“I have always had a very sensitive palate, and am obsessed with smelling and tasting things,” Tim Wiggins, beverage manager at St. Louis’s Yellowbelly says. The tendency has served him well.
At just 27, Wiggins has made quite the name for himself, earning top accolades from city press and shaping its cocktail culture. He co-owns On Point Hospitality, the firm behind Yellowbelly and Retreat Gastropub, with Travis Howard. When he opened Yellowbelly in September 2017, he carefully balanced experimental and classic creations.
Wiggins describes Yellowbelly as his dream bar. “You can get a Busch, a Negroni, and a Mai Tai all in under five minutes and have a smiling bartender hand them to you,” he says. “It was built as the bartenders’ bar… The food is beautiful and creative, the kitchen is open and a little loud and busy, and the drinks are packed with flavor and strange ingredients and over-the-top garnish, but it all works together and feels comfortable. I think the atmosphere of an exciting food and drink experience with warm and friendly service is highly unusual in St. Louis.”
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Needless to say, we could think of few people better suited to take us on a dining and drinking journey around St. Louis.
Olive + Oak
A neighborhood favorite, Olive + Oak showcases locally sourced ingredients in an unpretentious fashion, winning the hearts of industry patrons and Webster Groves residents alike. Wiggins is a fan of the chicken wings and cheeseburger, and suggests pairing them with a classic Daiquiri. Location.
Wiggins is a huge advocate for this University City, Latin-inspired cantina specializing in wood-fired fare. His go-to order is a mezcal Margarita and a whole fish. Location.
When it comes to finding some of the best wine selections in the city, Wiggins recommends this upscale Italian spot. Pair your glass with any dish from the pasta menu, he says, which changes seasonally and features the likes of a sweet corn ravioli and béchamel-bathed gnocchi. Location.
Wiggins suggests pairing a Negroni with the pork burger at this welcoming New American bar on Laclede Avenue. Taste serves small plates accompanied by an extensive drinks menu guided by Bar Manager Nick Digiovanni. Location.
If you’re in search of the perfect pick-me-up near Lafayette Park, Wiggins suggests a cocktail and a side of popcorn at Planter’s House. (He is partial to the Old Fashioned.) The bar has an incredibly robust drinks menu, featuring traditional drinks alongside new classics by some of today’s bartending icons (as well as a list of house cocktails, of course). Location.
The Royale Food & Spirits
A nightly soundtrack of vinyl records sets the scene at The Royale, a local watering hole that ranks among Wiggins’ favorites. His usual order? A pour of Rhum Clement VSOP neat and a plate of tacos. Location.
De Palm Tree
No Bartography guide would be complete without a great late-night destination, which brings us to De Palm Tree on Olive Boulevard. This Jamaican hotspot is known for its food, though Wiggins is a fan of the off-menu Jamaican Rum Punch. Hot tip: You can also buy a bottle of the house jerk sauce to take home. Location.
Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta
Wiggins is partial to the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta for its “awesome views and a great bar.” This stunning St. Louis landmark sits in the heart of the Central West End neighborhood, and is home to a gastropub, called the Chase Club, plus The Preston restaurant and historic chophouse The Tenderloin Room, which has been serving St. Louis residents prime chops since the 1960s. Location.
“We stayed here after our wedding, so it’s a very special place for me and my wife,” Wiggins says. “They also have awesome drinks on the rooftop!” The crown jewel of The Loop, the Moonrise has slightly funky retro vibes throughout, plus panoramic views from the terrace’s cocktail bar, which is open from April to October. Bonus: The guest rooms are about as Instagrammable as it gets. Location.
South Grand/Tower Grove
This neighborhood is home to some of Wiggins’ favorite hometown spots. He suggests hitting up Pizza Head “for a beer and a slice, then Ice’s Plain & Fancy for some ice cream!” Location.
Central West End
Ride an electric scooter around the Cathedral Basilica in Central West End, Wiggins says, and then stop at Taste for a Negroni and, of course, a visit to Yellowbelly, where he’ll happily serve you a great Jungle Bird (among other drinks, of course). Location.
“This general area includes South Grand, Tower Grove, Cherokee Street,” Wiggins explains. He suggests checking out Mudhouse for an “amazing breakfast or brunch, and Sump for a cup of life-changing coffee.” Location.