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Aug 2, 2014 12:34 PM

St Louis recommendations (potential relocation)

I'll be visiting STL from 8/14-18 to do some recon on the area spanning downtown to CWE as a potential place to retire in a couple of years.

I'm looking for suggestions on restaurants/eating places where a sixtyish woman would be comfortable. Love good food of all kinds and am the kind of person that can happily hang out in a coffee place or bar for hours reading and people watching.

Twenty years ago I lived in a loft south of Market in San Francisco and am hoping to find a similar luxe urban feel for a much more reasonable cost of living. Food is important to me so I'd like to get a sense of the casual dining scene in STL.

Happily, my visit coincides with Downtown Restaurant Week ( and would appreciate any suggestions on any of these places.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. stroll Washington Ave downtown, bit 'clubby' but a very active streetlife of cafes and bars and lots of new loft-type condos.

    check out Grand Ave from TGP (Tower Grove is one of the best places to go for a walk) and South until about Gravois and the neighboring streets. all sorts of places to drop in casually, various SE Asian, Middle eastern, "New" American (whatever that means) gelato, coffee.
    lots of art and culture happening around SLU up at Grand and Lindell, but lots of real estate turmoil too and a lot of the places cater to either long-time residents or students.

    of course Euclid between Delmar and Barnes in the CWE will offer that luxe feel and many options, but will come at a price.

    I'm liking Cherokee these days, but I don't know if I would as a retiree (but might remind you of your days in SF, think 16th and Valencia with nice yards and without the junkies). Soulard is too "BOO-YA!" messy 3 or 4 times a year (and certain parts any old Saturday). Clayton is clean, pricy and boring. the U. City Loop has become annoying unless it's a Sunday night, Maplewood has interesting things going on but I still don't quite see where it's going yet and we're into about year 10 of its revival.

    what's your approach, an area where a bounty of places are easy to walk to or is a short drive OK?

    1. Even the Central West End will seem reasonable after SF prices, I promise you. Probably the closest thing to a walkable neighborhood in that sense, although parts of Clayton seem more like older urban neighborhoods than an actual suburb. I am your age or so, and promise you we've got lots of spots for comfortable dining alone or with gal pals - the only places I've heard complaints about aresome of the Bosnian spots. Lots of local coffee houses, but the mother ship is Kaldi's on deMun - other locations now, but that's the real thing.

      Even the "fine dining" spots are far more casual than they once were, especially the current generation. I was at The Crossing a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night - Daniel Bolud-trained chef/owner - and I only saw a couple of jacket-and-tie outfits and several guys actually wearing shorts. (Come to think of it, why is men's clothing a more accurate indicator of casual than women's? We were in everything from white pants and nice tops to long, casual dresses with boleros.)

      3 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        (ahem) I don't wear long casual dresses with boleros. as a guy that look just doesn't flatter my calves.

        that's kinda why I was asking about walking vs. cars as an area like deMun/Rosebury is gorgeous (4+ friends and attendant children live there - makes them sound like the frickin' von Trapps, no?), mostly walkable with good parks/schools/etc. until the next snowstorm shuts everything down and parking is tight. sorry while I find Clayton to have vastly more options than in the past, without a parking garage at ones disposal it can be kind of daunting for the pedestrian - too many rushed and angry drivers ignoring signs and signals. but then again it ain't Brentwood (which is close enough to run easy errands like TJ's).

        personally if STL RE$ weren't the issue I'd be looking around the CWE as that puts one right on the track to get petty much anywhere rather fast. if I wanted to be adventurous then maybe TGP North or East or even places above Delmar (saw a beaut of a boat the other day on Bartmer in need of some cosmo work for 150K) but no walking to the corner store for a pack of smokes after dark.

        if budget is an issue, the area around Hyde Park has some happening stuff going on, but it's still too early to tell and one needs a certain tolerance for neighboring houses disappearing (brick-rustled) overnight. they have a locavore community garden and market. the Candy Kitchen and a few blocks away Piekutowski's aren't going anywhere soon. kinda feels like Lafayette Square and Soulard did around 1972.

        ya want to re-live the loft route? STL has plenty of places down by the river in need of a gut or old storefronts with the apartment upstairs. but then you might need to go meet this person called the "alderman" nobody really knows what their areas of jurisdiction are or what they cover, all very cryptic.

        do a google streetview of likely neighborhoods (I always check the conditions of the yards and cars when I do that) and we can tell you what's near and good around there, or a short distance away. you're never too far from stuff.

        1. re: hill food

          An excellent suggestion about googling the neighborhood to look @ yards/autos.

          I thought you had marvellous calves, dearie - sorta like Henry VIII in those lovely French hose.....

