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Aug 20, 2008 09:33 AM

St. Louis Ribs or Steaks?

My wife and I are making our first trip to St. Louis this weekend, and are hoping for some suggestions for restaurants.

We will be staying at the Chase Park Plaza. We would like to sample the local cuisine, which to me, seems like steaks and/or ribs. Price-wise, I am interested in all levels as I may try to have one meal be a "splurge."

Any commentary on what type of ribs to expect would be appreciated. I generally prefer my ribs to be tight to the bone and lean as opposed to "fall off the bone" and fatty. If there are any other restaurants that are a must, but don't specialize in ribs or steaks, we would love to hear about those too. Thanks!!

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  1. Pappy Smokehouse for ribs.
    Steaks-I like JackSons-neighborhood bar on one side and white tablecloths on the other-very good steaks and very nice people.

    Our restaurant with the most notoriety right now is Niche - the chef recently featured in Food and Wine

    Of course one of our real regional cuisines, often dissed on this forum is "St. Louis Italian" and you are going to be close to "the Hill".

    1. You may be disappointed to hear that "St. Louis ribs" refers to a cut of meat and not a style of barbecue. St. Louis restaurants are not well-known for ribs or steaks, although there are such things to be found here. There are multiple threads with St. Louis recommendations on this board. The usual suspects include Niche, which boasts a James Beard Award-winning chef, Atlas, which is near your hotel and serves great food with an emphasis on local ingredients, An American Place, which does first-rate, high end food downtown, and Tony's, which is old-school elegant with tableside service. You can find out more either by searching this board or by going to Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: alan

        I believed Gerard Craft was on the long list but did not make the final cut for a James Beard Award....none the amazing chef and St. Louis is lucky to have him!

        OH...and I concurr with the Pappy's recommendations. Best ribs I have ever eaten! And I lived in TX for 3 years!

      2. another vote for pappy's ribs!

        1. Yet another strong second to the rec for Pappy's. I went for the first time last Saturday during my visit from L.A. after sending several family members there. The ribs were excellent -- a nice smoky taste, a long-cooked tenderness, but still a nice bite and definitely not the steamed/braised fall-off-the-bone abomination. They normally serve baby backs rather than St. Louis spareribs. They offer three sauces in squeeze bottles at the tables. I also enjoyed the pulled pork -- tender and moist -- though I discovered later that you need to order them "with bark" to get the charred crispy edges that are my favorite part. I liked the brisket -- my mom thought it was a bit tough. I have to give them special kudos on their sides -- my mom and sis love their thin sweet potato fries with cinnamon, I liked their steak fries, also the potato salad which wasn't too mustardy and a very nice crisp tart cole slaw. Management and servers could not have been more pleasant and eager to please. They aren't too far away, located at 3106 Olive (if I recall correctly) very close to St. Louis University where Lindell turns back into Olive. Go for lunch or very early -- when they sell out of an item it is done for the day and when too many are sold they close. Pappy's is by far the best smoke BBQ I can remember eating in St. Louis, where I grew up and have been visiting regularly for decades.

          How far are you willing to travel for steaks? The best in town are probably at Citizen Kane's, which is in the suburb of Kirkwood, or Annie Gunn's, which is in the western suburb of Chesterfield. Closer in to you but still west on Lindbergh in Ladue is Kreiz's, which has great steaks but their better specialty is prime rib. (Any of these is going to run mid-$30s for a steak or prime rib entree with side.) In Clayton, the business and civic center west of you, or downtown to the east, you can find most of the national steak chains (Ruth's Chris, Morton's, etc.) as well as restaurants opened by or for local sports heroes (J. Buck's, Shannon's, etc.). My family has been celebrating special occasions at Tony's (located on the ground floor of an office building on Broadway downtown across from the new Busch Stadium) for decades -- it is a dress-up, elegant, service-intensive, classical Italian-Continental-St. Louis institution.

          Do NOT MIss -- Ted Drewe's for a historic frozen custard stand on the old Highway 66. (Order a concrete -- a milkshake so thick you can hold it upside-down, or a hot-fudge anything.) Imo's or another local purveyor of the beloved and much maligned St. Louis pizza -- ultrathin crisp crust, provel melty cheese, toppings under the cheese layer, and cut into squares. Be sure to get some toasted ravioli to start. And depending where you are from, White Castle for sliders (the Porcelain Palace) and Steak-n-Shake for steakburgers, thin fries, and side-by-side two-flavor shakes.

          1. For a great reasonable steak go to Tuckers in Soulard...Soulard is great area...really great tenderloin filet...for some reason the best baked potatoes too! Then stop next door at McGurks Irish Pub for a pint and some authentic Irish garden too!
            For a great Italian meal near your hotel try "Bar Italia" lots of outdoor seating and fantastic food.

            4 Replies
            1. re: suze44

              Thanks to everyone for all the great repsonses so far. One questions about Tony's: could I get away with slacks and a nice dress shirt, or would I need a jacket/tie?

              1. re: BigBonesBradley

                Tony's might actually still have a dress code -- I'm not sure. But unless things have changed significantly since the last time I was there a couple of years ago, I think a gentleman would stick out like a sore thumb and be quite uncomfortable without a jacket. If you aren't up for such a formal dining experience, Tony's does own and operate a much more casual bar serving excellent food (great burgers, sandwiches, and bar food, but also entrees and full meals as well) in a space adjacent to the restaurant. I believe the name is Bar Anthony's...I could be off. Or you may want to try Niche (perhaps the hottest restaurant in town the last year or two) or Sydney Street Cafe just south of downtown, An American Place (which can also be a bit dressy) or Lucas Park Grille on Washington just north of the riverfront, The Crossing (which features a wonderful four-course choose your items $25 prix fixe dinner option) or Pomme in Clayton, or one of the steak places mentioned above.

                1. re: BigBonesBradley

                  Last time I was at Tony's jackets were still required and I assume that remains the case. They keep a supply in their closet for those who are unfamiliar with their dress code. (My friend's son found an orthodontic retainer in the pocket of the jacket he was loaned!)

                  1. re: alan

                    FYI. We returned from St Louis last night and had a WONDERFUL time in your beautiful city.

                    We wound up at Tony's (where I was just fine in slacks and a shirt on Friday night -- apparently, a jacket is only required on Saturday nights now). For what it's worth, I was disappointed with the food, but the service was great. . . but I guess this site is not called "Service-Hound!!"