Amid the plethora of dining options, St. Louis boasts an ever-expanding number of restaurants featuring locally sourced products from the region. Here are a few of the popular restaurants committed to local foods:
Located in downtown St. Louis, Bailey’s Range is not just any burger and shake joint. They use only Missouri-raised grass-fed beef for the burgers, and making from-scratch shakes using only natural ingredients, and the taste difference is noticeable. Rooster and Bridge, sister restaurants of Bailey’s Range, are also devoted to using local and sustainable ingredients. Dish Not to Miss: the Ozark Burger (locally grown crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, black peppered goat cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion).
Big Sky Café
Long before eating local and sustainable was in vogue, Big Sky Café was dedicated to making the world a better place to eat and live. Ingredients are locally sourced and naturally raised, but this restaurant takes the sustainable commitment a step further: organic waste is composted, and items are recycled including wine corks and used vegetable oil. Big Sky Café also educates customers on the importance of water conservation by offering water only to those patrons that request it and donating proceeds to charitywater.org. Dish Not to Miss (when in season): Brûléed Hazelnut Dipped Goat Cheese served on a small spinach salad with dried cranberries and local sprouts.
Café Osage at Bowood Farms
Located in the "Central West End" of St. Louis city, this unique breakfast and lunch café grows much of its vegetables in the urban garden across the street and fresh herbs on the rooftop. Many other ingredients used in the dishes are sourced from local purveyors from the surrounding metro area. Dish Not to Miss: BrieLT (Nueske bacon, tomato marmalade, Brie, and arugula on five-grain wheat).
A quaint restaurant located in southwest St. Louis city, Farmhaus is a perfect place for the adventurous eater. The menu changes daily depending on the chef’s inspiration and what is in season, resulting in delicious and fresh seasonal offerings. The "Blue Plate Lunch" is a rotating menu of only one entrée selection, a seasonal salad, and iced tea; priced at $10, it’s a bargain. Dish Not to Miss: Parisienne Gnocchi (gnocchi made with YellowTree Farm sweet potato cream, house ricotta cheese, local black kale, and house guanciale).
Located in St. Louis’ historic "Hill" neighborhood, Five Bistro is "a new American bistro creating seasonal cuisine with local products." The chef believes that in order to fully appreciate good food, one must use all five senses. Five Bistro hopes to bring diners back to a time when the origin of our food and the person that grew it was known. The menu changes daily and reflects what is seasonal and available from local farms. They feature nose-to-tail cooking and are proud of the many made-from-scratch items they prepare in-house. Dish Not to Miss: Troutdale Farm trout with local baby spinach and arugula, French horn mushrooms, roasted local sweet potato, and lemon caper vinaigrette.
Best Places to Eat Local Food in St. Louis - Recipes
Lobster Ravioli with rock shrimp, spinach, tomato, and brandy cream sauce
I’m doing all I can to revitalize our local restaurants. I’m eating out again—but cautiously. Last week after the long COVID hiatus, I joined Russ and Deb for a fine saucy meal at Pan d’Olive on McCausland.
Named for the warm, bakery-fresh olive bread served, their website notes that they “celebrates Mediterranean cuisine with a California twist”—whatever that means. The menu says the place offers “a bite of Mediterranean,” which makes it’s location in Dogtown all the more fitting.
Our splendid Mediterranean feast started with Arancini, named for the popular Sicilian rice balls. Their version of the delicacy has gorgonzola, beef, and potatoes and sat fetchingly in a small pond of marinara sauce.
Snails in Gorgonzola and Garlic Sauce. Delish! But for those who might be a bit squeamish about eating gastropods, trust me, this sauce would make shoe leather taste good.
The eggplant dish, that I’d had once before was no longer on the menu. Apparently, there were too few of us who ordered it. Even so, it’s good to know that in the heart of Dogtown you can appease your longing for a “bite of Mediterranean” without the price of a plane ticket.
This colorful, well-dressed Shepherd’s Salad is a merry mix of lettuce, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, onions, and feta.
Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with prosciutto, peas, and sherry cream sauce. This was my favorite of the evening.
Pan D’Olive, 1603 McCausland Ave. Open : Mon-Sat. 5p-till closing Sun. 4p-9p Happy Hour , Mon-Fri. 4p.-7p.
Where to find the best street food in St. Louis
Truffle Shroom bao from The BAO
“We make the buns fresh every day—that’s the key,” owner/executive chef RJ Xu says of his Clayton restaurant’s namesake dish. Xu offers a selection of “little bao,” as well as several larger sandwiches served on those steamed dome-top buns. The BAO does a winning rendition of the classic Taiwanese pork belly gua bao but also serves Korean fried chicken, wagyu, and Impossible burger variations. 14 N. Central.
