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Foodie from Chicago Coming To STL....need restaurant recommendations ?

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Hi...I will be in STL for the week of 4th of July and need the top restaurants in town. My husband and I thrive on the "foodie" restaurants in the area. We are fron Chi-town and have experienced Tru, Trotters, Alinea, Aviary, NoMi, Avec, Vivo, Naha, Trio, Le Titi de Paris, Carlos...Girl and the Goat.... Mercat ala Plaxa., L2o..have I missed one. We would love any suggestion on restaurants....from diners, drive ins and dives...to outstanding places. We love Ted Drews...and have been to the hill but my husband is a native if 25 years ago.......so we need some of the new hot spots that Have "amazing food!!!" We DO NOT care what it costs !!! Even the little BYOB spots..........ANy new up-and coming chefs ?
THanks....

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  1. For sure Niche, Sidney Street Cafe, Bogarts for BBQ....

    There are plenty of others.

    FOTD

    1. Have you looked at some of the other ST. Louis threads? Is there anything in particular you're interested in (or wouldn't be caught dead in)?

      1 Reply
      1. re: lemons

        I would peruse recent threads, there are quite a few. +1 for Bogarts. I would add Farmhaus towards the top of the list. On the Hill, Modesto is a fun tapas spot, probably the best in the city. I would avoid many of the tourist trap places on the Hill. Stellina and Trattoria Marcella would be my recommendations in that area, and they are slightly off the main part of the Hill. Unique place, good food, but especially can't miss ice cream drinks/desserts: Fountain on Locust in Midtown.

      2. I think you may enjoy restaurants that have good food but are different from what you have in Chicago. 1. Iron Barley has zero decor, so they can focus totally on the cooking. Big Ed's Chili Mac's diner is a classic, at 3523 North Broadway, but only open weekdays for breakfast and lunch. If you don't have Bosnian restaurants in Chicago, then you would enjoy Grbic's. The Fountain On Locust is worthy, and your husband will be glad to find out that Crown Candy Kitchen has not changed since he lived here...

        1. If you are looking for up and coming chefs, I would check out Home Wine Kitchen in Maplewood. It is tiny and loud but Chef Cassy has some interesting ideas and the service is very good. I also like Salt on Lindell , although they have recently undergone some upheaval.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shannonstl

            I think we may all be a little intimidated by the list of your frequented restaurants. St. Louis is a grand old town, home sweet home, no one loves it more than I...but Chicago is Chicago and THAT is quite a list! I'll second the suggestions for Home Wine Kitchen, my absolute favorite place to eat. Cassy is a food-loving perfectionist and it shows. If they have any kind of pork on the menu, order it! I just love Iron Barley, really traditional cast-iron skillet Midwestern food in it's conception, but executed with ingredients and technique that Grandma could never have imagined...very meat-centric, very tasty. I went to Salt for the first time a few weeks ago (brunch, the only meal I tend to be able to go out for), and I thought the food was good but a little underwhelming, but the building (and particularly the parking lot...look hard at the bedding plants) is beautiful and made the visit more than worthwhile. What part of St. Louis does your husband hail from? What are his favorites-in-memory? Maybe we can point him at some new developments.

          2. I too am a foodie from Chicago. It's been a while since I've visited STL, but I am planning a visit for next month. I've been doing my homework and maybe what I've found so far will help you. (STL hounds, any feedback on my choices is welcome!) I should also add, in addition to what people say about a place, I also check out the menus on their websites, as a way of seeing whether their food might be appealing to me.

            On the high end, no one here has mentioned Tony's, and as a true St. Louis institution, it's worth consideration. It's been around for decades (I ate there thirty years ago), and for most of that time it's been considered the best place in town. Its most comparable place in Chicago is Spiaggia - the ultimate in high-end Italian cuisine, with impeccable service, etc.

            I'm only available for one dinner. I've had a lot of Italian lately so I ruled out Tony's. I checked out the menus at Niche and Sidney Street (thanks FOTD), then made a reservation at Niche. Incidentally, Gerard Craft, the owner-chef of Niche, was the sole STL-area finalist in this year's James Beard awards for best chef-Midwest.

            The other days of my visit will feature some combination of breakfasts and lunches. For breakfast, the two standouts I've found in my research are Rooster and Half and Half, and I'm hoping to hit both of them. For lunch, most of the places mentioned here and elsewhere are open for lunch, with the exceptions of Niche and Sidney Street. Bogart's Smokehouse for barbecue is at the top of my list (again, thanks FOTD); note that it's open for lunch ONLY, no dinner. In the running for another lunch are Farmhaus, Home Wine Kitchen, and if I'm in the mood for burgers and shakes, Bailey's Range.

            Note that these are the places that are at the top of MY list, based on what sounds good TO ME. There are plenty of other places to choose from and for all I know others may sound better TO YOU.

            A couple of informational notes that I've also discovered. The places being recommended are spread out all over town, so you'll want to check out a map and directions to get a sense of where you'll be and how much traveling you'll be doing for any given place. Also, just like at home, many places are closed on Sundays and/or Mondays, so check hours and/or call ahead. (Incidentally, Home Wine Kitchen has a unique feature, "no menu Mondays", the day on which they offer a fixed menu.)

            I'll also note that you can find great food just about anywhere, and I don't try to compare other cities to Chicago, I just enjoy them for what they have to offer. I've found amazing food not just in other large cities, but also in out of the way places like Sheboygan Wisconsin (Margaux), Roanoke Indiana (Joseph Decuis), and Douglas Michigan (Everyday People Cafe), just to name a few. I know St. Louis residents have lots of hometown favorites to be proud of, and visiting from Chicago gives me a chance to enjoy the best of your city. (Except pizza, for which I've found my own personal nirvana in the deep-dish at home in Chicago. YMMV.)

