Go to Taste after the sun sets. When you walk in the door and through the velvet curtain, it’ll take your eyes a second to adjust to the dim edison bulbs and candlelight. This actually feels like a speakeasy–especially if you manage to snag a seat on the couches upstairs. There is limited seating, so be prepared for a wait on busier nights. Taste boasts a combination of inventive small plates in a sexy atmosphere with a list of craft cocktails that’s a mile long. In Taste’s own words, they are “an experience in atmosphere, flavor and service,” and we couldn’t agree more. We’re big fans of the Brasserie-Taste one-two punch: dinner at Brasserie, after dinner drinks at Taste.
Elmwood is the newest addition to Maplewood’s ever-growing restaurant scene and we are so into it. Maybe too into it. There’s just something about dark blue walls, perforated steel, walnut, and neon that revs our engine, and we think you’ll feel the same way. Aside from killer ambiance, the food is an all-over-the-map menagerie of deliciousness, taking local ingredients and seasoning them with global flavors. The beverage team is outstanding as well, so it’s probably best that you Uber there.
Let’s hope Yellowbelly is the prototype for future St. Louis bars. This place is beautiful, with a thought out design from floor to ceiling. The interior is bright, modern, and tropical. It honestly doesn’t feel like you’re in St. Louis at all—you could pick the restaurant up and transport it to any major city and it would fit right in (especially if that city was LA or San Diego). Celebrity chef Richard Blais is behind the food menu, and Retreat’s Tim Wiggin’s is the cocktail mastermind. It’s fun, lively, and a little brighter than, say, Taste.
Trendy and photogenic, with Mediterranean-style blue tile walls and a warm wooden bar top, sitting at the bar will make you feel like you’re in Europe—or, at the very least, Chicago. Sardella takes its cocktails just as seriously as its food. As you might expect, the drink menu changes with the seasons, but their team of bartenders can handle anything from the classics to the wildly creative. There are a lot of good eats in and around Clayton (including Sardella), but sometimes it’s nice to show up late and just cozy up to the bar.
Who’d have thought that one day a tiny abandoned gas station in Tower Grove would be one of the city’s sexiest bars? Simplicity is the name of the game at Olio: a marble top, tiled walls, contemporary bar stools, and lights hung on a track, wires and all exposed. At night, a seat at the bar feels dark and intimate, but during the day it’s equally beautiful—just an airy and bright spot, perfect for a day date. The cocktails are a mix of European classics and modern inspirations, and the food is focused on modern Israeli small plates. It’s always a winner. One of our favorite date nights is pizza at Union Loafers, then after-dinner drinks at Olio. Then probably falling asleep.
The bar at Olive and Oak proves that sometimes simplicity is the best choice. Stark white subway tiles, a white bar, and the warmth of the open wooden shelves give this a distinctly California feel. With the pops of color from herbs, orchids, and the glowing red heart, a night at the bar here just feels right. Attention to detail isn’t just in the decor, though. The wine list is perfectly curated, and the cocktails from Morgaine Segura-Martin and her husband, Charlie, are impeccable. They change with the seasons (or at their whim), so don’t get too comfortable with them. We love doing a bartender’s choice—tell them what spirits and flavors you like and let them work their magic.
No one does romance like the French, which is where this restaurant/bar gets its inspiration. The cocktail list and vintage paintings hearken back to another time, and the dishes (souffle, mussels, duck confit, and of course, cheese) will take your mind to the city of love. Dark red walls, a crystal chandelier, vintage art - Bar Les Freres oozes ambiance. Whether it’s your anniversary or just a Friday night, a visit here almost guarantees some romance later.
Photo courtesy of Bar Les Freres
Restaurateur Zoe Robinson obviously knows a thing or two about romance, seeing as this is her third restaurant on this list. Billie Jean, her new American restaurant with an Asian flare, might be the sexiest yet. Everything inside this small restaurant is black or white. It could feel cavernous and depressing, but instead it feels chic and sexy. It only seats about 30 people, including those at the bar, so do your damndest to make a reservation far in advance. It’s worth it.
Photo courtesy of Billie Jean