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Feb 8, 2012 06:13 AM

Philly Chowhound - 2 dinners (and a breakfast?) in St. Louis

First time visiting St. Louis!! I'll be in town for 2 nights next week, and want to ensure I choose the right restaurants! I will eat pretty much anything. Especially interested in local favorites, or food specific to the area. I'll be staying at the Marriott Residence Inn on Jefferson, but will have a car, and am willing to drive up to 15-20 minutes for excellent food!! Definitely looking for advice on 2 dinners...and maybe a good breakfast spot for one of the mornings as well. Thanks for helping an east coaster! :)

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  1. Ok, I scoured the board, and came up with the following VERY LONG list. Would love help in narrowing based on my location (visiting St. Louis University and staying at Marriott RI on Jefferson) and the fact that I'll be dining solo. Though I'll eat solo pretty much anywhere to try great restaurants, I recognize some places are just better picks for solo dining than others. And finally, I'm not a big cocktail drinker...I like wine or craft beers. So...thoughts?

    Brasserie by Niche
    Taste by Niche
    Pappy’s Smokehouse
    Rooster (breakfast)
    Home Wine Kitchen
    Iron Barley
    Blueberry Hill
    Bobo Noodle House
    Trattoria Marcella
    Sidney Street Café


    5 Replies
    1. re: jba1216

      Welcome. I moved to St. Louis from NJ less than a year ago, and my stock line is that St. Louis (STL) is a Midwest version of Philadelphia. I find it reminiscent, except of course that it's Midwestern.

      First, for craft beers or wines, you might try the following spots: International Tap House, which is located in Soulard and recently written up as one of the best beer bars in the US by Draft Magazine; Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar, which is located quite close to your hotel in the heart of downtown; 33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, which is located about 1 mile from your hotel in the Lafayette Square neighborhood. The food at Bridge and 33 Wine are pretty good, and at International Tap House you can get delivery from Bogart's Smokehouse just down the block.

      Second, I may get flack for tihs, but I think you're better off going mid-level in STL. The "high end" isn't as good as Philadelphia. So off your list, I would err towards Pappy's or Bogarts Smoke house, which you can kind of consider cousins, as those are the best meals I've had in town. I would add Iron Barley and maybe some pizza/Italian, then add Rooster or Cafe Osage in the Central West End for breakfast.

      A lot of what's listed are the best in town for what they do, but they're nothing different from what you can get in Philadelphia. Examples: Brasserie by Niche is nice and sweet, but a very standard US-version of a brasserie, which is fine if that's what you like, but not earth shattering. Farmhaus is a pretty simple farm to fork spot that relies on fresh ingredients, but isn't very ambitious. Bobo is a standard noodle joint. Blueberry Hill is a standard bar/grill, albeit a nice one.

      Give us a sense of what you'd like, such as odd/strange, local color, best in show, etc., and you might get more pointed advice.

        1. re: jba1216

          I should add that some folks will encourage you to hit one of the two Schlafly places. Schlafly is a local small brewer that has a restaurant next to its brewery called "Bottleworks" in the near suburb of Maplewood and a pub right by your hotel called "Tap Room."

          I happen to think the food is rather poor -- I've eaten at their places about ten times and never found something I would order again -- and don't find the beer particularly ambitious (think more "Flying Fish" than "Victory"), but if you like local beers that don't make it to Philly, it's an option. It's got a loud, boisterous feeling to it.

          Similarly, the NY Times had an article of newer St. Louis microbreweries recently, so you might hit up some of those: Six Row, Urban Chestnut, Morgan Street, etc. I haven't made it too all of them, but it might be a pleasant tour.

          Btw, I have eaten at a little Mexican place on Washington in South Philly that's amazing; can't remember the name. If you like good, casual Mexican, go find it and indulge in lard.

          1. re: brownhound

            Oh....probably Tacqueria Veracruzana. YUMMY :) Plaza Garibaldi on Washington also has good Mexican if you come back and visit. Thanks for your help.

        2. re: brownhound

          As someone who has lived here for the past 35+ years, I want to acknowledge that brownhound's advice is very sound. By all means try one of the two barbecue places he suggested, as well as either of the breakfast places. I don't know that I would take brownhound's advice on doing pizza or Italian, only because, although you'll certainly find good quality (although not generally on The Hill) I'm not certain you'll find anything you couldn't find in a major metropolis.

      1. do you get good casual authentic Mexican in Philly? it's been a good 6 years since I've been to your city (in DC it was either really Salvadoreno or true-believer Gringo). cruise South down Jefferson to Cherokee and there are some really good places (La Vallesana springs to mind but there are others)

        1. You will be close to Lafayette Square (where previously recommended 33 is) so if you get a chance, you should stop by Park Ave Coffee and get a piece of gooey butter cake, which is a St. Louis specialty. If you are gonna do bbq, I would suggest Bogart's over Pappy's because Bogart's is in the Soulard neighborhood and will give you a definate feel for St. Louis. If you go in the late afternoon, (Bogart's closes kind of early) you can hang out, have a couple of drinks at one of the bars. If you stay late enough, chances are you will see some sort of live music. I like Hammerstone's at 9th and Russell. Good neighborhood bar with a good selection of Missouri beers. We are gearing up for Mardi Gras here. So everyone should be in a festive mood in Soulard. If you are here on the 12th or the 18th, Soulard will be loaded up for the Pet Parade and the Mardi Gras Grand Parade.

          I love Sidney Street Cafe. We took some friends who were relatively new to the area (they've lived here for 5 years) a few months ago and they said it was the best meal they've had here. I also think Iron Barley is a great place to take people who are visiting or new to the area. Distinctly South Saint Louis - hole in the wall type place with great prime rib and upscale downhome food. There's nothing like it. Great beer selection there too. Nice drinks as well. The bartender is likely to say something like, "I juiced a watermelon today. So watermelon margaritas are the special." I love stuff like that.

          If you're gonna check out 33, know that they don't have a sign. I live in the neighborhood where it's located and must have driven past it a bajillion times before I ever knew it was there. Your better off looking for it by address (which is 1913 Park - I have that memorized because I was determined to find it one day while I was out and about.)

          eta: If you get a late night munchies, I would recommend calling Imo's Pizza to deliver to you hotel. I'll wager that St. Louis style pizza is unlike anything you've had. It's a cracker thin crust, with a savory tomato sauce and provel cheese. What's provel cheese? A subject of great debate for residents of St. Louis, it's a sort of Franken-cheese that doesn't string when it melts. Personally, I love it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mtoo

            super helpful, thank you!! i like the idea of dinner at 33 and gooey butter cake for dessert :) i think i'm going to avoid the great pizza debate. i grew up in northern NJ, outside of NYC, and am a total new york style pizza snob (admittedly). i have only found a handful of places in the philly area that live up. but curiousity MAY get the best of me...and i may have to check it out!!

          2. Just thought of another one. I think this place is one of the best in the city, but you never see it mentioned on the message boards. I guess the chef isn't very good with self promotion.


            The chef is a local guy who lived and worked in San Francisco (Zuni), but came home and opened a restaurant with his mom and dad. It's a really nice place. The owners are very active with the business. Standards are high and the food is locally sourced. The menu is small, but quality. The prix-fixe is a rocking value.

            8 Replies
            1. re: mtoo

              Five is a nice suggestion, similar in quality to Sidney Street Cafe or some of the others the OP cites. I wouldn't say it's novel for StL, but a possibility if the OP is looking for dining finer than BBQ or pizza.

              Imo's Pizza is definitely StL, but I personally find it pretty terrible. The crust and ingredients are on the cheap side, though no worse than 90% of Philly pizza, and Provel...yes, a topic of great debate. I'd compare it to a white Velveeta that really clings to the palate is an overpowering way.

              1. re: brownhound

                You were promised contentiousness if you deal with Imo's and you got it. I'm with brownhound on this one, although Cook's Country actually came up with an easy, palatable version of this pizza for the home chef, the great virtue of which is that it's the fastest home pizza preparation I've ever seen. Here's a link to a reprint of the recipe from the Post-Dispatch: In any event, I wouldn't waste one of two dinners here on Imo's and I suspect even fans of Velveeta on a matza would agree with me on this one.

                1. re: alan

                  ha ha! maybe i'll check it out on my next trip to town. i may be getting there more often for work in the future!

                  THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYBODY!! I'm going to be in town the 15-17th...I'll report back :)

                  1. re: jba1216

                    No, I wouldn't recommend Imo's for one of the two meals either. I was suggesting it as a late night snack.

                    I don't think 33 is a dinner option unless you are the kind who likes to drink your dinner. :) If I recall correctly, they offer some basic snacks like cheese and crackers, but don't have an actual kitchen. More of a wine and beer place.

                    If you want to stay close to the hotel, Eleven Eleven would be a great place to dine solo. I've eaten at the bar many times. Friendly staff, good food and nice wine and beer selection. I wouldn't rank it in my top 5 best restaurants in the city, but it's up there with consistantly good food at a reasonable price.


                    Eleven Eleven would put you within walking distance of 33, Park Avenue Coffee, and Square One Brewery (a local microbrewery.) But who are we kidding? No one walks and free parking is readily available all throughout the neighborhood.

                    Here's a link for Square One. More friendly bartenders and interesting neighborhood people.


                    1. re: mtoo

                      gotta agree on Imo's I love it, but it's NOT a destination especially on a short trip. more of a "I can't be bothered to do anything else" kind of thing

                      1. re: hill food

               visit to St. Louis is coming to a close, as I prob won't be eating any meals tomorrow, except hotel breakfast, lunch at a conference, and dinner at the airport. so i figured, i may as well report out on my trip!

                        dinner last night was at eleven eleven. cute neighborhood, great ambiance, super friendly service at the bar. had a nice glass of wine, along with the corn and shrimp bisque and the wild boar ravioli. all tasty...but nothing to write home about. but the experience was absolutely delightful...i can see why it's so popular. good solid food in a great atmosphere with great staff. bravo!

                        after dinner, headed to park avenue coffee for my first ever gooey butter cake. had a very good decaf americano, a very friendly and helpful server, and a decadent slice of red velvet gooey butter cake. wow!! kind of wish i had tried the original...but i can't resist red velvet. love to gbc though, especially the crusty top. yum!! my belly HURT last night after dinner and dessert!

                        today, i had breakfast at rooster. started off horribly, as i was ignored by the staff for a LONG time. however, the manager was taking care of me, and agreed the wait time to order was "ridiculous." he was extremely apologetic and comped my entire meal... that being said, coffee was very good. crepe with egg, cheddar, and bacon was tasty. i only wish there was a little less (thinner) crepe, and more egg.

                        for dinner, i hit up pappy's smokehouse around 5:15pm...good timing, as i beat the rush. i'm not a huge barbecue lover...but i will go out on a limb and say this is the best overall bbq meal i've ever had. i got the brisket platter with baked beans and sweet potato fries. wow, i could eat that brisket forever!! YUM! washed it all down with a Fitz's root beer.

                        if i could swing one or two more dinners, i was hoping to try either sidney street cafe or bridge. both menus tickled my fancy. :)

                        thank you all again for your help!! i really appreciate it, and am please with how much i was able to do (eat/drink) in such a short time here. hope to visit again soon...

                        1. re: jba1216

                          Thanks for the report. It always makes giving advice a little more satisfying when we get feedback. Let us know when you come back and we'll give you our latest intelligence.

                          1. re: alan

                            Yes, thanks for the report. Glad you liked 1111 and loved Pappy's. And their brisket isn't even the best thing they do -- next time try the ribs. Midwestern friendliness is great to pass on.