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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!

            -----
            PI
            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
                or
                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

                          Enjoy!

                          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...

                            http://adamrichmanmanvsfood.com/man-v...

                            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)