Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side)

Moonlight Tavern

Peach doesn't want us to write anything about the Moonlight Tavern. A heavyset old-timer, Peach is at his regular spot on a recent Friday evening, occupying a barstool at this cozy bar nestled into the cornfields of Troy. "Don't go ruining this place," he warns us. "Don't go making it popular." Still, there's a kindness to Peach's reproach. After all, he's been buying us beers ever since we walked through the door — as is the custom at the Moonlight. The bar has a system in place, taken from the Kruta Bakery in nearby Collinsville, where customers take a ticket before being served. Regulars walk into the Moonlight and tell the bartender that their "Kruta number" is up, meaning it's their turn to buy the bar a round: People actually get in arguments wanting to buy rounds at the Moonlight. Originally built as a country resort for vacationing St. Louisans, the Moonlight has no signage other than fluorescent marquees for Busch and Bud Light. It sits on eight acres of land that still has cabins in the back yard (now falling apart) where the city folk used to spend their weekends. A dance hall on-site was turned into a hardwood roller rink before being torn down years ago. The Klueter family purchased the Moonlight in 1969. Mercifully, they haven't changed a thing since, save the addition of a few Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger songs on the jukebox to round out the Elvis Presley.

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