2011 Hot List: Nightlife
100+ things in St. Louis we can’t live without.
It’s tough to choose what we love most about St. Louis after dark, but if our back’s against the bar, we’d have to say the undeniable energy that pervades each STL nightlife scene, no matter how diverse. Once the sun goes down, the city lights up—illuminating countless hangouts to dance the night away, indulge in fine libations, catch your favorite band or just kick back with a beer to watch the game. With so many options, we predict you’ll have no trouble finding a place to burn the midnight oil.
Best New Nightspot: Rosalita’s Cantina
Rosalita’s full menu of authentic south-of-the-border fare (with vegetarian options for the non-carnivores) is enough to make you say “¡aye Chihuahua!” at least a time or two. But their selection of custom margaritas, including the Pomegranate and Creamsicle varieties, is enough to make you scream it. And with digs in the heart of Washington Avenue, you can rest assured there’s atmosphere to spare. Downtown, 314.621.2700.
Best Bar: Lola
Nestled in the heart of the Washington Avenue loft district, Lola’s imbiding experience comes thanks, in part, to the full menu of hand-crafted cocktails, as well as a separate Absinthe Bar for those who want to get their kicks chasing the Green Fairy. There’s also a full slate of live music to tantalize the remaining senses, from jazz to funk and beyond. Downtown, 314.621.7277.
Best cocktail menu: Taste
There’s no better name for a cocktail haven dedicated to one thing and one thing only—the taste of a finely crafted libation. Mixologist extraordinaire Ted Kilgore has put together a list of 30 or so cocktails that fit the bill and run the gamut from variations on classic concoctions to custom creations. All of the choices are meticulously crafted by a crew of the best bartenders in town, and the low-light ambiance is of equal decadence not to be missed. Central West End, 314.361.1200.
Best Rooftop Bar: Eclipse Rooftop Terrace Bar at Moonrise Hotel
The combination of the spectacular unobstructed view of the city, wide-ranging beer and wine selections and a robust cocktail program brimming with pre-Prohibition classics makes the rooftop bar at Eclipse the place to be on a summer evening. Stop by, have a drink and bear witness to the world’s largest manmade moon sculpture while rubbing elbows with a see-and-be seen crowd of locals and city guests. The Loop, 314.726.2222.
Best Happy Hour: Houlihan’s
One thing’s for sure: The happy hour specials at this venerable chain will keep you coming back, from the half-price noshables on the extensive apps menu to the half-price house cocktails and drafts of endless variety. And the best yet: Its multiple locations across the city promise you won’t have to go far to take advantage of this happening happy hour. Multiple Locations, houlihans.com.
Best Wine Bar: Sasha’s On Shaw
There’s no doubt about it: The second Sasha’s location continues the tradition started on DeMun Avenue in fine style. With a spectacular interior—a gorgeous fireplace and hearth area, an abundance of tables and soft-seating and an outdoor patio perfectly suited for summertime sipping—you might be momentarily distracted from the walls and walls of wine, all ready to be uncorked for the tasting. Shaw, 314.771.7274.
Best Lounge: Mandarin Lounge
The Central West End’s first rooftop lounge offers a fabulous view of the nightlife-centric neighborhood in an amalgam of traditional and modern elements, fused to create an Asian-inspired experience fit for the most VIP of VIPs. And with a drink list featuring a bit of exotica, like the $50 Gold Standard Cosmopolitan garnished with real gold, Mandarin brings a little bit of NYC to the CWE. Central West End, 314.367.4447.
Best Sports Bar: Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill
This temple of all things athletic boasts an interior decked out with loads of sporting memorabilia, a menu that’s a cut above the usual bar fare and tons of drink specials. And of course, TVs man their posts everywhere—even in the men’s room—broadcasting any game worth watching. There’s another Lester’s in Chesterfield, and a new CWE location will arrive this summer for those fans who want to cheer their favorite team inside the city limits. Ladue, 314.994.0055.
Best Beer Selection: Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar
Fancy yourself a bit of a beer aficionado? With a selection of 200-plus beers, 57 of those on tap, Bridge can pretty much meet any hops requirements you might have, seven days a week. The options are always changing, so grab a growler of your current favorite and check back often to see what else has shown up on the list. Downtown, 314.241.8141.
Best Brewhouse: The Stable
Anchoring the western end of Cherokee Street, The Stable specializes in brewing classic German lager styles like Helles, Marzen, Dunkel and Zoigl. All of the beer is brewed onsite, so you’re getting it straight from the tanks to your glass. In addition to the in-house brews, it also serves up a variety of other fine craft beers through its 36 rotating taps. Benton Park, 314.771.8500.
Best DJ Lineup: The Pepper Lounge
Housed in the historic Eastmann Kodak Warehouse building, this longtime hotspot boasts one of the most popular late-night dance floors in town with a lineup of top DJs like DJ Greasy, DJ Big D and DJ Costik, not to mention the many visiting turntable gurus who rock the dance floor while passing through. The distinctive interior with immense ceilings, a monster bar and super-sized dance floor assures patrons take full advantage of the hot beats. Downtown, 314.241.2005.
