatgrilled burgers remain unchanged, as does the legendary fried chicken. And with the new ownership, the diner is now open on Sundays, a wise business decision—and a welcome convenience for Saturday night revelers.

Food Truck

The Southerner

10762 Trenton, 314-814-2287

roaminghunger.com/the-southerner-stl

Natasha Creel and Emily Matthes shuttered their Clayton restaurant, Roxane, and hit the open road in “Dixie,” their pet name for their food truck, The Southerner. The truck is cute, but the food is the bomb. Southern food meets food truck innovation in such dishes as a pimiento cheeseburger, starring tangy house-made pimiento cheese and a whole lotta bacon; festive chicken and waffles on a stick; and an addictive fried-potato salad.

Turkey Ribs

Gobble Stop Smokehouse

1227 Castillon Arcade Plaza, 314-878-5586

gobblestopsmokehouse.net

The most important culinary advancement since macaroni, turkey ribs take to a long smoke like a Denver slacker. They’re not the only reason to come to this great little place, but they are full of flavor. And other smoked-turkey and chicken specialties, a variety of house-made BBQ sauces, and sides such as potato salad and baked beans make for fine, folksy dining.

Nonstandard Chinese Fa re

Lona’s LiL Eats

2199 California, 314-925-8938

lonaslileats.com

After serving up fare at a stall in the Soulard Farmers Market for years, Yunnan native Lona Luo and St. Louisan Pierce Powers opened a restaurant in Fox Park. The food is a Chinese-Thai combination. Big ricepaper wraps (think monster spring rolls) are stuffed with such ingredients as grilled chicken, spicy tofu, and fresh vegetables. Spicy, fragrant sauces add exquisitely exotic flavors. This spot’s decidedly different— and that’s a good thing.

Da te-Night Patio

801 Chophouse

137 Carondelet Plaza, 314-875-9900

801restaurantgroup.com

Blasting “In Your Eyes” from a boom box might have worked for John Cusack, but you’ll need to kick it up a notch. The place for that is the patio at 801 Chophouse. Tables arepur right on the sidewalk, with a plein air vista making it feel like you’re in a special place even before that wonderful food starts arriving. There’s no better date destination than this spot, bathed in cool class.

Banh Mi

Lucky Buddha

3701 S. Jefferson, 314-833-4568

luckybuddhastl.com

The French did their part, adding light baguettes to the fresh ingredients of Vietnamese banh mi. This South City place has made its own contribution: pork…lots of pork. Pork-liver pâté, pork braised in Korean hot sauce, pork belly, Cantonese barbecue pork—all loaded into a sandwich that’s appropriately named the Porkapocalypse. Among the most awesome of locally produced sandwiches, it’s best approached with one of the amazing cocktails.

Sake Selection

BaiKu Sushi Lounge

3407 Olive, 314-896-2500

baikustl.com

Is sake going to be the next big thing? Probably not. But there’s a connoisseurship to this libation, a whole range of flavors and palate sensations that rival that of wine. For the first time in St. Louis, there’s a place for indulging in some of the varieties of Japan’s ancient drink. Don’t be fooled by the swanky atmosphere. This is a place for sampling different sakes, many of the more extraordinary ones.

pizza

Pizzeoli Wood Fired Pizza Napoletana

1928 S. 12th, 314-449-1111

pizzeoli.com

After two layoffs, Scott Sandler pursued his dream of opening a vegetarian Neapolitan pizzeria in Soulard. Sandler quickly expanded into the adjoining space, and St. Louis has agreed that it is the right call. Carnivores will find plenty of cheese but no meat; Sandler’s vegan pie with house-made cauliflower cheese is a don’t-miss. It’s the embodiment of his dream and his stamp on our pizza scene.

Brisket

Salt + Smoke

6525 Delmar, 314-727-0200

saltandsmokestl.com

With a multitude of other BBQ spots dotting the region, owner Tom Schmidt’s conversion of Nico into a barbecue-and-whiskey restaurant came as a surprise. Instead of the chewy cuts of pork that you’re used to eating, consider the brisket here. It’s heavily smoked, lightly spiced, and meltingly unctuous.