Note: For street food served from food trucks, see our local food truck guide.
This newly opened storefront in University City is the ideal place to discover a variety of Chinese street foods under one roof. Owner Lei Qian recruited his aunt to replicate the taste of jianbing from his native Tianjin. Aside from that popular breakfast item, there are Chinese-style meat pies, chive pastries, and a regional specialty called roujiamo, and slow-cooked pork belly on toasted flatbread, affectionately referred to as “the Chinese hamburger.” 567A Melville.
The whole fried catfish alone is worth a trip to this takeout-only spot. While you’re there, try the chicken wings, shrimp-stuffed po’ boys, and hushpuppies. Aficionados stage front-seat picnics in an adjacent parking lot. If you don’t think that’s romantic dining, you don’t appreciate magnificently fried comestibles. 9701St. Charles Rock Road.
Shaka Poke from BLK MKT Eats
The concept’s simple yet brilliant: burrito-size sushi rolls, stuffed with fresh ingredients. Our personal favorite? The spicy and crunchy OG Krilla, filled with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, Persian cucumber, avocado, tempura crunch, jalapeño, and masago, accentuated with the OG Fire and unagi sauce. Don’t overlook the sushi nachos, also available with that special sauce. 9 S. Vandeventer.
Have a favorite local food truck? Vote for it in St. Louis Magazine's Best Food Truck Readers' Choice Poll for a chance to win free beer and other prizes from Bastard Brothers Brewing Company!
Ivan Wei’s expansive menu includes numerous snacks from his childhood. “When I was a student in China,” he says, “a bunch of kids would walk home together, and we we’d always buy these snacks at the entrance of the school.” Today, visit The Loop to try deep-fried sesame balls filled with red bean paste and fluffy ice desserts, and tea eggs (boiled and cracked before being infused again with hot tea). Wei plans to add roujiamo, a Shaanxi province specialty: stewed pork or beef on a flatbread-style bun. 6623 Delmar.
It doesn’t sound appetizing, but cheese tea is big business across Asia right now. You can count on one hand the St. Louis venues offering it, and this tiny store near Olive Supermarket is among them. Choose from traditional teas and fruit teas, topped with a thick layer of salted cream cheese for an unexpectedly enjoyable contrast of textures and flavors. 8041 Olive.
Owner Lassaad Jeliti enjoys introducing customers to sopes, crispy Mexican-style cups of fried corn flour topped with carnitas, chorizo, or vegetables. Histwist on tradition: topping it with a sunny-side-up egg. “That’s just a lot of goodness to bite into,” Jelitisays. “You eat them with your face, not a spoon!”2200 Gravois.
Wok-seared vegetables inside a seven-pointed star cut from pressed, fried noodles
The grilled pork banh mi, served with pâté, is Dao Tien’s most traditional take on the Vietnamese breakfast sandwich. Whatever the topping, the julienned carrots and daikon are pickled a week or two in advance, and the meat is marinated for a couple of days. Or try the bo luc lac: Flank steak is diced and stir-fried with garlic, Thai basil, and jalapeños.
There’s a certain charm to walk-up windows, the pedestrian’s drive-thrus. They’re sprinkled across the region, typically in areas with high foot traffic: Mission Taco in the Delmar Loop, Epic Pizza & Subs in Soulard, Clover and the Bee in Webster, Club Taco in Kirkwood, Pie Guy in The Grove… On a nice day, when you’re trying to pack in as much as possible, it’s the ideal way to grab a slice, a street taco, or a cup of joe and be on your way.
The recently opened fast-casual homage to late-night stoner food turns pot culture into pop culture. Deep-fried meat, fish, and veggie nuggets can be laced with strains (sauces), then loaded (with other goodies), and rolled (into a burrito or po’ boy, or neither). Dessert munchies (Oreos, Snickers, cookies) are battered, fried, and served on a stick. 1330 Washington.
Traditional Greek gyro from The Greek Kitchen
Lisa Nicholas and Joe Kandel closed their Ellisville restaurant last summer and relocated The Greek Kitchen to Kirkwood a month later. They serve warm pitas overstuffed with tzatziki-slathered lamb and beef. Pair it with a chilled retsina, and consider a return visit to try the rest of the menu, notably the dolmades. 343 S. Kirkwood.
