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St Louis for a week

I know there have been a lot of visitor requests lately and I have been following them all, I'll try to stick to new requests on this one.
We will be visiting for a week in the middle of March with our 5 and 7 year olds. We are staying at the Marriott Residence Inn on Jefferson, so we have a small kitchenette with fridge microwave and 2 burners, but no oven. We will have a vehicle for getting around.
1. Where can I get great coffee in your city, doesn't need to be close to the hotel
2. Any place for good takeout meals that can either be nuked or eaten cold/room temp. Some nights we will be eating at the theatre my husband is working at.
3. I hope to visit both a Trader Joes (we don't have them here in Canada) and Costco while we're there. Do you consider any location better than others?
4. Best place for "saucy" ribs, my 7 year old's only basis for judging ribs is how much sauce ends up on her face. I'm planning on getting to Pappy's but I believe they only have dry ribs, am I right?
5. Any shops that specialize in American artisanal cheese?
6. Any fun themed restaurants that kids would love? Doesn't have to be great food, I'm willing to eat somewhere else before or after if I need to!
7. Any good restaurants near Black Rep Theatre where we could grab a quick bite?
Thanks for your help!

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  1. themed? maybe one of the cafes inside the City Museum? kids of all ages dig that place on its own.

    the easiest TJ's would be the one at I-64 and South Hanley/Brentwood and along the way off clayton Road is a Schnuck's and a Dierberg's (standard mega grocery stores for basic stuff). I don't know from Costco, don't you need a yearly membership?

    there's a regular grocery store downtown - Culinaerie (but it's really not walking distance from Jefferson)

    some but not much prepared food at the Soulard Market, but if you're around on a Saturday it's a pretty lively 19th c. market hall that expands on weekends with local-ish foods and from there just a short drive over Arsenal to South Grand - a strip of places that do takeout as well as eat in (a coupla good VN places, a gelateria that my freiends in that nabe flock to even in the dead of winter, good falafel at a Middle Eastern deli/market/ hookah bar across from Jay Asia grocer who has lots of pan-Asian - and I mean PAN, Finland to the Phillipines, Siberia to Sri Lanka, canned and frozen nibbles and fresh foods - not that Canada is hard-pressed for these things, but sometimes you get a hankering) and if the weather permits, Tower Grove Park is one of the best places for a picnic (I like the little Chinoiserie-style pavilion just inside the East entrance on the South)

    near that park on I believe Morganford is a small market/cafe called Harvest that specializes in local foodstuffs.

    around your hotel well I gotta say given the street layout and the traffic pattern it isn't really conducive to strolling. but it's a quick drive to all sorts of things, but right there? drive a little South and there are a few things around Benton Park and great Mexican on Cherokee, also not far from the "up and coming" Grove.

    near the Black Rep, first thing that pops into mind is Schlafly's Taproom, pretty good North American tavern-type food. that part of town has changed and continues to change so fast, somebody else will have to speak up on the latest to open, but there are a lot of places over on Washington east of 14th (including a new bowling alley) with kids, I'm having trouble suggesting for the age group.

    not a food topic but I bet they'd love City Garden - 2 city blocks of sculptures that they ENCOURAGE be climbed on and over. runs East-West along market

    our zoo is pretty decent and while it has the typical craptastic fare, down the road in the Park is The Boathouse whose food is basic, but it's a nice setting right on the Grand Basin (too bad I don't think boat rental will be available at that time of year).

    BBQ (as you may have noticed) gets a lot of empassioned responses, for me it's something I prefer to do myself, so I rarely eat it out. others will have to answer that, and there are a few passionate existing threads on that topic.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      Thanks for all the recs and info, sounds like lots to keep us buy while we're there! We do have a Costco membership, I'm just curious to see what different products they carry on your side of the border.
      I also forgot to ask where to get good pie, either a slice somewhere or a whole pie to take home. We'll be there for pi day and I'm always looking for excuses to celebrate food.

      1. re: hill food

        hey just checked the website, the boat house does have boats year round as long as the lake isn't frozen (and it's only maybe 3 feet deep, drowning isn't too much of an issue) the menu looks better than I remember, but I can't swear to the execution.

