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San Francisco hound itinerary questions for St. Louis hounds.

Hello there. I will be in town for a work conference at the end of May staying at the Renaissance Grand hotel. Here are a couple restaurants I'm considering for the trip. Definitely interested in local/regional favorites. I'm interested in primarily dinner spots but open to suggestions for lunches close the hotel.

Tuesday Dinner: Open
Wednesday: Niche
Thursday: Baseball game (cards vs. astros)
Friday: Vin de set or Franco

Any thoughts/suggestions are greatly appreciated?

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  1. There are several good options that will be convenient for you:

    In the hotel, on the lower level, is An American Place. Look up their website -- they have some prix fixe menu options for multi-course meals for a very reasonable price, and I remember a discount for less than $30 if ordered before 6:30 or so. (Note: the website gives several menu options, including a VERY expensive tasting menu, a regular menu, and then the discounted multi-course menu options that I mentioned.)

    About four blocks north on Washington is the Lucas Park Grille. Pretty place with a large bar and several dining rooms -- we had a brunch there for out-of-town guests that was very well-handled. Very close by there is Mosaic, a hot restaurant on the other side of the street. I think Atlas is in the vicinity too.

    For a late lunch or meal before the Cards game, try Anthony's Bar which is adjacent to Tony's in the same office building almost right across from the new stadium. Tony's has been the premier high-end formal expensive dining destination in St. Louis for generations, and Anthony's is owned and run by the same family. A great burger and other bar food.

    While quite a haul from downtown, do try to beg a ride out to the South city along the old Highway 66 (now Chippewa) to the famed and fantastic Ted Drewe's, for their excellent frozen custard which is made into thick milkshakes called concretes that will stay in their cup held upside down. A St. Louis tradition. And while it is often dissed on this board, do try to sample St. Louis style pizza -- ultrathin crispy crust, a soft melty cheese called provel, most toppings baked under the cheese, and the slices cut into squares rather than wedges. And be sure to start with an order of toasted ravioli, breaded ravioli which is deepfried and then dipped into the tomato sauce.

    Enjoy, and report back.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Syberg's has a decent variation of St. Louis style pizza, toasted ravioli , plus you can get shark chunks and some pretty good chicken wings (special sauce, not your typical buffalo wing!)

      There's a location on Market near Union Station. I've never eaten at that location but it's probably on par with their original location and Helen Fitzgerald's.

      Just a note, it's probably smokey there- our restaurants aren't non-smoking across the board in St. Louis. They do take-out if smoke bothers you.

      1. re: nosh

        oh god, I don't think I'd spring provel on the uninitiated (I love it personally) - get the pie one side provel and the other mozzarella if you can. but the STL crust is fantastic and something you can't get in SF - I lived there 10 years and the closest I could ever find was at Escape from NY, still wasn't right.

        love the circle cut into squares, we all have our crust to center ratio preferences, right? toasted ravioli in marinara are addictive. and dangerous.

        and there's still no White Castle in CA...

        1. re: hill food

          Look, the SF visitor asked specifically for local/regional favorites. So St. Louis ultrathin-crust pizza with provel is a must. My favorite is Cafe Manhattan on Hanley in Clayton, but I'd hope and think there has to be an Imo's close enough to the hotel or convention center for a quick stop or even a delivery. (Imo's is the local pizza chain specializing in St. Louis-style pizza, with many branches around the metro area.)

          1. re: nosh

            I get your point and agree it should be tried. my favorite when in town is that bocce patio/sports bar across from Amighetti's. but I'm always a sucker for Imo's in a pinch (sausage and black olive for me).

            I was in KC (Imo's has a few there now) on business 5 years ago and on an off night just ordered a big Imo's and a PPV movie and had a flood of childhood food memories.

            I didn't intend to scare off the OP from provel, but rather encourage a testing of the waters - that and reinforce the unique crust as the stuff found in SF is usu. way too thick and gloppy for my taste.

          2. re: hill food

            White Castle tried breaking into CA 20 years ago in LA. They lasted less than a year. Too many other options for much better inexpensive food, they didn't stand a chance in spite of that wheel of fortune guy who had a talk show at the time pimping for them. Rather than proselytize outsiders to the merits of imos, provel, white castle, etc, st.louisans would be better off keeping it to themselves as their dirty little secret. That is unless they want to reinforce the reputation of the midwest as a culinary wasteland.

        2. Have a great visit! You may want to add Crown Candy kitchen for lunch- if you can sneak out of the conference before 11 or after 1, you'll avoid the crowds. I'd skip the "real food" and have dessert for lunch. Try a malt in your favorite flavor or a crown newport (it comes w/ vanilla ice cream but I like 1 scoop of vanilla and 1 scoop of coffee!)