Best Live Music: The Firebird
Whether your tastes run to punk, funk, metal, rockabilly, hip-hop or some other strange and deviant form of rock ‘n’ roll, The Firebird—with its rebelliously eclectic persona—is the place to see it in local and national varieties. Smack dab in the middle of Midtown Alley, it’s easy to get to, and there’s plenty of stuff to do in the vicinity before and after the show. Midtown Alley, 314.535.0353.
Best Gay Bar: Just John Club
Serving the straight, gay, lesbian and transgender communities, Just John is the egalitarian option for those who want to get their party on any day of the week. Gay-owned and operated, the club is known for its spacious patio bar with a stage for live performances, not to mention its two indoor bars with tons of seating—perfect for hitting the dance floor or kicking back with a drink. The Grove, 314.371.1333.
Best Pre-game Hangout: Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood
Conveniently located a foul ball away from Busch Stadium—and not far from Scottrade Center and The Edward Jones Dome either—this downtown favorite is the perfect place to fuel up before heading out to see your favorite team hit the field. Stop in for a full-on steak dinner (a sure homerun) or a quick appetizer and cold one to get you primed for the big game. Either way, you’re sure to see a winner before you hit the game. Downtown, 314.421.1540.
Best Patio: The Back Bar @ Scape American Bistro
Truly a summertime oasis, this charming courtyard is totally removed from the hustle and bustle of the Central West End—an unexpected respite from the neighborhood’s typical nighttime scene. Serving up delectable dishes from its popular indoor menu until 9pm and a special bar menu in the later hours, the massive audio-video system is almost as impressive as the signature cocktail list. We suggest experiencing both in tandem. Central West End, 314.361.7227.
Best Casino: Lumiére Place Casino & Hotel
With 75,000 square feet housing 2,000 slots, 55 gaming tables and a 13 table poker room, you’ll have no problem finding multiple ways to try and retry your luck. The casino is open 24 hours a day, except between 6am and 8am on Wednesdays. Even so, we’re fairly certain you’ll be able to fill your action quotient, but likely without daylight to spare. Downtown, 314.881.7777.
Best Place to Party and Play: Wave Taco
Hit the beach without ever leaving town at a destination where shirts are optional and flip-flops are encouraged. The unmistakable Mexican beach vibe encourages a variety of activities decidedly counterintuitive to the typical STL night out, whether you opt for sand volleyball or flopping down in a lounge chair and enjoying a frosty cold one to the sounds of DJs and live music. Downtown, 314.241.9283.
The New Open Mic: MothUP St. Louis
All over town, new opportunities are popping up to tell your story, and MothUP
St. Louis is leading the pack with an interesting twist on the traditional open mic. Participants who’ve prearranged their moment in the spotlight get 15 minutes to spin a true tale, sans notes, based on a pre-determined theme, and winners get their performance posted on MothUP’s Facebook page. Venues and themes change, so check Facebook for the latest info or follow @MothUpStL.
Because St. Louis media wouldn’t be the same without these beloved faces.
Best Female Personality: Melanie Moon, KPLR
Where else would you find the words “jury,” “Oprah,” “bin Laden” and “Miley Cyrus” all in one place (and posted within the same 24 hours) than on Melanie Moon’s twitter feed? It just goes to show, this local broadcast fave can cover anything, and she does. Whether it’s hard-hitting news or feel-good tales, Moon brings the same passion and personality she’s become known for on KPLR’s evening news. She openly refers to herself as a “news junkie;” we couldn’t agree more—and guess it has something to do with the Associated Press’ coveted recognition of her investigative reporting. @Melaniemoon11.
Best Male Personality: Matt Chambers, KMOV
With that charming smile and approachable demeanor, you can’t not like Matt Chambers when he flashes those pearly whites for the camera, whether it’s in front of a weather map or on “Great Day St. Louis.” It’s not every day that a tried-and-true weather man doubles as the genial co-host of a weekday morning show, but Chambers pulls it off flawlessly, a testament to the recognition he’s received from the American Meteorological Society and the Missouri Broadcasters Association. Not bad for a guy who admits to being scared of thunderstorms when he was a kid. @greatdaystlouis.
Best St. Louis “Today Show” Program: Show Me St. Louis, KSDK
A guidebook of sorts for St. Louisans who never tire of exploring our great city, “Show Me St. Louis” never fails to come up with something new and exciting for us to discover. From the hottest ticket in town to historic hidden gems and celeb guests, “Show Me St. Louis” has the scoop on all things buzzy in and around STL. And with Wendy and Dana taking us through the day’s picks, who wouldn’t have a little more bounce in their step? @ShowMeStLouis.
Best Radio Show: Curt Copeland, Z107.7
Best known for his outrageous energy and a laugh that’s contagious, it’s no wonder Curt Copeland is so successful at serving up a heaping slice of celeb gossip each evening on Z 107.7. A Minnesota native, his hilarious on-air antics began when he was only 15, and since coming down river, he’s been a staple on the St. Louis airwaves. Watch out Seacrest; Copeland’s out for your throne. @z1077.
2011 Hot List: Nightlife
Eclipse Rooftop Terrace Bar at Moonrise Hotel
2011 Hot List: Nightlife
Photo credit: By Attilio D’Agostino