      2. So what show will your husband be doing?

        9 Replies
        1. re: lemons

          He' directing The Real McCoy, and he's the playwright. Go see the show, it's great!
          He's already there, but not much of a foodie on his own so this is where I turn any time we're visiting him in a new place!

          1. re: cheesymama

            Vito's does good pizza about 3 blocks from the Grandel, where you'll be. Open late, too. Also Cafe Ventana, not far, as well, coffee house. We take kids to Vito's all the time; plenty of other food as well as pizza. Pi, the pizza place, has three locations and will be big on Pi day. The best spot for pie spelled with an E is Sugaree Bakery, a few blocks south of the zoo. "Pie Days" are Friday and Saturday, www.sugareebaking.com . They mostly do catering stuff, but those days they have pies, and send out an email early in the week to announce what's available and for folks to order them. Nice people, and you can phone them for details. Most kids like St. Louis-style pizza; it comes in squares and the controversial provel cheese doesn't string out like moz; even our picky eaters kids from elsewhere come to town craving it. (Pi and Vito's don't do St. Louis-style, BTW.) Lemme think about more possibilities.

            We are indeed going to be at TRMc, probably the first Thursday it opens!

            6144 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO

            Vito's Sicilian Pizzeria & Restaurante
            3515 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103

            Cafe Ventana
            3919 W Pine Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63108

            1. re: lemons

              Thanks for the Pi Day recs. I'm glad you're getting to the show. Say hi if you see me, I'll be the only one with 2 kids in tow!

              1. re: lemons

                lemons: oh right, I forgot the Grandel was finally renovated (had only been talked about for so many years it fell off my radar) the location I was thinking of is where the admin offices for the Rep are. Grand Center is another area that has vastly changed. I used to know it well, volunteering for M. Strauss during the reno of the Fox back in '82. My friends would buy underage beer at the 905 near there and break into the Continental Life building and climb all 20+ stories and party in the penthouse. too bad you won't see the contrast of then and now (or maybe that's good) back then there was exactly nothing except what's now del Taco and the lunch counter at Woolworth's.

                1. re: lemons

                  to clarify lemons comment on STL pizza, it starts as a circle, but it's cut on a cartesian grid so you get all kinds of interesting squares and arced triangle edge pieces (that sadly remind me of my struggle with trig classes) and gives everybody their choice of of crust to center ratio. in other cities I'd order pizza uncut so I could replicate it.

                  1. re: hill food

                    And then there is North County pizza, a variation of St. Louis pizza that is baked in a rectangle pan and cut in squares. Those of us that grew up in North County did not know there was round pizza until we left home.

                    1. re: wekick

                      really? growing up in Ferguson, when made at home it was always in rectangular cookie sheets, but eaten out it was usually round... interesting.

                      1. re: hill food

                        I'm sure it's not 100% but quite a few from North county are made that way. Someone else pointed it out to me.

                        1. re: hill food

                          Oh hillfood, how I love you. Cartesian grid. Wonderful.

              2. You might like
                Jay International Food Co
                http://www.globalfoodsmarket.com/ (owned by the same people).

                I go to Global Foods just because it is closer but they have every type of food. The aisles are set up with each aisle having food from a group of countries. It is so much fun poking around.

                Jay International Food Co.
                3172 S Grand Blvd, St Louis, MO 63118

                1. First, as suggested by hill food, go to the City Museum. Your 7 year old will thank you and you'll have a great time in a truly unique place. I've never seen any place remotely like it.
                  As for the barbecue, go to Pappy's. They definitely serve sauce; you don't really need it because the ribs are so good without it but it your kid wants sauce, she can have it.
                  Try the coffee either at Kaldi's or at Northwest Coffee Roasting.
                  Good cheese can be found at The Wine & Cheese Place and at The Wine Merchant, both in Clayton.
                  Have a good time and let us know what you find.

                  Northwest Coffee Roasting
                  4251 Laclede Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63108

                  1. I can think of two places the kids might like. Crown Candy (they have food) and Fitz's Root Beer. Crown Candy is in a post-rustbelt neighborhood with not much else happening. Crown Candy is sort of the last man standing. Fitz's is on the Delmar Loop and the place is jumpin', with other stuff to do. (Many shops, entertainment venues and restaurants.)

