Best places to eat in St. Louis, period.
Prime Rib-Kreis's on Linbergh in Frontenac
Steaks (Prime)-Citizen Kane's in Kirkwood
Italian-Tony's (expensive) or Cafe Napoli in Clayton (not as expensive)
Burger-O'Connell's on Kingshighway
Deli-Lester's in Ladue
Fried Chicken-Frank & Helen's on Olive
Best chef-oriented, cutting-edge food, especially the tasting menu: Niche. Honorable mention: Sidney Street Cafe.
Best value in a high-end place: the four-course $25 menu at The Crossing.
Best burger, without attitude and smoke in your face: The Fatted Calf.
Best formal classic dress-up with decades of history: Tony's.
Best don't-miss local treasure where everyone is smiling: Ted Drewe's for frozen custard.
Best BBQ and working hardest to please: Pappy's.
Best St. Louis-style pizza, with ultrathin crust, provel cheese, cut into squares: Cafe Manhattan. Note: beloved by natives, dismissed by most others, should be preceded by their Italian house salad and toasted ravioli.
Best thing about St. Louis restaurants: Generous servings, friendly service, surprisingly good food. Worst thing: Far too many places still permit smoking, so if you are from California or other enlightened locales, be sure to ask about the policy before reserving.
Let's keep the focus on the food and not personal attacks.
Best chocolate (or chocolate banana) malted: Crown Candy Kitchen.
OP didn't ask necessarily for a "best of" list, and that always tends to deteriorate into a battle of the experts, so here are some other places I like:
Five, on Manchester, for creative cuisine, great atmosphere, and warm, personal service.
The Pitted Olive, on Hampton, for reliably tasty food, very reasonable prices, and a great host and hostess in Mike and Melissa Holmes.
I recently enjoyed some terrific pho at Pho Long on Olive Street.
Riddles Penultimate is known for its use of local ingredients and its wine list.
Al-Tarboush on Delmar makes great felafil and hummus.
Pi on Delmar has a great take on thin crust pizza--not at all like local favorite (and bane to those of us who weren't born here) Imo's.
I'm sure I'll think of more as this list fills up.
Riddle's Penultimate Cafe
6307 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63130
Pitted Olive Deli Market & Catering
5815 Hampton Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63109
6144 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO
Crown Candy Kitchen
1401 Saint Louis Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63106
Pho Long Restaurant
8613 Olive Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63132
602 Westgate Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63130
4317 Manchester Ave, St Louis, MO
I second the vote for Five--but note that they're moving to the Hill soon. Very fresh, innovative and nice service. Also "appropriate" portion sizes there--unlike nosh, I'm not a fan of large portions. PI is creative with both thin crust and deep dish (we prefer the thin) and it's also relatively kid-friendly (most friendly is Dewey's). Riddles is wonderful for freshness but not high on the ambiance if that's what you're looking for. Both Riddles and Five cook with Ozark Farm mushrooms---which are OUT of this WORLD!
re: hill food
Are you talking about in a building on a street corner? That must have been Harold's, I think it was, in the old Foret Park Hotel. I lived a block away. The intersection was Euclid and West Pine. But we do digress, don't we?
Does anyone have any top-line breakfast suggestions?
Tony's is not as good as Giovanni's or Larusso's or Trattoria Marcella or numerous other places which all cost less. Also Cafe Napoli is overrated. For a city such as STL, which has phenomenal Italian food, it is grossly unfair for you to call those two places the best for Italian. Does Kemoll's ring a bell?
Citizen Kane's is good. Annie Gunn's and Ruth's Chris, though...
Fatted Calf is phenomenal, so is O'Connell's, so is Llewellyn's, but I think we're forgetting about Carl's.
Lester's is really just plain inferior to Adriana's, Mama Toscano's, and Pratzel's.
Frank and Helen's broasts their chicken, and it is really really good.