Kalbi Taco Shack's rice bowl includes spicy chicken, jasmine rice, slivers of sweet pickled carrots and daikon, romaine lettuce, spicy chili sauce, and a fried egg.
The perfect marriage of Asian- and Mexican-inspired flavors, Kalbi’s teriyaki chicken taco is the kind you’d imagine eating fresh from a food truck while standing on a sunny Los Angeles sidewalk. Instead, save the airfare and visit Cherokee Street to enjoy fusion tacos, burritos, bowls, and more. 2301 Cherokee.
It doesn’t get more street food–ish than this bustling taqueria, open weekends in the doorway of a Latino market in Bridgeton. Tacos are ordered and assembled on the spot and eaten at a few tables inside. The fresh sides and huge salsa bowls are all you need for dressing. 12005 St. Charles Rock Road.
Auggie’s The Original
Toasted ravioli are skewered and stretched into beautiful golden-brown Parmesan-dusted slabs—hot, crusty, and perfect for marinara dipping. Served at a stand right under the Arch, they’re pure St. Louis. 10 S. Leonor K. Sullivan.
With modular “fish lights,” swirly metallic-sheen floors, curved Samsung TVs displaying the menu, and Stubborn sodas (Pepsico’s craft line), Poké Munch is worthy of its next-level status and rave reviews. Its five “roll it or bowl it” standards have morphed into such specials as poke toast and the not-too-sweet Korean ice cream sandwich. 630 N. New Ballas.
Tender dumpling purses gush savory juices. They’re aromatic, satisfying, a casual lunch addiction for fans flocking to this tiny no-frills U. City spot. There are a few snacks on daily rotation, but don’t miss those dumplings, with pork, beef, crab, or chicken filling. Order ’em by the bamboo steamer. It’s an authentic taste of China. 8110 Olive.
The dogs and burgers at Steve’s Hot Dogs were already whimsical enough, with the Al Hra-BRAT-ski and Prince Akeem Burger. Then two iterations of the Waffle Dog came along: a hot dog on a stick encased in corn dog batter that’s waffle-cooked and another version with pieces of Tater-Tots in the batter. Carry either out the door, and people will want to know where it came from. 2131 Marconi,3457 Magnolia.
Faces Behind the Food
Before opening Tazé, Justin Roth visited London, Spain, Turkey, Africa, New York, and Tokyo to experience an array of street foods. His favorite stop: the city of Marrakech in Morocco. (His twin brother, Casey, stayed in St. Louis to oversee construction.) Justin and consulting chef Matt Borchardt connected with a street food–savvy dragoman. “He took us outside the city walls, where the locals lived,” he recalls. “We saw whole goat skewered on poles and cooked in 12-foot-tall clay ovens. We ate our most memorable meal, a spiced beef, at tables and chairs in a median on a dusty highway.” 626 Washington.
Doug Marshall of The Tamale Man
Marshall spent his childhood making tamales with his Mexican grandmothers, and he’s carried those happy memories into his current gig as The Tamale Man. Marshall decided to start the business after his wife took up organic farming. The farm’s produce goes into Marshall’s homemade tamales, which come in chicken, pork, black bean–sweet potato, and veggie. Tamale enthusiasts can find Marshall’s creations at various farmers’ markets, as well as at Wellspent Brewing Company and Southwest Diner on Tamale Tuesdays.
Samantha Mitchell of Farmtruk
After seven years as the sous-chef at Annie Gunn’s, Mitchell decided to put food out on her own schedule to accommodate her growing family. Inspired by her time spent in the Pacific Northwest, Mitchell wanted “to bring the food to the people.” Farmtruk was born. She focuses on local ingredients and educates customers about the seasonality of her dishes, including the popular brisket mac and cheese. Mitchell plans to open a brick-and-mortar, Cropcircle, at the forthcoming City Foundry STL in Midtown. For now, she’s enjoying “bouncing around from place to place.”
Inigo Gondra of The Croquetterie
Finding authentic Basque food in the Midwest can be a challenge, but Inigo Gondra is bringing it to the masses. A native of Bilbao, Spain, who formerly worked in human resources, Gondra runs a catering business that specializes in Spanish dishes, including croquettes (fried balls stuffed with béchamel sauce and other fillings, such as blood sausage and chorizo) and paella. St. Louisans line up for his creations most Saturdays at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, as well as the park’s annual Festival of Nations.
