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Best "local" places in St. Louis?

I'm heading to St. Loo for a long weekend, am looking for cool little unique spots to eat. Maybe one place that's pretty nice, but mostly the sort of neighborhood spots that locals go to hang out, or even the name of a neighborhood to hang out in.

I've heard about Iron Barley, Schlafly's, and Imo's pizza. Are these good recommendations? What are some others? Are there any unique local foods besides St. Louis style pizza and the St. Paul sandwich?

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  1. Anyplace that is remotely Italian will have a STL specialty called Toasted Ravioli. Its usually an appetizer. The other local thing to do would be frozen custard at either location of Ted Drewes. Stop here after dinner and eat a "concrete" leaning on your car.

    1. Iron Barley has fabulous food and definitely is a local place. However, they were on vacation last week; so, I would check by phone before heading there.

      A good local place for a drink is the Venice Cafe - they also do cajun food. Their decor will keep your eyeballs busy for hours.

      For a nice place, I suggest Franco (www.eatatfranco.com) - I had a wonderful meal there last month.

      1. Glad you picked up on the St. Paul sandwich, one of the more peculiar food items in town. This sandwich made of egg foo yung, letttuce, tomato, pickle, and mayonnaise sounds completely weird but tastes amazingly good. A lunch of this and a half order of fried rice will keep you filled up for hours. They are available at cheap, neighborhood Chinese carryout places all over town, but never in a "serious" restaurant. Here's Wikipedia's take: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Paul...

        1. DO NOT GO TO IMOS!

          There is FAR better Pizza in St. Louis, bot St. Louis style, and not.

          What area of town are you staying in?

          FOTD

          2 Replies
          1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

            downtown, near the arch. i'd prefer something st. louis style, if you know of any.

            1. re: captainlou

              I am going to have to say Cafe Manhattan in Clayton. You can knock out both your Toasted Ravs and your Pizza , as well as a St. Louis style salad. Lots of people have given good comments about it. Here is a blurb from a local board. This is from poster Nosh who is very porolific on this board about St. Louis stuff-

              <<<When I'm in town, I want St. Louis-style pizza with provel cheese. My favorite is Cafe Manhattan, which also has the cheesy salad and the toasted ravioli, and I've always had friendly service there, though parking can sometimes be tight. Others in my family prefer Uptown Cafe, but after a few tries I still like Cafe Manhattan. Our family used to go to Frank & Helen's all the time, whose default is mozzarella but where provel is a popular option. But unfortunately I think they've gone downhill, and last time in there the smoke was quite bothersome. >>>

              If you search around on this board their have been posts about it as well.

              FOTD

          2. Amighetti's (the one on The Hill). Go for lunch on Saturday, sit in the courtyard, and listen to their jazz band. Be sure to get the Amighetti's Special sandwich. Not a St. Paul sandwich, but the best sub/hoagie/hero you've ever had. This is about as "local" as it gets! I'd recommend a fresh cannoli from the bakery for dessert.
            Where are you coming from? Be aware that St. Louis-style pizza is, at best, an aquired taste! I'd opt for the toasted ravioli instead. Cunnetto's is a "classic" St. Louis choice with good toasted ravioli, although many locals consider it too "touristy" these days.
            There are several fun neighborhood restaurants/bars. We like Lafayette Square. Love the Mexican food at Arcelia's (especially the Chili Colorado and the sour cream enchiladas). Then walk over to Bailey's Chocolate Bar for their chocolate martini!

            6 Replies
            1. re: Anne

              Milo's outdoors is a fun restaurant. They have bocce ball.

              1. re: Anne

                Cunetto's is a big-portion-with-large-quantities-of-red-sauce-Italian place with nothing special to recommend it. Yes, they make decent toasted ravioli, but you can get these elsewhere without waiting in line, as you will at Cunetto's. However, in keeping with your wish for unique St. Louis items, you should definitely consider having toasted ravioli somewhere, not to mention gooey butter cake. You can check earlier threads to find out where to find these things.

                1. re: Anne

                  I second the extraordinarily tastty Amighetti's Special sandwich. Makes me wish I never moved to New York after I graduated from Wash U.

                  1. re: biga290

                    I gotta say, that Amighettis's is not where I would send someone for a sandwich these days. No disrespect, but there are much better players around, no doubt since you have moved.
                    First Choice- Blues City Deli

                    Outrageous stuff.

                    FOTD

                    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                      I have to agree. Amighetti's has gone down hill on the Hill. Last time we were there the courtyard was dirty, the service inattentive at best and the sandwich tasted like it was made the day before.

                      1. re: steveb

                        Really? We were to Amighetti's on the Hill less than 2 weeks ago, and it was as wonderful as ever.
                        While I'm sure there are "better" sandwiches to be had in St. Louis, the Amighetti's Special is uniquely St. Louis. When I lived in New Jersey 30 years ago, I worked in an independent sub shop. We had all the makings of a great sandwich---freshly baked bread, high quality meats & cheeses, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, etc. But even my memories of those subs don't compare with the Amighetti Special!