On July 12, we’ll be celebrating the editors’ and readers’ choice winners at our annual A-List Party. Now in downtown Clayton, this block-party features live music, food from A-List-winning restaurants, creative cocktails, and much more.
And now, to the winners...
Dining & Nightlife
Sushi Burrito / BLK MKT Eats
If long lines are a way of keeping score in the restaurant biz, then BLK MKT is winning the lunch-and-dinner game. The restaurant’s sushi burritos are making a big splash. They’re made to order in such combos as the OG Fire (spicy tuna with jalapeño) and Krilla Krunch (tempura shrimp and unagi barbecue sauce). 9 S. Vandeventer.
Elevated Grilled Cheese / Pangea
Grilled cheese like Mom made—if Mom were Alice Waters. A rich roasted, shredded duck breast snuggles under a luscious flow of glowing American cheese, decorated with arugula and tomato jam. The toasty, beautifully textured bread alone makes it worth a try. And with those seasoned fries alongside, it’s an edible tribute to one of Western civilization’s lunchtime treasures. 3245 Rue Royale, St. Charles.
Design / Billie-Jean
Anyone even slightly less sophisticated than you might be intimidated by this intimate 22-seat eatery. The Hip Restaurant Supply Company was apparently having a sale on black, and this place cashed in, with only white tablecloths contrasting with a near noir-perfect interior. The walls, fixtures, floors, and ceilings are all black. Aside from some framed color photos—OK, kidding, they’re black-and-white—it’s dark, atmospheric, cool, and designed to be as stylish as you. 7610 Wydown.
Old School–Meets–New School Eatery / Del Pietro’s
The Italian-American restaurant vibe is timeless and unmistakable, especially in St. Louis, where sauces, smiles, and spaghetti yield enduring family destinations. The place has it—in fortissimo. Even so, it doesn’t rest on marinara-drenched laurels. Innovative presentations, such as a roasted chicken with polenta, give notice: This is indeed your Nonna’s kind of Italian joint—but there’s a contemporary feel that’s making it a new standard. 1059 S. Big Bend.
Games in the City / Parlor
Last fall, Tower Classic Tattooing founder Sean Baltzell opened Parlor a few doors down from his tattoo parlor in the Grove. The game bar more than lives up to the moniker, with plenty of games (Skee-Ball, billiards, and old-school arcade games) and a well-stocked bar (courtesy of bar manager Casey Colgan). The colorful bar boasts an equally colorful patio, where you’ll find fare from Byrd & Barrel’s Bob Brazell. Game on. 4170 Manchester.
Go upstairs and start with the dark chocolate tart noir with black currant sauce, the salted chocolate mousse, or the blueberry-lemon trifle. All of the desserts are gloriously rich, masterfully confected. But save room for the treats downstairs: jambalaya studded with smoked shrimp, redfish-stuffed po’ boys, crawfish bisque. Or you could do it in the reverse order—if you insist on “conventional.” Either way, don’t forget the excellent cocktails. 1915 Park.
French Fries / Essentially Fries
There isn’t a single naked french fry at the Essentially Fries food truck. Even classic fries get gussied up with chopped garlic and Parmesan cheese. They’re served crispy and hot, ready to be dipped in smoked ketchup or truffle aioli. Make a meal of it by topping your fries with meats, cheeses, and more. Go south of the border with taco fries, channel Zorba with a Greek stack, or stay local with barbecue pulled pork fries (served Missouri-style, with slaw and fried onions on top).
Karaoke / W Karaoke Lounge
Karaoke-ers are already singing the praises of W Karaoke Lounge. The venue offers amateur singers a chance to belt out tunes in a laidback environment with private rooms. A public karaoke space is open to all, and two VIP rooms can be reserved for special occasions. 6655 Delmar.
Great-Named Appetizer / Firecracker Pizza & Beer’s Screamin’ Mimis
Move over, hot wings. At Firecracker, smoked boneless chicken thighs are basted with sweet chili oil and served on a bed of greens, with a red “ninja sauce” and creamy signature sauce riding alongside. The flavors build from a crackle of crisp chicken skin to a pop of horseradish to the ninja sauce’s spiraling whistle. It all culminates in a mouthful of deliciousness. 4130 Manchester.
Relocation / Sister Cities Cajun
When two cars crashed into Sister Cities’ former location within two months of each other, in 2016, relocation became a necessity. Co-owners Travis Parfait and Pamela Melton saw the beauty in a down-at-the-heels iron storefront in Marine Villa. With its arched windows, spiral columns, and a new back patio, Sister Cities continues to delight its gumbo-loving patrons. 3550 S. Broadway.
Food Truck / Balkan Treat Box
The bright-turquoise truck serves fresh, traditional Balkan fare, including pide (a dough boat holding minced beef, cheese, and peppers) and a chicken gyro (tender morsels of chicken on homemade pita).
Restaurant Reinvention / The Boathouse
If the wait for a table on a summer eve was long before, well, it could be even longer now. That’s because Sugarfire Events has taken over the proceedings. Chef Jack MacMurray describes the food as American with “regional and ethnic influences.” Combine a pulled pork sandwich or sticky Szechuan ribs with a knockout view. Life doesn’t get much sweeter. 6101 Government, Forest Park.
Cidery / Brick River Cider Co.
A historic downtown firehouse is home to the region’s first dedicated cidery, run by owner Russ John. Consider starting with a cider sampler, but don’t overlook the food menu, designed by veteran chef Chris Lee. Our favorites include the French onion chicken sandwich and cauliflower risotto. 2000 Washington.
Games in the County / Westport Social
Put every game you like—foosball, bocce, darts, shuffleboard, and more—in one roomy space. Add cocktails and beer, burgers and pizza. If Westport Social just had karaoke, it’d be perfect. Oh, wait—it does! What a place for making new friends, hanging with old ones, and playing that bizarre soccer/pool hybrid known as snookball. 910 Westport Plaza.
Spirited Sequel / Small Change
No, co-owners Ted and Jamie Kilgore and Ted Charak didn’t create a clone of their elegant Planter’s House. Instead, their cheeky Benton Park bar exudes a fun dive vibe that’s retro without pretension. A tight menu of first-rate cocktails meshes with cheap beers, shots, and craft brews. Then there’s the atmosphere: bartenders with a sly sense of humor, music ranging from Tom Waits to Motown, and a dog-friendly patio. Small Change delivers in a big way. 2800 Indiana.
