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Jun 1, 2008 05:48 AM

4 meals in St. Louis

I will be in St. Louis for 3 days next month and would like to sample the best St. Louis has to offer - "best" meaning, most interesting, most "if you could only eat at 4 places... what would they be?" No dining restrictions, and I have no personal fav cuisines, just interested a memorable dining experience that will do St. Louis proud... that's all ;) Thx!

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  1. Sidney street cafe for dinner

    Carl's Drive in for lunch(flat, stack burgers

    thats two for sure . . . try and get some italian(Tony's, Giovanni's) for a splurge and tratorria marcella seems be very popular but I have not been there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: blackbookali

      blackbookali you date yourself. Al Baker's has been closed for 20 years. Couple of other names--Annie Gunn's (steaks and seafood). Paul manno's. Cafe Napoli.

      Fun trivia on the square pizza slices started by Imo's. Mr. Imo was a tile cutter and he decided to cut his pizza slices like he cut tile--in squares.

        1. re: blackbookali

          sorry it was Nosh just below your post

    2. Tony's for upscale, dress-up, Italian/Continental. The premier fine-dining restaurant in St. Louis for generations. Some table-side preparations. Certainly not cutting edge and far from trendy, but for one of your dinners a definite must. In the ground floor of an office building on Broadway across from Busch Stadium.

      Niche has won some awards lately and it is more trendy and hot. In the same general neighborhood as Sidney Street Cafe, also recommended. Both of these are in the Soulard area south of downtown and fairly close in.

      Washington Blvd. just to the north of the Arch downtown is a regentrified area full of hotels, new lofts, bars and a host of relatively new, hot restaurants. An American Place is in the Renaissance Hotel and has a great pedigree, and offers some of the most expensive tasting menus as well as some very reasonable multi-course price-fixed choices. Lucas Park Grille is in a beautiful restored building. Mosaic has gotten some plugs.

      On the west side of the city are Forest Park (don't miss the zoo during your stay, it is spectacular and admission is free), Washington University, and the business/civic/shopping center of Clayton. Some would put Harvest at the top of St. Louis restaurants over the last few years. Pomme is a fine French restaurant in Clayton, and The Crossing in Clayton has been celebrating its anniversary with an amazing special with entrees at $10 and apps (including a great crabcake), pastas, and desserts at $5 -- call to assure it is still available.

      In the south city along the former Highway 66 are the casual Iron Barley and The Pitted Olive. An excellent reason for choosing either is their proximity to Ted Drewe's, the St. Louis frozen custard institution. Rich, soft-served vanilla custard, with a variety of toppings and mix-ins. Get a concrete, an ultra-thick shake that stays in the cup when upside-down.

      For steaks, some would send you to Citizen Kane's in Kirkwood or Al Baker's, but for my meat cravings I'd go to Kreisz's, on Lindbergh near Highway 40, for thick gorgeous slabs of excellent prime rib. For old-school Italian, many would send you to The Hill, the old-time neighborhood on the south side, and you can find threads comparing places there. But I'd go to Kemoll's, which is just as historic and much more elegant.

      For lunch, I would send you to The Hill for a legendary sandwich from Amighetti's. Another good sandwich place is Blues City Deli, a small and hard to find joint in Benton Park, which is very close to Hodak's, famous for fried chicken. For burgers, some say O'Connell's (and some of them say their roast beef is superior to the burger) but I have to warn you, St. Louis has not completely banned smoking in restaurants and bars and it can be a problem. I'd strongly recommend The Fatted Calf, in Clayton, for a hefty fire-grilled burger with a scoop of soft cheese on top. For lunch or late-night barfood, a classic place near Washington U. is Blueberry Hill, which also often has live music and tons of rock'n'roll memorabilia specializing in Chuck Berry.

      Finally [and let the flames start throwing] you have to try St. Louis pizza and toasted ravioli. My favorite place is Cafe Manhattan, on Hanley in a residential stretch of Clayton near Wydown. Ultrathin pizza, crispy crust, most toppings baked under the cheese, cut into squares, and the cheese is the melty provel. Split a salad, an order of deep-fried toasted ravioli served with the sauce on the side for dipping, and a large pizza -- I crave, love, and miss the stuff, and while you may hate it, at least you'd have experienced it. The local chain for such pizza is Imo's.

      Report back. And by the way, did I mention Ted Drewe's?!

      1 Reply
      1. re: nosh


        I like both the Kreis and Citizen Kane, but I go to Kreis for the prime rib, as you had said, but for steaks and strictly steaks, I still prefer Citizen Kanes.

