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Feb 28, 2008 04:38 PM

STL: need many recs.

We're coming back to STL for an eight-day trip starting Saturday and need some more food ideas.

Places we've been already: Remy's Wine Bar; First Watch; the Cupcakery (totally mediocre); some creperie in the CWE (near the Chase Park Plaza, where we'll be staying again); Liluma; Ted Drewe's (while the concept of having cherry pie mashed up in custard is cool, it's no Kopp's); Queen of Sheba; The Dubliner; some incredibly dull overpriced restaurant in the CWE (near Bissinger's; it was newly opened in November); Bailey's Chocolate Bar; Modai Sushi Lounge (an accident, and not a good one); Saleem's; Soda Fountain Square.

Places we are already thinking about going: Crown Candy Kitchen, Taylana's, Pho Grand, Rooster, the Goody Goody Diner (I'm from Jersey; gotta have a diner), Blueberry Hill, Jilly's Cupcake Bar.

Cuisine I am most worried about not finding in STL: Mexican. Is there any authentic Mexican in STL?

Cuisine there is a surprising abundance of: Ethiopian! What a great surprise. We've only tried Queen of Sheba and thought it was fantastic; we'd love opinions on the others.

We are willing to drive probably up to a half hour. Recs for anything but Indian would be great (I can't eat it). For most meals we will have our seventeen-month-old with us, so fine dining is out. She's pretty well behaved, but we don't like to take any chances and we hate to be "those parents." (We always eat dinner out early just in case.) We will have time for one nice meal on our own but we don't want to have to get super fancy AND everything is being expensed but we don't want to go nuts.

We're moving to U City in June, so don't worry about giving too many suggestions - we'll try them all eventually!

(Please, no provel or fried ravioli.)

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  1. there is some great mom-and-pop mexican to be found just on and off lower Grand (practically Carondelet) specifically a few doors West on Bates.

    I def. 2nd Pho Grand, but there are also others and good Thai in that stretch.

    while at the Chase, Kopperman's deli, is a few blocks North on Euclid and had great lox last time.

    Crown Candy's neighborhood puts some people off, don't let it.

    diners? STL has plenty, but...the Courtesy diner on S. Kingshighway by TG Park or the Eat-Rite on Chouteau South of downtown by I-55. food? utter crap, but glorious in its squalor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      Good thai in that stretch? you must be referring to the ONLY thai, i.e. King and I, which is mediocre at best. NO need to bother if visiting. And for mex., you must be referring to ONE place. Why not mention the name to narrow it down?

      1. re: mister

        mex - I can't remember the name and not sure if it's still there, across the street from the Polish store. best I've had outside of CA or AZ.

        K + I was ok when I was last there - good does not mean stellar. and there is Jay Asia for supplies for home cooking when they do move.

    2. Best wishes on your move. I grew up in St. Louis suburbs before going east for college and west coast for grad and career. I look forward to my visits back home, and I think there are a lot of great restaurants here, but I'll admit I love toasted ravioli and provel pizza. Some recs:

      Fatted Calf -- A great burger for about $5. Char fire-grilled with a soft-cheese option on top. Last remaining branch is in Clayton, I believe. No scene, nobody drinking or partying there, but a fantastic tasty drippy burger that I try to get to when in town. Blueberry Hill does a fine burger with bar sides if you are looking for music and a bar scene -- also a good value. But Fatted Calf really fires a great burger.

      Tony's -- Sooner or later you'll get there. The old gold standard, for an Italian Continental fine-dining professional service expense-account or special occasion dinner. Never had any cutting edge cuisine there, but never had a single dish that shouldn't have gone out of the kitchen. I'm fortunate that I've experienced them for decades in old and new venues, but always something special in terms of attention and old-fashioned class.

      Other faves -- Zinnea's. Oceano Bistro. Sidney Street Cafe. Mosaic. Blues City Deli. Cafe Manhattan and Uptown Cafe. Frank & Helen's -- right in your neighborhood, they do both provel or mozzorella pizza, broasted chicken -- but do they still permit smoking? Gotta admit I love Ted Drewe's, but only for "concretes" -- chocolate, extra malt.

      1. Here's a thread on sushi bars:

        STL is not a coastal city nor do we have a huge fish market (although Bob's Seafood is definitely recommended) so we can't go down to the docks, but the better chefs here still can get pretty high quality fish thanks to overnight delivery and higher standards. Modai is not one of them. In U City Seki's is easily your best bet.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Richard 16

          And why, pray tell, would an out of towner want to eat sushi here?

