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Apr 9, 2013 08:20 PM

Saturday Night in St. Louis

We are traveling from Austin and have one afternoon and evening in St. Louis, staying near the Gateway Arch. We'd love and appreciate any recommendations for fun, delicious and locally owned restaurants. We have plenty of ethnic options here and are looking for local flavor... Anything from hot dogs, BBQ, soul food, steaks... something special in St. Louis. Price and ambiance are unimportant. I'll gladly return the favor when you visit Austin.

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  1. If you want to compare St. Louis barbecue to Texas style, you might want to try one of two sister restaurants: either Bogart's, in Soulard, or Pappy's, in midtown. Each is just a few minute drive from where you're staying. You might also consider Iron Barley, which has its own unique flavor. If you want something more upscale, take a look at at Niche or Farmhaus, both of which have very interesting and sophisticated takes on locally sourced food. Farmhaus is the more laid back of the two but both require reservations.

    3 Replies
    1. re: alan

      I concur on the Bogart's or Pappy's recommendations. Both are within two miles of the Arch (south and west respectively). St. Louis doesn't have the same BBQ pedigree as Kansas City, but these two spots are among the finest of their kind in the country. Horrendous lines at Pappy's, but somewhat less at Bogart's. Great food.

      Shaved Duck isn't quite as great, but has waiter service and a full bar; it's on Pestalozzi and Virginia about 3 miles southwest of the Arch. If you wnat BBQ and want a drink, Shaved Duck is a good option.

      Iron Barley would be kind of an Austin-y experience actually: meat heavy, extremely casual atmosphere with a tradition for live music. Iron Barley is about 4 - 5 miles south in a real StL neighborhood. That's another good tip.

      North of downtown is a fragment of the past: Crown Candy Kitchen. It's a kind of a handmade candy store mixed with a fantatsic diner and ice cream parlor. Lines are very long on weekends, but is great fun. It's sort of a preserved survivor in North St. Louis, a neighborhood that's undergone staggering decline over the decades. About 2 miles north of the Arch, but very long lines on warm weekends.

      Sweetie Pie's is a good tip, if you like soul/southern food. It's also the subject of a reality show on O Network. Long lines at peaks, but you can easily sneak in with no line if you're off-peak.

      St. Louis also prides itself on frozen custard, especially as sold by Ted Drewe's. It's like a richer version of soft serve ice cream. The main store is about 5 miles west of downtown on S. Hampton.

      Some things you can get better versions of in Austin: Local Harvest, Niche/Pastaria, Elaia/Olio. Just being frank -- they are fine additions to StL, but not better than what you'd get at home.

      1. re: brownhound

        I concur with the Crown and Ted Drewes recommendations. Ted Drewes (not Drewe's) is not on Hampton, however. It is on Chippewa. If you see multiple lines reaching to the curb as you approach, don't despair. Waiting in line is half the experience and it takes a whole lot less time than you can imagine. You'll find yourself at the front of the line before you know it and you'll be frantically trying to make up your mind.

        You probably won't want to try and do both Crown and Ted Drewes in one trip, however. I'd opt for the latter, although I love them both.

        1. re: brownhound

          I'll second (or third, or fourth) the recommendation for Bogart's! The only thing I'll disagree with is that it's less crowded; Bogart's gets pretty darn crowded at lunchtime. And you'll want to go at lunchtime, because it's only open for lunch, not dinner. You can always check their hours on their website at It's a couple miles south of downtown where you're staying.

          For a nice upscale dinner, Niche, in Clayton (about ten miles west of downtown), is absolutely superb. If you want to keep it downtown, Tony's is still excellent as well, a longtime St. Louis classic.

      2. Pastaria in Clayton was voted one of the top 10 new restaurants to open this year nationally. Casual, approachable, and fantastic.

        1. If you'd like to try some of our local ingredients, Five Bistro does a great job as does Local Harvest café on Morganford. I like the Shaved Duck which is also in the city but I'm blanking on the street. Is it Virginia?

          My favorite soul food is Sweetie Pie's but be prepared for long lines.

          You might also like to look up Elaia and Olio. One location, two restaurants. Elaia is fine dining and Olio more of a wine bar but both are very interesting!

          1 Reply
          1. re: shannonstl

            Five doesn't get nearly enough notice on this board but is a terrific place. However, I prefer Farmhaus for creative use of local ingredients.

          2. Spend a night downtown this week and needed a place close for a business dinner. Chose Vin de Set because of its proximity to my hotel. All four of us were extremely pleased with the excellence of the food and the atmosphere. Our waiter was slow and indifferent, but we still had a memorable time, especially since between dinner and dessert, the tornado sirens went off and we were led downstairs to the basement wine cellar to wait out the storm.
            I was told that the rooftop patio is amazing to be on when the weather is nice - great view of the city.

            1. If I had one meal in St. Louis I would go to Sidney Street Café. If I had two - I'd probably go back to Sidney Street Café.