Sister Restaurant / The Clover and The Bee
A casual alternative to Olive + Oak, The Clover and The Bee offers a first-rate combination of décor and food. Its interior, incorporating such charming touches as a floral mural and string lights, manages to avoid being too cute. The menu includes such sophisticated options as a seared tuna plate, as well as simpler items, like a chicken hand pie. 100 W. Lockwood.
Champagne Bar / Extra Brut
Hidden behind cursive initials on a weathered door in Clayton is the metro region’s first bubbles-only bar. Open only on Friday and Saturday nights (and reservable for special events), the bill of fare is bubbly and a few sparkler-based cocktails (no other wines, hard liquors, or beer), as well as small plates and baked and raw oysters. Don’t wait for a “Champagne-worthy” event to visit; this weekend works just fine. 16 S. Bemiston.
Street Food / Bing Bing
It might be our new favorite snack: classic Chinese street food, with papery-crisp crêpes rolled around a choice of meats along with pickled vegetables and some addictive sauces. It’s fun to watch as the crêpes are spun out on a sizzling griddle—and to enjoy the intriguing texture and taste with house-brewed teas and fruity drinks. 567 Melville.
Reinvented Classic / 1764 Public House’s Jumbo Crawfish T-Ravs
The cuisines of St. Louis and New Orleans are well represented—and occasionally collide—at 1764 Public House, as evidenced by an order of oversized toasted ravioli stuffed with spicy crawfish and served with pimiento sauce. Pair ’em with the most oversized cocktail in town: the 168-ounce Mondo Mule, served in a giant double-handled copper mug. 39 N. Euclid.
Owner and competition pitmaster David Stidham serves the meatiest baby back ribs in the region (a 3-pound rack!). They’re well worth the trek to tiny New Baden, Illinois. At Duke’s, in Wentzville, go with the brisket, Gouda-potato casserole, and cowboy coleslaw, then return for the burger, a saucy double-cheese iteration held together by a winged skewer. 423 W. Hanover, New Baden, Illinois; 100 Ash, Wentzville.
Multicourse Dinner / Privado
Two-bite courses, a dozen or more, are brought out with a superb selection of wines to a lucky few who gather around intimate tables so close to the kitchen, you’ll be tempted to don an apron. The offerings sparkle and satisfy. The creativity never gets in the way of taste, and palates are entertained but never overwhelmed. It’s an evening of gastronomic excellence that’s a must for the serious diner. 6665 Delmar.
Doughnuts / KNEAD
Still a new kid on the block, KNEAD’s already making a big name for itself, especially in doughnuts. The South City bakery whips up fresh batches of sourdough doughnuts with seasonally inspired flavors every morning. Don’t leave without a twisted doughnut sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. 3467 Hampton.
Don’t wait for a matinee in Grand Center to make brunch reservations at The Dark Room. Music lovers gather for the Sunday sessions and such irresistible fare as the sweet biscuits and French toast souflée. At Evangeline’s, sunshine and jazz make for energizing Sunday mornings. Riffs on Creole/Cajun food satisfy, and the music (often by Miss Jubilee) keeps toes tapping. 3610 Grandel Square; 512 N. Euclid.
Hot Dog / Shake Shack’s Shack-cago Dog
When she had time, Mom would split and pan-fry hot dogs instead of boiling them, adding flavor and texture that we never thought possible. Shake Shack takes this extra step every day of the week. Our favorite frank: the Shack-cago Dog, 100 percent all-natural Vienna beef topped with standard Chicago-style accouterments (save the neon-green relish, which is replaced with relish from New York–based artisanal pickler Rick’s Picks). 60 N. Euclid.
Shareable Starter / Lemmons’ Balkan Dipping Board
Every culture and ethnicity has its own version of fried bread. Uštipci, the light and pillowy fried bread of the Balkans, is typically served with both savory and sweet accompaniments. At Lemmons, the mound of crisp golden brown bites arrives with a rich feta butter, ajvar (a red pepper–based condiment), and savory mushroom duxelles. Load the uštipci with one, two, or all three toppings to create various delicious combinations. 5800 Gravois.
Side Gig / Connoley Fine Chocolates
Though he’s best known as the James Beard–nominated chef/owner of Squatter’s Cafe—the casual precursor to his foraging-centric concept, Bulrush—it turns out that Rob Connoley also has a knack for chocolates airbrushed in wild colors and carried in a veritable potpourri of foraged ingredients. Sold year-round as fine chocolates, they also turn up as surprises in Squatter’s house-made yogurt. 3524 Washington.
Potstickers / Crispy Edge
David Dresner’s new South City potsticker spot offers an embarrassment of riches: There are potstickers for breakfast, brunch, dinner, and dessert, as well as those for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. After you try the traditional ginger pork, enjoy working your way through the menu, making sure to try the Azteca (chia seed dough, bean dip filling, fire-roasted picante, cilantro, and lime) and the Chorizo Date (turmeric dough, spicy chorizo-and-date filling, lemon pepper cream, and pea shoots). 4168 Juniata.
Smash Burger / Mac’s Local Eats
After a lengthy IT career, Chris “Mac” Mc-Kenzie got into the restaurant biz by turning his hobby—sourcing and selling the best local meats he could find by way of group-buy—into a business. Sitting on hundreds of pounds of quality ground beef and having engineered a perfect no-frills smashed patty, he jumped at the offer to run the window at Tamm Avenue Grill. Now he’s getting that local meat out of his freezer and into locals’ bellies. 1227 Tamm.
Poke Bowl / PokeDoke
The first restaurant to bring the national poke craze to St. Louis, PokeDoke veers a little from other restaurants serving the traditional Hawaiian dish by offering a host of nontraditional customization options, such as soba noodles or wonton chips. With four bases, six proteins, three sauces, 12 toppings, and seven drizzles, you can make a new combo every time. 8 S. Euclid.
Brewery Eats / Earthbound Brewing’s Mothership
Mothership, from the team behind nearby Vista Ramen, doesn’t stick to traditional pub fare; it offers out-of-the box dishes that pair well with the brewery’s beers. Standouts include the smoked chicken chili; a smoked pulled pork plate with Texas toast; and such sides as 12-hour baked beans, Korean-style potato salad, and Asian-style slaw. Don’t miss the grilled cornbread with gochujang butter. 2724 Cherokee.
