11 new St. Louis bars we love
We love hanging at our regular watering holes where everybody knows our name; but sometimes change can be a good thing. From University City to Belleville and points in between, St. Louis has seen a slew of new bars open over the past year. Here are a few we’ve especially enjoyed and recommend working into your normal night-out routine.
Billy’s on Broadway
Billy’s On Broadway is one of the newest additions to the south downtown neighborhood that already includes well-known bars like Broadway Oyster Bar, The Garage and BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups. You’ll remember this building from its past life as Beale on Broadway, but it won’t look familiar; the building underwent major renovations and came out looking better than ever with a new patio, new stage, new covered outdoor bar, renovated second-floor deck and an interior bar covered in Cardinals baseball memorabilia. With Billy’s being so close to Busch Stadium and a menu featuring Gus’ salsiccia-stuffed pretzels and Clementine’s Creamery ice cream, this is a perfect pre- and post-game stop for a quick beer and a bite to eat. The Billy’s T-Ravs are a must-try dish: The ravioli is a custom blend from Midwest Pasta made with Italian sausage, Provel and Parmesan served with a sausage marinara.
701 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.476.0119, billysonbroadway.com
When you want to get away without actually getting away, visit the Bonito Bar in University City. Technically, the bar shares the same space as Frida’s restaurant, but the room has been designed to give the bar its own identity, with a curved marble bar, fish scale tile work and gold ceiling. The drink menu includes wines by the glass and by the bottle and a limited selection of beer. The real stars of the show are the cocktails. Sitting at the Bonito Bar gives the sense of being on vacation with fresh, citrusy signature cocktails like the hibiscus margarita or The Bonito, a blend of rums with a blood orange aperitif, pineapple, lime and agave. The classic cocktails include a daiquiri of the week, a black Manhattan, Pisco sour, and a Devil’s Margarita made with tequila, Ancho Reyes, lime, agave and red wine. You’ll also find mocktails available to coincide with the increase in demand for these types of drinks. Food is prepared by Frida’s, so you can expect vegetable- and seafood-forward dishes with items like burrata caprese, Mediterranean salmon, coconut curry and seared ahi tuna salad.
622 North and South Road (inside Frida’s), University City, 314.727.6500, eatatfridas.com
Calypso brings a full cocktail list and a Cajun- and West African-inspired food menu. The remodeled space now features an all-season patio complete with plenty of seating, multiple TVs, a separate bar and a wall of garage doors that can be opened to bring the outside in. There are over 20 whiskeys on the menu and close to 50 rums; the cocktail list includes the classics as well as tropical drinks like the Caipirinha, Hurricane and a spicy pineapple margarita. The barbecue shrimp with Creole cream sauce was cooked perfectly, and the sauce provided just a hint of spice. The ceviche with shrimp and scallops was fresh, and the yuca chips served on the side were crisp and perfectly salted. The friendly staff, great food and well-crafted cocktails make Calypso an excellent stop when in the Soulard neighborhood.
1026 Geyer Ave., St. Louis, 314.448.1516, calypsostl.com
Eat Crow, the sister bar to Maplewood’s Crow’s Nest, opened in Soulard in the old Nadine’s Gin Joint. The building has been updated with a new bar, remodeled kitchen and an enhanced patio. Much like the Crow’s Nest, Eat Crow brings the heavy metal brunch, menus in old record sleeves and self-deprecating humor. The main differences lie in the food menu: While there is overlap, Eat Crow boasts an extensive mac-and-cheese selection as well as chicken wings with four different sauce options. Our favorite menu item, however, is the mini tacos; we’ve been known to stop in just for a beer and a plate of mini tacos with sides of avocado ranch and jalapeno-sriracha sour cream. The bar also has a large screen for projecting classic ’80s and ’90s movies, and the theme carries over to the cocktail menu with drinks like Space Balls The Drink, a mix of 3 Olives Espresso vodka, Tito’s vodka and Baileys Irish Cream, or the Tequila Montoya which includes six fingers of tequila, lemonade and a Grand Marnier float.
1931 S. 12th St., St. Louis, 314.934.1400, eatcrowstl.com
Grüv Bistro and Wine Bar
The front patio at Grüv Bistro and Wine Bar, which looks out on Belleville’s Main Street, is perfect for outdoor seating and people watching on a busy Friday or Saturday night in downtown Belleville. Wine novices can feel comfortable walking into Grüv and confident that they will end up with something they like. After a brief conversation, the bartender recommended a New Zealand sauvignon blanc; it was citrusy, crisp, dry and refreshing – exactly what we’d had in mind. With that said, Grüv is not just a wine bar: The cocktail menu has classics like the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan but also includes a citrusy raspberry margarita and a drink called the Humble Bumble with bourbon, muddled lemon, honey and mint. Standout items from the food menu include the short rib pizza with jalapenos and ricotta cheese and the strawberry goat salad made with spinach, strawberries, walnuts and goat cheese tossed in a strawberry-poppyseed dressing.