            I'll be watching this topic for additional comments. Thanks to all the STL hounds for their advice!

            Website links:
            www.saucecafe.com/tonys
            www.nichestlouis.com
            www.sidneystreetcafe.com
            www.roosterstl.com
            www.halfandhalfstl.com
            www.bogartssmokehouse.com
            www.farmhausrestaurant.com
            www.homewinekitchen.com
            www.baileysrange.com

            9 Replies
            1. re: nsxtasy

              StL hound here, by way of Champaign, IL and before that Chicago area. Note that Bogart's is open until 8:30 (or whenever they run out) on Friday and Saturday, unless that has suddenly changed. I highly recommend Farmhaus for the blue-plate lunch (over HWK and Bailey's Range) though it is some distance from the city, but in a pleasant StL neighborhood. EPC in Douglas is indeed very fine!

              I think you'll be pleased indeed with Niche, and the same ownership has a Taste Bar with some fine craft cocktails and small plates in the Central West End, I highly recommend it.

              1. re: ddfry3

                You are correct; Bogart's is open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. I had written in my notes that it is lunch only because I will only be in town on a Monday-Thursday, and I erred in not being more specific in my post above. Mea culpa. :)

                (For the same reason, I did not investigate any options for weekend brunch.)

                1. re: ddfry3

                  1. Didn't the Niche group sell Taste to someone else?

                  2. If you want evening BBQ and don't want to cope with Pappy's absurd line, not far from Bogart's is Shaved Duck, which is a slightly nicer setting and also quite good. Instead of a "stand-in-line" place like Bogart's or Pappy's, it has a waitstaff.

                  1. re: brownhound

                    Re Niche, not that I am aware. Still says "Taste by Niche" in the CWE location.

                    1. re: ddfry3

                      A quick search says it was sold by Gerard Craft in 2010 but then the new owner became partner of Craft.

                      1. re: brownhound

                        Thanks for the clarification. Regardless, I think it's worth visiting.

                2. re: nsxtasy

                  If here on a weekend, I'd choose either Osage Cafe or Home Wine Kitchen's brunch over Rooster. They are both a steady cut above, although neither is downtown.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Nsxtasy, you are very welcome! Let us know how you fare!

                    FOTD

                    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                      >> Let us know how you fare!

                      Done! I've posted a detailed trip report at www.chow.com/topics/860779

                  2. As I understand it, at Home Wine Kitchen's "No Menu Monday" each diner tells the server things they do not like to eat. For example, I would say, "I can't stand raw tomatoes and I can't eat shellfish." Then, Chef Cassy makes each person something different based on their individual parameters. Please correct me if things have changed over there, anyone.

                    These do book up several weeks in advance, just so you can plan ahead.

                    Also one slight clarification about Farmhaus. I am pretty sure it is in the city, albeit not downtown.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: shannonstl

                      Yep, Farmhaus is in the city, albeit to the western edge...to the uninitiated, 'in the city' means 'within the original line drawn around the City of St. Louis' and not within the surrounding metropolitan area...which would be referred to as being 'in St. Louis', but NOT 'in the city'. ' St. Louis, unlike most cities, does not exist within it's own county, but is surrounded by St. Louis County, which is full of smaller cities & towns, some of which are pretty big). If we say 'in the city' we mean within about 10-15 miles of downtown and within city limits. And trust me, the divide is geographical, but even more ideological.
                      And I think the 'no menu Monday' idea at HWK is brilliant, and I'm hoping to try it soon. You'll need to call early for reservations.

                      1. re: tonifi

                        That's a great clarifier tonifi, and I really meant to say the edge of the city. St Louis has enough hassles already without adding to them!

                    2. I live in L.A. and grew up in St. Louis -- I visit a couple of times a year and eating there is a treat. Some places I look forward to:

                      O'Connell's -- on Kingshighway near the Hill -- I couldn't tolerate the place until the smoking ban, but now it is great. I love getting a great, big, juicy burger that doesn't cost 12 bucks. And their roast beef sandwich, massive and medium-rare, is just as good. Go with someone so you can split one of each and both have half.

                      Cafe Manhattan -- My favorite place for St. Louis-style pizza. It is in Clayton, south of the civic center, on Hanley near Wydown. Start with an order of "toasted" ravioli -- breaded and deepfried, served with tomato sauce for dipping. Then get a house salad, yes it is swimming in dressing, but good and cheesy. The pizzas have an ultrathin, crispy almost cracker crust, are topped with provel cheese (very melty), most of the toppings go under the cheese layer, and it is cut into squares. Fantastic. Cafe Manhattan has a special where you can get a small salad and an individual one-topping pizza.

                      Atlas -- A very solid restaurant serving very good food with good portions at very reasonable prices, such as a steak with sides in the mid-$twenties.

                      Tony's -- I'm a fan. My folks have been going there since it was a checkered-tablecloth spaghetti joint. It is a dress-up, formal service place, with some table-side prep. Nothing really innovative, but quality all around.

                      Ted Drewe's -- Happiest place in town, especially after a Cards win. I go for the concretes, a shake so thick you can hold the cup upside down. I like chocolate with extra malt (but specify a concrete -- the shakes or malts have milk added in, concretes don't.

                      Pappy's -- Bogart's, which is related, is the hot younger sister. But Pappy's is excellent BBQ. Yes, there are lines, but they move fast. Their ribs are more traditional, not apricot glazed. Brisket is good, pulled pork is excellent -- order it with the bark, not trimmed. Hit them up in midafternoon and avoid the crowds and the risk of them running out of some meats.

                      Enjoy and report back.