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Trendy Cocktails and Sky-High Sandwiches: The Central West End

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        You can always get a cup of Joe at The Coffee Cartel | RFT Photo

St. Louis' neighborhoods are gems in their own right: full of history, great people and, as far as Gut Check is concerned, fantastic food. Each week we'll take you into a specific neighborhood and point you in the direction of the best places to grab some bites.

The tony Central West End offers one of the city's best collections of restaurants and bars (so many, in fact, that we had to leave several worthy names off the list -- maybe we can come up with a part two!), most of which are concentrated along Euclid Avenue. The gated private streets create a parking nightmare, but once you find a spot, you should be set for a good night on the town. Choose from sports bars filled with karaoke all-stars, fine French cuisine or high-end cocktails. You'll feel awfully trendy (and considerably poorer).

Coffee Cartel
(2 Maryland Plaza; 314-454-0000)
Show up at Coffee Cartel on a Tuesday night at 2:00 a.m. and you're likely to find college students cramming for finals, insomniacs drinking their fifth cup of coffee, and late-night partiers sobering up. The Cartel is blessedly open 24/7, and is therefore one of the CWE's premier people-watching sites. Though known for coffee, you can also buy sandwiches, smoothies, frappes, milkshakes, doughnuts, gourmet chocolate bars, truffles, bottled juices and waters, ice cream by the scoop (Edy's) or prepackaged pint (Häagen-Dazs), nachos...lots of stuff. Topping that list, though, are the spiked liqueurs to warm you up on a cold night.

See also:
-
Coffee Cartel's Julia Mager: Featured Barista of the Week
- Best Staff - 2011

Tom's Bar and Grill
(20 S. Euclid Avenue; 314-367-4900)
Tom's is a classic American tavern: sports, beer, and karaoke. The food, a full lunch-and-dinner menu, is pretty much everything you'd expect -- wings, fried mushrooms, chef's salads, chili mac, roast beef sandwiches, chicken clubs. But predictable isn't always a bad thing, especially when you're craving the familiar to soak up the pitchers of beer that you gulped down before belting out Journey. Balancing out the CWE with an unpretentious and welcoming atmosphere, Tom's attracts diverse and sometimes raucous crowds that keep the party going late into the night. It ain't fancy, but it more than gets the job done.

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