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: steveb

                      Great calls, Steveb! Crown has good grilled cheese, hot dogs, and other things kids like, but the real reason to go there is for their extraordinary malts. Definitely worth the trip. You'll also enjoy the trip to the Delmar Loop, which is right next to Washington University and, therefore, populated by a youthful and colorful crowd.

                      1. re: steveb

                        Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'm starting to get excited about the trip. And so are the kids now that they have heard about Crown Candy, I can only imagine what they think it's going to be!

                        1. re: cheesymama

                          To whet your (and your kids') appetites about Crown: http://crowncandykitchen.net/
                          And about the City Museum: http://www.citymuseum.org/home.asp


                          1. re: alan

                            Crown Candy is indeed great, but those malts and shakes are huge IMHO. nearby across I-70 on North Florissant is another old school hold out, Piekutowsi's sausage shop.

                          2. re: cheesymama

                            Crown Candy is great. The Delmar Loop is fun but I would not expect much from Fitz's other than good Root Beer. The food is nothing to speak of.

                            Also on Crown Candy. you can see Man Vs. Food who lost a challenge there...


                            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                              And while it may be tempting at Crown Candy to just sneak in and get a to go order - don't do it! - at least not with kids. My own (who are now 18 and 21!) love, love getting that wonderful malt served with the metal mixing cup half filled with more malt. There's just something nifty about that no matter what your age.

                              1. re: kroppinkris

                                We will eat in there, my husband is still a sucker for that metal cup!

                                1. re: cheesymama

                                  Do not be deterred by the urban neighborhood. We have never eaten there without seeing at least one police officer, whether uniformed or in civilian clothes. Weekends and high lunch time bring a waiting line; do not be deterred by that. And do not miss the BLT unless you don't like bacon. It is a real pleasure to visit, still owned by the original family. And when you get there, the candy case will be full of their Easter candy, some from molds nearly a hundred years old.

                                  1. re: lemons

                                    If you do get Easter candy at Crown Candy you should pick up an Easter monkey. It is a cute tradition they made up years ago. There should be sheets available with the story. My 20 yr old son still expects his Easter monkey every year. Oh, if you like heavenly hash(chocolate, marshmallow and pecans) they are really good too.

                                    1. re: STLLifer

                                      My kids are eleven and twelve now, but an early-ish lunch (to avoid the line) at Crown Candy (BLTs, chili w/tamale, and two vanilla malts, please) and then a day spent at City Museum was (and still is) a perfect, perfect day. City Museum is amazing, and not the 'museum'-y kind of place you're probably picturing...wear clothes you can climb(tennis shoes!) in and carry your money in a fanny-pack or your pocket, you're probably going to want both hands for crawling around under the floor. We have always liked both Schlafly microbrewery locations for dinner. The Schlafly St. Louis Tap Room is close to your hotel, and does good, upscale pub-food. The Schlafly Bottleworks is about fifteen minutes west, the food is a little more progressive, also good. Both are fairly noisy and upbeat, and a fidgety kid is not a problem...they can wiggle and shout without bothering people. For the nights you are needing take-out, your hotel isn't too far from Blues City Deli, which does good sandwiches at good prices(check the website, though, they close really early every night but Thursday.) You can always buy some sandwiches early in the day and toss them into a cooler. If you drive south on Jefferson to Cherokee Street and make a right (west), you'll be on a street of lots of little taco places...Tower Taco is probably my favorite, which would also be a good grab-and-go option.
                                      If you are in town on a Saturday, Soulard Market is great. None of this artsy green-market nonsense, just a big old open-air market that's been there as long as the city has (or damn near). There are plenty of farmers and new-age vendors, as well as plenty of old-school produce vendors who are working fruit stands that their grandparents worked.
                                      St. Louis is an old industrial town, and we have our share of gritty neighborhoods as well as some fabulous ones. Drive around Benton Park (Blues City Deli) and Old North St. Louis (Crown Candy) a little bit and check out the architecture. Use good sense and you'll be fine. I'm all over this town every day, and still alive to tell the tale. You've chosen a good hotel location for a family of 'hounds...
                                      I hope you enjoy your visit, we'd love it if you report back with us!

