Best Place to Eat Out Alone

Papa Fabarre's (in Famous-Barr, second floor)

The Great American Novel is waiting to be written from behind the green velvet curtains that frame the row of booths in Papa Fabarre's. That is where St. Louis' next literary giant will begin to assume his or her place in line behind William Burroughs, Maya Angelou and Jonathan Franzen, scribbling scripture in solitude between bites of a fried-fish sandwich and spoonfuls of the Famous French Onion Soup. The author-in-the-making, perfectly at ease eating solo in a place like this, will revel in the restaurant's woebegone atmosphere, each piece of old-time décor -- from the weathered ceiling fans to the turn-of-the-century pictures on the walls to the gilded cash register behind the achingly handsome bar -- begging for its story to be told. And, oh, the people-watching! The businessfolk on lunch break, piling into this lunch-only establishment on the second floor of the downtown Famous-Barr! The short-order cooks, zipping to and fro behind the pick-up counter! The waitstaff -- archetypes of unsung heroes -- clad in their classic black-and-white uniforms, engaged in their own blue-collar waltz as they deliver menus, take orders, refill sodas and alight at tables with a quick but genuine "Everything OK?" For the customer going it alone at Papa Fabarre's, everything is OK. Everything is just as it should be.
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