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Aug 30, 2014
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Shenandoah Boasts a Trifecta of Dining, Wining and Morning-After Comfort
By Sean Hixson - Photo by Allyson Mace
Posted On: 08/01/2005   

On the wall of my bedroom, I have a neighborhood map of the city of St. Louis in which each neighborhood is given its own contrasting color. Upon first glace, the map makes sense. There’s Downtown. There’s The Hill. There’s Lafayette Square. But as you skim the entire city, you begin to think the cartographer was eating lead crayons when rendering the STL. The key lists 79 neighborhoods, some crazy-sounding: Kosciusko, Tiffany, Cheltenham, Mark Twain, Patch. Are
these real?

Conversely, the logically dubbed neighborhoods with names so boring they’ll put you to sleep (zzz-named) are designated by parks and/or compass points – Benton Park West, Forest Park Southeast – and, unlike Kosciusko, are not Google-worthy. Still, it’s interesting to note that these zzz-named ‘hoods host most of the totally new restaurants/bars/coffeehouses. So, while the Tower Grove East, Fox Park and Compton Heights neighborhoods fit the zzz-named bill, the route Shenandoah takes through those three neighborhoods offers some very non-zzz businesses. Your weekend is
hereby planned.

Saturday, 5:34 p.m.
2855 Shenandoah Ave.
Tanner B’s bar stool

Save Tanner B’s tan (as opposed to red) brick façade, this could be a tavern on ANY St. Louis corner. But when you enter, the corner-tavern theme goes a little awry. The small space, open since late 2003, is
divided – restaurant with diner-like booths on one side; bar with tavern-like stools on the other; there’s sidewalk al fresco dining in nice weather. There’s free WiFi, lava lamps, totem polls, three televisions and Coldplay on the stereo.

While the preponderance of daily get-loaded drinks and happy hour food specials is overwhelming, Tanner B’s is more restaurant than bar. A bar-side seat Saturday, 5:30 p.m. (yes, happy hour runs through Saturday), offers a great chance to take in the best of both worlds at Tanner B’s.

In short … Food: “Eclectic American Home Cooking” with seasonal favorites like ribs, burgers and chili are served along with lettuce wraps, grilled portabella mushrooms and Asian seaweed salad. Imaginative, expansive menu. Drinks: Typical and atypical beers to “Booty Bomb” shots to soft-drink-and-booze cocktails. Service: Bar staff is helpful and friendly but busy ensuring the restaurant side runs smoothly. Patrons: To your left will be some young hotshot lawyer, drunk on tequila, to your right will be lifelong residents of the neighborhood visiting for the first time. Mostly 30 to 50 in age and, like the neighborhood, multiracial. Kids are common.

Saturday, 9:39 p.m.
3200 Shenandoah Ave.
Van Goghz’s table

At 9:39 p.m., the sun, along with your stone-cold sobriety, has set, so a trek four blocks west to Van Goghz Martini Bar and Bistro is appropriate for an upscale experience.Choosing from no less than five doors – some real, some not – among Van Goghz’s huge storefront windows, you’re guaranteed to feel foolish when you try opening one of the false doors. Blame your buzz.

Van Goghz is a dimly lit, polished lounge, bigger than Tanner B’s and more slick. Its curved silver bar splits the two main rooms, with Van Gogh reproductions adorning many walls. Candle-lit cherry-wood four-tops are spaced throughout both main rooms, with a small couch lounge facing Shenandoah. Two small televisions show the game; the recently debuted sidewalk tables showcase the beautiful block.

While Tanner B’s is more restaurant than bar, Van Goghz is more bar than restaurant. Open since mid-March, it has added live music on Wednesday evenings and later on Saturdays to encourage more late-night lounging crowds. Saturday, 9:39 p.m., offers a great chance to peruse the large drinks menu while taking in some
live tunes.

In short … Drinks: Sweet and gaudy 31-entry martini list (the Blue Hawaii is one of the most popular), 20-entry by-the-bottle-and-glass wine list, an abbreviated beer list. Food: Mostly upmarket appetizers (kalamata olive-artichoke tart) with sandwiches and pizzetas. Service: Prompt attention can be hit or miss, but ownership is incredibly friendly and trying like hell to offer what people want. Patrons: Mostly 35+, multiracial and professional, with many tables of large groups. Few smokers, so little smoke.

Sunday, 11:47 a.m.
3149 Shenandoah Ave.
Shugga’s couch

If you were actually out drinking from 5:30 p.m. to well into Saturday evening, chances are you are 1) not waking up before 11 a.m. Sunday and 2) not going to be able to stomach anything but grease and strong coffee. Unless you’ve passed out ON Shenandoah, late Sunday morning offers the perfect chance to return to the zzz-named ‘hood and finish its restaurant/bar/coffeehouse trio.

Shugga’s is a one-room-and-small-patio coffeehouse, marked by intentionally non-matched eclectic furniture, bookshelves showcasing antique coffee pots, colorful artwork and a labeled 16-slot magazine bin for fans of architecture, business, art, etc. Unlike many popular coffeehouses with annoyingly large crowds and lines, Shugga’s seems to be the epitome of a neighborhood coffeehouse – intimate, cozy and WiFi-enabled.

In short … Drinks: They brew Kaldi’s coffee and offer the usual flavored or unflavored lattes, fresh-squeezed juice and teas. Food: Omelets (mmm, grease), breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and pancakes. Few wholly original menu items, but all quality. Lunch is also offered, featuring truly good sandwiches, soups and big, fresh salads. Service: Top notch. My barista actually came to my table to ask me how my coffee tasted. Patrons: Almost exclusively from the neighborhood and, on my visits, mostly female. Singles are common. Large groups are not.

Sunday, 1:03 p.m.
Your couch (at your television)

Relax. You just spent nine of the last 18 hours at bars/restaurants/coffeehouses.

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