Bars in Benton Park

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In his 2010 review, Riverfront Times reporter Ian Froeb revealed the origin of Ernesto's Winebar’s distinctive name. Instead of honoring a chef or long-lost relative, the name pays homage to the owners' love for Ernest Hemingway's simplistic style. Chef Stephanie Hay has risen to the challenge, translating the clean complexity of The Sun Also Rises or the masculine energy of Green Hills of Africa into a menu of tapas and hearty entrees. Diverse flavor profiles mimic Papa Hemingway’s wanderlust, corralling global flavors including chili lime, wasabi tobiko, and even red pepper sauce to create festive tapas such as the truffle-infused grilled cheese, which was named the best grilled cheese of 2010 by Riverfront Times.

The cheese-and-charcuterie menu details hearty repasts from all corners of the globe, with plates of smoky blue cheese from Oregon and salchichón white pork from Spain joining notes of green peppercorn, tomatillo, and even brown sugar for nods to Latin America and the Mediterranean. Ernesto's has also gone to great lengths to locate wine varietals from France, Germany, and Spain for pairing with large steaks and seafood entrees delicately sautéed in a wide array of wine sauces.

Ernesto's butter-hued walls appear to melt in the light from wall sconces and flickering red candles. Above lush hardwood paneling, several framed photographs offer a glimpse of Hemingway at his most virile––aggressively writing at his desk, and using a large steak as a body pillow. For a touch of warmth during fall weather, patrons can also retreat outdoors, where a mammoth brick fireplace casts rich glow on Ernesto's sleek cobblestone patio.

2730 McNair Ave
Saint Louis,
MO
US

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.

3000 S Jefferson Ave.
St Louis,
Missouri
US

City Bistro specializes in hearty American sandwiches. Its menu catalogs a Tuscan grilled chicken wrap with provolone and aioli sauce, as well as a steak sandwich with grilled portabella mushrooms and on a toasted bun. Beyond their cheddar bacon cheeseburgers and BLTs, the team pours wine, mixes cocktails, and chills bottles of imported and domestic beer at their newly remodeled and expanded bar area that features a stage for live blues and Motown music.

2718 Gravois Ave
Saint Louis,
MO
US

In 1999, Jimbo Sinovic opened the first Big Daddy's on the Landing and Soulard in the historic Soulard district, less than a half-mile from the iconic Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The eatery's drink specials and tasty pub staples—served for lunch, dinner, and late-night owl watching—established the bar as a neighborhood favorite and inspired its owner to declare it "The Best Bar in the Whole Wide World."

1000 Sidney St
Saint Louis,
MO
US

Off Broadway—heralded as 2010's Best Rock Club by the Riverfront Times—lures in crowds several nights a week with a barrage of local bands and national touring acts of all genres. On Thursday, July 28, singer-songwriter William Elliott Whitmore performs with Strawfoot, an old-time revival country band with the requisite fiddle, banjo, and washboard abs. tune-yards annexes the venue on November 8 with violently convivial ukulele jams augmented by African-inflected vocal gymnastics, looped drums, and a duo of synchronized saxophonists. Musical Merry-Go-Round matinees amuse kids monthly on Sunday afternoons with entertainers such as Super Stolie on August 14 and Little Miss Ann on September 11.

3509 Lemp Ave
Saint Louis,
MO
US

The chefs at D's Place add their own spin to three classic pub staples: wings, pizzas, and burgers. They toss their traditional and boneless chicken wings in 14 sauces, including Atomic and lemon pepper, and top pizzas with ingredients such as whole pieces of roasted garlic, and hamburger. When not sprinkled onto pizzas, hamburger meat arrives in the form of half-pound patties.

Glasses rise in toasts full of domestic beers and cocktails in the exposed-brick dining room. After meals, guests can enjoy weekly rounds of karaoke and trivia, vie for a hole in one during games of PowerPutt, or play rounds of skeeball for rewards such as free beer or pizza.

900 Barton St
Saint Louis,
MO
US