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Aug 27, 2009 10:12 AM

One Week at the Marriott Union Station in St. Louis - need a couple of recommendations..

I am going to be in St. Louis at the Marriott Union Station for one week on government travel (so I have some money for food, but not a ton). I have read several good recommendations for Niche, Franco, and Sidney Street Cafe, but I have no idea if they are anywhere near where I am staying. I will not have a car, but I have no problem taking a cab, as long as it is not so far away that the cab ride is prohibitively expensive. Are any of those places a reasonably close cab ride away? Also, one of my co-workers will be with her family and the other co-worker is someone I would prefer to limit my interaction with, so I will probably be flying solo for a couple of evenings. Are there any places nearby for someone to grab a coffee and relax? How about a place where a solo woman could go and get a drink in the evening and feel pretty comfortable? Should I stick to the hotel, or is there someplace nearby with a nice bar area and a good wine and/or beer selection? Many, many thanks for your assistance.

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  1. Niche, Franco and Sidney Street Cafe are all great choices and actually pretty close to where you are staying. Franco is the closest and Niche and Sidney Street are only a block or two away from each other on the same street. Franco is about 2 miles away while Niche and Sidney Street are about 3 miles away.

    In terms of food, Niche is at the top of my list in St. Louis and if you choose one of these three, this would be my recommendation. Niche is creative and will have the most unique flavor combinations. It also is the most nationally recognized and heralded restaurant in St. Louis. Sidney Street generally offers a more conservative menu, but the chef is also very talented. Franco serves modernized French cuisine and is a definite step below Niche and Sidney Street, but it is still a good restaurant and a nice place for a meal.

    As you may be dining alone, there is a small bar inside Niche where you could eat or you could consider dining at Taste, a new small plates and cocktails place that the chef of Niche justed opened and right next door.

    Both Franco and Sidney Street can also easily accomodate a single diner and make you feel completely comfortable.

    1. Niche and Sidney Street Cafe are in an area called Benton Park, just south of downtown St. Louis (around 3 miles from downtown?). Not too far. Both restaurants are about 3 blocks from each other on Sidney Street. My husband and I just went to Niche for our anniversary last night, it is our favorite St. Louis restaurant. Everything was wonderful. The dishes are very creative and gourmet. If you are adventurous and like exciting, new cuisine -- definitely check it out. I have not been to Sydney Street Cafe for many years, but I have heard many good things about the chef. Franco is in an area nearby called Soulard -- I have not been there yet, but have heard good things about this too. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a review about good things in the St. Louis restaurant world and featured Niche and Franco.

      Here is the link:

      2 Replies
      1. re: jnf

        I was in STL last summer at the Union Station Hyatt and just by chance stumbled upon two amazing places.

        First was Mike Shannon's. It was a short walk from the hotel, right adjacent to the Cardinal's stadium. My gf and I both ordered the Special, which was Halibut with a smoked scallop cream sauce, wild mushrooms and truffled fingerlings. For dessert our server suggested we try a STL tradition, called Ooey Gooey Blueberry Butter Cake. He shared a story/legend as to how it came to be, but all i can remember is how amazing that dessert was. Def a must.

        Second was a bbq joint named Pappy's. AMAZING STL style bbq. Fell in love with one of their sauces they call "Sweet Baby Jane" So much so that my gf actually has bottles of it sent to me for special occassions.

        1. re: BartenderMT41

          I would definitely put Pappy's on the list. Far and away, in my opinion, the best BBQ is the area. Don't go for a late dinner though as he closes when he runs out of food. Lunch is best for a good variety of choices but you should be okay if you get there by 6:30 or so. I wouldn't put Shannons on this list. For the same money Niche is one of my favorites in town.

          Not far from you is the Tap Room. It is a microbrewery/restaurant with a locally known chef that has just revamped the menu. I've had many a good meal here since his arrival, however I wish he would put the 5 beans and rice back on the menu. It was the best vegetarian dish in town. The sticky toffee pudding is a local legend and of course the beer is excellent.

          About as far away as Niche/Sidney Street, you get to the Central West End area which has many great options. Another one of my go to places is Terene. It is on Sarah and has just gotten a new chef from Monarch Restaurant (probably too far for you, but one of STL's best). The food is great and they have a great patio if the weather is nice. Also in the CWE, I like Herbies (a great bistro and trendy bar), Bar Italia (possibly the best outdoor dining in STL) and LiLuma (a great Mediterranean menu and actually one of the best burgers in town).

      2. I was single for 20 years after my divorce before I remarried, and lived in St. Louis the whole time. There are very few places in town that will make a single diner of either gender feel unappreciated, and most of those fall into the category of more-for-the-party-than-the-food. If you're into food, waiters don't tend to give you attitude, and if they do, it's them and not a management policy. Call in advance, even if it's only an hour beforehand, although I think they've spoken about waaay in advance for Niche, and I concur.

        When I was single, I sometimes would make a reservation for two and then arrive to announce my friend wouldn't be able to make it. These days, as I've gotten older and bolder, I might call in advance, ask for a manager or owner, say I was a woman dining alone and would that be a problem at their establishment. The answer will surely be "no", but it might garner a little more attention of the positive sort from the house.

        Cabs in St. Louis need to be called, for the most part, although there's a cab stand in front of the hotel. The Tap Room is walking distance in the daytime. I hope you have a good time here. It's a good food town.

        And if I may plug our website, it's, a blog with food, wine, theater and film. If you google our names and the name of the restaurant, you can get more info.

        1. Washington Avenue is a great place to hang out and get dinner and drinks in the evening. Its just a short cab ride away. Some of the places I like to go are Nara Hookah Lounge, Pink Flamingo Bowling Alley, Rue 13, Side Bar, and Wasabi.

          Here's a link too

          I almost forgot about the City Museum ( its right behind Wash Ave.... You have to go there at least once, and they have a bar inside too.

          1. Try out the new Terrace View Cafe at City Garden. You can walk there - it's about 10 blocks east of your hotel. Trust me, St. Louis is pretty safe at night along the major downtown streets.

            I think you will like the cafe. It's new and the kitchen has more than a few kinks to work out, but the venue is spectacular and the food is good if a bit expensive for what's offered. The CityGarden looks great at night.