SoHa Addition

Grapeseed

5400 Nottingham, 314-925-8525

grapeseedstl.com

Owner-chef Ben Anderson and chef de cuisine Jonathan Olson take a local, seasonal approach to the menu, including an all-star list of area charcuterie and cheese producers. They mix it with a moderate but diverse selection of cocktails (notably the Macklind Mule) and local craft beers. The Southampton neighborhood has slowly been building an eclectic collection of restaurants, and Grapeseed goes a long way to establishing it as a culinary destination.

Metro East Addition

Social Gastropub

2 157 Center, Edwardsville, Illinois, 618-692-5156

socialgastropub.com

With more than 40 food choices, a rotating list of 20 craft beer taps, and respectable wine and cocktail lists, Social Gastropub stands in stark contrast to its space’s former occupant, the much-loved Shenanigans. Those 40 food choices are anything but ordinary, with oxtail poutine, Buffalo chicken egg rolls, and a fairly authentic rendition of ramen. Combine that with a buildyour- own mac and cheese selection and a staff that can differentiate those 20 craft beers for you, and you have a charming addition to the local food scene.

Overcoming the Odds

Death in the Afternoon

808 Chestnut, 314-621-3236

deathintheafternoonstl.com

For Citygarden, the third time’s the charm with the team behind Blood & Sand. The restaurant started modestly as a lunch-and-brunch– only spot inside the beautiful but twice-failed glass space. With the recent addition of a nanobrewery, ambition is picking up steam.

Panorama

1 Fine Arts, 314-655-5490

slam.org/dining

The menu has gone from hohum to local-oriented since well-known chef Ivy Magruder (formerly of Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set) was scooped up.

Cajun

Riverbend Restaurant & Bar

1059 S. Big Bend, 314-664-8443

riverbendbar.com

Go first for the obvious: gumbo, jambalaya, New Orleans–style BBQ shrimp. Then consider those lagniappes, the little things that come naturally from a kitchen that knows NOLA intimately: po’ boys stuffed with roast pork, crawfishand- corn bisque, Creole meatloaf. Start planning your next visit to this repository of classic Cajun-Creole and lovely surprises.

Riverbend Restaurant & Bar | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

Innovative Ice Cream shop

Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery

1637 S. 18th, 314-858-6100

clementinescreamery. com

Tamara Keefe’s ice cream has taken Lafayette Square by storm. Her artisan “microcreamery” is churning out irresistible highbutterfat ice creams in such flavors as Gooey Butter Cake, salted caramel, brown-butter candied pecan, and Midnight Pleasures, made with three dark chocolates. Foodies can check out savory flavors like Manchego cheese with truffles and honey. And don’t forget the Naughty adult ice creams, laced with booze.

South City Sweets

Russell’s on Macklind

5400 Murdoch, 314-553-9994

macklind.russellscafe.com

The past few years have seen a boom in the local bakery scene, with sophisticated sweets transforming a town known for a fortuitous culinary mistake: gooey butter cake. One of the newest (and best) additions is Russell’s on Macklind, Russell Ping’s new place in the ever-growing Southampton district. It’s a breakfast-lunch-dinner café that offers a full bakedgoods lineup. The menu features cakes, cookies, and classics such as bear claws, as well as Ping’s shortbread riff on gooey butter cake, offered in nine variations.

Russell's on Macklind | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

Underrated Spot

Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine

15860 Fountain, Ellisville, 636-227-6800

veritasgateway.com

St. Louis has these: gems that sparkle but are often overlooked. This is one of them. An informal bistro that began life as a wine and kitchen- gadget store has matured, with a change in location, to a firstclass eatery. Avocado gazpacho and grilled octopus typify a lunch and dinner menu that’s decidedly upscale. Wines are glorious—and come with a complimentary tasting. The ambience, a food and wine shop combined with a superior restaurant, makes for unusual and memorable dining.

