Friends, and total strangers, often ask me for dining suggestions in St. Louis. In trying to decide what to tell them about St. Louis restaurants, I sometimes feel like the fly in the candy shop. There’s so many “sweet spots,” I don’t know where to start. These 12 neighborhoods are all in the city—I’ll tackle the county another day.
Each neighborhood, or area, has a distinct feel, foods, and history. You won’t go wrong with any of these places. There are many more spots I’ve not gotten around to yet, so updates will occur. Click on the links to connect with the websites and menus of the restaurants.
The Flavors of St. Louis City
1. Central West End
The CWE is a bustling, century-old area transformed for chic living, shopping and dining. The neighborhood still exhibits its World’s Fair heritage with brick and cobblestone streets, stately homes, fountain, and old-fashioned lamp posts. For a taste of the area, try a reuben sandwich at Pickles (considered by many the city’s #1 deli). Or order up a lamb burger at Dressels, a quaint Welsh pub or a croque madam and pomme frites from the French menu at Brasserie. At Juniper, you’ll find fried chicken from a Southern-style menu.
Pause for a bowl of pho at Little Saigon; or cross the street for an Indian buffet at Rasoi. Or just relax with tea and salad at Mary Ann’s Tea Room. Pi Pizza is da bomb! (Also in Downtown and Delmar Loop). It’s Bissinger’s for handcrafted chocolates and even a tour. The Block is both a restaurant and butcher shop built on fresh meats from local sources. For classics of the American South, as well as weekend brunch mozy on over to the BBQ Saloon.
Escape to Scape with its land and sea menu and large, enclosed patio or try the New Zealand Lamb Chops while dining street side at Bar Italia. Garlic Chicken is the signature dish at Wildflower. At Sub Zero find sushi and burgers and top it off with whiskey and pecan ice cream at Jeni’s. A salad of grilled moroccan chicken at Cafe Osage comes with garden shop seating or try nearby Evangeline’s Bistro for cajun/creole cuisine and live music.
Get a proper order of fish and chips at the authentic Scottish Arms pub or sit on the patio and enjoy prime rib and a drink at Gamlin Whiskey House. Kingside Diner with its chess-themed decor comes with a new take on the old classics. Swing by the Chase Park Plaza for a movie and a veal bolognese at The Preston. If you’re taking in the neo-Byzantine Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and its world-acclaimed mosaics, stop for the bakery selections or the ham and brie sandwich from At Home French Cafe. In 2017, Bon Appetit named Vicia among the 50 best new restaurants in the USA. Try Poke Doke for a trendy new Asian taste.
2. The Grove
You’ll know you’re in The Grove by the huge neon sign hanging over the entry to the business district. The area of eclectic shops, dance spots, coffee bars, mom and pop restaurants, tattoo parlors, a bike shop, and even a brewery stretches nearly a mile along Manchester between Kingshighway and Vandeventer. Visitors and residents of the diverse neighborhood enjoy the area’s cycling races, beer tasting, street festivals, concerts, and an array of funky wall murals.
Want a burger? Look no farther than Atomic Cowboy with their mashup of Mexican and barbecue. At Layla order their bangin’ burgers or signature shawarma. Try tapas at Sanctuaria, or middle eastern flavors at Sameem, the state’s first and only Afghan restaurant. Pick up a cup of java and home baked goods at Rise Coffee House, or a brat and brew at the German-leaning Urban Chestnut Brewing Company. At Grace Meat + 3 you’ll get an authentic taste of the Old South.
3. Forest Park
Forest Park with its 1,371 acres is 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York. The city centerpiece that hosted the 1904 World’s Fair is bounded by Skinker, Lindell, Kingshighway and Oakland. Today it’s the site of the Muny Opera, a balloon race, music festivals, ice skating, concerts, and seasonal shows. Inside the world-class St. Louis Art Museum, Panorama restaurant puts on an artistic display of its own with a weekend brunch and gourmet lunch service.
Wander over to the lake to watch the ducks and paddleboats at the Boathouse while you munch on their signature fish and chips. Don’t miss the mid-October event: Paddle with Your Pooch. Head to the Missouri History Museum for a bite of lunch at Bixby’s, preferably for their elegant Sunday Champagne Brunch. While at the St. Louis Zoo (free to all), grab a bag of peanuts to share with the primates. At the Skinker edge of the park, follow the Washington University students and residents to ‘Zza Pizza. On the Park boundary, you’ll find a place aptly named Boundary, giving a modern twist to the classic comfort foods. Follow up with a visit to the St. Louis Science Center with its dinosaur exhibit and planetarium.