          Before the ballgame, take a short drive down 55 (south) and get off at Arsenal and grab some pretzel salsiccia (italian sausage) at Gus' Pretzels along with a bag of ends. Make sure you have cash! At the stadium, get some garlic fries if they are available at the concession stand you visit. You get a huge portion for a reasonable price- hot and fresh with tons of minced garlic and olive oil. Bring gum for afterwards- it's potent!

          You may want to try Iron Barley (just about 10-15 minutes south on 55 from downtown.) Get off at Bates , make a right and then another right on Virginia. It'll be about 1/2 block down on the right side. After dinner at Iron Barley, visit Ted Drewes (Bates West until it dead ends...make a left and follow Eichelberger to a right turn on Jameson. Then make a right at Chippewa. ) I like the terramizzou sundae, but it's ok as a concrete too. http://www.teddrewes.com/Drewes.asp

          1 Reply
          1. re: lrstl

            Another suggestion for before or after the Cards game is the Broadway Oyster Bar. I don't know if it's your kind of scene or not, but it's a dive bar within walking distance of Busch Stadium, on Broadway. You don't expect to get good oysters in the St. Louis area, but theirs are fabulous! The Bloody Marys are also wonderful, they usually have a small band, and it's a great place for good food and good people watching on game days.

          2. I hope you enjoy St. Louis. Atlas is not downtown, it is located in the Central West End and is amazing if you have time to head out that way. Maybe 10 minutes from downtown. You are def. covered Weds. night. Anthony's Bar would be a great spot after the game. It's across the street from the Stadium and is a nice place to go. I second An American Place. And if I had to choose between Vin de Set and Franco...well, Vin de Set has a nice rooftop deck. They have a very extensive wine list but I found it to be poorly organized. I have eaten at Franco and had a nice meal...they are on par with each other when it comes to quality. But the deck is nice if it's a mild night.

            10th Street Italian, around the corner from the hotel is a must for lunch. Great spot.

            Enjoy your visit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CheesemongersWife

              Something that you won't find anywhere else that's outstanding is Iron Barley. It's a mix of Southern and German cuisine, with a great beer selection and some fantastic drinks and desserts. "Haute Hoosier" (Hoosier not in the Indiana sense, but in the redneck sense) is the way I've seen it described. Here's the website, they tend to have a lot of specials not listed as well.


              Iron Barley
              5510 Virginia Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63111

            2. FOR TUESDAY DINNER, I second the suggestion of An American Place - it is worth it for the room alone.

              FOR THURSDAY DINNER, I second the suggestion of the Broadway Oyster Bar - Creole food in a quirky atmosphere, within walking distance of the stadium.

              1. McMurphy's Grill (614 N. 11th Street St.) is a place training the homeless to work in the restaurant trade; it is not a scary place.
              2. Cummel's Cafe - home cooking, often cooked while you are ordering
              3. 10th Street Italian - nice food in simple surroundings
              4. Cafe Breve - good sandwiches

              1 Reply
              1. re: Doug

                I will have to respectfully disagree with the Broadway Oyster Bar suggestion. She is coming from San Fransisco...some of the nations BEST seafood is eaten in that town....and then we send her to Broadway Oyster Bar,....go for the ambiance and the kitsch good music and cold beer...but don't go for the oysters. You get better in SF.

              2. Thank you so much to everyone for your responses! It appears I'll definitely have to try St. Louis Pizza and the Broadway Oyster Bar sounds like a fun place to grab a drink. I was also looking at Sydney Street Cafe for Friday.

                4 Replies
                1. re: hannah

                  Sydney Street Cafe is a very good choice. Funky neighborhood that has been gentrified over the last decade, and there are a couple of divy bars nearby if you wanted to stop for a drink before heading back to your hotel.

                  Depending on your schedule, your sleep habits, and the demands of your conference, you should be aware that there is quite a bit of nightlife including some good local blues along the riverfront between the stadium, Niche and Sydney Street, and your hotel. Also, if you like slots or video poker or real gambling, there are several boats right there that can be a lot of fun -- and since you will be on west coast time you're going to be up late the first couple of nights in town anyway.

                  Oh, I thought of a couple of things re: the ballgame -- First, be sure to wear something that is bright red or you're going to feel out of place. Second, I seem to recall that there are a couple of stands or kiosks inside the stadium that sell toasted ravioli, so it might be an opportunity to try out that St. Louis specialty. Finally, if you need to meet up with someone for whatever reason before the game, the traditional spot is to connect at the Stan Musial statue outside of the gates.

