Old-School Urban Renaissance: SqWires
1415 South 18th Street; 314-865-3522
The Hours: 4-7 p.m. Tue.-Fri.
Kristen Klempert SqWires was urban chic before urban was chic.
The Deal: $2 domestic bottles, $3 drafts, $4 select wines, $3 house mixed drinks; discounts on select appetizers and pizzas.
The Scene: Located in a renovated factory, SqWires is one of St. Louis' finest examples of urban rebirth. There are traces of the restaurant's past in the exposed brick and lofty windows, but they achieve a modern balance by mixing Chihuly-esque light fixtures with industrial ones and adding deep-red vinyl cushions to the metallic chairs. This attention to detail carries over to the presentation of the food, which is lovely, but practical. You know what every thing is doing on the dish and don't feel like you're destroying a masterpiece by digging in. SqWires has a patio that takes advantage of the Lafayette Square vibe. Just don't plan on sitting there if you want a quick Happy Hour experience, because service can be slow.
Why You'll Go Back: The drink offerings are above average, but the best thing about SqWires' Happy Hour is how group-friendly the food is. Plates are easy to share and each offers something for someone. The dips-and-spreads app features warm pita bread fanned among three very distinctively different but nonetheless complementary dips. At SqWires there'll be no arguing over what to order.
The Verdict: The idea behind SqWires is something St. Louisians should be proud of: taking a relic from our bygone industrial past and creating a new chic restaurant that offers more than blue cheese burgers and fries. The waitstaff may not be the quickest, but it's places like this that prove St. Louis still stands a chance to be a modern-era city.