Culinary Collaboration / Good Fortune
It started when the man known for both Fried Nugz and bringing people together, Byrd & Barrel’s Bob Brazell, introduced Strange Donuts’ Corey Smale to chef Ryan McDonald. After a location change (and months of Smale’s innovative and creative social media marketing), the Chinese cuisine–focused Good Fortune opened (ironically) on Friday the 13th. With separate areas for takeout and sit-down dining, Good Fortune brings together an innovative vision and forward-thinking cuisine. 1641D Tower Grove.
Dumplings / Soup Dumplings STL
When you do one thing perfectly, there really is no need to do anything else. The Shanghai-style xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, are nothing short of handmade perfection. Each of the five options—chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, and the sensationally delicious pork and crab—will both delight and deeply satisfy. 8110 Olive.
Seasonal Patio / The Bronson House
The award-winning renovation of the Bronson residence, originally constructed in 1885, yielded a lovely, spacious back patio. The Bronson House is currently open Wednesday through Friday evenings for drinks and light snacking, with trivia on Wednedsays and live music Thursdays and Fridays. Get an inexpensive introduction between 4 and 7 p.m., when drinks are half off. 3201 Washington.
Worth the Hype / Nudo House
Qui Tran’s newest eatery made multiple “most anticipated restaurant” lists many months before serving its first bowl of noodle soup. The amount of research and development involved in creating Nudo’s outstanding ramen was staggering. (Tran consulted with ramen master chef Shigetoshi Nakamura and formulated his own noodle recipe with legendary ramen noodle maker Sun Noodle.) All the hard work paid off: Nudo now serves up bowl after bowl of steaming umami-rich ramen and soothing pho at its Creve Coeur shop. 11423 Olive.
Use of a Pretzel / Polite Society’s Bread Pudding
Pretzels and mustard? Obviously. Pretzels and beer? We’re in St. Louis. Pretzels and dark chocolate? Been there, done that, you say, munching on a handful of Nestlé’s Flipz. But what about a soft pretzel baked into dark chocolate bread pudding? At Polite Society, this spin on bread pudding offers equal parts salty, sweet, and bitter, built on doughy pretzel pieces that hold their own in chocolate gooeyness and rich vanilla sauce. 1923 Park.
Breakfast Tacos / Taco Buddha
The breakfast tacos are now only served on weekends, which is a shame but may also be a shrewd business move: After all, scarcity breeds urgency. We certainly feel a little urge, thinking about those savory tortillas. The most popular choice is the Daily Scramble, a tasty jumble of egg, cheese, potato, pico, and Hatch green chilies wrapped in a flour tortilla. Consider adding chorizo or mesquite-smoked beef brisket and a drizzle of the jalapeño emulsion or smoky salsa for Buddha-style bliss. 7405 Pershing.
Restaurant Expansion / Guerrilla Street Food
There aren’t quite as many locations of this distinctive eatery as there are islands in the Philippines, but it’s getting close. Four places (from the original, on South Grand, to the newest, in The Grove) and a food truck serve authentic and innovative Filipino specialties. Each place has a different menu but the same indigenous vibe.
Mural-and-Pizza Pairing / Café Piazza
It took artist Paco Rosic three months to create the magnificent trompe l’oeil ceiling mural that illustrate chapters of St. Louis history. It takes owner Vito LaFata’s pizzaiolo a few minutes to produce a hand-tossed thin-crust pizza with perfect sauce and char, not unlike the pies at the flagship Vito’s in Midtown. Which is the bigger attraction? It’s a toss-up. 1900 Arsenal.
Kebabs / Sheesh Restaurant
Punctured protein achieves a kind of sublime joy: Lamb, beef, and chicken are spitted and roasted to glistening juiciness, with the tastes and aromas of olive oil, oregano, and the other spices that perfume the place. Give Sheesh’s kebabs a try, and skewered dinner will become an instant favorite. 3226 S. Grand.
Readers’ Choice Awards
The following winners were determined by voters in this year’s A-List poll.
Barbecue / Sugarfire Smoke House
Best Restaurant / Cibare Italian Kitchen
Brunch / Yolklore
Burger / Joey B’s
Coffeehouse / Webster Groves Garden Café
Doughnut Shop / The Dapper Doughnut
Fried Chicken / Hodak’s
Frozen Dessert / Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice
Independent Bakery / Pastry Shop Sarah’s Cake Shop
Italian Restaurant on The Hill / Cunetto House of Pasta
Microbrewery / 4 Hands Brewing Co.
New Restaurant / Grace Meat + Three
Patio / Joey B’s—Manchester
Pizza / Pi Pizzeria
Place to Get a Great Cocktail / Polite Society
Place to Watch a Game / Joey B’s
Sandwich Joint / Pickleman’s Deli
Steakhouse / 1904 Steak House
Wine Bar / Sasha’s on Shaw
Dining Dream Team
Mixologist/GM / Benjamin Bauer
For cocktail connoisseurs, the main attraction of the now-closed Libertine in Clayton was the inventive cocktails. Bauer’s fast-moving mind and hands were behind both. He’s spearheading a similar cocktail program at recently opened the BAO. Spend a few minutes with the 32-year-old general manager, and he’ll hook you on the BAO’s unusual premise: fast-casual, steamed bun–focused eatery by day, “izakaya-style dining meets fine cocktail bar” by night.
Multi-unit Executive Chef / Ashley Shelton
Was it difficult for Gerard Craft to entrust two Niche Food Group restaurants—Sardella and Pastaria—to one executive chef? “Her endless ambition, combined with her love of Italian food, made the choice a no-brainer,” he says. Besides her culinary talents (receiving James Beard nominations in 2017 and 2018), Shelton makes team leadership look easy. A former manager says, “While Gerard is its heart and soul, Ashley is the future of that company.”
Hospitality / Rick Lewis
After opening Southern, Lewis followed with Grace Meat + Three, a homey comfort food joint in The Grove. In 2014, the James Beard Foundation recognized Lewis with a nomination for Rising Star Chef, an award for a chef age 30 or younger who “displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.” To the affable Lewis (referred to as “the Pied Pieper of hospitality” and “Saint Lewis”), we say amen to that. 4270 Manchester.
