Being the first espresso bar in St. Louis had its drawbacks. When The Brevé Coffee Company opened its doors in 1995, the concept of a latte was unfamiliar to most residents in the downtown area, and the shop only made $58 its first day in business. But as owner Kevin Wiesehan and his wife added in flavorful small-batch-roasted coffee beans, a panini press, and savory café food, business started to boom. Brevé now has three locations throughout the St. Louis area.
In these coffee shops, baristas serve up expertly poured coffees alongside sandwiches, veggie wraps, and salads. Hand-dipped ice-cream treats with Ghirardelli chocolate, shots of house espresso, or foamy pours of root beer are both decadent and refreshing, much like waltzing with an ice sculpture of Fred Astaire.
If you're not careful, a visit to Cafe Nova in the morning for a cup of espresso or frothy cappuccino could go for hours, which is perfectly acceptable as Cafe Nova serves Mediterranean lunches and dinners in addition to breakfast. Start off with a cup of coffee and a croissant drizzled in honey before moving on to crispy falafels, cucumber and feta rolls, and flaky spanakopita. Then, as dinner rolls around, feast on shrimp skewers, burgers, and paninis paired with glasses of wine, beer, or martinis from the full bar.
Still hungry? Try a dessert—such as baklava, cupcakes, or hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's—while relaxing and surfing Cafe Nova's free WiFi.
At Smiles Coffeehouse, the menu features a varied selection of sandwiches, salads, and, of course, coffee drinks. Baristas brew mochas, macchiatos, and iced coffee. Sandwich makers, meanwhile, stack roasted chicken breast, pesto, marinara, tomato, and melted provolone to make the chicken focaccia sandwich—one of seven signature sandwiches. If the caffeine boosts and savory sandwiches aren't enough to perk up patrons, bright yellow and red walls fill the interior like a sunrise or a sky with lots of paint in it.
Pint glasses fill with fresh drafts of craft beers from Parma Grill and Tap's microbrewery while cooks prepare platters of Italian fare, such as lasagna and eggplant parmesan, inside the kitchen. A selection of specialty pizzas includes buffalo chicken with blue-cheese or ranch dipping sauce and Elizabeth's Favorite, a vegetable pizza topped with roasted eggplant and fresh tomatoes.
Beneath the soaring ceilings of the 130-year-old Palm House, chefs roll out an award-winning buffet peppered with seasonal produce and local artisanal ingredients. A coveted destination for weddings and unloved cacti, the brick greenhouse throws open its doors to the brunch-going public each Sunday, inspiring the Riverfront Times to name it "a temple to the brunch-ian cause". Verdant palm fronds drape the historic busts that stand sentinel around the sunny, 3,800-square-foot dining room, which the Butler’s Pantry design team outfits with elegant food spreads. In the warmer months, staff usher patrons onto the patio, a prime vantage point for idyllic lily ponds and horse-drawn carriages.