We Heart STL: Late-Night + Entertainment
From craft cocktails and indie brews to dance parties and live tunes, consider this our heartfelt tribute to STLs late-night scene.
Best Bar: The Fortune Teller Bar
Part of the burgeoning bar scene on Cherokee Street, Fortune Teller has proved to be the best of all worlds for all sorts of drinking types. Half dive bar, half cocktail bar and with a solid food menu to boot, there’s truly something for everyone at this neighborhood joint. Drop in, kick back, and have a beer, a shot or a custom house creation before you see what the future holds. Cherokee Street, 314.776.2337.
Best Cocktail Menu: Planter's House
When local bartending legends Ted and Jamie Kilgore and Ted Charak announced they were opening Planter’s House, it was a given that the cocktail menu would be stellar, but the trio and their staff have exceeded even the highest expectations. The main drink menu—some 60 or so selections—changes seasonally, and there’s also a rotating list of staff takes on a designated libation (past rosters have included riffs on daiquiris, old fashioneds and margaritas). And if all that isn’t enough, you can call for any classic cocktail you’d care to. Lafayette Square, 314.696.2603.
Best Bespoke Cocktails: Taste
The original benchmark for craft cocktails in St. Louis, Taste continues to set the bar oh-so-high for local imbibers looking to indulge in uniquely crafted drinks. Bar manager Kyle Mathis and crew constantly put their creativity to work, using a vast array of spirits to craft custom libations that challenge, inspire and satisfy the palate—take, for example, the amaro-based Heart of Ruby. Their efforts resulted in a James Beard nomination last year—further proving that for adventurous drinkers looking for cutting-edge cocktails, Taste sets the standard. Central West End, 314.361.1200.
Best Margarita: Mission Taco Joint
The margarita—that sublime amalgam of tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur—is perhaps the most mistreated of cocktails. At too many bars, it’s been forced to submit to cheap sour mixes and the blandness of the blender. We’ve even heard tell of some made with—what?!—vodka. Fortunately, Mission Taco knows how to make ’em the right way: They combine the best tequilas, fresh juice, a touch of agave and no pretension. Try the classic house version or a custom variant like the tequila Negroni. Multiple locations, missiontacostl.com.
Best Manhattan: The Whiskey Ring
A patriarch of the cocktail family, the manhattan remains the epitome of a boozy stirred drink. For all of its simplicity, though, it’s all too often mangled in an attempt to improve on perfection. For a solid example of the way it oughta be done, belly up to the bar at The Whiskey Ring, pick your whiskey and let the staff go to work stirring up something to remember. Cherokee Street, 314.769.7249.
Best Wine Bar: Olio
Housed in a former 1930s gas station in the historic (and often overlooked) Botanical Heights neighborhood, Olio is short on pretension and long on fine wines and great food. The eatery features a list of regularly rotating vino selections that literally span the globe, and the wide-open, funky, inviting space provides the perfect place to sit back, relax and savor them all. And we’re not the only ones who think so: Condé Nast Traveler made Olio a stop on its “America Issue” tour last summer. Botanical Heights, 314.932.1088.
Best After-Dinner Drinks: Fox & Hounds Tavern
Located in The Cheshire hotel, Fox & Hounds Tavern has become a St. Louis institution over the years. Patterned after an English manor house from times past, with a roaring fireplace, elegant seating and an overall cozy vibe, one almost expects a waistcoated butler to come by to refresh the drinks. It’s the ideal place to relocate your dinner group after a festive meal to indulge in “just one more” fine spirit or, perhaps, a yard of ale. Clayton, 314.647.7300.
Best Rooftop: Three Sixty
There are patios, and then there are patio experiences. Three Sixty’s rooftop space definitely falls into the latter category. With its sleek and modern decor, handcrafted cocktails and a view that stretches to infinity and then some, it’s the very definition of breathtaking. Couple that million-dollar vista with a menu featuring tasty bites by Chef Rex Hale, and you’ve got a truly unbeatable combo. Downtown, 314.241.8439.
Best Patio: Sasha's on Shaw
We like the cozy interior of Sasha’s on Shaw just fine, but the South City wine bar’s picturesque patio is the place to be come summertime. The grotto-like space is replete with fire pit, abundant greenery and calming water features. It’s a serene little oasis where you can kick back, indulge in some fine vino and and let the world go on by without you. Shaw, 314.771.7274.
Best Place to Impress an Out-of-Towner: St. Louis Union Station
Now a spot on the National Historic Landmark list, this St. Louis icon originally opened in 1894 and was once the largest rail terminal in the US. Now, it’s a local and national tourist destination that has been restored and renovated well beyond even its original splendor. From the soaring vaulted ceilings of The Grand Hall—the perfect spot to take out-of-towners for a pre- or postdinner drink—to the sweeping arches of the sprawling Train Shed, St. Louis Union Station is definitely a jewel of the city, guaranteed to impress even the most well-traveled of travelers. Downtown, 314.421.6655.
Best Spot to Bust a Move: The Bump & Hustle STL
This monthly vinyl extravaganza hosted at Blank Space is the premier event for shaking your proverbial tail feather. For a mere $5, guests can bust a serious move on three levels to dance beats ranging from disco to funk to hip-hop, courtesy of resident performers DJ MAKossa and Nappy DJ Needles, as well as a rotating roster of special guest turntable pros. Cherokee Street, facebook.com/TheBumpandHustleSTL.
Best Gay Bar: Just John
This venerable gathering spot is part gay bar, part sports bar and part allinclusive community center. Over the years, Just John has gained a reputation for hosting all manner of LGBT-friendly events, from holiday parties and fundraisers to over-the-top theme nights, along with regular draws like the ladycentric JANE events on Wednesdays and the semimonthly Golden Happy Hour. The club features bars inside and outside, as well as the climate-controlled Florida Room for those times when the weather competes with patio aspirations. The Grove, 314.371.1333.
