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St. Louis -- Wash U Area

Hi all-
I am going to St. Louis the weekend of Nov. 9th to visit my younger sister who is a freshman at Wash U. Looking for some recs around the school or my hotel (staying at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza). I won't have a car so need restaurants where we can take the metro or cabs. My parents have visited her a couple of times and didn't have the best of luck finding good food. So I was hoping you guys could help make my food experience better. Not looking for anything super fancy (though I am not opposed to one real nice dinner if it's worth it), but a few places with good food and a fun atmosphere. Maybe places my sister could go back to after I leave. Oh, and open to any cuisine. Need a couple of places for dinner, lunches and a brunch on Sunday. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. For a nice dinner, Oceano Bistro in Clayton is relatively new, stylish, and not horribly expensive. Check out their website.

    For a casual dinner or lunch, I have a few favorites I hit when I visit the area. Cafe Manhattan (or is it Manhattan Cafe?) is on Hanley just a couple blocks south of the civic buildings in Clayton and a straight shot west from Wash U -- great St. Louis style pizza (ultra-thin crust, provel cheese, cut into squares. I love it and always get a fix when in town, but it gets dissed on this board), good toasted ravioli, and a tasty house salad. Their sister restaurant Uptown Cafe is right near the courthouse/jail in Clayton, similar, but not as young a vibe and they don't have toasted ravioli (toasted canneloni instead). For a fantastic chargrilled burger, try the Fatted Calf in Clayton. Right near campus in "the Loop" is an old classic, Blueberry Hill. Lots of rock'n'roll memorabilia, especially Chuck Berry, fine burgers and other simple fare, and a popular bar.

    If your sis has made any friends with access to a car, be sure to hit Ted Drewe's. A St. Louis landmark on old Highway 66 that serves amazing frozen custard. Be sure to get a "concrete," a shake or malt so thick you can turn it upside down without spilling. Too far for a cab and not on MetroLink or easy public transportation, unfortunately.

    1. I second Blueberry Hill- it's a great little joint. There's also another pizza place that's famous in the Loop- Cicero's.
      My other recommendation would be to take a cab to the Central West End to Boozefish, Cafe Eau at Chase Park Plaza or some other little place in there. That's good for evening, you can just kind of bounce around.
      And then there's the Hill- don't miss Ameghetti's- the bakery side for their Original sub.

      1. Araka is in Clayton and would be the fancy one for sure.

        Remy's Kitchen and Wine Bar is mid-tier but excellent.

        Posh Nosh for a killer reuben

        La Pizza on Delmar for meatball subs and NYC style pizza / or Dewey's for Pizza

        Rooster for brunch if you can land a car - or you could take Metrolink. It's worth it.

        1. Remy's would be an easy walk from your hotel.

          1. You're within walking distance of a lot of good restaurants.

            Try the Blue Elephant for really good Thai. It's a little more pricey than some other Thai restaurants in the Loop, but definitely worth it. It's one of our favorite places to go for a good dinner that won't break the bank. Also, the Panang Chicken is awesome there!

            Posh Nosh is great for deli sandwiches.

            I'd also highly recommend Pomme for a great dinner (but pricier for sure). I've noticed some others on the board haven't had great things to say about Pomme, but I've never experienced anything but wonderful food and great service there. It's an intimate little place...try the "Apples for Olivia" for dessert...on of my favorite desserts in STL.

            Almond's is another great place for a pricier dinner (although, comparatively, very reasonable for a higher end restaurant in STL) Their food is consistent, always VERY good.

            Other less pricey options include:
            Pomme Wine Bar--it is a sister establishment to Pomme, but cheaper. The pasta dishes I've had there lately have been excellent. A very cozy ambiance too. I like meeting friends there to have drinks in a quieter atmosphere. Desserts are great too!

            City Coffee--you MUST go here for crepes for breakfast. Fair warning, the place can be crazy. Don't let the long lines intimidate you; they usually move quickly and tables are available.

            Wasabi--one of my favorites for sushi in town.

            Remy's--good too...

            Hopefully this helps you make some decisions...have fun in St Louis!

