A quaint combination of exposed brick, hardwood paneling, and the bright, colorful woven fabrics of Latin America, Arcelia’s Mexicana dishes up its title in more ways than one. Of course, the chefs back up the décor with a robust menu of Mexican eats both familiar and obscure. Hand-made flour tortillas wrap up classic enchiladas and empanadas. Spicy gravies add flavor to the albondigas – chicken meatballs – or the bistec ranchero, thinly slice beef with potatoes.
Designed to charge the senses and infuriate passing bulls, El Borracho's red walls evoke every aspect of Mexican culture and pop culture’s take on Mexico, featuring arched sconces stuffed with Catholic icons; pink nooks highlighting vintage photos; and bones, daggers, and matador portraits hanging from stripped wood panels. The décor keeps awkward silences in conversations to a minimum while adding spice to the sizzling menu. El Borracho serves its foodstuffs family-style, much like they do in authentic Mexican taquerias, only without the complimentary cactus massage. Tacos are available for $2.25–$2.75, while burritos and quesadilla go for $5 a pop. The restaurant provides the trimmings—such as cilantro, onion, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and refried beans—while the customer selects the carne, be it chicken, ground beef, carnitas, chupacabra, or chorizo. Milder palates can get their tacos gringo (flour tortilla, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese); true revolutionaries can get them Pancho (corn tortilla, cilantro, onion, and redistributed land).
Friendly's Sports Bar and Grill, voted Best Neighborhood Bar by Riverfront Times in 2007, first opened its doors in 1928 under the moniker Friendly Tavern, and served as a community social club and a meeting place for church groups. Since then, the spot has changed hands and embraced modern technology, but retains its original unpretentious atmosphere. More than 40 flat-screen TVs let patrons watch multiple sports games at the same time by crossing their eyeballs in different directions. A game room houses regulation pool tables, arcade games, and more than 30 other diversions, and a spacious outdoor beer garden with picnic benches lures patrons outside during warm months.
Friendly's Sports Bar and Grill complements cold beers and mixed drinks with a menu that encompasses all types of pub appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees, such as the ever-popular fried chicken. The spot's kitchen can also cater private events with trays of gourmet meats and cheeses, or the Southern Chef Special Buffet, which makes bellies growl with a charming Southern twang.
Diablitos Cantina's Chef de Cuisine didn't invent the dishes he serves from scratch. Rather, he traveled to Cabo San Lucas to learn authentic Mexican cuisine, from time-honored cooking techniques to specific dishes to the tradition of using locally sourced ingredients. He brought the things he learned back to the United States, where they are the driving force in the Diablitos Cantina kitchen.
The restaurant's menu reflects authentic Mexican cuisine, ranging from pineapple-braised barbecue pork tacos and burritos to steak or veggie-filled tortas. To top it off, every ingredient is sourced from Foundations Farms in Belleville, Illinois or from Mexico. This practice replicates that fresh-from-the-farm flavor found in the street eateries of Mexico.
Amid the lively dining room atmosphere, diners can pair their food with selections from one of the most extensive tequila menus in St. Louis, with many choice varieties directly imported from Mexico. The bartender, who herself traveled to Oaxaca to better understand mescal and tequila, hosts a weekly tasting club called Tequila 101 to share the knowledge she gained.
A mural of a cowgirl riding a rocket decorates the brick fa?ade of Atomic Cowboy, a nod to the bar and restaurant's out-there origin story, which involves a missive from aliens and the implicit approval of both King Arthur and Jerry Garcia. Inside, futuristic neon lights and vintage lamps fill the dining room with a soft glow as guests tuck into inventive Mexican fusion such as a cheeseburger burrito. Offerings at the bar include Schlafly beers on tap and seasonal cocktails such as the Nuclear Sunset made with moscato, rum, and fruit. Throughout the week, Atomic Cowboy bustles with special events such as open-mic nights, DJs who only spin vinyl on Wednesdays, swing dances, and other musical performances.
Wave-Taco's sun-loving bartenders pour libations amid white-sand volleyball courts, a grass patio, and a sizable population of lounge chairs. Dive into a pitcher of Shock Top, a citrusy belgian white brew ($13), or a bucket of aluminum 16-ounce bottles of Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Select, or Michelob Ultra ($19) as cold as an ice-skating rink on Saturn's outermost ring. Lounge in swim trunks, bikinis, or borrowed hotel robes while sipping Malibu rum buckets, a potent concoction of seven flavors of rum and fruit juices ($13). Wave-Taco hosts live DJs, beach parties, and bikini contests, and it is open from 6 p.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday and from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.