Beer Garden

The Anheuser-Busch Biergarten

12th and Lynch, 314-577-2626

budweisertours.com

A-B’s sprawling patio isn’t just a spot to grab a quick beer while you’re waiting to tour the storied brewery. It’s also a place to spend a lazy summer afternoon, an area to gather with the family during winters (see p. 82). Throughout the year, you’ll find a hearty menu— salads, sandwiches, sweets—along with recommended beer pairings and flights (naturally).

Community Involvement

Rooster (South Grand)

3150 S. Grand, 314-772-3447

roosterstl.com

The evolution of Dave Bailey’s Rooster on South Grand is a quintessential case of community involvement. Staffers contributed to the concept and design. A group of third-graders was commissioned to supply the “rooster” art lining the walls. And after civil unrest resulted in board-ups of its large glass windows, Bailey’s minions applied paint to plywood, beginning with the St. Louis flag (a peace sign replacing the fleur-de-lis). Complete strangers followed suit, offering colorful expressions of hope and solidarity. Diners were happy to patronize the restaurant even before the windows were replaced—embracing the restaurant’s concept of three long community tables—and continue to do so today.

Old-Is-New-Again Butcher

Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions

2810 Sutton, 314-647-2567

bolyardsmeat.com

Chris Bolyard (pictured below) has brought back the old-fashioned practice of butchery—with a couple of progressive twists. After spending more than a decade as chef de cuisine at Sidney Street Cafe, he’s proved his cooking skills and can be trusted to offer advice about preparing his products. Bolyard and his wife, co-owner Abbie Bolyard, also consider the larger ethics of animal welfare, from raising and handling to slaughter, only working with producers whose farms they’ve personally visited. Customers’ only concern: what to select from a dizzying array of choices.

Wine Bar

Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas

325 S. Main, St. Charles, 636-724-3434

bellavinowinebarstl.com

No restaurant has ever fit more perfectly on St. Charles’ quaint, cobblestoned Main Street than Bella Vino. It offers a short but intriguing wine list and a wide array of small plates that falls somewhere between casual and gourmet. It’s the sort of place where a couple can find a table on the gorgeous patio of a renovated old house, split a bottle or two, and nosh leisurely on such dishes as chorizostuffed dates or calamari with saffron-lemon aioli, with the hours disappearing like so many sips of wine.

New Beer

Angel and the Sword

3714 Holt

thecivillife.com

For a while, it seemed like craft brewers were competing to see who could cram the most hops into an IPA. That produced pungent beers that only a total beer geek could enjoy. This brew, then, could be seen as a “peace offering,” as Civil Life calls it. Named for a statue in Spain, Angel and the Sword is beer for the rest of us. It’s more malty than hoppy, with a light-amber color and a toasty, nutty, bittersweet flavor. Summer loves this beer.

New Brewery

O’Fallon

45 Progress Parkway, 636-474-2337

ofallonbrewery.com

For the past few years, local craft brewers have been embroiled in a battle to build the biggest and best facilities, a competition whose primary winner is all of us. Not to be outdone, O’Fallon celebrated its 15th anniversary with a 40,000-square-foot brewery in Maryland Heights that has more than doubled production. Even better for local beer geeks, the tasting room will feature specialty drafts available nowhere else.

Neighborhood Hangout

The Purple Martin

2800 Shenandoah, 314-898-0011

thepurplemartinstl.com

When most people want to meet their neighbors, they strike up a conversation across a backyard fence. Not Brooke Roseberry. She opened a restaurant. Despite several chef and menu changes, The Purple Martin has quickly become a gathering place in Fox Park. There are card games and sometimes bingo. Prices are reasonable, and the bar’s well stocked. On the stool next to you is a friend just waiting to be made.

Boozy Brain Freeze

Tropical Liqueurs

1800 S. 10th

2trops.com

Stumbling up Broadway in Columbia while sipping an alcoholic slushie from an oversized plastic cup represents a rite of passage for University of Missouri neophytes. The new Trops outpost in Soulard will transport you back to your college days— or to the beach—one Rum Runner at a time. Those in the know mix the Silver Bullet and Tiger Paw flavors. One 44-ounce extra-large—a bargain at $12—is a whole night of fun. Just beware of brain freeze.

