Canyon Café (1707 South Lindbergh, Frontenac; 314-872-3443)
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Deal: $3 draft beers, $3 wells, $4 wines, $4 "Coyote margaritas" and select discounted dishes.
The Scene: Canyon Café does Southwest minus the tacky sombreros and singing chile peppers. It's a classy joint, as most places in Frontenac tend to be. Sanded wooden beams support the dimly lit ceiling, and dusky desert pottery hangs from the walls. It's a calm oasis tucked inside hectic Plaza Frontenac.
On a Monday evening, Gut Check bellied up to a seat at the bar with just a few other patrons slowly nursing drinks. The bartenders were very attentive, deftly avoiding interrupting conversations to see if we needed another -- but Gut Check's glass was never empty till we paid our tab.
A selection of only four draft beers was a little disappointing, but the café made it clear that it was the place to go for a housemade margarita. The menu tempts with eight different margarita flavors, and the tequila selection behind the bar is staggering.
Why You'll Go Back: Because Canyon Café boasts the "best margarita in St. Louis" with its "Limit 2" drink rule (named so because the bartenders limit patrons to just two margs per person). And that's cause they pour 'em strong, folks. The café serves as a restaurant, too, and you can order food at the bar. Its happy hour offers some delicious, affordable dishes, and we were unable to say no to the complimentary chips and salsa slung our way. Spring is coming, and the café's patio area is reliably swamped during warmer months.
The Verdict: Margaritas paired with free chips and salsa are never a bad time, and Canyon Café does both well. If you've maxed out your credit card during a shopping frenzy at Plaza Frontenac, take a breather at the café, and rest assured you can at least still afford to get a little tipsy.