223 E. Main St., Belleville, 618.416.2471, Facebook: Grüv Bistro & Wine Bar
The building that started the greatest party in St. Louis now houses one of the newest bars in Soulard. In 1980, Hilary Clements had recently purchased the building at 1017 Russell Blvd. and used it as both party space and living quarter. One particularly dreary winter day, Clements and his friends held a party in which they dressed up and marched up the street to a tiny Irish pub called John D. McGurk’s. They enjoyed themselves so much they continued the party every year. That first march up Russell Boulevard was the first Grand Parade, and that house party grew into what is now known as Soulard Mardi Gras.
Food at The Hi-Hat includes salads, wraps, wings and quesadillas, but the pizza is a must-try. (Pro tip: Add the garlic-ricotta cream.) Or just order Pat’s Hamm’s Sandwich: a can of Hamm’s between two shots of whiskey. The Hi-Hat has a good cocktail list with a great espresso martini along with their take on the French 75 with gin, lavender cider, lavender syrup and fresh lemon, aptly named the Soulard 75.
1017 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.802.7517, thehihatstl.com
Walk into Grand Spirits and you’ll be led to the bar’s secret entrance, reminiscent of an old storm shelter, that goes down to the basement. It’s tiny and dark, but with a seat at the bar, you’ll know you’re in for a special evening. If you are at all familiar with the cocktails made at Platypus and The Gin Room, then you have an idea of the knowledge that owners Meredith Barry and Michael Fricker bring to the table; part of the fun was having Barry make the drinks and to see the smile on her face when she saw the look on yours after the first taste. At our seating, cocktails ranged from a take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a drink served with a lettuce leaf filled with shrimp. There is a drink with mozzarella foam and a drink served with savory gummies. There is a story behind each cocktail and, when your drink is served, they’ll explain the ingredients and how they work together. There’s a reason it’s called an experimental cocktail lab; more than a cocktail bar; New Society is a whole experience.
3194 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, newsocietystl.com
Like other vinyl record bars, Saturn Lounge sets the scene with classic cocktails, craft beers and fine wine in a relaxed and spacious setting. Vinyl records fill the back-bar wall, providing an eclectic mix of music, and the volume is set at a level that entertains the listener while still allowing conversation. The main bar room provides booth seating along with a handful of bar stools, and the back room features comfortable couches and chairs surrounding a large coffee table. The brick patio, decorated with string lighting, delivers even more seating for guests to enjoy a drink on the quiet end of Cherokee Street. Wine drinkers can choose from almost 20 different bottles ranging from reds and rosés to whites and bubbly options. There are seven beers on draft and close to 40 in cans and bottles along with a drink list that includes 10 different in-house cocktails and a decent selection of NA spirits.
1915 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.226.9473, thesaturnlounge.com
‘Ssippi Wine Bar
While there is no official definition for natural wine, this style of wine typically includes hand-harvested grapes grown by small-scale, independent growers; it’s often fermented using natural yeasts without additives and no, or very little, sulfites. This is the type of wine you’ll find at ‘Ssippi Wine Bar; you’ll also find an assortment of cocktails, sake and beer as well as small snacks like cheese, olives and hummus. The bartender recommended we try their house wine, Field Recordings Boxie; with notes of ripe citrus and marzipan; it’s a great wine for a warm summer day.
2926 Cherokee St., St. Louis, ssippi.xyz
Tim’s Chrome Bar
The original Tim’s Chrome Bar was a great dive bar in the Bevo neighborhood, and while the new owners planned to clean the place up and continue business as usual, upon taking over they realized the place needed to be completely gutted. Updates include an expansion into the next-door space, a vintage fireplace, pastel flowers on the ceiling, vintage wallpaper, TV trays and a classic Bingo scoreboard. Drinks at Tim’s Chrome Bar include a large list of cocktails and a good selection of local canned beers with eight others on draft. You can also get a Jello shot for yourself or a bowl of punch for the whole table. Food options include housemade pizza rolls with jalapeno ranch and crab Rangoon nachos made with wonton chips, crab Rangoon filling and sweet chile sauce. There are vegetarian dishes like cheese-and-veggie rolls, housemade garlic hummus and portobello fries. They also serve a sandwich called The King made with peanut butter, jam , banana and crispy bacon on buttery bread.
4736 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, timschromebar.com
The team behind pop-up bar STL Barkeep is now creating amazing cocktails at their new brick-and-mortar location, The Vandy. Along with the classics, you’ll find an assortment of in-house cocktails made with locally sourced ingredients, fresh syrups and housemade bitters. A quick review of the cocktail list turns up ingredients like pineapple rum, burnt red wine reduction, coconut syrup and a habanero tincture. They also have over 90 whiskeys on the menu along with beer and wine. The Vandy’s food program has recently received a glow-up compliments of chef Alec Schingel (The Robin Project), who’s put together a tight list of mostly shareable items like pimento cheese dip and a charcuterie board featuring meats sourced from Farm Spirit; on Mondays, Schingel will switch over to red beans and rice (a nod to the New Orleans tradition). On Tuesdays, chef Alex Henry (Sureste, El Molino del Sureste) takes the wheel, offering a pair of tacos – one meat, one veggie – on Sureste’s housemade tortillas.
1301 S. Vandeventer Ave., St. Louis, 314.472.5321, thevandystl.com
Bill Moran is the creator behind the Instagram account @st.louis_taverns, where he anonymously reviews bars throughout the St. Louis area.
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