Located on Oakland, not far from the Park, is Olympia with its menu of Greek comfort food and nearby Pan d’Olive with more Mediterranean-style fare. Refresh your spirit at the Botanical Garden, where you’ll find a 14-acres Japanese garden and a delightful Victorian garden.
4. Soulard Market, Benton Park & Lafayette Square
Located in the historic French neighborhood, Soulard is one of the oldest communities in the city. Take the free tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Then relax at nearby Frazer’s for some innovative cuisine, like their chorizo-stuffed dates. Soulard Market is the oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi, housing more than a 100 vendors. If you’re looking for fresh, organic honey or a Thanksgiving turkey head for Harr’s Family Farm (booth 13-15) at the market. If BBQ is more to your liking try Bogart’s Smokehouse for beef brisket. The Soulard area hosts the city’s celebrations of Mardi Gras and Oktoberfest, as well as a pet parade. Take a step back in time at Christmas with the Lafayette Square Holiday Parlor Tour of decorated homes.
At Eleven Eleven Mississippi you’ll find a rustic Tuscan menu with everything from wild boar to ravioli. Or drop by historic Planter’s House, offering thighs and fries every Sunday along with its trendy menu/drink selections. Slurp a bowl of gumbo and soak up the charm at Molly’s. Or savor some stellar pub grub, landscaping, and waterfall on the patio at John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub.
Head to Sidney Street Cafe, where their award-winning chef, Kevin Nashan, merges the American South with touches of French cuisine. Sqwires with its big park lot and outdoor patio offers an American-style menu and family-style fried chicken every Thursday night. At its rooftop bar and bistro, Vin de Set serves classic French cuisine along with a great view of the city. Don’t miss the lobster roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. You’ll find an array of sandwiches, soups, and smoothies, as well as breakfast pizzas and burritos at Benton Park Cafe, now on Selana Ave.
5. Cherokee Antique District
Food and drink, shopping, clothing boutiques, small cafes, antiques, art galleries, and music—it’s all on Cherokee Street. The reclaimed historic area hosts everything from business incubators to a Saxophone Museum. The abundance of Mexican eateries makes for a grand Cinco de Mayo event. Grab a seat on the patio for a tortilla or two at Taqueria el Torito, or a slice of pizza or some wings at Master Pieza.
Don’t miss the hip coffee shop called The Mud House for an all day breakfast menu or the much-praised Vista Ramen with its trendy take on noodles. Try a sweet and spicy taco at Kalbi Taco Shack or its Korean barbecued beef short ribs. Head to the Shaved Duck, where the ribs are smoked all day. Leave room for paletas (ice cream) at Vallesana, or tres leches cakes and banana cream pie at Diana’s Bakery. The half-mile long business district is walkable and there’s free street parking.
While seated on chairs or floor cushions, at The Palm Trees you can enjoy the Saudi Arabian national dish: Kabsa, tender lamb over rice and grilled onions. I’ve only scratched the surface.
6. Theater Grand Arts District
If you’re attending performances at the Fox, Muny, Peabody, Powell Hall, Sheldon, Jazz Museum, Pulitzer Center, Grand Center, or St. Louis University consider eating in the area. Try BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soup, where you can get a Louisana file gumbo and plenty of blues. You’ll find a hip sushi lounge at Backu Sushi.
Award-winning Fountain on Locust shines with a robust menu and old-fashioned soda fountain. Enjoy fine dining and the best of jazz at Jazz at the Bistro or go for award-winning Memphis-style BBQ at Pappy’s Smokehouse (often long lines at peak times.) You’ll find fresh-grown, locally-sourced ingredients on the menu at Turn and their signature biscuits and jams. In Midtown, sashay into Southern for some down home, Nashville-style fried chicken.
7. The Hill & Dogtown
This bit of Italy in the heart of St. Louis is easily recognized by the red, white and green painted fire hydrants and Italian restaurants on nearly every corner. There’s a trifecta of businesses on Marconi with Skiff International clothing designs and skin-healthy Herbaria Soaps. Both are across from DeGregorio Grocery, where you can get handmade sausages and compose a great Italian gift basket.
Old family-run restaurants abound. Anthonino’s Taverna brings both Italian and Greek specialties from their dual heritage and wins “Best Ravioli” awards. When placing a counter order for a salsiccia sandwich at Adriana’s lunch spot, you’ll often find Adriana herself taking your order. Or lunch on the Hill at Amighetti’s Bakery and Cafe and take home some bakery items. Gioia’s Deli still makes their iconic, award-winning hot salami sandwich and Steve’s Hotdogs picks up awards for their innovative way with wieners. Sugarfire Smokehouse has a winner, too, in their baby back ribs.
