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STL Help me narrow my choices...

Visting St. Louis for four days. I've scoured this board... Please help me narrow a bit.

Upscale: Niche, Monarch, Erato, Crossing
Tapas: Modesto, Robust Wine Bar
Hamburgers: Blueberry Hill
Pizza: Cafe Manhattan, Pi
BBQ: Pappy's
Lower key: Iron Barley
Brunch: Cafe Osage

Any glaring omissions? Anywhere you would seek a fellow food lover? Would love to know about coffe houses and chocolatiers, too. Will be staying near Washington University one night, near the Arch the other nights. Thanks in advance for help!

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  1. By all accounts, Niche is the place to go among your upscale choices. It has a talented, honored chef, and it is known for being interesting and innovative.

    Don't miss Pappy's but make sure you don't go late or the good stuff will be gone. Ribs are first-rate.

    1. I would agree with Alan that niche is the hot one of your upscale choices. However, your next 2 are certainly right there in the top 5. I think you are missing maybe Sidney Street Cafe.
      For Chocolates, I hear these guys are awesome-
      For Chocolate oriented, I think you could consider either of these places for Coffee/ Desert/Chocolate items-
      We love Baileys for cocktails and desert and hot chocolates, etc.
      Bissingers also has a place in the wet end that you may want to check out. http://www.experiencebissingers.com/
      Osage Beach I have no idea about but I CAN tell you that if money is no object, the 50 dollar a head brunch at The Ritz is to die for...
      Coffee Houses, the Kaldi's in Clayton has a Clover Machine I believe. That is not far from where you will be.
      If you have to choose on the Pizza, Pi no doubt would be first IMO and La Pizza would be my second choice.
      I personally would get a Roast Beef Sandwich at Oconnels before a burger at Blueberry. It is smoky in Oconnels if you don't like that.
      Iron Barley is good for sure.
      Pappys closed at 4 I think on Saturday and as Alan said, you better get there at lunch time for selection.
      Lastly, Crown Candy kitchen is fun if you want a 1920's soda shop vibe. go during the day only.
      Hope that helps,


      PS- Please report back and give us feedback. Too many people don't let us know how they enjoyed things.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

        I absolutely love Niche and Bailey's Chocolate bar. Definitely second those recs.

      2. For the night you are staying near Wash U. dinner can be at The Crossing in Clayton -- make sure they are still offering the four-course for $25 special. Lunches can be at Cafe Manhattan which is on the west side of Hanley near Wydown in Clayton and your other lunch can be at Blueberry Hill, which is on Delmar in the Loop just north of campus. When you are downtown, you can easily hit Niche in Benton Park just on the south part of downtown and head across the river to Erato. Monarch is going to be a bit of a drive back west. Your lunches can easily include Pappy's, which is better for lunch, and maybe some of the places you haven't gotten to yet.

        No real need for tapas -- Erato is small plates, and it isn't what the city does best. Same with Pi -- good for non-St. Louis-style pizza, but you can get other types in OKC. I would head to the Hill -- it is a classic Italian neighborhood that is fun to walk around -- and get some of our big-portioned, red-sauce pasta or hit Amighetti's for their famous sandwich or Blues City Deli in Benton Park for great sandwiches and friendly service, if you can find it. If you are adventurous I'd look up Mammer Jammer's for a unique, spicy sandwich. I haven't been to Iron Barley -- I want to -- I loved the segment on DDD but opinion of my relatives is definitely mixed. You may want to consider Crown Candy Kitchen for diner fare and milkshakes, but the place you definitely do not want to miss is Ted Drewe's -- I like the "concretes" which are mixed so thick they can be held upside down, though my mom won't leave without her hot fudge sundae.

        1. The staff @Niche (front and back of house) turned me on to Bobo Noodle House. It's right across from Wash U. I've never seen Trattoria Marcella mentioned, although it's some of the best Italian I've had in the mid-west. Sorry, no toasted ravioli. It's just off the Hill. Here are the #s. Bobo (314)863-7373 and Trattoria Marcella (314)352-7706. Modesto was pretty good last time I was there (also on the Hill) and Mosaic (that used to be on Washingto Ave., but has since moved someplace close) was decent as well.I'd skip Monarch. I've been there 3 times and never have had a good meal. If you're looking for super-casual, Blues City Deli gets the big thumbs up from my STL friends and they are in Benton Park. Oh yaeh, and then there's Harvest...

          3 Replies
          1. re: inbiz

            Inbiz is right--Harvest is another excellent choice if you're doing two upscale dinners. If it's only one, I'd probably choose Niche. It's noisier but more innovative than Harvest.

            1. re: inbiz

              Bobo is terrific. We went twice during the first few weeks it was open and had a lovely time. And know that they are not (or weren't at the time) at all shy about spice levels.

              1. re: litchick

                I was surprised I hadn't seen it on here.