                  Been a long time since a St. Louis thread garnered over a dozen responses. Looking forward to hearing how things work out for you.

                  1. re: nosh

                    Sidney Street Cafe is directly across the street from Niche.

                    I second Venice Cafe.

                    I might suggest Rooster for lunch downtown, if you don't want to eat super heavy midwestern food all week.

                    1. re: robotarms

                      Sidney Street is not directly across the street from Niche. They are separated by an entire block..but yes..they are on opposite sides of Sidney. From Niche just go west one block and you will see Sidney Street Cafe. It's on the corner of Salena and Sidney. Niche is on Lemp & Sidney.

                  2. re: hannah

                    a short drive South from downtown (maybe 5 minutes) across I-55 from the brewery, the Venice cafe has a pleasant/wacky patio to kill a few hours:


                    don't miss the Explorer's club upstairs to feed the fish (if they still do that).

                  3. Would not suggest An American Place. Very stuffy, pretentious, food was okay but not worth the $$. The Manhattans were pushing $20, not even top shelf. Ridiculous.

                    Iron Barley, Sydney Street (see if Georgia will be serving that night - she's awesome), Pomme, and Trattoria Marcella are my STL picks. Pomme is in Clayton, about a 20 minute drive from downtown. We also just ate at a really spectacular sandwich shop called Blues City Deli, located on McNair in the general vicinity of Sydney Street and Niche. Gus's is a great call..be sure to get the cheese or mustard dipping sauce with your salsiccia, and their cinnamon/sugar pretzels are heavenly.

                    Franco and Vin de Set are pretty similar in terms of quality and price points. I've been to both, and while nothing really jumped out at me at either, I would go back to each.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bandeapart

                      If you're looking for "Sydney" Street it's "Sidney" Street. A good recommendation, by the way.

                      1. re: bandeapart

                        Blues City Deli is a small, friendly place in Benton Park that serves big, hefty sandwiches on good bread. It is not at all an ethnic deli, definitely not Jewish-style and not classically Italian. It is a bit hard to find, though it is very close to Hodak's, a longtime local fried chicken classic. Great if you are in the neighborhood, but for the real taste of St. Louis I still have to recommend Amighetti's.

                      2. Go to Atlas. It is well worth the trip, time and money. Skip Vin de Set. Stay with Franco. Forget thin pizza, it sucks (and I'm from here). Too many really good pizza in SF (Golden Boy) in North Beach...is it still there? Definitely Venice. And skip early dinner before the game, grab a brat there and eat later. The Dubliner downtown is a fun spot.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: grillergorilla

                          God, I hope so, Golden Boy was one of my favorites. My co-workers all loved North Beach Pizza's soggy mess so much that in my memories I idealized STL thin crust. could never find anything close not even Escape from NY came close enough.

                          1. re: hill food

                            Golden boy is alive and well in SF for you next visit. Though not my favorite pizza in the city.

                            1. re: hannah

                              I liked it more for it's location and atmosphere than the slice itself (worked at Vallejo and Sansome at the time).

                              one place in STL I didn't see mentioned is Pho Grand, I know you have great VN in SF, but it really is good, should you find yourself craving SE Asian while there.

                        2. for tuesday night, you could go to harvest. quite possibly some of the best food I've eaten in st louis.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rllevy

                            I have to get in here. I moved from STL to LA in 1982, but I've been going back at least once per year. Been reading these boards for a little over a year and trying mostly pizza. I haven't found one place that can come close to these places in their prime: Pino's, Rinaldi's, and Nino's. If you don't remember them, I'm sorry. Was just recently in St. Louis and tried A'mis. Oh, please don't ever make me go back again. Farotto's used to be good. Used to be. Il Vincino was mediocre. Couple others I tried were, too. I'll keep trying the places I see listed but I don't hold out much hope.

                            1. re: mopeyboy

                              just saw your reply from months ago, and had to respond about Nino's. gosh, i remember it well and hadn't thought about it in decades. small place in a strip mall on Olive near or in Olivette -- a favorite weeknight place for us. somehow i have a very specific memory of a combo of a small pizza and six toasted ravioli as my usual order there. great place. must've gone there when i was in elementary school and jr. high -- by high school i remember switching to Frank & Helen's. so we're talking the end of the '60s. the other place i remember was on the north side of Olive just east of Flotken's supermarket -- Via's. remember my dad liked that place, coulda been because of their full bar. both places did the St. Louis-style pizza with provel cheese.