          1. re: mister

            If ladydistain is moving from a great place for sushi, she should get her fill there -- but she's also moving here in June, so she may like some knowledge of the local scene.

            I apprenticed to a Japanese chef and I've been to over 100 sushi bars around the U.S. While we're most certainly not a sushi destination, within the confines I mentioned above we've got a few excellent places. Certainly if someone lives in a place where the fish come in off the boats or has a big fish market the access to fresher *local* fish is obvious. And a big market will have a broader selection.

            OTOH, some items aren't dependent on location. The big one -- rice -- will be as good or as bad as the skill of the chef. Miso soup, natto, etc., also aren't place dependent unless they're using fresh seaweed. Anything frozen (and a lot of fish used for sushi/sashimi has been frozen, hopefully on the boat) so the quality of the frozen will depend on the pickiness of the chef and his (or her) relationship with the distributor. Fish flown in from Japan (or anywhere else) will be pretty much the same anywhere, except that places closer to the airport will have an edge with unfrozen.

            And of course the biggest variable will be the skill of the chef.

            One of the biggest things we lack is the population big enough to support a wide variety, especially of things common elsewhere but that go south quickly (Like mirugai [geoduck clam].). Otherwise, a sushi lover can survive here.

        2. Good mexican places: Las Palma, on Woodson Terrace, just south of the airport. Pueblo Nuevo, north on Lindbergh just past I-275. Hard to find because its set far back from the road. On Cherokee in south St. Louis. Lots of places to choose from, the mexican community there is bringing that area back to life.

          Crown Candy is awesome, but go during the day and be ready to wait, it s tiny place but well worth it.

          From Chinese, go east of I-170 on Olive, you will find a great selection, most are very good. There is also a good vietnamese place.

          Diner in CWE: The Majestic. One of my favorite haunts. Crowded, loud, good food, watch the table of old Greek men solve the world's problems.

          My neighborhoos local: Michael's on Manchester just west of McCausland. Another Greek owned place, great bar food and the best wings in town, bar none. And they have Greek specialties. Braised lamb shanks, spanakopita, gyros, tiramosalata, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Phaedrus

            Mexican on Cherokee Street: La Vallesana. See this review: and Bill Burge's (known on this board as bobzemuda) blog:
            Not sure what you're hoping to have at Talayna's. If you're from Jersey you've almost certainly had better red sauce Italian there. You also might want to try the Tap Room for excellent local beer and good quality food.

            La Vallesana
            2801 Cherokee St, Saint Louis, MO 63118

            Schlafly Tap Room
            2100 Locust St, Saint Louis, MO 63103

          2. I suggest you visit the latest fun area in town: The Grove. Dine at the Atomic Cowboy, where the menu is wide-ranging; sit in a church pew for a drink at The Church Key; have some wonderful baked goods at La Dolce Via; enjoy the beer at The Newstead Public House; have sweet potato pie at Sweetie Pies, indulge all five senses at Five, and try a tequila drink at the Tequilaria. Don't forget the Bellon Wrecking Company Delicatessen for lunch - in a building constructed out of other buildings.

            All of this along Manchester Road, between Vandeventer and Kingshighway; should be an easy drive for you from the Chase.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Doug

              So that area is thriving? Thats awesome. I remember going to Sweetie Pies and feeling like I was Clint Eastwood walking down the desolate mainstreet towards a gunfight. Did the latin place across from Sweetie Pies survive?

              1. re: Phaedrus

                Phaedrus, Thriving is a bit of an exaggeration. But, as an almost 30-year resident of the neighborhood, I can say we have come a long way. Manchester is getting there. There is even an art gallery near Kingshighway!
                I always recommend La Dolce Via, which features brunch on the weekends, and lunch, and, of course, amazing baked goods. The patio will be lovely in a few weeks!
                I would also suggest Everest on Manchester near Boyle. The food is Nepalese and Korean (the native lands of the lovely owners). The lunch buffet is great. High chair available. (Might be too close to Indian food for you?)

                Third rec to the Majestic: it is as close to a diner as we get. My parents, from NJ, always insisted on a Sunday breakfast there when they visited. Rice pudding is excellent.

                The Moxy Bistro on Laclede has very good contemporary food, and would work well for an early dinner with your toddler. It gets noisy later on .

                Have a great visit and welcome to town. p.j.