            2. If you are looking for authentic and traditional Spanish tapas, try Guido's - ironically located in the heart of the Italian district on Shaw Avenue. They have been serving tapas in St. Louis for 35 years. http://guidosmo.tripod.com/

              1 Reply
              1. re: Doug

                Another tapas option is Barcelona in Clayton.

              2. I'm a big fan of JackSon's, but no sure how it fits in to your groups. Love the pizza and pasta, plus live music many nights.

                1. Thanks for all your help.... I'll start revising my list! I definitely will report back late next week.

                  1. I'd drop Pappy's. It is new, trendy, and a great place for lunch but the BBQ is average and nothing to write home about. I think if the people who like it ventured off the beaten path, they would find much tastier BBQ.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: wolfinstl

                      I don't really understand your description of Pappy's. It seems to be contradictory. Perhaps you can clarify.
                      How is it a "great place for lunch", but the "BBQ is average"?


                      1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                        It's a great place to have lunch, trendy, great location but the BBQ is average. How is that contradictory? To clarify, there are places in St. Louis that offer FAR better BBQ but they are not "trendy" as they are generally located in unfrequented areas.

                        Just because I like the pasta at Cicero's and think it's a great place to eat doesn't mean I don't realize that the pasta at Zia's or Tony's is much, much better.

                      2. re: wolfinstl

                        Have to disagree here. It's a great place for lunch BECAUSE the BBQ is anything but average. I've not had better BBQ in St. Louis.

                        1. re: alan

                          If you think the BBQ at Pappy's is above average then you haven't had really good BBQ. Go try Smokey-O's.

                          1. re: wolfinstl

                            Not sure why this thread is being resurrected after a year but obviously FOTD and I have a difference of opinion with wolfinstl. I'll be delighted to try Smokey-O's (actually, it's Smoki O's: http://smokios.com/ ), but I stand firm in my belief that the BBQ at Pappy's is extremely good and better than anything I've had locally.

                            1. re: alan

                              I will admit I liked Smokey O's alot. I have only been to Pappy's once and they were out of ribs and pork. So hard for me to compare.
                              I did like Smokey O's. That is the one on 20th and Washington correct?
                              Allan, have you been there?

                              1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                No, but I'm looking forward to trying it. You need to try Pappy's ribs and then report back.

                                1. re: alan

                                  Actually I am mistaken I realized. It is Smokin Joe's I was talking about. Not Smokey O's.


                                  1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                    I visited Smoking Joe's a few months back based on recommendations from this forum and was very disappointed. I split the Taste of Smoking Joe's platter and everything was mediocre at best. Perhaps I got them on an off day, but Pappy's had a line that snaked through the restaurant, up and down the hall way of the little shopping center where it was located and out the door. Smoking Joes? No wait. Come right in and have a seat.

                      3. Niche is amazing. The chef is putting out great food and deserves all the accolades he has gotten. I would say Monarch is right up there since getting their new chef this past fall. I just ate there last week and had one of the best meal I've had in a long time, and it has recently become smoke free. (Inbiz, you should try it again with Josh in the kitchen).

                        O'Connell's not only has a great roast beef sandwich but their burger is my favorite in town, with swiss cheese and grilled onions. Awesome!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: greggold

                          I will try Monach again. Thanks! I kept wanting to like it, especially since it's open on Monday and on the STL Originals program. I'll let you know.

                          1. re: inbiz

                            They're starting to close on Mondays - we were there last night and a sign is posted on the door.

                        2. FOTD is correct: the big one missing is Sidney Street Cafe - best restaurant in St. Louis, imo.

                          1. Thanks to fellow 'Hounds for all the St. Louis tips. My husband and I enjoyed three our three days in your wonderful city. My lament is alway, "so much good food, so little time!" Dinners were at Niche, Mosaic, and Erato in Edwardsville. Lunches were at Cafe Manhattan, McConnell's, plus heavy snacking from The WIne and Cheese Place (Clayton.) Breakfasts out were at Rooster and Shaw's Coffee. We'll be back to try all the places on your list that we couldn't get to...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: DLAOKC

                              I'm guessing you mean O'Connels? Or McDonalds? ; )

                              Did anyone get Roast Beef?

                              Thanks for the report back.


                              1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                Definitely O'Connels! Husband had the burger, I had the roast beef - and could only handle half of it! Delicious!

                              2. re: DLAOKC

                                What? You mean St Louis has better variety than OKC?
                                Can't believe my folks used to take us on a Sunday drive to 'the City' for
                                'Chicken in the Rough' or Luby's Cafeteria! <grin>
                                .....A Transplanted Okie

                              3. Upscale:Niche Gerard Craft has won a James Beard award and the food is fabulous, but Monarch would run a close 2nd and the bartender has really honed his craft.
                                Tapas: Modesto is reasonably priced with a great wine list and great service. I also REALLY like Mosiac. They have a lobster-crawfish risotto that is great.
                                Hamburgers: Def Blueberry Hill
                                BBQ: ???? unfortunately I dont eat it and dont know
                                Brunch: Roosters
                                Cocktails/Appetizers: Baileys Chocolate Bar. Wonderful small plates, scrumptious deserts and well-crafted cocktails
                                Pizza: Deweys Pizza or Pi. I prefer Deweys
                                Lower Key: I love Iron Barley or love the ambiance and menu at the Stable at Lemp Brewery.