            6 Replies
            1. re: keg9857

              As a clayton native and resident-

              Araka is by far the best new restaurant- it is very fun with a great bar scene and everything on the menu is delicious!!! the food is southern european
              Mirasol in the loop is always a fun spot- the food is nueva latina and is mostly tapas style- i have dreams about their queso fundido and all of their drinks are fantastic!
              If you feel like going downtown,
              Niche is fabulous- very small so you need reservations but also on the pricey side for st. louis
              If you are staying around clayton-
              pomme cafe and wine bar is great for breakfast-unbelievable oatmeal, pastries, eggs, etc
              . city coffee is always popular and crowded for crepes etc but i think its overrated
              the best coffee by far is a Kaldi's and is very close to Wash U- on DeMun near Clayton and Skinker and the baked goods are great there as well

              blueberry hill is traditional burger and fries but very st. louis

              the womens exchange is a st. louis classic- always gets crowded but fun for your sister to go with girlfriends- the classic womens exchange salad- chicken, ham, bacon, swiss, tomato, mayfair dressing

              i also love cardwells at the plaza for lunch- not the clayton location

              i fratellini serves lunch a lot of days not sure about weekends- a charming italian cafe near school at hanley and wydown blvd.

              1. re: EmilyCorson

                These are all great suggestions. Thanks so much!

                1. re: EmilyCorson

                  Is Niche expensive? I'm curious what people think, because I don't find it to be when you consider what it costs for two people to eat three courses each.

                  I've certainly spent a lot there before, but it's because I had an insane amount of food and drinks.

                  1. re: bobzemuda

                    I don't think it's too terribly expensive, but I haven't been there since the spring. Maybe they have raised their prices lately? The prix fixe seemed to be a good buy actually.

                    1. re: shannoninstlouis

                      So, to revise my earlier posting- i suppose it isnt terribly expensive but it is definitely more than what it was when they opened. I think that they offer one prix fixe option every night- but they no longer have 3 courses for 35 for everything on the menu. My husband and I went there on Saturday and the food bill (without gratuity or alcohol) came to about $93- that included 2 appetizers (tuna tartar salad/squash pine nut soup), 2 entrees (mushroom and potato entree and halibut and cauliflower puree) and 2 desserts (chocolate lava cake and marshmallow semifreddo)- all of the food was fabulous. However, the options we picked were not on the prix fixe menu. fyi they also offer chef tasting menus for 60 or 70 a person (i am almost certain)

                      1. re: EmilyCorson

                        The chef's tasting is $60 per person, but watch out if it includes Niche's strips of undercooked duck meat attached to big strips of duck fat.

              2. I just came back from St Louis, went to the hill and Amighetti's to have their so called famous Italien hoagie, never in my live have I had a hoagie done with mayo plus with roast beef, on top of that they where all predone, had to throw mine away as I did not eat it right away ,have to say that the bread was very good.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mutti

                  Maybe it's semantics but they don't call 'em hoagies. I think that Amighetti's specials are best eaten immediately. I've never had one pre-done but I can see them pre-making them for the lunch rush. The "mayo" is a mayo based special sauce, it's a little spicy, a little tangy but not just mayo. My fav sandwich there is the Little Bit of Italy. Yum but greasy! But since the OP wont' have a car, I wouldn't take a cab to the Hill just for Amighetti's anyway.

                  1. re: lrstl

                    I've always been under the impression it's just mayo and yellow mustard. They definitely pre make them for the lunch rush, and to be honest, I've come to prefer them that way.

                    I had a Gioia's Hot Salami for lunch though, and I think I'll take it over the Amighetti's special these days.

                    And speaking of that, I was driving around the hill for a while today, and just how many Deli's does one area need...seriously? What of the others are even good, I've only personally eaten in four of them, and I'd only put Gioia's and Amighetti's on the list of truly enjoyable.

                2. Would The Crossing be a good choice for a nicer dinner one night?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: WashDC33

                    I personally think there are a lot better choices in the Clayton area for the money. Ever since Cary split from Jim, I don't think the Crossing has been as good as it once was.

                    Really, Harvest isn't that from from there, and it's most definitely a better choice.

                    As always, I'd suggest Atlas more than anything for the area, but it's on the Western side of the Central West End just North of Forest Park.

                    Bill

                    1. re: WashDC33

                      While I believe the crossing is good- I also feel that there are far better choices. As I wrote before- Araka would be my first choice in clayton, but other good options are pomme, cafe napoli (classic st. louis italian), oceana (just underwent large rehab/new ownership), i fratellini, and niche or sydney street cafe if you feel like venturing closer to downtown.

                      1. re: EmilyCorson

                        Araka looks great. I think I will definitely try to get a reservation there. Thanks!

                        1. re: WashDC33

                          So, what did you think of St. Louis? Where did you go?