Owner/Executive Chef / Senada Grbic
Grbic is on a roll. The eponymous family flagship has been lauded by The New York Times and Andrew Zimmern. Last year, Eater dubbed Lemmons by Grbic one of the “13 Hottest New Restaurants in St. Louis,” largely because of the talents and full-court press of its executive chef. Crediting her mom’s traditional methods (“she’s the better cook, by far”), Senada tends to twist and turn recipes, including the one for Lemmons’ legendary fried chicken. 5800 Gravois.
Server / Jordan Van Zant
Saying someone is “the quintessential server” might sound trite, but in the case of the immensely popular Van Zant, it’s true. He’s the kind of guy who will overhear a couple at Louie craving (but not ordering) a particular item—and surprise them with it anyway. A former manager says in his 20-year career he’s never had to turn down more customer requests than for Van Zant, adding, “if there was a Mount Rushmore of culinary professionals, he’d be up there.” 706 DeMun.
Chef/Caterer / David Kirkland
Anyone familiar with Café Osage, the charming, airy restaurant inside Bowood Farms, is familiar with the farm-to-table cuisine of David Kirkland. In 2016, the chef opened Turn at the .ZACK, the performing arts incubator in Midtown. He’s the sole caterer at Urban Ballroom, .ZACK’s fourth-floor private event space with panoramic views of the city. At Turn, the former DJ (Turn, get it?) also concocts custom playlists. 3224 Locust.
Place to Unwind / Urban Fort
We often lament, when we go out for a casual bite, that restaurants should be more mindful of their pint-size patrons. Megan King-Popp and Monica Croke get it. At their McKinley Heights “play café,” there’s a faux ice cream shop, a climbing wall, a slide, and toys galore (for a small fee). Oh, and for the parents there’s a whole menu of salads, sandwiches, and drinks (and a kids’ section, too.) 1854 Russell.
St. Louis Celeb / Sterling K. Brown
Before he was a household name—collecting Emmys for This Is Us and The People v. O.J. Simpson—he was known as Kelby. He grew up with four siblings in Olivette and graduated from MICDS before starring in a string of TV shows and movies. But what’s so endearing is that even after he finally hit it big, he remembered where he came from, starring in an Explore St. Louis ad that ran during his Saturday Night Live hosting gig.
New Attraction / Centene Grizzly Ridge
Kali the polar bear might get most of the attention, but his new neighbors, Huck and Finley, are also drawing crowds. Last September, the orphaned grizzlies became the first residents of Centene Grizzly Ridge, the $11.1 million exhibit that’s twice the size of the former bear grottos. Now, visitors can watch the siblings scratch their backs on the rocks and splash in the wading pool—sights sure to make visitors ooh and ahh. Saint Louis Zoo, Forest Park.
Co-working–Meets–Coffee / Covo
The co-working space debuted last year inside downtown’s historic Beaux Arts–style Mississippi Valley Trust Building. By day, Covo is a 7,000-square-foot space with worktables, meeting rooms, a coffee bar—and even a nap room. By night, music comes on, and the coffee bar serves cocktails. Be sure to check out the rooftop patio, with a view of the Arch. 401 Pine.
Workshop Making a Difference / Building Futures
In a renovated building a block from Crown Candy, architects Frank and Gay Lorberbaum teach young St. Louisans how to take projects from idea to reality. Supported by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the North City nonprofit shows students how to design a product (by hand or on a computer) and construct tangible results—clocks, animal-shaped storage units, models of their ideal bedrooms. Along the way, they learn vital life skills—problem-solving, critical thinking, math and communications, and more—that they can take into the future. 2720 N. 13th.
Anticipated Attraction / Topgolf
Not since IKEA has this much anticipation been building for an out-of-town chain. Texas-based Topgolf’s new Chesterfield location, the first in Missouri, will be a 65,000-square-foot, three-story complex housing 102 climate-controlled bays. The balls are microchipped (they score themselves), and there are onsite instructors. With plenty of food options, activities for kids, and big-screen TVs, it’s a good bet that you can have a lot of fun even without picking up a 9-iron. 16851 N. Outer 40.
Readers’ Choice Awards
The following winners were determined by voters in this year’s A-List poll.
Kid-Friendly Restaurant / MAUHAUS Cat Cafe
Kid-Centric Attraction / City Museum
Kids’ Clothing Store / City Sprouts
Park/Playground for Kids / Citygarden
Toy Store / Imagination Toys
Local FM Radio Morning Show / Bud and Broadway, WIL (92.3 FM)
Local Talk Radio Host (non-sports) / Dave Glover, KFTK (97.1 FM)
Pro Athlete / Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
TV Meteorologist / Dave Murray, FOX 2
TV Morning Show / FOX 2 News in the Morning
Sidney Keys III A-List
St. Louis 12-year-old Sidney Keys III founded Books N Bros as a way to expose young readers to African-American literature. He’s since gained national recognition from the likes of CNN and the Huffington Post. He shared some of his St. Louis favorites.
- Imo’s Pizza: “I actually took producers to Imo’s who were in town from New York to interview me, and they loved it.”
- EyeSeeMe African-American Children’s Bookstore: “It’s like a little Wakanda! All of the books they sell are books I can relate to.” 7827 Olive.
- Ferguson Youth Initiative: “It’s a cool spot where teens can hang out while being involved in the community.” fyifergyouth.org.
- The Taco & Ice Cream Joint: “The tacos are good, and they have so much ice cream to choose from!” 2738 Cherokee.
- Fox Theatre: “It’s like the New York experience right in St. Louis.” 527 N. Grand.
- Ol’ Henry: “Everyone who works there is always nice, and the food is amazing. The meat just falls off of the bone!” 8600 Airport Road.
Natural Yoga Spot / EarthDance Farms
At the Ferguson farm, yoga isn’t just an hour-long workout; it’s a nature-inspired gathering. The farm recently partnered with Yoga Buzz to create the Living Yoga Studio, a community-focused space inside an old greenhouse. Protected from the elements, yogis new and experienced can enjoy a bit of mindfulness on a soft bed of clover. 233 S. Dade.
New Camping Store / Kamp
“Not many camping stores look like art galleries, but Kamp does,” we noted when the store opened in March. Owners Jason and Mandi Gray’s store is filled with creative aesthetic touches, offering hammocks, backpacks, and foldable kayaks (one even hanging like art). 3405 S. Jefferson.
