In some cities, the good things are obvious. When I lived in Los Angeles, it was a cliche to talk about being able to ski and surf in the same day — but yeah, you could do that, and both the ocean and the mountains were visible from most high-rises. In Phoenix, the same could be said for the desert vistas, the sunsets, the high-end resorts. The best places in these cities were ones any guidebook could easily detail.
St. Louis is more complicated. Here, the best bar might be tucked into a ramshackle city block, the tastiest restaurants are likely to have been opened by immigrants with a dream and a cheap storefront and the most interesting art happens on a street where the rent, miraculously, remains affordable. Many of the gems in St. Louis truly are hidden.
That’s where this issue comes in. In it, you’ll find our detailed treasure map to more than 160 of our favorite people, places and things in St. Louis — as well as the 130-plus places and people you voted winners. We’re out there digging for gold every day in this oft-bewildering town, and I’m pleased to report that we struck the motherlode for this Best of St. Louis issue. Save it, savor it and use it to expand your horizons as you explore all the wonderful spots that make this city such a complicated keeper. —Sarah Fenske