                                      Blues City Deli
                                      2438 McNair, Saint Louis, MO

                                      Tap Room
                                      170 S Main St, Hoisington, KS 67544

                                      1. re: tonifi

                                        Lest you think that a visit to the Tap Room, referenced by tonifi, will require you to strap your kids in and drive to Hoisington, Kansas, which is what the always reliable restaurant linking tool would have you believe (see map above), rest assured that the Schlafly Tap Room will be found on Locust St. in St. Louis, a short drive from where you're staying.

                                        Schlafly Tap Room
                                        2100 Locust St, Saint Louis, MO 63103

                                    2. re: CDollarsign

                                      We're definitely not deterred by "urban" neighbourhoods (Canadian spelling), we live in Toronto and I can't think of any downtown neighbourhood I would be worried about walking around with the kids, of course we aren't out particularly late in the evening!
                                      And thanks for all the great responses you guys are sending. I think I had better go on a diet until I get there just so I don't feel guilty eating everything that you're recommending!

                                      1. re: cheesymama

                                        You are too kind. But I do think you will have a good time here. You obviously have intellectual curiosity as well as gastronomic curiosity.

                                        1. re: cheesymama

                                          ha! STL food does lean towards the rich and heavy, but save the diet till you get home.

                                        2. re: lemons

                                          I 2nd lemons on what looks sketchy, just keep your eyes open and you're generally fine anywhere. the crime rates published don't take into account any existing relationship between the parties involved (which has usu been the case in any crappy area I've lived in anywhere in the US)

                              2. You mentioned cheese, but I am going to recommend Salume Beddu. http://www.salumebeddu.com/Home_Page....
                                They do have cheese and assorted Italian gourmet items, but is primarily a small artisinal maker of dried meats, sausage, etc.

                                Secondly, there are several great Italian grocery stores on "The Hill", St. Louis' Italian section of town. I go to Viviano's, which is incredible. http://www.shopviviano.com/


                                1. Be sure to get to Ted Drewe's, the local frozen custard favorite. Be sure to get a "concrete" -- mixed so thick it stays in an upside-down cup.

                                  Be sure to try some St. Louis pizza and some toasted ravioli -- my favorite place is Cafe Manhattan in Clayton, but Imo's is the local chain and many of them deliver.

                                  Don't miss the zoo -- fantastic for kids, free (though parking, trams, and special stuff can cost), and defintely one of the two or three best in the country.

                                  Pappy's has just opened an offshoot at Soulard that does sauced, if not saucy, ribs. Different name. Pappy's does have bottles of sauces at the tables.

                                  Cafe Manhattan
                                  511 S Hanley Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63105

                                  1. Your hotel is on Jefferson, and it is a short drive south to our Nicaraguan restaurant: Fritanga.

                                    A few more blocks to Kakao artesinal chocolates

                                    Your theater is in Grand Center. Just a few blocks east is The Fountain On Locust. Your kids may get a kick out of the decor. You have to be 21 and over to order some of their ice cream drinks, however...

                                    2208 S Jefferson Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63104

                                    1. Just saw the play last night, and had hoped you would have come for Saturday night's perf, but I know you had the kids with you.

                                      Brilliant play, and I hope your husband was happy with the way the Black Rep handled it, because we were thrilled. This really ought to go places. We see a lot of theater, all over the US, and this is really something special.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lemons

                                        Glad you enjoyed the show! Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see it but my husband was happy with the opening night and I know the actors were too.
                                        We loved St Louis, both the food and the attractions. I will do a full post of where we went/what we ate a little later today.

                                      2. Cheesymama, I had been following this thread and hadn't given any advice since Lemons pretty much told you what I would have said. (She is half of a VERY dynamic couple here in STL-her food advice is always the best). That said, I realized that you were in Sugaree Baking Company while I was there. All of the sudden after you, your husband and two absolutely adorable girls left with pie, I was struck that you had to be Cheesy Mama-Unless there is another family visiting from Toronto right now that ended up at Sugaree. Anyway, funny how the internet lets us know about complete strangers experiences! I hope you and your family are enjoying STL. It has been a beautiful week. If you are still here-try to make it to the botanical garden. It is delightful right now!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jardin32

                                          That was indeed us! It was our last food purchase in St Louis, we hit the road bright and early yesterday morning and got home very late. But we're still enjoying the pie!
                                          We never did get to the Botanical garden, although many people did recommend it. But by the time we hit the absolute musts on our list (City Museum, Science Center, Zoo, Magic House) as well as a few others we found we were out of time!