Gian-Tony has a Sicilian touch, while Dominic’s brings an upscale, award-winning menu and service. Try Charlie Gitto’s signature Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs. Don’t forget that at Cunnetto’s, Tuesday is Lasagna day. The dining landmark Favazza’s can seat three hundred. Giovanni’s lays claim to having served Oprah and Frank Sinatra in their elegant restaurant.
Rigazzi’s, the oldest restaurant on The Hill, offers a Monday All-You-Can-Eat-Spaghetti Dinner. Zia’s bottles its sauces and salad dressing. Lorenzo’s Trattoria features a casual setting and a worthy osso bucco. At Five Bistro the farm to market menu changes daily. Bartilino’s offers Italian Hill classics and musical entertainment, while Mama Toscano’s dishes up a handmade ravioli. For a bit of Italian decadence in St. Louis, there’s Gelato Di Riso. Standing in line for Christmas cookies at Missouri Bakery is part of the season’s traditions.
Dogtown’s Irish bars include Seamus McDaniel’s for Angus beef burgers and onion rings while award-winning Pat Connolly’s Tavern is the place for fried chicken. Nora’s specializes in creative sandwiches, salads and soups . Don’t miss the Ciao St Louis festival and the Columbus Day Parade. The neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day parade is always on March 17.
If you’re on The Hill and wanting barbecue find it in the refurbished gas station, fittingly named J. Smug’s Gastropit.
After you’ve taken a tram ride to the top of the Arch for a view of the Mississippi River, become a kid again. Easy done with a stop at the City Museum, a magical wonderland for children. Or amble peacefully amid the 24 pieces of funky art (some interactive) at the City Garden, stopping for a coffee, or brunch, at Kaldi’s. There’s the National Blues Museum and Campbell House, that’s elegantly restored and a step back into the Victorian era. Don’t let the exterior of Broadway Oyster Bar fool you; it’s a bit funky, but a friendly, award-winning blues and bayou outpost.
Go a bit Italian at Cielo, where tables come with a view of the downtown skyline. Find more Italian favorites, as well as steaks, and a lofty, 360-degree view of the city at Kemoll’s. Blues City Deli has been cranking out po-boys and muffuletta for years. Find award-winning coffee and gooey butter cake at Park Avenue Coffee (also in Lafayette Square and on The Hill). Porano Pasta dishes up pizza, sandwiches and pasta bowls. Imo’s Pizza is a St. Louis classic.
For steaks with style, there’s Al’s Steak House, Carmine’s Steak House, Mike Shannon’s, Ruth’s Chris, and the legendary Tony’s. These classy restaurants make any occasion special with their lavish menu and impeccable service. You’ll find upscale Peruvian fare at Mango, and affordable wine and tapas at Robust, the award-winning wine bar. Head over to Pi Pizza for wide-assortment of award-winning pizza, both deep and thin crust. If calzones are to your liking, you can find them gourmet-style at Sauce on the Side.
Hiro Asian Kitchen (chic Southeast Asian cuisine) delights with a Sunday brunch and regular Kamayan dinners, that are truly a finger lickin’ meal. Find more Asian favorites at Sen Thai Asian Bistro. Bailey’s Range is a favored burger and shake location. Ballpark Village with its dozens of draft beers from the 21′ tap wall will prep you for a Cardinal’s baseball game. Or snag a brew at Missouri Bar & Grille, a popular downtown watering hole with daily specials and house-made soups. Pickles Deli was voted best deli in St. Louis, three years in a row.
9. Delmar Loop
“One of the 10 Great Streets in America.” That’s what the American Planning Association called the Delmar Loop (so named because it was once the turnaround point for city streetcars). Today the multi-cultural boulevard bustles with 140-some specialty shops, street performers, and ethnic restaurants. Fans of the area patiently await the completions of the 2.2 mile trolley line from The Loop to the History Museum in Forest Park.
Meanwhile, stroll the open-air cafes and take in the pop culture. There’s food aplenty to enjoy. Head to Seoul Taco for Korean flavors wrapped in tortillas or Ranoush for Syrian-style shish kabobs Publico comes with Latin-inspired guacamole arepas and a cool decor. Al Tarboush, the family-owned Lebanese deli, dishes up stuffed grape leaves and falafel as does the new kid on the block, Shawarma King. Fork and Stix, brings Northern Thai to the area.
