STL AFTER DARK: CENTRAL

A neighborhood guide to St. Louis’ top spots to sip, socialize, and shake it on the dance floor.

 

In the name of St. Louis nightlife, we scoured neighborhoods across the city to find the hottest spots around town to see and be seen after dark. Our biggest find? There’s something for everyone–whether you want to sip a cocktail lounge-style, get crazy on the dance floor or anything in between (think pleasant patios, fab live music scenes, must-try midnight eats and more).

CENTRAL
CENTRAL WEST END/ CLAYTON/ BRENTWOOD/ LADUE/ FRONTENAC/ DOGTOWN/ MAPLEWOOD/ THE LOOP

A distinct international flair makes these centrally located spots Hot, Hot, Hot.

Barcelona
The real test of a true tapas culture is more than good small plates; anyone can do that. BARcelona, in addition to great tapas, is all about the social scene—all the drinking, laughing and gossiping that goes on while decked-out customers nibble on food late into the night. And, the fact that the dishes are authentic is a pretty nice bonus. 34 N. Central Ave., 314.863.9909.

Sub Zero Vodka Bar
This is one of the premier ice bars in St. Louis—and you don’t need to wear a parka to enjoy it. Same goes for the many vodkas and sakes behind said ice bar. And serious credit to Sub Zero for great-tasting sushi and hamburgers, a surprising and clever juxtaposition of raw fish and rare meat. 308 N. Euclid Ave., 314.367.1200.

Bar Napoli
Think Italy, fashion, food, wine and cute shoes. It’s not surprising that all of these can be found in surplus at Bar Napoli each weekend. The owners are from the Italian family that runs nextdoor Café Napoli, but the cocktail menu is distinctly American. 7754 Forsyth Blvd., 314.863.5731.

Mandarin Lounge
The Asian theme that gives this rooftop club its Zen-like vibe runs through the décor and drink menu as well. But Zen only gets you so far. After that, it’s all about the music, and Mandarin gets its groove from DJs like Big D and Kostic, among some fab others. 44 Maryland Plaza, 314. 367.4447.

Maryland House
With its aura of whiskey and cigars, Brennan’s doesn’t waste time on frou-frou details like décor. That doesn’t seem to matter to the customers in its second-floor lounge; it’s conversation that counts, between friends or strangers. 4659 Maryland Ave., 314.361.9444.

Monarch
The Southern Bistro (the new lingo for Monarch’s casual side and bar area) plays up its Cajun connections with praline bacon, shrimp and grits, oysters on the half shell and crawfish bread. Fortunately, the cocktails go well beyond hurricanes, and the crowd is far more sophisticated than your average Mardi Gras-goer. 7401 Manchester Rd., 314.644.3995.

Pi Pizzeria-CWE
The cocktails were generating buzz even before this location opened, and they’ve lived up to expectations, with mixologists using cutting-edge ingredients, exotic liqueurs and organic spirits. Oh, yeah, there’s pizza, too—even for breakfast—which means lovers of well-crafted cocktails could practically live here. 400 N. Euclid Ave., 314.367.4300.

Boogaloo
The tagline “Boogaloo Swings” refers to more than its unique bar-side seating. Boogaloo does swing, drawing international DJs who fill the shotgun space with a fusion of sounds while serving a unique Cuban/Caribbean/Creole menu to match. 7344 Manchester Rd., 314.645.4803.

DeMun Oyster Bar

Even if you know nothing about this bar when you walk in the door, you can immediately sense the attention to detail that went into it (the reclaimed mosaic floor, the custom windows, the personal relationships with oyster suppliers). The mixologists are onboard with the philosophy, right down to the seasonal cocktails they continually craft. 740 DeMun Ave., 314.725.0322.

OPEN-AIR OASES

Bar Italia Ristorante
The patio is open year-round, but you can’t fully appreciate the experience of dining there under the all-season tent. Now that the cover is packed up for the summer, crowds are once again vying for the coveted seats. Close your eyes as you savor that last bit of antipasti, and you’ll think you’re in the hills of Italy. 13 Maryland Plaza, 314.361.7010.

Eclipse

The best place to truly feel the outer-space theme of the Moonrise Hotel and Eclipse Restaurant is, of course, on the rooftop terrace. What elevates the experience above kitsch is the cocktail selection, crafted with the most modern techniques and giving a nod to retro flavors like bourbon, bitters, gin and house-made grenadine. 6177 Delmar Blvd., 314.726.2222.

Scape American Bistro
At most restaurants, rubbernecking pedestrians can get a pretty good feel for the outdoor dining options, but not here. The private back courtyard is only on view to fortunate insiders (and reservations aren’t a bad idea). Late-night dining is also an option, with dishes like oysters, tuna tacos and ceviche chosen to complement the elegant al fresco experience. 48 Maryland Plaza, 314.361.7227.

Café Eau
Wandering out by the hotel pool with a cocktail in hand (as opposed to sneaking beer in a plastic cup) is a novel experience—and one we could easily get used to. Lucky for us, at the Chase Park Plaza, it costs no more than the price of the cocktail. And, the rotating selection of live music doesn’t hurt, either. 212 N. Kingshighway Blvd., 314.633.3000.

MUST-TRY MIXOLOGY

Taste
Compared to its original tiny space next door to Niche that seated about 15, Taste’s new home in the CWE seems happily expansive. Reality check: It seats 56, and if you want to be one of them–believe us, you do–reserve a table, even if it’s “just” for drinks. These handcrafted cocktails take time (the bartenders chip your ice to order, for goodness sake), and the food menu is also expanded, with snacks like pig fries, candied bacon and a cheese plate preceding entrées like fish chowder and braised pork belly. As at the old location, the second floor has communal tables that foster conversations among strangers. If you opt for this seating, just know you won’t be observing the bartenders’ fluid precision and trade tricks (like heating citrus rind to release the natural oils)—an experience not-to-be-missed. [4584 Laclede Ave., 314.361.1200.]

HOTSPOT

Miso on Meramec
Last year’s expansion transformed Miso’s appearance at street level—and just in time for its 10th birthday, The Underground Lounge has an updated look, too. The sushi, sashimi and maki are available on both levels, but the lounge slides gracefully from restaurant to club as the evening revs up, completing its nightly metamorphosis after the kitchen closes (10:30pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday). 16 N. Meramec Ave., 314.863.7888.

Don’t forget to check out the neighborhood nightlife guides for Downtown, South City and West!

 

1515_569.jpgMaryland House upstairs at Brennan’s

1516_569.jpgMaryland house lounge is a great place for good conversation and cigars

1517_569.jpgMaryland House offers a full bar

1518_569.jpgMaryland house lounge is a great place for good conversation and cigars

1519_569.jpgTaste by Niche

1520_569.jpgMiso lounge is a hotspot to enjoy a cocktail

1521_569.jpgMiso’s multi-level restaurant offers an assortment of sushi, sashimi and maki

 

Photo credit: Photos by Carrie Iggulden

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