KARAOKE ALL-STARS: Bringing the house down (no recording contract needed)
Allison Babka

Age: 38 Day Job: Content writer at a digital ad agency Why She Sings: “Singing out my feelings. It gets all of my ya-yas out.” Hear Her Sing At: Double D Karaoke in Brentwood Go-To Song: “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. Or Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” when she’s not “feeling all scorned woman.” Tip: “Ease into it… You can be a backup dancer while four of your friends are hogging the mic.” Random Fact: Babka sings in two cover bands, taking karaoke to a whole different level. She also used to host karaoke at Frailey’s Southtown Grill, where a psychic told her, “Your aura is glowing.”

Gordon Stillwagon

Age: 29 Day Job: Service coordinator for low-income seniors Hear Him Sing At: Bombers Hideaway and Just John in The Grove, several bars in Soulard, and The Filling Station. “It’s a really quiet kind of dive bar in Benton Park,” he says. “I enjoy doing karaoke there because there are a bunch of fun, interesting people.” Go-To Song: “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind Tip: “There’s no way to really do it wrong.” Random Fact: One time at Syberg’s, Stillwagon performed “Semi-Charmed Life,” not knowing that one of the guys from the band was in the audience. Fortunately, Stillwagon says, “He loved it!”

Tom Kavanaugh

Age: 37 Day Job: Personal trainer Hear Him Sing At: Tom’s Bar & Grill in the Central West End, Carson’s in Soulard, and Keetons Double Play on South Kingshighway Go-To Song: “I Try” by Macy Gray. Kavanaugh is an expert at imitating Gray’s “raspy pothead” voice. Tip: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. One thing that drives me nuts is when people get up and they think there’s a record producer sitting in the bar. That just kind of ruins it. You’re not auditioning for American Idol. You’re at a karaoke bar.” Random Fact: Kavanaugh is an eight-time Jeopardy! champion.

Maryanne Dersch

Age: 49 Day Job: Strategist at a branding agency for nonprofits Why She Sings: “It’s cheaper than therapy,” she jokes. Hear Her Sing At: Pepper’s Grill & Bar on the first Friday of every month goto song: “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, and “All that Jazz” from Chicago. Tip: “Sing something with a good beat that everyone knows. Even if you’re not singing great, they’ll sing along.” Random Fact: Dersch and two of her friends, John Helmig and Sheri McGuire, have been singing karaoke with the same DJ, Mary “Maryoke” Boone, for 20 years. Boone keeps index cards with all of her regulars’ favorite songs.

Beer Haven

Side Project Cellar

7373 Marietta, 314-224-5211

sideprojectbrewing.com/tasting-room

The brainchild of Perennial Artisan Ales’ Cory King and his wife, Karen King, Side Project Brewing makes beer for the true connoisseur, with small-batch blended and barrel-aged varieties. Side Project is also a beer bar for the true suds wonk. On tap are two dozen beers from around the world, served at the perfect temperatures (40, 46, or 52 degrees) in the perfect glasses (chosen from eight distinct styles) to ensure an optimal tasting experience. You might just catch yourself drinking with an extended pinkie.

DJ

DJ Jwin

LIT Nightclub, 3221 Olive

litstl.com

Joey Nguyen’s signature logo: a panda sporting headphones. His signature event: Pandamonium, hosted Saturday nights at LIT Nightclub. His signature look: a panda-mascot head and turntables. His signature sound: a high-energy mix of house, electronic, and today’s hits that would impress even Bao Bao, America’s most famous teenage bear.

DJ Jwin of LIT Nightclub | Photo by Elizabeth Jochum

Bar Trivia

The Heavy Anchor

5226 Gravois, 314-352-5226

theheavyanchor.com

Every Tuesday night, this South City dive hosts Red Beard’s Trivia, ideal for the casual fan of random facts. The winner of each round gets free drinks. Win three or more of the five rounds to earn pizza and even more drinks. For hardcore buffs who spend every weekend going 10 rounds at charity trivia nights, the bar occasionally hosts unreasonably difficult horror movie trivia, run by Andy Triefenbach of DestroytheBrain.com, with such categories as Name that Scream and Monster Math.