        2. re: lemons

          >> (Come to think of it, why is men's clothing a more accurate indicator of casual than women's? We were in everything from white pants and nice tops to long, casual dresses with boleros.)

          Because men's clothing is far more well-defined in its categories; "business attire" just about always means suit and tie, "jacket required/recommended" means a jacket with or without tie, "business casual" means non-denim slacks and a shirt with a collar, etc. Whereas, as you accurately observed, women's clothing permits far more latitude in each category, everything from dresses to skirts to pants etc.

        3. hill food, I really am your biggest fan. I was going to suggest looking into the DeMun area of Clayton. I'm not a fan of the downtown area of Clayton (white bread, bo-ring) , but the girl-child has recently acquired a dear friend who lives off DeMun,and a what a lovely little pocket of the metro area that is. (Kaldi Coffee and Carl's Deli for pastrami sandwiches, what more could you ask for?)
          I think that you should take a quick run to all sides of Forest Park. The Central West End is lovely, very walkable, very bustling, but the west (Clayton/DeMun)side of the park is lovely as well. Dogtown, to the South of the park and within the city limits, is a bit more working class, but also a lovely, friendly part of the city with plenty of neighborhood places to go. To the north, the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood has beautiful residentials, although the area is geared a bit more to the college students from nearby Washington University, and can be less walkable at night. Whatever you choose, welcome to the Lou, let us know what you're leaning toward, I love this town, and I love to hear what newcomers have to say about it.
          If you don't mind a little grit with your city, our nabe of South Grand-Tower Grove would be glad to have you...

          1. I realize we've gone off the rails a bit from your original question...truth is, the CWE is so chock-a-block with places to coffee/lunch/dinner that you're not going to be able to walk a block without passing a bunch of them. I LOVE Brasserie by Niche for lunch, I've heard all kinds of good things about Central Table, there are coffee shops everywhere. There a quite a few students in the area, but I (a fiftyish woman) am perfectly comfortable in any of the establishments in the area. A big plus to the Central West End for me is the good branch of the public library on Euclid, I rather like dining alone...but I need a book!

            1 Reply
            1. re: tonifi

              and those librarians at that branch could not be sweeter. set me right up on their WiFi (I was shushed at the South Grand location once while I was extolling the merits of Kobo Abe, or maybe it was Amos Tutuola, to a friend)

              y'know I keep wanting to try Central Table I just haven't made it into town much lately.

            2. Wow, you guys are awesome! Lots of great stuff to digest here.

              I have been wallowing on Zillow for a few weeks and really find myself drawn to the loft-style condos in the Downtown and Downtown West area. There seem to be a number of great-looking places in the 150-200K range that are very appealing. Definitely looking for a condo or rental - no desire to have to worry about maintenance. I am currently living in a corner house in the original suburb of Levittown NY and this past winter my snow removal budget convinced me that I am not going to want to do that much more. After 15+ years here, I am eager to get out of the burbs and back to a more urban lifestyle. The reasonable cost of living is one of the big attractions of STL, along with fond memories of some brief visits in the summer of 1969...

              I would like to be in a location where I can walk to most places but will have a car and will want to have parking associated with the unit. I think I would end up doing a lot of exploration of the immediate and surrounding areas. I love to travel and hope to do some good road trips.

              Food-wise, I am moderately adventurous and can always find a few things on a menu to try.

              Thanks again for all of these good suggestions.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chrisonli

                "my snow removal budget convinced me that I am not going to want to do that" after back-to-back 24" snowfalls within a week in DC 2010, I can relate.

                with a car really anywhere along the central corridor is going to give you easy access to markets and casual dining. and don't worry about eating alone, it's STL - after a year or so you'll know everyone you probably need to and it won't be an issue.

                downtown (and midtown and Northside for that matter) is spotty on groceries, there is a store near the old Post Office and the Soulard market isn't far (but weird days and hours)

                deMun does have nice low and mid to high rises and is walking distance to a decent 24-hour supermarket.

                could be a decent place for a starter rental.

                1. re: hill food

                  Soulard Market, of course, is very old, dating back to the 1700's. But it isn't very much a farmers' market any more - it's closer to a European style street market with some trucked-in stuff, odd bits of clothing, bakeries, brick-and-mortar stores for meat, spice, and so on. Also open limited days. When I was young and impoverished, I used it often. Now, pretty seldom. On the other hand, the farmers' market in Tower Grove Park is the best in town. We surely don't have what you down on the Embarcadero - tayberries, anyone? not here - but it's grown and done well. And there are others, as well. A much harder town to do without a car than San Francisco, certainly, but that's not going to be your situation. Keep us posted.