Hot Block: Edwardsville

 In Culture, Feature

Beyond the bright city lights of St. Louis and across the Mississippi, theres plenty to do and see in this quaint and welcoming Illinois town.


Like many Downtown dwellers, I can be guilty of falling into the routine of frequenting the same restaurants, boutiques and bars—all usually located within a 20-minute driving radius from my loft, despite my otherwise exploratory and curious nature. When a recent pang of wanderlust struck, I gassed up the V-Dub and headed for Edwardsville. Just 40 minutes from Downtown lies this gem of a town that’s equal parts true-blue Americana (a handful of Hollywood films have utilized Edwardsville for its picturesque backdrop) and a vibrant college town buzzing with new and exciting places to explore.

I love searching for obscure spirits for gifting, and at Crushed Grapes LTD., the walls are lined with racks of wines, spirits and craft beers from well-known and boutique labels from around the world. They also offer great wine-themed gifts and delicious gourmet foods. The owners, Len and Arlene Scaturro, and their staff are extremely knowledgeable and can help answer any questions. I was excited to see local favorites like Volpi salami and Goshen Coffee among Crushed Grapes’ specialty foods selection.

Always in the market for a good deal and a good book, I was in heaven at used-book mecca, AfterWords Bookstore. Super-tall shelves are packed with tomes at prices way cheaper than retail. The self-proclaimed bookworms on staff are more than willing to take the time to help you find your next great read; if they don’t have it in stock, they’ll order it. And you can bring in your used books in good condition and sell them to the store for credit toward your purchases. AfterWords also hosts study sessions, author signings and book club events.

What to Wear, a boutique specializing in high-quality women’s and men’s clothing at reasonable prices, was opened by owners and sisters-in-law Jill Dorsey and Sharon Bull in 2009. The sisters wanted to bring Edwardsville more upscale shopping options; be sure to check out their selection of dresses, separates, jewelry, accessories and premium denim lines such as Mac & Jac, Fever and Level 99.

Before I set off on my adventure east, many friends raved about Fond, a fine dining restaurant that is a relatively new addition to Edwardsville’s dining scene. Not a single one of them had any complaints about their experience, and the reason is clear. Chef and owner Amy Zupanci’s space feels both cozy and refined, the seasonal menu supports local farmers and the dessert and cocktail selections are just as interesting as the dining menu. The perfect ending to any meal at Fond is pastry chef Sean Harmon’s Peach Mouse served with vanilla cream and a hazelnut cookie. Delicious!


785_366.jpgWine from Crushed Grapes LTD

786_366.jpgA refreshing cocktail from Fond

787_366.jpgWhat to Wear Boutique

795_366.jpgA refreshing cocktail from Fond


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