                                          1. Let me start off with a great big THANK YOU to all of you St Louis 'hounds. You live in a fabulous city full of friendly people, amazing attractions and great food.
                                            Here's my review of what and where we ate.
                                            The first day we went to the City Diner at the Fox where I had toasted ravioli which was very good, but I would have preferred cheese ravioli to meat. Hubby just had a salad, good but nothing too exciting.
                                            Next day we hit the Science Center (which the kids loved) where we stuck with pizza and snacks. For dinner I took the kids to Culinaerie for sandwiches. I really liked my chicken cesaer and we all had a great time looking around. There are plenty of grocery items that aren't available up here, so the girls started their wish list for what we should bring home!
                                            Tuesday my hubby had his heart set on Blueberry Hill. I had some really good pulled pork on a bad bun and I got to try Fritz's cream soda (one of my many food weaknesses). I wish I had bought some to bring home! The girls loved checking out all of the cool stuff at Blueberry Hill.
                                            Next day after the Zoo and checking out Trader Joe's and picking up some goodies to bring home we ate at Crown Candy. I had the BLT (thanks for the rec) and my hubby was extremely happy because he got a lot of my bacon for his turkey sandwich. We shared milkshakes (chocolate and marshmallow) and a float and had ice cream for dessert. The kids thought they were in heaven! It's a really neat spot with solid food.
                                            The next day the girls and I drove out Ted Drewes for a lunch of ice cream. It was creamy goodness! For dinner it was Pappy's which was a trip just to see the line ups. Fortunately my husband's dinner break was early so we got there before they ran out of ribs. While the ribs were really tasty it was the pulled pork that won me over. And the deep fried corn definitely deserves a mention, I'm sure my husband will be trying to make his own this summer.
                                            Friday we went to City Museum which was awesome. If I lived in your city I would want to work there. It blew all of our minds and I think we barely scratched the surface of what it offered. Anyway, when it came time to refuel we left the museum and went to Roaslita's near by. My chicken enchiladas were good but my husband's beef chimichanga was delicious. The rice was tasty but mushy. That night the girls and I ordered pizza from Vito's. If I lived nearby that would be my go to for pizza, just the right ammout of cheese with plenty of pepperoni and bacon, nice crisp crust with some good chew at the edges.
                                            Saturday we went to Richard's Ribs (I think on Big Bend Road) and had some seriously tender ribs. They were too smoky for me, my husband (who loved them) said they were so smoky he felt like he was having a cigarette. I think my ideal ribs would combine the flavour from Pappy's and the tenderness of Richard's. We then managed to stop in at Sugaree just before they closed where we snatched up one peach pie and one apple pie (I'm enjoying a slice right now). Generally I prefer peach pie, but in this case I love their apple pie and the crust is great.
                                            My only disappointment was with the cheese. Almost everywhere we went for a meal my youngest ordered a grilled cheese and it was ALWAYS made with processed cheese.
                                            But honestly, everywhere we went people were so friendly and we really enjoyed our time there. My youngest says that whe's going to live in St Louis when she grows up.
                                            Sorry to have been so long winded but I just wanted everyone to know that I really appreciated all of the advice.

                                            Blueberry Hill Restaurant
                                            6504 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63130

                                            Richard's Ribs
                                            10727 Big Bend Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63122

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cheesymama

                                              It always means a lot to hear back from people visiting our town and taking our advice. Thanks for the report. I'm particularly pleased (although not particularly surprised) at your praise for the extraordinary City Museum. It's a gem.

                                              We hope you'll visit us again soon.

                                            2. The folks at Sugaree, Pat, her husband Jim, and the girls working there are so nice, it's hard to resist. We would be even fatter than we are now if we succumbed as much as we'd like to Pat's weekly lures.Glad you had a good time; come back soon and we'll all have a CH meetup.