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.
Though it sits squarely in St. Louis, Broadway Oyster Bar might as well inhabit New Orleans. Even from the outside, the 150-year-old building exudes the revelry of the French Quarter, as an art-deco neon sign emblazoned with music notes joins colorful string lanterns to form an illuminated invitation for patrons to come in and live a little. Of course, inside is where the Cajun atmosphere is most apparent, especially in whiffs of dishes named the favorite Cajun/creole cuisine of the Sauce Magazine readers’ poll every year since 2003. Chef Brad Hagen's acclaimed recipes include marinated alligator with homemade tartar sauce, shucked oysters topped with spinach cream sauce, and fresh-baked Gambino's bread filled with traditional po' boy fixings, such as fried catfish and shrimp. Feasts unfold in a cozy dining room or an open-air patio enclosed and heated in winter. There, local and national musicians grace the stage seven nights a week to play funk and blues tunes, just like Mom used to.
The cheers of fans at Busch Stadium drift toward O'Kelley's At The Ballpark, located within walking distance of the St. Louis Cardinals' stomping grounds. A fleet of flat-screen TVs lines the exposed-brick walls of the pub, broadcasting the games of every team in the city and embarrassing trampoline accidents of every rival team.
As patrons root for the home team, the chefs busily whip up sauerkraut and thousand island dressing for reuben sandwiches. Housemade barbecue sauce simmers on the stove, destined for plates of slow-cooked pork. The chatter of billiard balls punctuates the sound of busy silverware and players at a Golden Tee arcade game. On select nights, a DJ spins tunes or live musicians fill the pub with twanging guitars and lyrics about wearing illegal sunglasses to school.
The Precinct takes its name from the nearby St. Louis Police Department headquarters. Though that proximity inspires the decor and a few police-themed puns on the menu, such as the Hot Pursuit Wing Challenge, the restaurant focuses more on serving good food and drink than on a gimmick. Local baseball legend Jim Edmonds co-owns the eatery, and he hired St. Louis native and culinary whiz Ben Welch to put together the menu. Welch opted for a friendly, down-to-earth array of barbecue, flatbreads, wings, and steak burgers, using fine ingredients to make the simple fare even more delicious. The eats are paired with an array of beers on tap and a handful of craft cocktails, including the Lucille Ball, a glass of Angry Orchard cider spiced up with Tanqueray 10 gin and ginger liqueur.
Cheers rise whenever the home team scores a point at Pepper's Grill and Bar. Maybe it's a 30-year history that gives the space its space swagger. Pair that with 27 HDTVs, and almost every table has a good view of the action. Abiding by the tenets carved into the stones of the original basketball rule book, Pepper's pairs its spectator sports with burgers, pizzas, and its signature pepper bites. Most impressive on the menu is the Cowboy burger, which is piled with bacon, onion rings, cheddar, and barbecue sauce. This combination of atmosphere and edibles earned Pepper's Grill and Bar accolades from the readers of the Riverfront Times, who awarded it the Best Neighborhood Bar (City) in 2011.
Nothing too terrifying lurks inside Ye Olde Haunt, even though the bar's decor—a macabre mix of skulls, grim reaper dolls, and horror posters—resembles a haunted house. That ghoulish humor continues on a menu whose cheekily named dishes include Vampire Repellent—a garlic-covered french roll—and The Texas Chainsaw, a bacon- and barbecue-sauce-topped burger on texas toast.
Besides pairing well with meals, beers such as Turbodog and Guinness Black can calm diners during the horror films that the bar screens nightly. Ye Olde Haunt's entertainment isn't limited to thrills and chills; on Fridays and Saturdays, for instance, local bands take the stage for scare-free nights of rocking.