Grab a quick, well-constructed sandwich at Which-Wich, or chow down on some fancy, fusion tacos at Mission Taco Joint—also in Soulard. Longtime Loopers love Blueberry Hill with its all-day breakfast, burgers and mementos of rock and roll legend Chuck Berry. Root beer fans head to Fitz’s.
Follow your nose to Salt + Smoke for Texas-style ribs. Tavola V and Pi Pizza toss the Italian pies, while Corner 17 puts on a live show of making fresh noodles. At Eclipse you’ll find modern American cuisine and a rooftop terrace bar in the retro-styled Moonrise Hotel. Nibble on a cannoli at Piccione’s pastry shop before taking in a show at the Pageant. It’s good to know that Peacock Loop Diner with its unique neon sign never closes. Privado brings an upscale weekends only and private events venue to the Loop.
10. Grand Avenue
A tour of the Missouri Botanical Garden with its geodesic dome and Japanese Garden can work up an appetite. A drive along Grand Avenue offers an array of food options. The area is a global village composed of many cultures and culinary treats: Thai, Ethiopian, Turkish, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Egyptian, Chinese, Mediterranean and more. For American-style comfort food, there’s City Diner dishing up home-style cooking, including the famed meatloaf and potato plate.
When you’re finished gawking at the historic Compton Heights Water Tower, head to Guerilla Street Food for some trendy Filipino-Asian treats such as the flying pig or fresh lumpia. Try Pho Grande for grand pho or Bahn Mi So #1 for Vietnamese style sandwiches and spring rolls. And more Vietnamese delicacies at Lemongrass.
Sheesh has Mediterranean-Turkish cuisine and the comfiest seats in town. The Vine offers Lebanese-Mediterranean and their signature chocolate baklava while Meskerem delights with Ethiopia and North African favorites. Cafe Natasha brings a Persian-style menu and a classy gin bar to the avenue. Dig into some New York-style pizza at Pizza Head.
Tower Grove Park with its stately pavilions, statuary and fountains is the oldest urban park in the US, the location for a variety of ethnic food trucks, and site of an annual international food festival.
11. More South City
Spread throughout South City neighborhoods are such old ethnic favorites as Grbic (Eastern European). It’s new offspring, Lemmon’s, offers a lively menu, including burgers, kebabs and a Balkan dipping board. Soar to new culinary heights with a Nepali-Indian lunch buffet at Everest Cafe or Himalayan Yeti. Aya Sofia (Turkish) dishes up moussaka, in pillowed, curtained surroundings while Lona’s Lil Eats, home of the giant rice paper wrap, offers seasoned dumplings and flavorful Chinese fare.
O’Connell’s Pub brings on the burgers and beer in an Irish setting. Olio, housed in a renovated gas station, features modern Israeli food served on sharable plates. Its sister restaurant, Elaia, elevates fine dining within its unique space. Farmhaus (American) brings its trendy and changing menu prepared from locally sourced foods. Hodak’s has earned a reputation for fine fried chicken and Iron Barley takes pride in its smoked meats and craft beers.
Historic Das Bevo, the German-flavored restaurant with its landmark windmill, is where the German-beer barons once hung out. Kounter Kulture brings their award-winning Asian cuisine to patrons at both their restaurant and Tower Grove Market.
Munch on a macaron or order a stunningly decorated cake from the French bakery La Patisserie Chouquette or cross the street to Union Loafers for a take home loaf or lunch. Southwest Diner brings a New Mexico twist to their menu. At Trattoria Marcella the lobster risotto shines. Try the Mother-Clucker sandwich at Byrd & Barrel or their Southern-style fried chicken. Get a funky flavored ice cream at Clementine’s or watch the flash-churning of your order at Ices Plain & Fancy. World’s Fair Donuts is a step back in time, but a sweet one.
Head to The Purple Martin for comfort food, or swing into Three Monkeys for fine pub grub and an exceptional Sunday brunch. Lots of fans across the city come to Piccadilly at Manhattan for its American menu and cozy neighborhood setting. Russell’s on Macklind and J. McArthur are both neighborhood favorites.
Crown Candy Kitchen is a step back in time with its classic soda fountain, sandwiches, and sweet treats. At Goody-Goody Diner you can eat breakfast all day. India Palace near the airport offers fine dining from cloth-covered tables, as well as an elegant lunch buffet.
Places of Interest
Historic City Treasures: Das Bevo for house-made pretzels, German brats and old-world ambiance. Take the fascinating tour of the Old Courthouse, Bellefontaine Cemetery, Lemp Mansion, and Anheuser-Busch brewery.