New Furniture Store / Goebel & Co.
Since 2011, Martin Goebel has created heirloom furniture in a Midtown workshop, but last year the craftsman decided that it was time customers had a place to see his work in person, and in September he opened his first showroom, in Maplewood. The wooden furniture’s rich colors practically glow against the dark walls in the elegant space, which also serves as a gallery for local artists. 7401 Manchester.
New Store From a Familiar Face / Civil Alchemy
The Webster Groves boutique and general store stocks such items as leather-bound notebooks, fedoras, fresh flowers, and fig syrup. After selling K. Hall Designs, co-owners Kelley Hall-Barr and John Barr opened Civil Alchemy last September, hoping to reconnect with the community. As you wander, marvel at the space’s beauty and functionality. 8154 Big Bend.
Shoe Maker / Naked Boot & Shoe
When Bob Weber decided to open a fine-leather shoe store in Webster Groves, he enlisted niece Kelly Weber—then still a textile and apparel management student at the University of Missouri—to design the various lines. The results include the bestselling Frankie, a women’s mid-calf Western boot available in eclectic colors. 8157 Big Bend.
Accessories With Attitude / Golden Gems
“Playfully offensive” is how sisters Amanda Helman and Susan Logsdon describe their Etsy line of home décor and accessories. Named after the street in front of their childhood home in Apopka, Florida, Golden Gems creates custom banners (one signature print reads, “Give ’em hell”), buttons (“Not here for you”), keychains, pins, and more. The sisters opened a storefront on Cherokee this spring. 3156 Cherokee.
New Home Good Store / Bonboni Home & Gift Co.
The name’s a nod to the shop’s previous life as a candy store during WWII. Owner Lauren Thorp champions the past by selling both new and vintage items: salvaged antiques, locally made onesies, cookware, and more. 2246 Klemm.
Kids’ Clothing Line / Modern Tribe
After struggling to find clothes for her son that didn’t feature puppies or trucks—and didn’t require visits to multiple stores—Megan Wappelhorst decided to create an alternative. She and business partner Jenna Ostmann launched a website specializing in “trendy threads for modern littles,” notably gender-neutral options. They also created their own collection, bearing witty sayings inspired by their own lives. The most fitting for the busy St. Charles entrepreneurs: “NAP: Not a Possibility.”
Readers’ Choice Awards
The following winners were determined by voters in this year’s A-List poll.
Activewear / Fun in the Sun Sports & Leisure
Bookstore / Left Bank Books
Caterer / La Chef
Day Spa / Ara Spa at Ameristar Casino
Gift Shop / Sammysoap
Men’s Boutique / Fun in the Sun Sports & Leisure
Pet Boutique / Treats Unleashed
Resale / [RE]FRESH
Women’s Boutique / Paperdolls Boutique
Abbey Eilermann’s A-List
The founder of Daily Disco spends her days chain-stitching and custom-embroidering jean jackets and patches for clients—with eye-catching results.
- Wine Down Wednesday at Oliva: It’s only open to the public one day a week, but it’s my favorite place to walk to on The Hill for a great glass of rosé on the patio with friends. 4915 Daggett.
- Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop: My sweet tooth keeps me dreaming of Whisk’s cake, with a scoop of Boozy Banana Rum from Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery. 2201 Cherokee.
- The Clover and The Bee: There’s nothing better for brunch. Order the Pearl Sugar Waffle and add the maple-glazed bacon. 100 W. Lockwood.
- Cheree Berry Paper: It dreams up whimsical custom invitations and stationary. I love the feMAIL stationary set. 9214 Clayton.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: It’s great for a Wednesday night concert or to get inspiration for an embroidery. 4344 Shaw.
Blockbuster Exhibit / Saint Louis Art Museum’s Sunken Cities
Earlier this year, SLAM’s assistant curator of ancient art, Lisa Çakmak, described this show as “a bit of a unicorn.” It’s big and splashy, with 16- and 17-foot Egyptian colossi—one weighing nearly 13,000 pounds—that French maritime archaeologist Franck Goddio excavated from the Mediterranean seabed. But it’s also smart, story-driven, artistic, scientific, and magical. The 200 objects in the show—including religious statuary, gold jewelry, ritual ladles, and funerary objects that have nothing to do with mummies—came from Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, two ancient cities nearly lost to time. They represent only a tiny fraction of what was buried in the seabed, but it’s enough to allow visitors to drift into another time and place—or just marvel at the science behind the seemingly impossible feat of retrieving these beautiful objects from beneath the ocean. Through September 9. 1 Fine Arts, Forest Park.
New Space / Intersect Arts Center
It’s not a new organization—Intersect’s been around for a while—but what a reboot! In February, Intersect moved into a renovated Lutheran seminary that now holds a 4,000-square-foot gallery, 25 artists’ studios, a woodshop, a recording studio, potters’ wheels, metalworking equipment, printmaking and papermaking facilities, a dance studio, and a commercial kitchen. The space is designed to serve as a commons, offering exhibits, space for neighborhood gatherings, and art classes. 3636 Texas.
Art Exhibit / Amy Sherald at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
When news broke of Sherald’s commission to paint former first lady Michelle Obama’s portrait, this exhibit had already been scheduled for months. Excitement started building in February, when the Baltimore artist joined Obama at the Smithsonian to pull the brown paper off the finished painting. Sherald doesn’t normally paint celebrities; most subjects are everyday people, juxtaposed with surreal elements. Now, visitors to CAM can see those portraits (many of which hang in private collections) and new work commissioned by the museum. Through August 19. 3750 Washington.
Photography Project / Light for Shadows: Women of St. Louis Music
Last summer, Susan Bennet of Ooh St. Lou Studios sat down with dozens of local female musicians. She talked to them about what their lives were like in 2016, including what music they wrote, what music they played, and even how they felt about life in general. She jotted down ideas, and she and the musicians worked together to create conceptual portraits that not only communicate the artists’ aesthetic (punky, quirky, atmospheric, down-to-earth) but also present the women as powerful. “I want all of my female subjects to look strong and mysterious and perhaps even a bit intimidating, because that’s how I see them,” she says. “I tend to forget that showing women in that way can be rare.”
