St. Louis Restaurant Recommendations

My wife and I have a wedding in St. Louis the Friday after Thanksgiving, so we’ll be driving down on Thanksgiving Day. Neither of us have ever visited the city. Any recommendations for a nice place where we can have a Thanksgiving meal? Some more information on our preferences:

  • just her and I; we don’t have kids yet
  • no preference on type of cuisine. We aren’t tied to turkey, and like all ethnic fare, although a pure sushi place wouldn’t work (I like it, but my wife isn’t a fan)
  • we’d prefer a moderate or lower price range; no need to break the bank

Also, recommendations for artistic-oriented sightseeing stops would be helpful. We won’t have a lot of free time, but may be able to take in a museum, cool bookstore, or interesting college/university setting.

Thanks in advance!

What part of town are you going to be staying in? If you like Italian, there’s a part of town called “The Hill” that has awesome Itallian. I’d recommend Charlie Gitto’s but it’s somewhere north of “moderate.” Cunetto’s (sp?) is good for the moderate range, but there’s always a wait. If you want pretty good and pretty affordable Italian, try Pasta House.

O’Connels on Kingshighway near downtown is good for burgers and bar food. The Tap Room downtown is also good --try the Schafley’s Heffenweisen if you like beer.

There are also a TON of good restaurants in an area called “The Loop,” which is more centrally located. Or there were when I lived there. You could just park and walk along until you see something that catches your eye. It’s kind of a trendy bar district, though, so you get that atmosphere.

If you want Mexican, Hacienda on Manchester road is pretty good, with great atmosphere. Casa Grill in the Galleria mall is also good in that category.

I could probably come up with more if you tell me what part of town you’re staying in or if you want to pick a type of cuisine.

Oh, and for sightseeing, go to the Arch. It’s neat. Anheuser-Busch has brewery tours that are kind of fun, and if you really want to see a college campus go see Washington University. It’s a nice campus, but not that big. There are also riverboat casinos if you want to gamble. Not a whole lot on the museum front, though I hear there’s some kind of bowling thing downtown.

I miss St. Louis. :(

St. Louis has a decent art museum - it’s in Forest Park (the main park for the city). There’s also a very nice zoo there. Both are free.

As for food, it does depend on where you’re at. If you’re reasonably central, I second the recommendation of the ‘Hill’ area. I like Mama Campisi’s and Rigazzis - both of which are moderate Italian joints on the hill, and both of which you can usually get into (unlike Cunetto’s). Also, there’s a Spanish Tapas place there called Cafe Modesto which is very good. The whole ‘Hill’ district is just south of I-44 and west of Kingshighway.

A bit further to the east, for a roughly 4 block stretch on Grand Avenue, running south from Arsenal to Gravois is the Southeast Asian district, with many good restaurants - I like “The King and I” (Thai)

When i was in St. Louis (staying near that Italian district) i ate at a Bosnian expatriate restaurant. It served Turkish-style coffee, and served thick butter salted with sea salt on open faced rolls with spicy sausages.

Of course, not the best place for a Thankgiving meal :).

The Arch is OK. Kind of dingy but it’s impressive. St. Louis has some bad crime downtown though, probably not as bad as it used to be but still, don’t go wandering around in the dark.

I’d also recommend Rigazzi’s on The Hill. John Mineo’s Italian in Town & Country on Clayton Rd is our choice as my hometown’s best underrated eatery. It isn’t cheap, but as expensive as Charlie Gitto’s. Trattoria Marcella also is topnotch. If you’re in the city, maybe give a look to the Copia Urban Winery. Great atmosphere, moderate prices, open kitchen, lots of wine, and there’s a functioning operative winery right there on premise. Neat idea for a restaurant, in a fairly trendy neighborhood.

And if you wanna kick it like a local…dessert at the Crown Candy Kitchen cannot be topped on this green earth. Somewhere within one of their sundaes (homemade hand-dipped ice cream topped with made from scratch chocolate and other sauces) heaven and the meaning of life can be found.

(…and now I too get homesick for my hometown; I would kill to have easy access to Lion’s Choice, Imo’s Pizza, and Ted Drewes.)

Grand Ave. has a lot of Thai food, very good.

For some St. Louis pizza, try an Imo’s.

For a good walk around spot with food and drink, go to the Delmar loop in U. City.

Lots of casinos in the area.

The zoo is free and first class. So is the Art Museum.

The Arch is worth seeing.

The Hill is full of fine Italian food – Rigazzi’s, Cunetto’s (recommended!), and others. Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola came from the Hill.

There’s a nice Tex-Mex place in Dogtown, Chuy’s.

White Castle if you haven’t been exposed to their grease bombs.