Courtesy of Little Saigon Cafe
Courtesy of Little Saigon Cafe
In Northern Vietnam, the New Year platter consists of bánh chưng, a square-shaped rice cake similar to bánh tét, in addition to side dishes such as deep-fried egg rolls (nem rán) and sweet glutinous rice (xôi gấc). While egg roll fillings vary widely according to individual taste, most include meat, herbs and mushrooms. Locally, you can find egg rolls at almost every Vietnamese restaurant. Little Saigon Cafe offers a classic edition with pork, shrimp and glass noodles as well as a vegetarian option, served with a fish sauce-based sweet and sour dipping sauce. And consider getting crispy rolls at Dao Tien Bistro, where you can find a version of the Vietnamese sweet glutinous rice and other delicious offerings.
Courtesy of Little Saigon Cafe
The traditional way to serve egg rolls for Tết is as a side on a celebratory platter called “mâm cỗ.” Egg rolls can be enjoyed in a number of ways, however, including as part of this sumptuous one-dish meal with stir-fry shrimps and vermicelli.
Courtesy of Little Saigon Cafe
Ask a Local: An Insider's Guide to St. Louis, Missouri
"If there's still a kid in you, the Gateway Arch is fascinating," says Mike Marquard , co-owner of Blueprint Coffee in St. Louis. Tourist attractions aside, Marquard says St. Louis is home to what may be the best croissant in the country, breakfast sushi (?!), and enough fish fries and barbecue joints to make a visit to the city a full-fledged eating trip. Marquard knows what's up—let him be your guide to St. Louis.
Where should we stay?
The Moonrise Hotel . It's right next to two concert venues, and there are a couple of restaurants nearby. If you're going to stay in an Airbnb, Iɽ shoot for either the Shaw neighborhood or the Central West End. Shaw has the botanical gardens , and is in a very walkable but very cool part of town that's very biking-friendly.
The English breakfast at The Mud House. Photo: Courtesy of The Mud House
I’m partial to Half and Half because I used to work there. On the weekends, they do this thing called Breakfast Sushi. You can have cheese, eggs, and tater tots all wrapped in bacon. But they only make 15 to 30 servings of it, and they sell out in the first hour they're open. On the weekdays, Iɽ say The Mud House , which a great version of a Slinger, which is a variation on a classic St. Louis dish that traditionally has ground beef, chili, potatoes, eggs, and cheese. At The Mud House , they'll do it with Andouille sausage or faux meat with a really great chili, cubed potatoes, egg, and cheese. That's a great hangover breakfast if you need it.
What’s the best cup of coffee in town?
Obviously Blueprint . Probably the place to go is Comet Coffee . It's a multi-roaster shop that's centrally located and the people behind the bar are enthusiastic. I also think they may have the best croissants in the United States.
Jennifer Steinkamp: Orbit, installation view, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, October 11-December 29, 2013. Photo: Courtesy CAMSTL/Jennifer Steinkamp
Where to see great art?
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is great. They rotate through a lot of different pieces but the building itself is Bauhaus-style and clean, cubic, and nice. The St. Louis Art Museum is free. Last year, I saw an awesome exhibit there on mid-century modern architecture. There were rooms that were plastered over to show what's behind the walls of buildings you're in all the time.
What's the best market or food hall to eat your way around?
I love Tower Grove Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. That’s by far the best market in terms of good local producers and food vendors. In particular, we love the produce from The Yoder Farm . We don't have a ton of food halls yet but people are excited that one is slated to open in a couple of years, and will try to do the Atlanta Krog Street thing with local vendors.
Hottest new restaurant in town?
Público is doing really well. It's Latin American-inspired but the flavors and presentation are exquisite. Then there's Peacemaker —I go there for the lobster rolls and poɻoys. Vicia is opening soon, and there's a lot of hype around it. There's a couple from New York opening it, and the main focus will be vegetables but it won't be vegetarian. I also love Vista Ramen's signature ramen, its kimchi pancakes and its five-spice daiquiri. Plus, the desserts are amazing, too, especially the lemongrass basil ice cream.
The pretzel at Union Loafers. Photo: Spencer Pernikoff/Union Loafers
Which restaurants do you frequent?
Peacemaker for sure. Then Taste is another one. Its pork burger is probably the best dish in St. Louis: ground pork patty, cheese, and bacon. I also frequent Union Loafers for lunch it's an awesome new bakery focused on bread.
What about the best spots for St. Louis barbecue?
Pappy’s is mostly responsible for the current St. Louis barbecue boom. Bogart's is the first offshoot, and it's in Soulard, which is the oldest French part of the city. Salt and Smoke is awesome and the brisket there is really great. Sugarfire is probably the best marketing-wise. They opened an original store about five years ago and they have six locations. I think the pork there is really tasty.