Architectural History Tours / Renegade STL
Once upon a time, St. Louis history tours were dry, tweedy, and pretty much all led by white dudes of a certain age. Enter Renegade STL. Founded by historian and “French toast expert” Amanda Clark, it’s designed to make learning about our city’s history a rollicking adventure. Sometimes that means taking a bus to New Town; sometimes it’s a walk through Forest Park. Sometimes you bring your camera. Or tour “the whole damn city.” Or focus on disasters, local businesses, or “badass babes.” You can even book a private tour. However you do it, you’ll never view the city in the same way again.
Sports Documentary / The Saint Louis Browns: The Team That Baseball Forgot
It’s baseball and Jon Hamm. We could leave it at that, but the story itself is what’s so compelling. As the film’s subtitle hints, our other club—the one that inspired the saying “First in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League” and eventually moved to Baltimore—had its own colorful history, one closely entwined with the city’s. As Hamm puts it, “It’s the story of the perpetual underdog, ceaselessly working to improve both their success on the field and the standing in the town they called home.”
Literary Festival / St. Louis BookFest
Left Bank Books and the Central West End Community Improvement District saw a huge blank space where a literary festival should be and made it happen. Unlike many book fests, which tilt toward literary fiction, BookFest has a more eclectic and democratic spirit. It’s for all readers, be they sci-fi fans, poets, kids, history wonks, slow and careful readers of difficult novels, or people who devour three or four mysteries a month. It’s also a chance to find out more about your favorite writing genre at a book panel, chat with local writers, and get your books signed by rising national talents.
Opera Star / Jennifer Johnson Cano
You saw her last month in Opera Theatre St. Louis’ Orfeo and Euridice, starring as Orfeo. She grew up in Festus, graduated from Webster, and made her opera debut with OTSTL, yet this is her first title role in her hometown. But that’s understandable. After all, the singer—known for her distinctive red hair and “attention-grabbing dark mezzo, its depths bracing like strong coffee” (as The New York Times put it)—has been busy. She’s made more than 100 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera and had singing engagements with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra...
Actor / Beth Leavel
Leavel is Broadway royalty. She took home a Tony, an L.A. Critics’ Award, and a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone and wowed as part of the original casts of Mamma Mia! and Elf . She’s also been a Muny regular for more than 20 years, adding her magic to such shows as Grease and Hello, Dolly (she was Dolly, natch). This month she stars as Mama Rose in The Muny’s production of Gypsy, July 27–August 2. That brassy, over-the-top role was pioneered by the legendary Ethel Merman—a hard act to follow, even all these years later—but Leavel, as she always does, will own it like a bossy stage mother.
Music Crawl / Grand Center Wednesday Night Jazz Crawl
St. Louis has produced some of jazz’s greats: Willie Akins, Miles Davis, Hamiet Bluiett. It’s still producing amazing jazz talent, and on Wednesday nights you can go to Grand Center and hear them for free. Tucked into such venues as The Dark Room at The Grandel, KDHX’s Magnolia Café, and the Kranzberg Arts Center, the Crawl is a way to get to know brilliant local acts, including Kasimu-Tet, Sarah Jane & The Blue Notes, Bob DeBoo, Jacob Alspach & Friends, T.J. Müller, and The Matt Chalk Quintet. At the end of the night, settle in at Nancy’s Jazz Lounge for a drink and watch the livestream of the performance at Jazz at the Bistro.
Memorable Outing / Big Muddy Adventures
On Full Moon Floats, you paddle out to an island in the Mississippi, where a professional chef cooks you dinner over a campfire. If you’re feeling more adventuresome, sign up for a weekend exploring the French Corridor like a proper voyageur. And if you want to get a real appreciation for the overhauled Arch Grounds, take the Riverfront Adventure, a three-hour trip that offers a close look at our many bridges and a stop on Mosenthein Island. Plans are in the works for special one-off trips, as well as collaborations between rock climbing and mountain biking outfitters.
Landscape Architecture Project / The One Tree Project
If it’s inevitable that you’re going to lose someone or something, at least you can make it meaningful. That’s what happened on Wash. U.’s Danforth Campus when it became clear that the sick 85-year-old pin oaks in front of Danforth Hall had to go. Sam Fox School landscape architecture professor Jesse Vogler created the One Tree Project, an opportunity to create “an interdisciplinary design studio” for students. The class worked with one tree and studied it intensively, from roots to crown, with help from “arborists, ecologists, landscape architects, sculptors, dendrochronologists, craftspeople, and poets.” They listened to the amplified sounds of wind moving through its branches; they ID’ed the tiny nematodes living in the soil. They experienced the tree as an individual, just like themselves, the ultimate lesson in ecology. theonetreeproject.org.
Makeover / Soldiers Memorial
A collaboration by the Missouri History Museum and city of St. Louis, it’s a study in how to do things right. When it opens, November 3, it will feel like a new building, inside and out. Decades of grime have been removed from the façade. ADA-compliant ramps have been installed. The red-and-gold mosaic ceiling in the cenotaph has been restored by Emil Frei and Associates. The two large exhibition halls will be filled with cutting-edge museum displays but will still include original Art Deco glass cases. Across the street, the Eugene Mackey–designed memorial plaza will feature an elevated red granite reflecting pool that couldn’t be incorporated into the original design—a touch suggested one of Macky’s sons, the late Gene Mackey III. 1315 Chestnut.
Documentary / Denise Ward-Brown’s Never Been a Time
Last year a number of events and media stories were dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the East St. Louis pogroms. But Ward-Brown’s film, which premiered last fall at the St. Louis International Film Festival, is meant to be a lasting document that never lets us forget what happened, whether it’s 100, 101, or 120 years later. Using historical documents, poetry, interviews, and lyrical imagery, Ward-Brown paints a picture of how racism still permeates every aspect of American life. It’s also a powerful, poignant follow-up to her award-winning documentary Jim Crow to Barack Obama.
New Music Programming / Scott Joplin House
Young ragtime pianist Ethan Leinwand moved from New York to St. Louis after reading Kevin Belford’s Devil at the Confluence and realizing that the roots of the music that he loved so much were here in this city. He found many other young musicians and dancers keeping those traditions alive. In addition to his performances at Yaquis on Cherokee, the hub of St. Louis’ traditional-jazz scene, Leinwand’s been programming music at the Scott Joplin House’s Rosebud Café, launching a monthly Saturday concert series featuring Ragtime Rendezvous and traditional jazz bands. He’s also pulling together bigger special events, such as the Ragtime Afterglow Party, with players returning from the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia. 2658 Delmar.
