St. Louis often gets the reputation as “the lesser city” to Chicago. Most people have to to be convinced that a city whose most popular monument, The Arch (a literal gateway for people passing through to somewhere else), is more than a flyover town. Be honest - do you know anything about St. Louis? Is your image of St. Louis shaped entirely by your Nelly Country Grammar CD from 2000 and horribly obnoxious Cardinals fans every October? You shake your head as your St. Louis friends protest - “But Forest Park! But Budweiser! But Jon Hamm!”
How about you let St. Louis’ food change your mind instead. It’s safe to say that St. Louis has undergone a culinary transformation in recent years, so trust us. Here’s a list of some of the best food in St. Louis, from historic staples to up-and-coming spots in various diverse neighborhoods. Take a trip and experience it for yourself. As Nelly says, no one can do it better than the M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-O-U-R-I.
Salt + Smoke is a relative newcomer to the Loop, an eclectic and lively street of restaurants, bars, and music venues located on Delmar in the heart of University City. On a warm summer day, enjoy a cold beer and the city’s best brisket on the patio outside.
Oh, you brunch competitively? Half & Half is your place - trendy, tasty, and the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Here’s your order: sausage biscuit with cheddar and scrambled eggs, your friend gets the veggie hash with brussels, and you split the Clara pancakes with raspberry and mascarpone for the table. You’re welcome.
The Hill is a historic Italian neighborhood set on a literal hill. It’s home to dozens of incredible Italian restaurants and bakeries, and this one happens to be our go-to. The cream puffs, gooey butter cake, and chocolate drops are all fan favorites. Pick out a smorgasbord and sample them all.
Peacemaker is a casual yet seriously delicious seafood joint. Choose your lobster roll style - either Connecticut (warm, with butter) or Maine (cold, with mayo) - and add in one of the seven different poorboys for good measure. No reservations, so plan accordingly.
The Chocolate Bar screams Girls' Night Out. With their boozy chocolate martinis and indulgent desserts, it’s the perfect place to hang with your ladies. But keep in mind that it’s quite popular and wait times could be extensive on a Friday or Saturday night. That's why you should go to the aforementioned Peacemaker above and come here to cap off your night with the Grown Up Mocha Martini.
The undeniable king of St. Louis style ribs, Pappy’s has a line wrapped around the block at all hours of the day. Go at a weird time, and go early - they close when they run out, and you’ll be sad you missed out.
Hipsters in St. Louis? It surprised us too. But they’re surprisingly abundant, especially around the increasingly up-and-coming Downtown area. With 200+ beers (55 on tap), 100+ wines (22 on tap), and an extensive whiskey selection, Bridge Tap is a great spot for a date, intimate hangout with a close group of friends, or pre-dinner drink. The space is designed to look like the inside of a violin, which means it’s pretty f*cking beautiful.
Grab a chocolate malt, take a seat, and bask in the history of this classic dessert spot. Crown Candy Kitchen has been a family-run St. Louis institution that’s been alive and kicking since 1913. If you’re able to finagle it, get a tour of the chocolate room in the back.
It wouldn’t be a visit to the Middle West without a proper old-fashioned steak dinner. This classic steakhouse is located in a (slightly dated) Victorian home in the family-friendly neighborhood of Kirkwood. It's good for business dinners where you need to impress, special occasions, or when you’re eating with older relatives who are going to foot the bill.
If you find yourself in Clayton, it’d be easy to get lost in the middle aged meat markets. But hopefully you can wade through and find your way over to Niche, an upscale and intimate fine dining restaurant with a fantastic tasting menu that offers a unique dining experience. Gerard Craft won the James Beard Best Chef: Midwest award this year - a first for St. Louis, and probably not the last. He also owns Pastaria (family-friendly) in Clayton, Taste (hip with a cocktail focus), and Brasserie (hip with a food focus), which are all solid options in the Central West End, the ultimate See and Be Seen.
The Tower Grove neighborhood has undergone a massive rejuvenation in the past ten years. Recent grads and YoPros flock there, and Elaia is evidence of the gentrification. This Mediterranean spot has a strong tasting menu if you choose, but you’re still able to order a la carte. Feel free to check out Olio next door, Niche's sister wine bar in an old Standard Oil gas station.
Incredible upscale Latin American food in the heart of the Loop where you can get some spit-roasted meats and seafood. They even have their own tortilla master, Lordes. Sup Lordes.
It’s small, it’s romantic, and it brings out your inner lovah. If you’re looking to wine and dine, this upscale Italian nook is going to hit the spot.
Farm-to-table isn’t just a trend for you city slickers, evident by Farmhaus’ execution of the concept with a southern twist. It’s impressive to pull this off when the closest ocean is thousands of miles away, particularly the killer Gulf Red Snapper. But you didn’t come to St. Louis for the seafood. Make sure to get the sweet potato nachos and mushroom salad.
Heading to a Cardinals game but not in the mood for a ballpark dog? Stop by Mission Taco Joint in Soulard and pick up a few tacos beforehand. They’re creative, cheap, and most importantly delicious. Do we have to convince you to get the homemade queso blended with chorizo? Didn't think so.
French bistro dining al fresco in Soulard, a neighborhood known for music, soul, and romance - it’s magical. You can enjoy a meal on the top floor of the restaurant year round thanks to individual fire pits and heaters in the cold, and it's worth it so you can catch a glimpse of the Arch and downtown.
Vegetarians, don’t fret. We’ve got you covered. Actually, Lulu’s has you covered and we’re merely the middleman. What started as a food truck has grown into a full fledge brick-and-mortar with sweet potato black bean burgers, nachos, and cauliflower wraps. Carnivores and herbivores alike will enjoy this casual, tasty restaurant.
While the InBev acquisition of Anheuser Busch is old news, the wound runs deep. The loss of the homegrown giant opened an opportunity for a beer renaissance, and Schlafly is the biggest example of this microbrew explosion. Head to the Tap Room for some fine craft brews and German eats in the downtown neighborhood. If you’re in the mood for live music and a more extensive menu, make your way over to Bottleworks in Maplewood, where they bottle the good stuff and have live music throughout the week.