Gut Check has had enough of holiday hams and turkeys, cranberry sauce and yams -- we say bring on the bar food. Whether it's greasy or fancy, bar food not only tastes delicious (especially around midnight), but it also comforts. Plus, no dishes and no relatives. We've compiled a list of places that ran the full spectrum -- find a bar that suits you and settle in.
It's hard to find a better combination than Amsterdam's beer selection and the burgers on the other side of the wall at the Dam. Crazed soccer fans quickly realized that the best play was to order food right before the game and sip on beer while waiting. The Dam uses antibiotic- and hormone-free local meats and seasonal, organic produce grown by local farmers, but the food itself is hearty and very filling. Try the Belgian-style fries dripping with mayonnaise or its namesake, the patty melt served on buttery grilled sourdough with American and Swiss cheese. The "Animal" burger carries quite the reputation: three patties, smothered in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, American cheese, grilled onions and bunch of bacon.
Square One (1727 Park Avenue; 314-231-2537)
What's better than a brewery and a distillery in the same building? How about a brewery, distillery and a great kitchen, all housed in Lafayette Square in what was once an old tavern? Square One's tap selection includes a rich stout and hoppy IPA -- but keep an eye out for seasonals. The menu offers chili, beer-cheese soup, bratwurst and even a solid brunch menu. Plus, the distillery side of the operation churns out its own whiskey, vodka, gin, an American tequila and three rums. A shot, a beer and a slinger.
Pat's Bar and Grill (6400 Oakland Avenue; 314-647-6553)
This is a pub, an Irish pub, and damn proud of it. Widely recognized as the heart of Dogtown, Pat's is where serious drinkers come to partake in the tried-and-true tradition of throwing back edgy drinks and slamming them down on the bar exuberantly. They also come to eat fried chicken. Lots and lots of fried chicken. How about half a chicken, all fried up nice like, for nine dollars? Add some potato soup and choose from a long list of appetizers. You'll wash it down with a Guinness. You're welcome.
Three Kings (6307 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-721-3355)
The go-to bar on the Delmar Loop, Three Kings is so dedicated to maintaining a topnotch beer selection that they've rigged up a flat-screen to list and keep track of the rotating taps. Matching the beer selection is a whole slew of menu options -- the natural cut or sweet potato French fries, the fresh Prince Edward Island mussels or the "Flamethrower" burger. Recently at the Third Annual UCP Heartland Wing Ding, Three Kings Public House represented itself well, winning the "Best Traditional" and "Best Specialty" categories. The "Three Kings' Wings" are double dipped in its near-perfect signature sauce. But for the best specialty wings category, Three Kings' "Chicken & Waffles," served with bacon jam and maple syrup, steps up to declare supremacy.
Taste (4584 Laclede Avenue; 314-361-1200)
Bar food can be fancy -- case in point: Taste. The ever-changing drink menu is one of the most impressive you'll ever stumble upon. Your best bet is to tell the expert mixologist what you prefer. You'll soon be enjoying your new favorite drink. But don't forget Taste's excellent collection of snacks (bacon-fat cornbread) and small plates (barbecued lamb). The cozy setting is both intimate and relaxing -- the perfect spot for a date or to just drink the night away.
Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0775)
If one spot captures the diverse and energetic vibe of the Grove, it's Atomic Cowboy, the perfect combination of restaurant, bar, club and music venue. The bar offers housemade vodka infusions, along with a full compliment of beers on tap. The menu is sort of an American take on Mexican favorites. Start with the salsa trio or gaucho fries with housemade jalapeno ketchup and cilantro ranch. Grab one of the monster entrees like the fideo and meatballs (Mexican spaghetti with chorizo meatballs, three-cheese blend and topped with spicy tomato sauce). Soon enough the warm weather will return and the giant outdoor space will be unleashed.
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