Multigenre Arts Venue / .ZACK
Even the name is innovative—the proper way to say it is “Dot Zack.” The other thing you need to know is that it’s one of the most dynamic, diverse venues on St. Louis’ art scene right now. It’s the permanent home of David Kirkland’s fabulous restaurant Turn, as well as Music Record Shop, Sophie’s Music Lounge, and .ZACK’s performing arts incubator program, whose residents range from The Black Mirror Theatre Company to St. Lou Fringe. This spring, the building was crowned with a rooftop garden, overseen by Urban Harvest. In addition to all these permanent aspects, .ZACK has been providing a venue for some of the most exciting arts programming in the city, from Lamar Harris’ multimedia theater show Superheroes of Blackness to the opening night for the Dwell in Other Futures conference, which hosted legendary sci-fi author Samuel Delany. 3224 Locust
Unique Local Band / Huht
What kind of band is Huht? Well, they call songs “starting points.” They play in odd time signatures. Todd Dillon and Ian Quattrocchi play synths; Q plays drums. There are no guitars. Dillon and Quattrocchi are also both in experimental act Broom, and Quattrocchi has an ongoing role in 18andCounting + The Only Ensemble. Q is the drummer for legendary King Crimson tribute band Thrak. (He’s also Ian’s dad.) Huht plays such venues as El Leñador, TechArtista, and The Sinkhole, but the influence of prog- and Kraut-rock looms heavily; you can’t call it a hipster band. But it’s also jazz-influenced, which is to say kind of hip. What is Huht? There’s only one way to really find out: Listen.
Podcast / Rock Paper Podcast
Four years ago, Shane Presley gamely jumped in the co-pilot seat with fellow music fan Chris Bumeter—and then kept it going when Bumeter left. Not only is Presley closing in on his 600th episode, but all 577-and-counting also make for superlative listening, and there’s something for anyone who listens to music. In April, Presley did a live broadcast from the Music Record Shop on Record Store Day, and he’s talked to local and national musicians in every genre. He has a huge passion and never-ending curiosity about the local music scene, and that enthusiasm is infectious—listen regularly, and you might just find yourself going out to see live shows three or four times a week, just like Presley does. rockpaperpodcast.com.
Music Festival / The Art of Live Festival
Still flying under the radar in its fourth year, this fest is as lovingly curated as its better-known cousins, with an impressive mix of local, national, and international acts. This year’s slate of bands included Madrid-based girl band Hinds, LA’s Cuco, and two of our town’s finest bands, Middle Class Fashion and The Knuckles. It’s also cleverly spread over three venues: Old Rock House, The Ready Room, and Off Broadway. We love its cooperative spirit, even though last January we had some hard decisions to make: Go see the new, much-talked-about Nashville-based duo Tristen, or country star Lee Ann Womack?
Innovative Theater / Shakespeare in the Streets’ Blow, Winds
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Nancy Bell wrote a script for a play titled Blow, Winds, based on King Lear, that allowed the whole city to tell its story. Then, last September, when the production was set to premiere on the Central Library’s steps, the city was in the midst of telling a different story in the streets—through protests—and the production was canceled. But the show must go on: This June, as Romeo and Juliet opened in Forest Park, we all sat together downtown on a warm summer night to say, “The wheel has come full circle. I am here.”
Comedy Festival / Flyover Comedy Festival
The inaugural Flyover Festival, which took over multiple venues in The Grove for three days last fall, showcased some of our finest comedic talents performing in a range of formats, including standup, live podcast, sketch comedy, and improv. Booked alongside local performers were such folks as New York’s Mandy Schmieder, Tucson’s Matt Ziemak, Henry Phillips of HBO’s Silicon Valley, and headliner Todd Barry. One goal is to get people out to see comedy, including open mics. The other is to establish St. Louis as a comedy hub. But after last year, you sense that that’s already happened—even if not everyone has realized it yet.
Built in 1859 to store botanical books and dried plant specimens, the museum held Henry Shaw’s body in state after his death. Designed by famed St. Louis architect George Barnett, it’s considered one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the Midwest—but had been closed since 1982. During a loving restoration, workers discovered forgotten frescoes behind a dropped ceiling (bearing the visages of Carl Linnaeus, 19th-century botanist Asa Gray, and German botanist George Engelmann) and cleverly solved the problem of how to restore the ceiling’s delicate murals: by hiring Brooklyn-based EverGreene Architectural Arts to re-create them on canvas, which was then layered onto the ceiling. Less than a year and $8 million later, the 7,000-square-foot building is back to its former glory. 4344 Shaw.
Party Band / Fatpocket
The energetic band plays everything from funk to ’60s hits (Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson Five) to current chart-toppers (Beyoncé, The Chainsmokers, John Legend). In May, they brought a Twilight Tuesday crowd at the Missouri History Museum to its feet. Look for them to do the same in downtown Clayton this month at SLM’s A-List Party.
DJ / DJ MAHF
DJ Mahf’s shared the stage with the likes of Snoop Dogg, toured Europe with Earthworms, and revved up crowds at the Super Bowl and Blues games. He’s also spun alongside mashup pioneer DJ Z-Trip and crafted his own signature mixtape sound. Along the way, he’s picked up myriad accolades from everyone: from the Riverfront Times to the Red Bull Thre3style Championship. Today, he’s a regular draw at Start Bar, Pin-Up Bowl, and Atomic Cowboy and after games at Paddy O’s.
The Arts Year in Review
Last June, artist and critic Glenn Ligon used Ellsworth Kelly’s “Blue Black,” as a jumping-off point for one of the most remarkable shows of the year, if not the decade. Blue Black comprised works by 42 artists (including Kerry James Marshall, Philip Guston, Carrie Mae Weems, David Hammons, Derek Jarman, and Ligon himself). The exhibit was a meditation on the colors blue and black, which it described metaphorically. It spoke to race, gender, aesthetics, emotions, beauty, self-perception, music, family, love, culture, and language. “Despite the solemnness that these colors imply,” ArtNet wrote, “Blue Black offers a profound range of complexities that the two pigments, together, can provide—from the highly political to the deeply beautiful.”