Snag a sandwich at Gioia's in St. Louis. Photo: Courtesy of Gioia's
Old-school St. Louis restaurant institution?
Adriana’s on the Hill in the old Italian part of town. It’s a sandwich shop that's always packed and the same woman is at the counter all the time. As soon as you’ve been there twice, you're "sweetheart." There's another place called Gioia’s that's big for its hot salami—this meaty, mushy amazingness they put on different types of bread. The other thing is that during Lent, every Catholic Parrish in the city has a fish fry. It's too fun to go around every Friday eating tons of fried fish and drinking cheap, light beer. Each place has its own quirks. One has the best side dishes. The other will have the zaniest entertainment or fish tacos. Or the cheapest beer.
Where to grab an excellent cocktail?
Taste is at the epicenter of craft cocktails becoming a thing in St. Louis. The guy who really innovated the bar program there opened Planter’s House and that’s also just a really cool space. One is if I want to drink great cocktails and think about them and the other is a social bar that happens to have great drinks.
Kick it at the beer garden at the Midtown location of Urban Chestnut. Photo: Courtesy of Urban Chestnut Brewing Company
Best brewery in town?
Urban Chestnut is very German-influenced they do classic-style called the reverent series and then the modern style called the revolution series. I've never been disappointed by a beer there, very interesting and very drinkable. I also like Civil Life and its English-style beer with malt character. 2nd Shift is the best brewery though. They're about to open a tasting room in the Hill and it's funny to read their bottles. They're charmingly irreverent, and have a big stout called the LSD (liquid spiritual delight).
Best place to see live music?
The room with the best acoustics in town is The Pageant , which is a large venue for about 3000 people. It's also really comfortable, in case you're not 16 years old and don't want to be pushed up against everybody. Other places for good touring acts are The Ready Room and Firebird .
Where to get into trouble for the night?
Probably Laclede’s Landing down by the river. That's where you get guys fighting each other over girls, a casino, brick streets heels get stuck in, piano bars, and clubs for late-night dancing.
Where to eat when the party's over?
Uncle Bill's Pancake House or the Courtesy Diner . Both great late-night diners with eggs and gravy, where you used to walk out smelling like cigarettes. We didn't have a smoking ban here until a few years ago.
Shaw Nature Reserve is about a 45 minute drive away, if you're interested in botanical gardens. If you want a great hike, go to Castlewood State Park . If you want mountain biking, you can do that at Castlewood too. There's a lot of great bluff hiking around there, and you can hike an afternoon then get back to town—no big deal.
Best Places to Eat Local Food in St. Louis - Recipes
By Matt Sorrell // June 1, 2020
Soul food is the most comforting of comfort foods, from fried chicken to mac and cheese. It’s easy to forget that so many of these feel-good favorites were actually forged in slavery, when Black Americans used discarded or ignored ingredients like pig feet, oxtail and fibrous greens to create a cuisine that transcends the sum of its humble parts. The traditions and flavors of this beloved food continue to resonate with diners today. Soul food has been subjected to many riffs, spins and permutations over the years, but St. Louis is still rich with local eateries that continue to put forth the real deal.
1508 Whittier St., St. Louis, 314.533.2022
Once Brother’s is on your radar, you won’t soon forget it. Just off Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, the catfish here is flaky and utilizes a cornmeal batter for a lighter texture. The tripe is another standout – not too tough or funky – and the Brother’s wings, crispy and lightly seasoned, will ruin chain chicken places for you. There is some inside seating available, but takeout is the norm.
a customer orders at brother’s diner // photo by virginia harold
1620 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.339.5658, gourmetsoul.com
Around the corner from the hustle and bustle of City Museum and Washington Avenue, it’s easy to miss Gourmet Soul’s blue awning, but this humble eatery is worth keeping an eye out for. More of a greatest-hits place, there aren’t any off-cuts here. The focus is on classics from chicken wings to smothered pork chops to some stellar fried catfish – cut into tenders for a superlative ratio of fish to crispy cornmeal breading. But the sides are the real standout, including standbys like mac and cheese, greens and a classic, ultra moist cornbread dressing. Curbside only.
H&M Best Fried Fish & Chicken
2903 Chippewa St., St. Louis, 314.664.2091
Cruising down Chippewa, H&M is a bright red and yellow landmark. Those who’ve been don’t need a fancy color scheme to remember the location. Do yourself a favor and walk up to the window to order a portion of the batter-fried catfish: it’s a melt-in-your-mouth, fall-apart-in-your-hand crazy good, and the warm peach cobbler will take you back to Grandma’s table. Carryout and delivery are available every day but Saturday, so plan your week accordingly. Curbside only.
