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Feb 21, 2010 08:28 AM

St. Louis ethnic food

I'll be in St. Louis in a few weeks, and I would love to check out some ethnic groceries and restaurants. I know about The Hill for Italian, but are their any other areas? Specific store and restaurant recs are fine as are neighborhoods or street segments (3rd between oak and maple) Thanks.

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  1. St. Louis is not nearly as diverse as places like NYC and Chicago. Yes we have just about every ethnicity but not in the numbers that those cities have. That said, Cherokee St between Jefferson and Grand is the recognized Mexican neighborhood. I frequently hit La Vallesana for lunch, good tortas. South Grand, from Hwy 44 South is basically a melting pot of Asian and Eastern European restaurants and a few markets. Banh Mi So is another one of my lunch stops for pho. Those are really the only two concentrated ethnic neighborhoods besides the Hill that you already mentioned. Oops I forgot the other Asian area on Olive Blvd in University City. This area is more centered on Chinese but still somewhat mixed. There are other good ethnic places spread out through the City and County as well.
    As far as markets go, my favorites include Di Gregorio's on the Hill, Jay's Intl. on South Grand, Global Foods in Kirkwood and Seafood City(Mostly Asian) on Olive.
    Check both and for specific addresses and some reviews.

    2 Replies
    1. re: STLLifer

      Thanks for the great, specific tips. Can't wait to check them out.

      1. re: corneygirl

        Jay Asia as STLLifer noted (grocery - Grand South of Arsenal) is fantastic in my book, each aisle specializes in a different ethno-geographic POV and ranges from eastern Europe to Polynesia.

        Filipino? sure. Thai? of course. VN? absolutely. Latvian canned fish? why not.

        obscure things I haven't been able to find since leaving CA.

    2. In what area are you staying? Some recs might be closer than others. There are a number of Indian restaurants in NW St. Louis County as well as taquerias. They are not all on the same block though. Jays/Global markets are owned by the same people as far as aI know and are set up the same way. Cherokee is good for lunch, but I have heard comments that it can be a little dicey at night.

      1. St Louis has a large Bosnian population. I have eaten at Grbic Restaurant, which has a large parking lot next door.

        There are other Bosnian restaurants, and I expect there must be a Bosnian grocery store somewhere

        1. STLLifer's suggestions are spot on. I would not get your hopes up, or devote any precious time, for Italian food on the Hill. It's not remarkable, and mediocrity prevails with a couple exceptions. Best restaurant on The Hill is Modesto, a tapas restaurant.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Wayno

            Just wanted to comment and elaborate on a few things from above. Yes, Cherokee St. this time of year is probably best visited during the day. South Grand has a decent amount of people traffic and better lighted so it might be more comfortable in the evening. BTW La Vallesana looks like a dive but is inexpesive, authentic and good. I'm not big on Indian food but a place I like, Everest, is a mix of Indian and Nepalenese. There is both an Indian restaurant and a couple of good taquerias up near the airport.

            Now in regards to Italian restaurants. St. Louis probably has a 4 to 1 ratio of Italian over all other restaurants combined yet most of them are similiar and only a notch or two above Olive Garden. I just don't get it, but there are a few places that have some stand out dishes and more than just over sauced pasta. Two places I like are Acero and Trattoria Marcella. Honestly, the reason I know most of the Italian markets so well is because I usually fix my own. Another rec for Italian salsccia that is off The Hill but nearby is Manzos. They have a number of flavors and most are available frozen so if you are traveling home they should be fine. Going the opposite direction with sausages, G & W has good German sausages.

            1. re: STLLifer

              any opinion of Piekutowski’s European Style Sausage up on 4100 N. Florissant?

              1. re: STLLifer

                Agree Everest is great. Also agree with Trattoria Marcella ,but some may wish to try St. Louis Pizza, just because it is unique to the area. If I am traveling part of the fun for me is trying something that can't be found anywhere else. Some don't care for it but a lot of people do like it,even from outside of St. Louis. Banh Mi So -my favorite for Vietnamese.

                There are some other areas that have a concentration of ethnic restaurants.

                Indian restaurants in NW county.
                Gokul Snaks and Sweets is one of my favorites and is vegetarian.
                India Palace(the one by the airport overlooks the runway)
                Priyaa Indian Cuisine
                Raj's Rasoi Authentic Indian‎
                House of India
                also several I haven't tried.....Yet!
                Indian Food
                Haveli--just opened
                Mayuri India Restaurant-doesn't seem to have the best reviews though
                Those are the ones I can think of but may be others.

                You could almost just drive around Woodson/St Charles Rock Rd and find new taquerias all the time. The ones I've been to.
                Taqueria El Jalapeno
                My Family
                Taqueria Durango
                Taqueria La Pasadita-very homestyle in an old Taco Bell
                Taqueria Los Tarascos-this one of my favorites because they have many choices for tacos. I love the pickled jalapenos and onions. Pretty good St. Louis Pizza next door at Erios
                I want to try La Monarca on Olive as I have heard good things about it.
                Olive east of 170 or the inner belt is is an Asian area. Several Asian groceries, a herb shop that has a doctor that practices Chinese medicine(at least they used to and I haven't been in there lately )and lots of restaurants. If you want to try dim sum, LuLus is pretty good.

            2. I just want to thank everyone for all the great tips. My trip was canceled due to car problems, but I look forward to taking advantage of your advice in the future.

              2 Replies
              1. re: corneygirl

                We finally made it to St. Louis for two nights! We stayed at a hotel on the Delmar Loop. Ate at the Chinese Noodle Cafe and had really great meals. I had salt and pepper shrimp and B had fish in white sauce. Both were off the authentic menu. Entrees were good, but the soup that came with each meal was even better. There isn't anything like that in my area so it was a nice treat! I also went to DiGregorio's and spent a nice chunk of change. Bought cold-cuts and cheese for the drive home, dried pastas (I can't wait to slurp that loooong spaghetti), and jars of capers, anchovies etc. Wanted to get to many other of the suggestions, (especially Jay's Intl.) but now I have a reason to go back. Thanks for all the advice, it was appreciated - despite the delay in acting on it!

                1. re: corneygirl

                  groovy, no apology needed but always good to hear back (things don't change fast around STL)