Ewww. I never did understand the appeal of Imo’s Pizza. I just can’t stand the cheese they put on that.

I like St. Louis style thin pizza, but I don’t really like Imo’s version of it. Give me Chirco’s or Rigazzi’s thin over Imo’s anyday.

This was what I thought of when I read the original post, and I’m only in St. Louis a few times a year. How is it when you just have two?

This was what I thought of when I read the original post, and I’m only in St. Louis a few times a year. How is it when you just have two?[/quote]

Two people? Still fine - Order about 8 or 9 dishes between the two of you. It’s not exactly ‘moderate’ (8 or 9 dishes plus a couple of drinks will run the tab up to ~$60-70), but it’s very tasty.

If you had said you had the wedding saturday, I’d get a little nervous, since I’ll be in St. Louis that same weekend for the same reason

Anyway, for quick hitters, i always have to hit Jack-N-Box and Imo’s whenever I come back to town.

Cunetto’s is always a good choice as is O’Connell’s and South Grand for the various Asian cuisines.

For about $15-25 per entree, there is an italian place on Grand and Meramac called Guiseppe’s that has very good food. I recommend the speidini’s.

U-city/Delmar Loop is always a fun little place to walk around and it fairly close to Wash U campus as well as the art museum at forest park.
The great thing about St. Louis is that you can pretty much drive 20 minutes and hit all the places. I would recommend the Arch, but downtown St. Louis is pretty dead after 5 o’clock. Oh and you can check out the construction of the new baseball stadium if you’re into that. I’ve never done the brewery tour, but I hear it’s fun, except they limit the number of beers you can have :P

Basically, I’m just confirming everyone’s recommendations. And enjoy the wedding.

This was what I thought of when I read the original post, and I’m only in St. Louis a few times a year. How is it when you just have two?[/quote]

Two people? Still fine - Order about 8 or 9 dishes between the two of you. It’s not exactly ‘moderate’ (8 or 9 dishes plus a couple of drinks will run the tab up to ~$60-70), but it’s very tasty.[/quote]

8 or 9 dishes for 2 people? You can pack the food away there, can’t you? ;)

When I was there, we averaged about 2.5 dishes per person, and everyone but me ended up well sated. I would have liked another dish. Of course, some of it depends on what you order, as some of the tapas are significantly more filling than others.

Thanks for all who have replied; we are staying downtown – the hotel is listed as 1.5 miles from city center – so it sounds as though both the Hill & Loop areas are options. The price range of the tapas place is fine – I was hoping for less than $75 including a drink or two. It seems like a lot of places close early on Thanksgiving, which might limit our choices, but I think we’ll find something.

Do the riverboat gambling establishments have poker rooms? I might try to pay for our trip (or end up costing us double) with gambling Friday evening after the reception.

Yep. There’s a few right on the riverfront near downtown, too.

You’re close to Laclede’s Landing I’m sure. It’s touristy but still a nice place to go for drinking and eating. It’s right on the river.

Is that place that has placard at each table mentioning the congressmen who voted to repeal Prohibition still there? The political wonk in me loved that so much that not even the teetotaller I went with could bring me down.

Update: Came back from our trip early this morning. On Thursday, nearly all restaurants besides hotel buffets were closed by the time we arrived (6:30 pm – St Louis closes early on Thanksgiving), so we ended up going to a party at the bride’s parents home. Other impressions in case other readers are planning a trip:

  • The U-City/Delmar Loop area was great; we had lunch at a place that seemed to be a local favorite (Brandt’s Market & Cafe)
  • The art museum, along with Forest Park in general, was fabulous. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see the zoo.
  • I had mixed impressions of the downtown area. The Union Station mall near our hotel (off Market) was a serviceable touristy area that caters to business travelers. The Lewis & Clark museum inside the Arch monument consisted of lots of painted murals with quote after quote from the travelers’ journals. I’m a sucker for reading informational displays, but there were too many, no unifying theme, and surprisingly few actual artifacts from the trip. Seriously underwhelming, especially compared to the main art museum.
  • We went to two casinos, the Princess Admiral right downtown, and Harrahs, about 30 minutes away in Maryland Heights. The Admiral was dingy and dirty; we left right away. Harrahs was great – very similar to a Las Vegas casino. The poker room was smoke-free, well lit, and filled with passive opponents. Highly recommended.
  • Laclede’s Landing, like many city riverfront areas, seems to be struggling to attract people from the suburbs. It was fairly dead when we went, but we had a nice lunch at the place Squirrel Killer mentioned (Hannegan’s)

Because of limited time, we didn’t have a chance to check out the Italian places in the Hill district, but we have multiple sets of friends in the area now, so I think we’ll be back.
Thanks again for all your helpful suggestions.