4251 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, 314.534.3512, Facebook: Jaden’s Diner
Jaden’s serves up its fare cafeteria-style, and the room has panache to spare. Takeout is available, but it’s best to enjoy the ambience from the President Obama shrine at the door to the glitter scattered across the ceiling like so many constellations. Pull up a chair at one of the long, banquet-style tables and watch the big-screen TV in the back while noshing on a plate of neck bones with a side of black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes. The meat falls off the bone with virtually no assistance. Curbside only.
Mom’s Soul Food Kitchen & Catering
1507 Goodfellow Blvd., St. Louis, 314.389.0916 4909 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.328.1333, Facebook: Mom’s Soul Food Kitchen
This buffet-style restaurant offers carryout and delivery, or you can kick back in the cheery, spacious, bright orange dining room and dig in. The menu features some really good tripe, oxtail and several types of wings, including a standout Buffalo-style version. As for sides, the greens at Mom’s are sumptuous and rife with chunks of unctuous pork. Plenty of daily specials abound, and early risers can hit up the extensive breakfast menu starting at 7 a.m. It’s no wonder a second location recently opened on Delmar Boulevard. Curbside only.
catfish at brother’s diner // photo by virginia harold
Son-Ja’s Soul Food
9863 Edgefield Drive, St. Louis, 314.869.1388
Situated in an aging strip mall between a barbershop, a beauty supply place and a chop suey joint, this carryout-and catering-only spot is worth the extra effort of seeking out. The small size belies the expansive menu, which includes everything from baked meatloaf to barbecue ribs. Fans of off-cuts will appreciate the snoot here – crispy and warm, it’s similar in flavor and texture to pork rinds, served with a sweet barbecue sauce. For sides, it’s hard to go wrong with the candied yams – they taste just like Thanksgiving.
2738 N. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.4950 6 S. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.499.7074 Facebook: Mother’s Fish
Mother’s has been a St. Louis fixture since the 1980s. Though the original on Spring Avenue and Olive Street closed, the family has opened four other locations. The oldest, and my Mother’s of choice, on the corner of North Grand and St. Louis avenues is the height of minimalism – just a few laminated photos of menu items on the walls and a vending machine standing in the corner. Patrons place orders by ringing a bell and talking to the folks through a Plexiglas window. Despite this barrier, the service is friendly and personal. As expected, fish is the thing here. Try the fried catfish, mild and flaky, with the perfect ratio of batter to fish. Curbside only.
You Gotta Eat Here
2812 N. Grand Ave., St. Louis, 314.371.3700, Facebook: You Gotta Eat Here
A true neighborhood joint, there’s plenty of seating here under the watchful gaze of a vintage Michael Jackson poster and blown-up family photos. You gotta get the tripe sandwich: two large pieces of tripe, not too chewy or musky, fried golden brown and placed between a couple slabs of good ol’ white bread along with pickles, onion and mustard. No pretense, no messing around, just good, solid food for cheap served in a classic red basket with fries.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in October 2017. It has been updated to include current, temporary changes in service due to the coronavirus.
8 Classic St. Louis Foods and Where to Find Them.
One of the most popular questions we get on our EAT Saint Louis Food Tours is “What are some of the foods unique to St. Louis?”. It’s a great question and actually the first question I ask when I run into a foodie or taking a food tour in a new city. St. Louis has a continually evolving food scene, but I tend to be a purist at heart, a traditionalist. In this article, I will answer this question and tell you what classic old school eatery is known for that particular food item. Again, there are many places that may have these items on their menu, but my recommendations in this post are places that have become synonymous with the food.
So here it is, in no particular order, foods that are unique to St. Louis:
In the summer, you can’t go to a St. Louisan’s home for a barbecue and not find pork steaks. This steak is cut from the pork shoulder aka Boston Butt. The slow cooking time and slathering of BBQ Sauce helps tenderize this cut of pork, which is the same cut that is usually used for pulled pork.
Oddly, you would think you would find it on the menu of all of the barbeque joints in St. Louis, but it is not. Many of them opt to turn it into pulled pork. Your best bet for a traditional Pork Steak is Smokie O’s Barbeque on North Broadway. This family has been slow cooking their barbeque since 1997 and have it all down pat.. and the extra bonus is it’s located across the street from Bissinger Chocolates.