In September, The St. Louis Repertory Theatre staged the St. Louis premiere of the five-time Tony Award–winner The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Eccentrically lit and staged, it used music and choreography as much as it did dialogue. Its lead character, Christopher, is a neuroatypical teenager, a role that places huge demands on the lead actor. In other words, poorly done, it could be a disaster. Of course The Rep, as well as all its actors, particularly Nick LaMedica, who played Chris, hit all its marks.
In May, outgoing St. Louis Symphony maestro David Robertson was toasted at the bottom of the staircase after Swing Symphony, his final concert at Powell Hall. That toast wasn’t just for an astounding show with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Wynton Marsalis, composer of the jazz symphony that lent its name to the program title; it was also for his 13 superlative seasons, which covered everything from classics by long-dead masters to world premieres by contemporary composers.
Finally, there was The Muny’s centennial, specifically Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. It doesn’t ring familiar to many, because it hasn’t been staged for nearly 30 years. The wide-ranging overview of the choreographer’s career included multiple costume and scene changes that highlighted his best-known shows, including Peter Pan, Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story. (In other words, this delightful show was wayyyyy harder to pull off than it seemed.) Here’s to another century in Forest Park!
Readers’ Choice Awards
The following winners were determined by voters in this year’s A-List poll.
Art Festival / Saint Louis Art Fair
Art Museum / Saint Louis Art Museum
Bowling Alley / Saratoga Lanes
Hiking Spot / Shaw Nature Reserve
Holiday Light Display / Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Movie Theater / Hi-Pointe Theatre
Museum (Non-Arts) / City Museum
Music Festival/Series / LouFest
Music Venue / The Pageant
Park (Besides Forest Park) / Tower Grove Park
Theater & Dance / Fox Theatre
Hip-Hop Star Muhammad Austin, a.k.a. MVSTERMIND, released his newest single, “Minute Plan,” on April 27.
- J’Demul: With recognition coming from the likes of Big K.R.I.T.T. and Smoke Dza, I’m just patiently waiting for J’Demul’s passion and channeled pain to be granted with sold-out stages across le globe. A true natural, a true St. Louis city bred.
- PinkCaravan!: Her unique approach has her fresh off a national tour, with production from Namesake and visuals with Midzy; they collectively raise the bar with each release.
- Parlor: Every other Friday night, Michael Franco sets up shop in the Parlor as a DJ and shuts ish down. With impeccable music curation infused with self-produced remixes, there’s no other way to enjoy a bar/arcade.
- For the Culture TV: Cami Cruz’s Smoke City gives much more than the typical aerial view of St. Louis’ racial divide. It zooms in and focuses on the individual stories as we break down the stigma of St. Louis’ separation via interactive storytelling.
At the new sloped entrance to the Museum at the Gateway Arch (opening July 3), paths curve around a circle glassy with a half-inch of water that allows visitors to cool their feet. The plaque honoring the Arch’s architect, Eero Saarinen, has been plucked from the old parking garage and placed out front. Turn around, and you’re looking straight at the Old Courthouse, all barriers cleared.
Inside, giant screens play images of westward journeys—trains moving from one panel to the next, buffalo charging right at you. A terrazzo floor depicts the Oregon, California, Santa Fe, Mormon, and Lewis & Clark trails, all branching west from a bright-orange dot: St. Louis.
The previous museum was a little more ‘cowboys and Indians,’” notes Eric Moraczewski, executive director of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. “It focused mainly on the 1800s and could have been picked up and put anywhere west of here. Now we have something that tells why St. Louis played such an integral part in the growth of our country.” The new museum’s exhibits span more than three centuries.
1. Colonial St. Louis: Before this tiny but typically proportioned Creole house was built, there was a research trip to Ste. Genevieve to research vertical timber construction. The view through one of the windows is a deliberate photo op: an open pirogue, its backdrop the Mississippi River.
2. Jefferson’s Vision: The decision was made early on to put the historic artifacts behind glass (the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson being the one exception) but leave modern reproductions out and touchable. The museum’s packed with interactivity—touchscreens, embossed leather to caress, wooden pictures to spin. Murals in this room bear faint lines, a nod to Jefferson’s plan to break the Louisiana Purchase into a grid, then parcel it out.
3. The Riverfront Era: Enter through the façade of the Old Rock House, a lively fur trading post built on the riverfront in 1818. These are the original stones, saved when the house—by then a jazz club—was taken apart in 1959 to make room for the Arch. You can see the whole house in miniature in the 1852 riverfront model, along with the boats and buildings of the reconstructed riverfront. It was 3-D printed after Arch historian Bob Moore researched historic photographs, drawings, and insurance records to re-create what we would have seen three years after the Great Fire. (It rages on monitors above the diorama.) Smell jars hold the noxious riverfront odors of the day—including a fecal whiff of cholera—to explain why people did their breathing through lavender-scented hankies.
4. Manifest Destiny: Three portraits, three perspectives: President James Polk, “How the West Was Won”; Margarita “Chata” Bandiri of Mexico, “How the North Was Taken”; five Native Americans, “How the West Was Stolen.” A cutout of Colonel John Frémont, larger than life, shows him taking an aggressive stance, planting a U.S. flag to lay claim to land that was home to the First Nations. Later, after the Mexican-American War, the words of a Massachusetts legislator: “a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the president of the United States.” Even animals were dispossessed: A lone buffalo stands on the other side of this gallery. (Not the taxidermied fellow from the old museum, though; he was petted into tatters.)
5. New Frontiers: You can almost hear the railroads chugging, the steel clanging. This exhibit is all about factories and the first skyscraper and the ice car Anheuser-Busch invented to ship beer. Inside the car, movie posters show the mythic West, the glorified version we learned from the silver screen. Outside, another photo op: loved ones waving goodbye from the train.
6. Building the Arch: It was high time that a gallery was dedicated to the building of the Arch. “They found nothing simple except the shape,” reads one sign. Swooping stainless steel ribbons, their curves inverse to that of the Arch, lead up to monitors. Around the perimeter, you can listen as the workers describe their experience, crank a wheel to understand the counterbalanced weights that run the trams, or see the entries that didn’t win the competition. The centerpiece is the first model of Saarinen’s idea, built in 1948 and bringing the museum full circle: The term “catenary curve” was coined by Thomas Jefferson.