Monday, December 14, 2009

Cruisin' Cafes: St. Louis, MO

I suppose I should, in the words of vintage Hilary Duff, simply come clean. While I pride myself on being a lover of all things quaint, cozy, and comfy – locations and attractions with the very same homey welcome as a roaring fire, a well-loved old blanket, or a dependable childhood friend; those are not the qualities which drew me to fall under the spell of St. Louis, Missouri. No, I’m sorry to tell you that the true appeal of this particular locale had more to do with the typical tourist temptations – the downtown entertainment district of Laclede’s Landing, the haunted horrors found at Lemp Mansion, and even the small town sophistication of the Benton Park West Streetscape. Of course, if you ask me, all this combined would be nothing without a trio of darling cafes ripe for popping into for a cocktail hour cappuccino, or daybreak demitasse!

Park Avenue Coffee Wrong state, darlings! While it shares a title with the hoity-toity location of the Big Apple, Park Avenue Coffee is, in all actuality, named for its close proximity to Lafayette Park in the heart of Lafayette Square – a picturesque spot for people watching should you be lucky enough to snag a seat on the patio; but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

If you’re looking for a home-away-from-home aesthetic, your search ends here. Park Avenue Coffee is like your mother’s beloved living room – sans the strict orders to remove your shoes before stepping foot on the carpet, or to keep your feet off the furniture. It retains a minimalist vibe while being powerfully inviting all at once courtesy of hardwood floors, vibrant hues speckling the walls, and overstuffed, chocolate-toned chairs that you could virtually get lost in. And, might I add, you will get lost – at least in the mouthwatering aromas emerging from the kitchen; for while Raspberry Mochas, Hot Chocolates, and Vanilla Lattes are whipped up by the dozen, the true crème de la crème of Park Avenue is the gooey butter cake. Pig out on a piece of Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake on the patio, or curl up in an armchair with a slice of Apple Cinnamon Gooey Butter. Your waistline may whine, but your tastebuds will explode! 1919 Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104.

The Map Room Walking into The Map Room is like entering a different era; and that’s precisely where the charm of this secret treasure lurks. From outside alone, the all-brick construction casts a very old-fashioned noir, reformed firehouse aura upon the place; but even once you’ve made it inside, you can’t help but feel that you are destined to spot Jack Kerouac hunched over his latest masterpiece at a secluded table in the back; or bump into F. Scott Fitzgerald nursing a glass of Merlot upon one of the vintage couches.

The rustic elegance and glamour of The Map Room, while slightly reminiscent of an antique store laden with “Do Not Disturb” signs, is a throwback to simpler times when electricity was not yet in existence, and families would play music around the fireplace until the very last embers burned out. That’s not saying that The Map Room is not modernistic in its design; it simply has held fast to the quaint qualities of yesteryear that many have since long forgotten. But I digress; while free Wi-Fi is offered during business hours, the most enticing aspect of The Map Room is the large bookshelves brimming with the classics, and the abundance of board games available for quiet play. Couple an Austrian Mint Coffee, a Snow Geisha White Tea, or an Apple Tarte with a game of Scrabble for an evening of peaceful fun and solitude. 1901 Withnell Ave., St. Louis, MO 63118.

Coffee Cartel There’s something quite thrilling about prowling the streets late at night, when most people are tucked away safely in their beds; an undercover seductiveness that makes one feel like a cat burglar, and cloaks one in a sheath of mystery even if you’re simply munching on cold fries at the corner diner after a long night of partying, or, even better, sipping a Caramel Frappuccino topped with luscious whipped cream at a twenty-four-hour coffee shop. Coffee Cartel is the shop in question.

Unlike so many cafes that shut their doors long before the midnight hour, Coffee Cartel is that happening spot that keeps on brewing way into the wee hours of the morning, providing a primo spot for late-night gossip, early-morning study sessions, mid-afternoon dates with cute boys, and everything in between! While somewhat smoky at times, the proffered pool tables (and people lining up to challenge you to a game) in addition to the opportunities for watching an abundance of personalities come and go more than makes up for it. Plus, if you’re an insomniatic blogger looking for a place to fill up on ice cream while catching up on comments, the free Wi-Fi will most definitely keep you satiated. Just don’t forget to try the Raspberry Italian Soda – a fabulously fruity way to cap off an evening! 2 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63108.

Which of these St. Louis cafes would you like to cruise?

Fashionably yours!

Thanks to We ♥ It for the pictures.

Don't forget to enter the Sparkling Sophisticate Giveaway for your chance to win a pair of Keaton Sequin Leggings from BB Dakota.

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