Mama Mia they are delicious! Originating on “The Hill” where we conduct our flagship food tour, these breaded pillows of deliciousness are filled with either a meat or cheese filling and deep fried. Two restaurants on the Hill claim to be the originators of the Toasted Ravioli – Charlie Gitto’s and Mama Campisi’s. These days, some restauranteurs will take regular boiled ravioli and bread them and fry them, but the true toasted ravioli officionados can tell the difference.
If you want to try handmade Toasted Ravioli, try them at Mama Toscano’s Ravioli. Nick Toscano and his family have been making them by hand since the late 1940s. They offer the original meat (beef and pork blend), Cheese (ricotta cheese based filling) and pizza (sausage, pizza sauce and provel cheese).
St. Louis Style Pizza
Thin crispy crust, laden with Provel cheese, and cut into squares is the best way to describe the St. Louis style Pizza. It’s all about that Provel Cheese which you either love or hate. It is a processed cheese loaf made specifically for the St. Louis market and comprised of White Cheddar, Provolone and Swiss Cheeses. This blend was formulated for pizzerias in St. Louis for its amazing melting properties.
The iconic Pizzeria known for making the St. Louis Pizza popular in St. Louis is the IMO’s Pizza Chain. My sister, when visiting us in St. Louis, always makes us grab an IMO’s pizza upon her arrival. St. Louisans just love Provel. I tend to think if they made a Provel flavored baby food they would feed it to their children. Me, not so much. With over 99 locations, there is bound to be an IMO’s near you.
The St. Louis Slinger
The slinger is the late night culinary choice for almost every college student –found at many diners in St. Louis it really hits the spot after a night of heavy drinking…or so I hear. The slinger is a diner specialty consisting of a meat (typically a hamburger patty), topped with hash browns and two eggs (typically sunny side up) all covered with chili and shredded cheddar cheese. I get mine with the optional onions and jalapeño slices.
For the ultimate diner experience I recommend Courtesy Diner at 3am on a Sunday morning when the 3am bars let out and the hordes of inebriated flood the diner for their fix. If you will be tucked in bed at 3am, don’t worry, Courtesy Diner serves a ton of these all day long and they are marvelous. So heavy they will sit at the bottom of your stomach and you won’t need to eat for another day.
St. Paul Sandwich
Said to be named after the hometown of the inventor (St. Paul Minnesota), the St. Paul sandwich can be found in almost every Chinese Take-Out restaurant in St. Louis and outlying cities. The sandwich consists of an egg foo young patty (made with mung beans sprouts and chopped white onions), topped with dill pickle slices, onions, white onion slices, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise all sandwiched between two slices of white bread. You can also select whether you would like chicken, pork, shrimp or beef in the egg foo young patty.
Just google “Chinese food take out St. Louis” , select and nearby eatery and give them a call to see if it is on the menu.
Gooey Butter Cake
One of my favorite desserts is the gooey butter cake. The cake is a flat and dense coffee cake about an inch tall that is usually dusted with powdered sugar and cut into squares similar to a brownie. It is made of a bottom layer of butter and yellow cake batter and a top layer of butter, sugar and eggs. It is extremely rich and delicious. There are many versions of this cake – one made with cream cheese and one without. I tend to stay away from the store-bought cakes which tend to be cream cheese based or flavored.
This dish is usually best purchased from a bakery or coffee shop. My absolute favorite is Gooey Louie‘s in South St. Louis. One of the things I dislike about the grocery store versions is that they typically have a large portion of the cake bottom which is my least favorite part. The best part of the gooey butter cake is the gooey butter NOT the cake! Gooey Louie’s has the perfect proportions of cake to gooey butter filling and they make different varieties fresh daily. It is all they do and they do it the best! My Second runner up would be Park Avenue Coffee which make a large variety and has several locations.
First made by the local family-owned Ruma’s Deli, and named in 1973 after a customer called Dick Gerber, the sandwich has been duplicated by many other St. Louis restaurants. The sandwich is an open-faced sandwich consisting on a half section of Italian or French bread, spread with garlic butter and topped with ham, and Provel (traditionally) or Provolone cheese, seasoned with a sprinkling of paprika and then toasted.
Chances are there is a version of this sandwich on the menu at your favorite St. Louis deli. But, remember, I am a traditional kinda guy and I would say you need to go to where this originated to truly taste its splendor. Unfortunately, there are only 2 locations remaining of the famed Ruma’s Deli. If you do go, I suggest you ask for a half prosperity (a version made with roast beef) and half Gerber. Best of both worlds.
While there are many ice cream places that have a soft serve in St. Louis, there are few that have frozen custard which is a dairy based iced cream made with eggs and honey. A concrete is this custard blended with any combination of dozens of ingredients. The mixture is so thick that a spoon inserted into the custard does not fall if the cup is inverted.
The ultimate classic concrete can be found at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. They have a location on Chippewa Ave (Route 66) which is a sight to behold during summer evenings with crowds, holding their signature yellow cups with straw and spoon, pouring into the streets. To this day, after umpteen requests to turn the business into a franchise, it remains a family-owned business.
Top Polish Food In St. Louis
Owned by syndicated comedienne Joy Grdnic, when it comes to offering the most authentic Polish soup to locals, it is no laughing matter. Not many foods satisfy taste buds in traditional Polish flavor like dill pickle soup. This downtown art deco designed restaurant serves a signature dish that is created using a secret family recipe. Sip one spoonful and you&rsquoll be dancing a polka as you discover its rich potato soup base with an accent of crushed dill pickles throughout.
(credit: McArthur’s Bakery Facebook)
3055 Lemay Ferry Road
St. Louis, MO 63125
Polish paczek, or paczki, is a pastry enjoyed traditionally on Fat Tuesday. It is deep-fried dough filled with sweet filling and topped with powdered sugar, a small amount of burnt-off grain alcohol for flavor or chocolate syrup. While finding an authentic Polish bakery in St. Louis is next to impossible, the town does love a good Mardi Gras celebration. The closest you&rsquoll come to a paczek in the area is McArthur&rsquos Bakery that specializes in Mardis Gras treats. This bakery’s paczki includes your choice of lemon, apple, strawberry, raspberry or a selection of cream fillings stuffed into this over-sized doughy treat available only seasonally before the Lenten season.
(credit: Piekutowski&rsquos European Style Sausage Facebook)
Piekutowski&rsquos European Style Sausage
4100 N. Florissant Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63107
Hands down, the most authentic Polish sausage in the St. Louis area is sold at Piekutowski&rsquos. This Hyde Park deli is family owned and has been in business for more than 60 years. It sells meat locally and will also ship its products right to your doorstep. The Polish sausage is a full two-and-a-half inches around with a casing suitable for any size of appetite. Ground beef and pork is mixed with spices to create fully cooked meat that is ready to eat.
(credit: Handle Bar Facebook)
4127 Manchester Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
Built to be a place for bicyclists to take a break from a ride, this restaurant has become a much sought-after restaurant bar with a biking art gallery atmosphere. Tucked inside this establishment, southeast of Forest Park, you&rsquoll discover a well-kept secret. Locals describe the pierogies as authentically done right with mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth buttery pockets of dough filled with your choice of potato and pork, or two vegetarian selections. Keep it meatless with potato, broccoli and cheese filling or choose cabbage, mushroom, onions and eggs to fill these two pastries packed with flavor.
4414 Donovan Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63109
Located in the Chippewa neighborhood area, this family-owned restaurant and catering spot offers a variety of sandwiches, each with a local twist. For a taste of Krakow, Polish ham sausage, order the Stan the Man. Named after one of the town’s baseball greats, the sandwich comes with the Polish-influenced meat topped with Gruyere cheese, garlic cream cheese and, of course, pickles. Stop in for lunch, cater a polka party or grab a sandwich to go and enjoy a picnic on a nice afternoon.
Broadway Barbecue and Ballpark Favorites. [Photos: Baseball Stadium Reviews]
Where to eat on the main level of the field.
El Birdos Cantina and El Birdos Gourmet Nachos — At these two stands, find nachos of all kinds. The cantina serves a set menu, including nachos supreme, nachos with pulled pork, and quesadillas. Need more options? Head to the gourmet stall, where fans of baseball and tortilla chips and excessive toppings can build their own nacho plate. Where: Section 148 and 141 respectively.
Broadway BBQ — Here, get pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, turkey legs, cole slaw, baked beans, and non-barbecue basics like chicken tenders and french fries. Where: Section 509 by the bleachers.
St. Louisans don't eat ice cream, they eat frozen custard. And when they eat frozen custard, they go to Ted Drewes. The iconic custard shop has been in business for more than 80 years serving up its famous concretes, sundaes and shakes. Try a specialty concrete like the Terramizzou, a blend of chocolate sauce and pistachios, or the Hawaiian, a combination of banana, coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts. Ted Dewes has two locations in south St. Louis. The larger shop is located at 6726 Chippewa, along old Route 66. The smaller shop is at 4224 South Grand.