Bachelorette Party Spot

Streets of St. Charles

1650 Beale, St. Charles

thestreetsofstcharles.com

Traditionally, ladies celebrating one last night of sinful single freedom head for Laclede’s Landing, Soulard, or Washington Avenue. But farther west is a worthy alternative: the ever-expanding Streets of St. Charles. Start the day with a rubdown at Massage Luxe or shopping at Leopard Boutique. Follow that with dinner at Prasino or Wasabi, then have drinks at Bar Louie or P.F. Chang’s. From there, wilder crowds can move to historic Main Street or the nearby Hollywood Casino.

Dancing Date

Tango

tangostlouis.com
convergencedbc.com

Argentine tango is the world’s most sexual dance. Even its vocabulary is sexy. A tango party is called a milonga. The dance’s intimate embrace is abrazo. Every Sunday, Tango St. Louis hosts a milonga at the Ritz- Carlton, with a $5 cover. A one-hour lesson begins at 6 p.m., with dancing from 7–10. Other classes, with sensual titles such as “Dancing on the Dark Side of the Embrace,” are available through Convergence Dance and Body Center. Soon, you’ll be planning a romantic trip to Buenos Aires.

Party Band

My Friend Mike

mikeschlippmusic.com

You’re probably wondering, “Who’s Mike?” That would be Mike Schlipp, the lead vocalist and keyboard player for the Top 40 cover band. (He also plays with longtime St. Louis band Butch Wax and the Hollywoods). The band’s composed of five other talented musicians, including fellow lead vocalist Danielle Meyer, who perform crowd favorites like “Shout” and “Your Love,” plus modern hits like “Uptown Funk” and “Thinking Out Loud.” And the range of venues where they’ve performed—weddings, wineries, nightclubs, the zoo, Cardinals rallies—is nearly as versatile as their repertoire.

Bartender

Joe Elder, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta

1650 Beale, St. Charles

katiespizzaandpasta.com

Elder’s witty enough to do stand-up, but we’re fortunate that he tends bar instead. If you’ve visited Katie Lee Collier and Ted Collier’s popular pizzeria, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize him, that bearded guy with an ever-ready one-liner, an impressive knowledge of the drink menu, and a spot-on Hulk Hogan impression. Next time you visit the Rock Hill hotspot, do yourself a favor: Sit at the bar, order a drink, and say hello to Joe.

Authentic Music

John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub

1200 Russell, 314-776-8309

mcgurks.com

It’s hard to say which is the bigger draw at McGurk’s: the garden patio or the Irish music. It’s equally difficult to believe that nearly 40 years have passed since attorney James Holloran opened the bar and began importing Irish musicians. This month’s act is The Irish Brigade, led by County Limerick native Miké Wallace. Be sure to return over Labor Day weekend, when the blowout celebration of John D.’s birthday brings bands to the patio—the best of both worlds.

Late-Night Eats

Empire Deli & Pizza

1131 Washington, 314-553-9999

empiredelistlouis.com

There comes a point in any hard night on the town, usually past midnight, when the human body begins to crave cheese and grease. To satisfy this need, Empire stays open till 3:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (technically Saturday and Sunday mornings). The line is likely to be long. Stick it out. The slices are straight out of Manhattan— enormously foldable, with quality toppings atop a crisp, stout crust that’s perfect for setting your stomach to rest.

Empire Deli & Pizza | Photo by Kevin A. Roberts

BAR SNACKS
➜ RED NECK TACOS: The Dubliner
At the bar, $3 gets you a starter that isn’t exactly Irish. Red Neck Tacos consist of tortillas filled with smoked pork or beef and melted Manchego cheese.
➜ FRIED CHEESE CURDS: Taste
Fried cheese curds are the toasted ravioli of Wisconsin. Taste uses curds from Illinois’ Marcoot Jersey Creamery. They’re double- dipped in extrafine panko and batter, then fried to a golden brown.
➜ POPCORN/ KALE CHIPS: EdgeWild Bistro
Relax, persnickety snackers. This kale is dusted with garlic and togarashi pepper spice before being baked and mixed with salted-andpeppered popcorn.