Best Spot to Catch a Band: The Beale on Broadway
Open seven days a week until 3am, The Beale On Broadway is the ultimate venue to catch some of the best
and bluesiest local and touring acts live and in person (it’s local soulful favorite Kim Massie’s second home). The venue hosts outdoor sets during the warmer months and has a down-home NOLA feel, with plenty of beer and Hot City Franks on hand for sustenance before, during and after sets. Downtown, 314.621.7880.
Best Beer Selection: International Tap House
The old saying “too much is never enough” most certainly applies to iTap. This local beer-loving chain, which opened in Chesterfield in 2009 and now has locations in Soulard, the CWE and Columbia, Missouri, sports a bottle list that numbers in the hundreds, along with a slew of rotating taps featuring beers from around the world but with a particular abundance of Missouri brews. Seasonal offerings and special releases are a specialty at all locations. Multiple locations, internationaltaphouse.com
Best Dive Bar: Los Punk
If you’re looking for a down-home good time with friends, this Cherokee Street favorite more than fits the bill. As the name hints, Los Punk is stripped down and basic, with cheap drinks, simple—but delicious—bar food (the kitchen’s open ’til 1am), a no-nonsense patio and no extraneous BS to get in the way of the revelry. Cherokee Street, 314.560.0626.
Best House Party Vibe: 333 North Beaumont
This funky Midtown space books a wide variety of events, from pop-up parties to sets from top local and national DJs and all manner of special one-offs. It’s also played host to the popular monthly music series LIFTED and to podcasts from groups like Treehouse Networkshops. The vibe here is relaxed and homey: Picture catching your favorite DJ at a friend’s loft. Midtown, facebook.com/333. North.Beaumont.
Best Party Series: Nightchase By Alexis Tucci
This homage to all things disco began a year and a half ago and quickly became the place for fans of late-1970s/early-1980s dance music to pack the floor. The series was originally hosted at Empire
Hall in the Cherokee Street area, but for the time being, the search for a permanent space is on. The party happens on the first Saturday of the month, with turntable duties shared by Nappy DJ Needles and Mark Lewis. facebook.com/NightchaserStl.
Best Open Mic Night: The Comedy Shipwreck at the Heavy Anchor
Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next big thing on Comedy Central? Prove it to the rest of the world at this open mic extravaganza, held the first and third Monday of each month at 10pm at one of the city’s favorite dive bars. It attracts a diverse crowd of hipsters, scene-makers, neighborhood folks and comedy fans with the promise of cheap drinks and plenty of laughs. Bevo Mill, 314.352.5226.
Best Late-Night Eats: Atomic Cowboy
There are plenty of chain drive-thrus and greasy spoon diners to hit up after a night on the town, but for quality latenight grub, those in the know head to Atomic Cowboy. This Grove favorite sports a massive menu of creative fare guaranteed to please. Most of the menu is based on south-of-the-border dishes, and they’re best enjoyed on the back patio. The best part? The kitchen doesn’t close ’til 2:30am. The Grove, 314.775.0775.
Best Podcast: Treehouse Lifestyle Podcast
Treehouse Networkshop is well-known in STL for bringing the community together for events that are both networking-focused and create a fun forum to discuss related topics surrounding careers. The brains behind Treehouse, Wesley Hoffman, is also the voice behind the Treehouse Lifestyle Podcast, which continues this trend with shoptalk about branding, motivation and local people doing interesting jobs. Examples: Julia Li, founder of Create Space; Emily Muhoberac, inventor-inresidence at Ochre and Kathleen Bauer of T-REX. treehousenetworkshop.com.
Best TV Personality: Heidi Glaus
An award-winning journalist for KSDK and ksdk.com, Heidi Glaus is known for her top-notch reporting and one-of-a-kind weekly segment, “Hey Heidi,” where viewers send in their questions, and Glaus picks some of the most interesting ones to chase down the answers for. We can’t resist going on “Show Me St. Louis” with Heidi when we get the chance. @HeidiGlausKSDK.
Best Radio Show: “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio
One of the of the top lunch-hour radio shows in the area, “St. Louis on the Air” features longtime local personality Don Marsh at his best Monday through Thursday at noon (if you miss it at noon, you can also catch up at 10pm). The show tackles the issues most impacting St. Louis; It has recently reported community-focused stories on Ferguson, education and St. Louis public schools, the area’s top spring and summer marathons, how to keep kids entertained during the summer and more. @STLonAir.
Best Radio Personality: Lux, 105.7
As the only female radio host for 105.7 The Point in St. Louis, Lux is known for not only breaking new ground but for her highly popular show, “Lux in the Afternoon,” which airs from 2-6pm. Born and bred in St. Louis, Lux isn’t shy about repping her hometown on both her show and her wildly entertaining social feeds. Let’s just say we know we can always count on Lux to rev up enthusiasm wherever she goes. @lux1057.
Best Blogger: Bangles & Bungalows
Describing her innovative approach to fashion, style and decor blogging as “East meets West,” Yasmin Hakim has lived across the US, from NYC to Washington, DC, LA and Ann Arbor. A self-described “nomad,” Hakim actively incorporates inspiration from these cities, along with her family and Indian culture, customs and traditional dress, into her wildly popular blog that keeps readers coming back for more. Her readership is now global, and trendsetters everywhere are turning to Bangles & Bungalows for ideas on blending Eastern-inspired items into outfits; creating a stylish, yet practical, home environment; pairing jewelry with bold colors or designs and more. banglesandbungalows.com.
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg