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We will be in STL April 27-29 and need suggestions for food

My girlfriend and I will be in STL at the end of April and need ideas of places to eat. We have been to STL before, a few years ago and ate at Niche, Mango and Sen Thai and loved them, but this time we want to try other places. We are staying at The Moonrise Hotel and we will have a car, but we would like to be able to use mass transit as much as possible. We are possibly moving to STL and we need to see how viable it is to travel around the city using mass transit. We love most types of food, but we are especially interested in Ethiopian and Southeast Asian food, so recommendations for those cuisines would be great. We are also open to any other recommendations that hounders may have. I have looked at several of the boards and we are thinking that we may want to go to Rooster for Sunday brunch before we head out of town. We are trying to get a sense of what it would be like to live and eat in STL, where would a native St Louis-ian go on a typical dinner out.

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  1. Mass transit here is...not as good as it should be. You will be very near one of the Metrolink stops, as you've probably figured out. The Central West End stop near Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a couple of blocks south of the beginning of the Euclid strip of restaurants that goes about, oh, seven blocks north from there. And on the other Metrolink line, there's a stop in Clayton, which also has lots of restos. But basically, you're going to be auto-dependent, especially on Sunday, which as I recall is a day on which bus frequency dries up considerably.

    Vietnamese right on Metrolink would be Mai Lee. We are somewht short on Ethiopian, although there's one up the street from the Eclipse (c'mon, guys, help me out here) and another on South Grand, which has another cluster of multi-ethnic restaurants. (Delmar Boulevard in the Loop has a fair selection, but not as good as South Grand.) They're putting in a trolley, by the way, to run from that area to Forest Park, with a stop at the Metrolink station there at DeBaliviere and the Forest Park Expressway, but that won't be until, umm, maybe next year.

    A typical dinner out for a native gives you a lot of room, and I'm not sure that's so good. Haven't you noticed the arguments about provel cheese? Maybe a typical dinner out for a STL CHer, that we can help you with. I'm sure there'll be more from others chiming in.

    5 Replies
    1. re: lemons

      Hey Lemons - isn't the trolley supposed to be one of those dolled-up buses? still a good idea.

      4/27 should be an awesome time for all the sidewalk cafes that are found in the CWE and even now downtown on Washington or the courtyards in Soulard. might be early for the Venice Cafe garden (drinks not food really) - a friend from ATL remarked 2 years back "we don't have anything like this!"

      Moonrise is a good location. but if ya want Ethiopian go to DC. in STL VN is best found on the southside (Grand mostly although I do defer to Lemons on Mai Lee, just haven't yet been myself, always running to the faves) sadly Metro, other than bus doesn't yet run quite to that part. and some of the Mexican is the best, but those areas are even harder to get to on transit.

      an STL-er knows the side streets and short cuts and how to drive so ya never get out of second gear so even if road work is occurring or one had maybe had a drink too many at dinner... (and the streets meander so you need patience and a general idea so study a map - Elaine Viets during her tenure at the Post-Dispatch had entire columns on this)

      It's becoming a great food place on a daily basis, but if you re-locate you may want to hold on to one car.

      STL is sorta secretive that way. great things, and we'll tell, but the right question has to be asked. (I know weird, but once you know 6 people it's easy to know 100 and then you're set) as a long ex-pat sort of recently sort of returned it really has started to re-bloom.

      1. re: hill food

        I'm thinking it's gonna be a real trolley, not one of those dolled-up buses, but I suppose we could re-check the story online. Joe Edwards (he owns the Eclipse, and other major players in the neighborhood of it, boxerdad, a good guy on his way to becoming one of the princes of the city) usually does things right.

        1. re: lemons

          Thanks for all of the help so far. My thought about the mass transit system in STL was as you have confirmed, Ok, but not great and definitely not the best way to get around. We will have the car and I am more than willing to drive where ever there is going to be a good meal. I will have to check on Eclipse and his other places. We were thinking of going to Five for dinner one night, any thoughts?

          1. re: boxerdad

            Only been to Five once, for lunch, but it was very good. Amazing burger. That's on The Hill proper. Despite the bunch of Italian places, many touristy and piles of sauce and cheese. my favorites there are Five, Modesto (very good tapas place) and Adriana's (wonderful Sicilian sandwiches/pizza/pastas, very near Five).

          2. re: lemons

            a real trolley would be nice, maybe the success of the Loop could spread up to Wellston (I know it's going to take years)

      2. Definitely hit So. Grand for a variety of Thai, Vietnamese and also mid-eastern (The Vine and Natasha, but especially The Vine). I think you'll find the Asian meals there (such as at Thai Basil, Pho Grand, Bahn Mi So 1) much better than Sen Thai. And check out Jay's Int'l Market there as well; you may want to do some shopping there if you set up house in StL. I also can't recommend Taste enough. It's in the CWE and is really unique in concept; not ethnic but very interesting, oft-changing and always delicious small-plate offerings, plus an incredible array of designer cocktails. And it's an all-round pleasant atmosphere. And there's plenty of other places for nice outdoor eating and drinking within a few block radius. It's the most Paris- or Brussels- like area that we have.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Wayno

          Ok, so we can hit up So. Grand for sure.

          1. re: boxerdad

            I must concur as to the sad state of our mass transit...I strongly suggest you hang on to a car, though there is a lot of biking in this area, as well, if that is an option for you guys. I haven't been to Everest in a while www.everestcafe.com, but they do a terrific lunch buffet, Nepali/Korean (he's from Nepal, she's from Korea, some dishes meet in the middle). Everest is in the 'Grove' neighborhood, kind of up and coming, Manchester Road between Kingshighway & Grand. Once again, I love how hill food puts it, I'm told this can be a difficult town to make friends in (we all know each other some way or the other), but if you can get to know 6 people you can get to know the hundreds that they know...I think you will like South Grand, and do try The Vine if you get a chance. As of right now, I think the trolley is a trolley, which would be awesome. We'll see if it works out that way.

            1. re: tonifi

              ahh tonifi, et al (this is sorta OT) we gotta be careful not to scare off boxerdad. STL is sort of a secret society in both streets and social ways but I would say "hey we're pretty friendly and you and your spouse have a social advantage in that since you didn't go to high school here you're an unknown quantity. and can be whoever you like (just don't push that too far)"

              back to the original question, there was a time when one really didn't cross Skinker on foot if there was a choice (and I was a kid that scoured Wellston for liquor stores that didn't card, is Mama Mildred's still around?).

              you can easily spend a nice long walking graze along Delmar for a day. the CWE or Clayton aren't in walking distance but easily Metro'ed from your hotel (god once as a bored teenager I walked from Clayton High to Maryland Plaza, I can't remember the exact route - and in summer. only took about 3 mid-day hours. not a good idea but I was even dumber than I am now).

              1. re: hill food

                My gosh, I can't imagine that walk being not a good idea unless it was one of those 100-degree-plus days. Lindell Boulevard is too fine.

                Would add Lorenzo's to the Hill list, and for traditional red-sauce Italian, Gian-Tony's.

                1. re: lemons

                  oh that is a beautiful walk, but it was a terribly hot day (and that's a long stretch between sources of refreshment)

                  Gian-Tony's has bocce courts right? nice patio, good pizza.

                  1. re: hill food

                    I think you're thinking Milo's. No patio, no bocce. Not as formal as Giuseppe's or Dominic's, but Gian-Tonhy's waiters are sort of dressed up. Osso bucco to die for and the eggplant rolatini would impress your nonna.

                    1. re: lemons

                      Milo's right. why do I always do that? this isn't the first time. (obviously my user name has nothing to do with The Hill in STL)

              2. re: tonifi

                I was thinking of Everest too.

          2. Since you are gonna be so close it it, I would check out Pi on Delmar. Great pizzas and they have some awesome looking milkshakes (haven't tried on yet, but they look amazing) and a nice selection of beers. Pi is kind of a favorite among locals - but they aren't St. Louis Style pizza.
            http://www.restaurantpi.com/delmar-menu/

            1 Reply
            1. re: mtoo

              Ha! I'm not trying to scare people off (well, not the nice ones anyway). Seriously, this is a town of very diverse neighborhoods, find the one that fits and you will love it here. And choosing your neighborhood by the restaurants/grocery stores you like sure isn't the worst way to decide where you want to live...

            2. Again, thanks for all of the advice and ideas for food. We are not going to be scared off, this move comes down to a job. If my spouse gets the job at SLU, we are moving, if not, than we aren't. And this is the kind of response I hoped for. I am getting great insights into the non-touristy things. I have looked at the boards and it was a lot of ideas for someone just visiting, and although we are just visiting this time, we are also trying to get a sense of the food scene beyond the better know restaurants,we are trying to get to know some of the neighborhood places too.

              We will have a car, so we are not tied to metrolink, we can and probably will drive when we have to. I was just trying to get a sense of whether we could leave a car for a day and get to restaurants from the hotel using mass transit, if not than we drive, I have GPS for a reason.

              Another quick question since the response has been so great, it is very likely that Friday morning I will be grabbing breakfast alone since the wife will probably be on the last part of her interview, is there a cafe or something within walking distance from Moonrise where I can grab breakfast (coffee and such) or should I just to Eclipse for breakfast that morning?

              6 Replies
                1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                  And the breakfast really is quite good. Nothing particularly wonderful even halfway nearby.

                2. re: boxerdad

                  SLU? a few friends teach there at the main campus, great location, interesting things going on in "Grand Center" there are some awesome neighborhoods near there (and yeah some skruddy ones) and it's so easy to get to or from anywhere in the city proper. do give Metrolink a shot as everyone has different mass transit ideas/tolerances (just not on interview day obviously)

                  I and many of my friends love the Tower Grove Park area (TGPE, TGPN, etc. it's a long park so each side is sort of distinct) in TGPS on Morganford is Local Harvest Grocery and Cafe, bit pricey but very high quality and yeah local (duh) www.localharvestgrocery.com

                  get your ass out of bed the interview AM and drop the SO off at the meeting while you go to nearby World's Fair Donuts in TGN for a sack of fried pies and doughnuts (gotta get there early for the pies) and walk off the cholesterol at the Garden or in TGP waiting for the p/u call then hit South Grand with her for lunch.
                  http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/28/322491...
                  www.towergrovepark.org/
                  www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/

                  1. re: hill food

                    Good call, although the coffee @ World's Fair is dismal. Also in TGP area is a wonderful old-style saloon called the Royale, with a definitely-young crowd, although geezers like moi feel comfortable (and well-fed) there.

                    1. re: lemons

                      oh yeah the Royale has a nice patio, good music and decent burgers. but gotta say I'd maybe steer in-town-for a few-days-folks somewhere else. but you could do far worse.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Very good burgers, nice vibe, and food several cuts above saloon fare at Royale.

                3. If you're staying at Moonrise, Selam Ethiopian is around the corner on Rosedale. Exit the hotel, turn left and then take your first right onto Rosedale. Ate there about a month ago, and enjoyed it -- mostly other Ethiopians in the restaurant. (There's a handful around town, but the gringos tend to know about Selam or Meskerem on South Grand, from what I can tell.) For whatever reason, Selam offers relatively few "sampler" plates and more main courses, which tends to run against type for most Ethiopian places I've been to.

                  Last weekend I took a Metrolink tour going from Skinker (near the Loop) to downtown. It's an easy way to see downtown, but not as efficient as car, unless going for a game or concert or other parking-challenged event. Metro is pretty decent for a mid-sized city, and better than some larger cities.

                  If you're headed to the Missouri Botanical Garden, then World's Fair Donuts is a nice stop, since you'll end up parking right by it. But this isn't a good donut town, for some reason, and World's Fair isn't worth seeking out, IMO.

                  Pi pizza is where I ate when I stayed at Moonrise when investigating St. Louis. It's a nice place and has a student-y feeling, being so close to Wash U. (and the home where I settled, in fact). It's not St. Louis style pizza, which is mostly terrible, but a good representative of what St. Louis does decently -- neither true junk food nor higher end fare.

                  Five is a very fine option, and will take you to a different part of town. You can pair it with some of the other neighborhood attractions such as Italian groceries, Missouri Baking Co., a smattering of bars, etc.

                  I moved here about a year ago, and spent a lot of time exploring city neighborhoods while looking for housing and learnign about the town -- i.e., generally did not want to live in the suburbs. If you have questions, feel free to reach out individually and I'll add my two cents. The town is trickier than locals think, I feel, and it's worth entering with open eyes.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: brownhound

                    If you go to World's Fair donuts, promise me you will get at least one plain cake, if they still have any. I am not so much about the sweet stuff, but their little plain cake donut is the fried chicken of donuts (my cousin's words...she makes me bring her a bag of them whenever I visit Springfield). Mrs. Clanton will tell you if they have any 'in the back' if you don't see them in the case.

                    1. re: tonifi

                      "Mrs. Clanton will tell you if they have any 'in the back'"

                      now that's the kind of insider stuff one needs to know I referred to

                      b'hound - what's tricky about it? I don't want to de-rail this but I am curious. the layout, the habits and foibles? in not so many words I've been trying to express that once the puzzle is figured out it's all really quite simple. (and we could collaborate on a book regarding the shift in shipping methods and the commodities traded over the last 150 years, rust belt, white flight, black flight, misguided urban renewal attempts, entrenched political structures etc.)

                      1. re: hill food

                        Now that I think we may get to keep you, boxerdad...if you and the spouse are out & about on Saturday morning, you should get thee down to Soulard Market and have a wander around...there are more farmer's markets that are 'greener' (Tower Grove)and more 'upmarket' (Clayton) but Soulard is big and old and loud and it has been around a long, long time. Lots of vendors who are selling conventional produce, (but usually at WAY better prices than at the supermarkets) but increasingly, there are also lots of local farmers/meat producers/cheesemongers/ soapmakers, and a big old bunch of people with their little market carts whacking you in the ankles buying bananas and broccoli. The smaller farmer's markets haven't really kicked in yet, but Soulard is open all year 'round. I know you won't be shopping for groceries, per se, but it is one of my favorite places to people watch...and I love to be all tourist-y in places where people buy food. (My friends truly don't understand, but I have FUN at farmer's markets...best place in the world to talk to people, I think).

                        1. re: tonifi

                          and you can chug beer while ya stroll the market! grubby and cool. gotta say markets and grocery stores are my favorite places to hit when visiting a new town

                          1. re: tonifi

                            I love farmers markets. I agree they are the best places to talk to and meet people. Once they really start up, we tend to go to them pretty regularly, there is one I go to almost weekly on Wednesdays and then we will go to another one on Saturdays many weekends, so I am with you on the great places to people watch and to shop for food.