      2. Nosh....let me just jump in and make supportive noises. Flamers be d*****, if you want to try St. Louis food, you must try St. Louis pizza. Imo's probably defines the stuff, but I like the version served at Guido's on Shaw. (Also on "The Hill). Go for lunch, order a small...if you hate it you can always go the three-four blocks to the aformentioned Amighetti's, which is also on the Hill, although you will find other good choices at Guido's...I am a dyed-in-the-wool native, and when I live outside of the area I dream of an Imo's it or hate it, do try it. Better your meals at the restaurants recommended, but when you get back to the hotel some night and feel a bit peckish, call Imo's and order in....its okay, it doesn't count as gluttony if you're out of town.
        The only thing I would add to Nosh's excellent ideas would be Everest...Nepali cuisine, in the friendliest atmosphere...the lunchtime buffet is a tremendously good value, and the food is so fresh and high-quality that you won't leave with that weighed-down feeling that lunch buffets can sometimes give you (even if you eat four plates full...and kheer...)

        Sidney Street Cafe is a perennial favorite of ours...very meat heavy,big portions, terrific food, and a very romantic/clubby atmosphere. I went to Niche for the first time last month (which is just down the street from Sidney Street Cafe) and was absolutely blown away. Very 'new' food...smallish portions, big emphasis on presentation, lots of locally sourced ingredients...and everything was PERFECT. If you have food elitists, Niche is the way to go, if you have trenchermen, think Sidney Street. Both are great recommendations. Also Iron Barley, for a real taste of South City and some very, very tasty food. And if the redhead is behind the bar, her name is Jackie, and she's awesome. If you do go to Iron Barley, consider the Ballistic Elvis sandwich for dessert, its weird, but it works.

        1. If the weather is good at lunchtime, go to Gus' Pretzels and order a bratzel - take your lunch to Aboussie Park, the smallest park in the United States.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Doug

            If I were going to St. Louis today I would head to Pho Grand or Banh Mi So for lunch. Dinner would be Gian-Tony's on the Hill.

            The next day I would pick up some pastries for breakfast at the newer place in Clayton that has some of the Lake Forest Pastry items, like date kuchen. I can't remember the name of the place, Lake Forest Confectionier, maybe?

            For lunch I go to Iron Barley, then Ted Drewes for dessert. I'd finish with a very nice dinner at Atlas on Pershing near Forest Park.

            Wait, that's more than 4! When in St. Louis I usually hit at least 4 places a day! If even for just a bite. Have fun, St. Louis is one of my favorite food towns.

            1. re: zataar

              Thx everyone for the replies - that's an impressive list - I regret that I have but only 4 days to give to my country... :)

              @blackbookali - "flat stack burgers" sounds intriguing... thx for the tip!

              @nosh - Thx for the wealth of city and restaurant knowledge. I'm not a traditionalist by any stretch - is Tony's still a good choice? From your list Niche and An American Place sounds interesting as well as a "legendary sandwich" (someone needs to put those words on a menu for sure) at Amighetti's.
              And if you and and tonifi are both ready to withstand flames for recommending St. Louis Pizza then that sounds like a must - seems like Imo's is the fav, so Imo's it is.
              And a report will be my pleasure.

              @tonifi - thx for your list. I saw something else about Everest somewhere, also intriguing. And another vote for Niche - solid #2.

              @Doug - having a bratzel in the smallest park in the US just seems like something everyone should do at least once - thx!

              @zataar - more votes for The Hill so I'm leaning that way for at least one meal, Tony's of the 2 most pop mentions. And more votes for Ted Dewes, seems like another must.

              Can't wait - thx again all!

              1. re: Maxfood

                I suggest GoodyGoodys for breakfast, Crown Candy for lunch, Ted Drewes for afternoon snack and Ami's on Manchester for St. Louis style pizza, toasted ravioli, homemade rolls and St. Louis style salad (lots of iceburg lettuce with sweet gloppy dressing)

          2. I would agree with most of these but I think there are a lot of places I would rather eat than Tony's. I just had a great meal (again) at Monarch in Maplewood. As for sandwiches on the Hill, I think Adrianna's is better than Amighettis. I work right between them.

            As for nosh's post, I think Nosh meant Al's, not Al Baker's, as that closed in the early 90's. Al's is very old school and very good. For steaks I would also suggest Annie Gunn's. It is a bit of a drive but awesome.