                                1. Don't forget Atlas. The food is tops.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: grillergorilla

                                    Good catch, Grillergorilla!
                                    Atlas has been overlooked lately in Chowhound recommendations,
                                    although it is only open for dinner.

                                    1. re: dda_dave

                                      Atlas has a very impressive menu, with entrees including sides within a buck or two of $20. And it is smoke-free except for its patio, a refreshing policy for St. Louis.

                                  2. What about Harvest Restaurant new Washington U. Thanks.

                                    And what are the great SL steakhouses. Thanks again.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Littleman

                                      You do know this thread is a year old??? The best steakhouse is probably Citizen Kane's in Kirkwood. Harvest is an excellent restaurant. Reliably good, creative, locally sourced.

                                    2. Coming back to STL in a couple of weeks, this time with a group of women who trust me to find great places to eat. How would you update or change my list? Probably no barbeque this time. I definitely want to return to Niche - is it still wonderful? Thanks for your help!

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: DLAOKC

                                        burgers? get a sack from the Eat-Rite Diner at the foot of Chouteau and take them down across Broadway to the levee and admire the AMAZING graffiti just South of the Arch. I'm not a fan of the medium, but I make an exception for this collection, it's clever and immense. and those burgers are cheap and real and made to order by someone who calls you 'Hon'

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          Hey hill food. Challenge accepted. I drive by the Eat-Rite all the time and I've never gone in. Anything I should be sure to try? And DLAOKC, I can strongly recommend home wine kitchen which, on Manchester Road a few blocks west of McCausland(which is what Skinker turns into just south of the University) isn't too far away from your Wash U location. You'll probably want to make reservations.

                                          1. re: tonifi

                                            tonifi - y'know in all these years I've only had their cheeseburger and fries, it's more for the atmosphere - it's a what you see is what you get kinda place. it's about the same price for lunch at some old fast food place, but without that shrinkwrap feeling. if you want something else I'd peek at what others are eating. I like to go in the after lunch rush and skim the RFT while I nibble and eavesdrop on the staff griping about who cleaned the grease trap last while they tease the regulars and on Saturday vendors from the Soulard mkt come in for a bag of sliders to take back to the booth and chat about whether business is up or down. but since DLAOKC while be with a group, the counter may not accommodate all. that flood wall is only about 4 blocks away and would be a cool (if industrial) place to have a picnic. it's truly impressive (runs easily half a mile).

                                            and I too have been hearing good things about Home Wine, maybe that was you that posted about their brunch?

                                            1. re: hill food

                                              It was indeed. We were fans of Cassy's cooking when she was at Ernesto's, and she's still sending the good stuff out of the kitchen...we've been back there every Sunday since they opened. I had a really good hunk of quiche at a 'Mom's Coffee Morning" at Foundation Grounds on Manchester this morning, and if I weren't such a city kid, I think I would (almost) consider moving to Maplewood just for the food on that strip of Manchester Road...hill food, are you back in town now?

                                              1. re: tonifi

                                                not yet maybe once a month or so but when I am I usually stay in Richmond Heights. friends from Webster used to haunt that stretch of Manchester way back, it's interesting to see how it's changed into such a food and drink place.

                                                1. re: tonifi

                                                  Y'know, the only reason the suburbs that abut the city of St. Louis aren't considered in the city is just a technicality. I had to be persuaded, too, but life in those first-ring burbs, from white-collar ones to no-collar ones, really is urban living. I felt the way you do until I moved to one of the first ring 'burbs and realized it wasn't that different. FEELS like a big city.

                                                  Sorry - OT, but...

                                                  1. re: lemons

                                                    not really OT since it was started and continued by a visitor and a lot of people not from these parts just look at the pop. # for STL proper and not consider the bigger picture. I have encountered people who get nervous venturing inside 270, and dang I hate going outside of Lindbergh.

                                          2. re: DLAOKC

                                            There is an excellent new breakfast/lunch place in Clayton in the 8100 block of Maryland called Half & Half. Great thick french toast, light blueberry pancakes, and some excellent donuts that are fresh-fried and are actually more like churros.

                                          3. isn't there a new VN place a few blocks North of Delmar on Skinker? it sounded interesting and inventive. if Mexican is considered my friends RAVE about the tortas at Vallesana (sp?) on Cherokee near Jefferson and I've tried and love the Carne Asada and al Pastor tacos at La Tejana on N. Lindbergh in a strip mall near White Oaks Manor Drive (South of the airport)