Finding things to do is super easy in St. Louis. You can go to the Gateway Arch, which also has a virtual reality experience, a paddleboat cruise on the Mississippi River and a recently renovated museum; you can challenge yourself at the City Museum or explore all the options at Union Station and the St. Louis Aquarium.
A vibrant arts scene, baseball at Busch Stadium or soccer at the new Citypark are also ways to spend your days and nights.
You can also eat very well. Some of the best restaurants in the city are downtown or nearby and easy to access.
In the Lap of Luxury
Cinder House Restaurant
Cinder House’s executive chef is the award-winning Gerard Craft. Craft focused on Italian and French food in his first two Missouri restaurants; here, he emphasizes contemporary South American cuisine and wood-fired food. Entrees include comfort food like a vegan butternut squash risotto and Feijoada, the meat and bean-based national dish of Brazil.
This rooftop lounge in the
Small plates for small people include meat or vegan cauliflower tacos, macaroni and cheese or skewers with beef and broccoli. The inventive pizzas at Three Sixty can be made vegan with plant based cheese and vegan pepperoni. Dessert includes a house-made Kit Kat bar.
The Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar
This restaurant in the Hyatt Regency has toasted ravioli, burgers, (with a vegan option) pizza and salads. Naturally, The Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar has a large selection of local beer. The Hyatt Regency also has a branch of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Sister Cities Cajun
You can explore the Cajun influence in Missouri, just a boat ride away from New Orleans. The house made comfort food at Sister Cities Cajun includes shrimp and grits, smothered catfish, tacos and Po’ Boys.
The food is definitely not vegetarian friendly.
Whether or not you are going to a St Louis Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium, you can eat at Ballpark Village. This complex includes live music at the plaza, and concerts at Busch Stadium when the Cards are out of town or during the off season.
At Taste of St. Louis, a three day foodie festival with free live music, you can sample everything here and more.
Salt + Smoke
Salt + Smoke may be the best known place to eat at Ballpark Village. This local chain, with several other Salt + Smoke locations around St. Louis, specializes in Texas-style barbecue.
The award-winning brisket is why most people eat here, but Salt + Smoke is also very accommodating to those with special dietary needs. It has a whole menu listing what you can eat depending on the allergens you are avoiding. There is a vegan falafel burger and a kale salad, plus a smoked salmon sandwich for those not indulging in the copious quantities of meat.
You can also sample a St. Louis specialty here, toasted ravioli.
Salt + Smoke has an amazing selection of bourbon (pairs well with kale!), along with local beers on tap.
Budweiser Brew House
Budweiser Brew House specializes in beer from Anheuser-Busch, but it is more than just a sports bar. For dinner, there are burgers, buffalo cauliflower tacos, Budweiser braised short ribs, toasted ravioli and cauliflower ‘wings’.
Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria
The Italian Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria is an inventive pizzeria. Pies come with morels, corn and squash blossoms, or pancetta and fig.
The toasted ravioli here adds artichokes and pastas come with morels, charred cauliflower and lemon or spicy arrabiata. Try the house specialty, fried artichokes with roasted asparagus, wild greens, pistachios and goat cheese.
The giant Cardinals Nation has more toasted ravioli, along with house-made soup, burgers and a plant-based Mediterranean bowl for vegans who are here under duress.
The new soccer stadium, Citypark, emphasizes local food. There are no chains or franchises, and the stadium is zero waste. There are even compost bins! Citypark is next to Union Station, so if you stay at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel you can grab a meal here.
Most of the Citypark vendors have another location in another part of St. Louis. And the food is so well curated that people who aren’t going to a soccer game just stop by to eat. The concessions open both to the street and to those at the game.
And Citypark has a large plaza adjacent to the stadium where there are frequent special events, and places to sit and enjoy your food. Order takeout and enjoy the local food scene.
Balkan Treat Box
The award winning Webster Groves Balkan Treat Box specializes in Pide, Turkish woodfired flatbread – there are meat-, veggie- and plant-based pide. You can also get salads, grilled fish, woodfired eggplant and a bunch of other house-made food that is impossible for most of the clientele to pronounce but promises to be delicious.
Padrinos Mexican Restaurant
Padrinos Mexican Restaurant has tacos and burritos. The vegetarian tacos de Papa are crispy corn tacos loaded with potato, cheese and sour cream, with a sprinkling of lettuce so you can pretend you had salad.
Steve’s Hot Dogs
The award winning Steve’s Hot Dogs has won accolades for its vegan AND its regular smoked all-beef franks. The St. Louis dog, named the “Official Hot Dog of St. Louis” is topped with grilled onions, grilled peppers, banana peppers, bacon, provolone cheese and house-made smoked pepper mustard.
The Very Very Veggie dog is loaded with grilled bell peppers, grilled onions, tomato, sweet relish, banana peppers, celery salt and pepper mustard. There are brats, chili and vegan chili and Jamaican fries covered in jerk seasoning.
Laclede’s Landing – Old Time Downtown St. Louis
Laclede’s Landing, on the riverfront, is a look at old St. Louis. It is filled with historic buildings and cobblestone streets. But the new is there, too. A luxury Four Seasons hotel, with an attached casino, and the Gateway Arch National Park are just steps away.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
The Old Spaghetti Factory at Laclede’s Landing has three course Italian dinners: soup or salad, pasta and ice cream. The marinara sauce is house-made.
The fast casual Kimchi Guys specializes in Korean/ Mexican mash ups, like a burrito with kimchi fried rice and Korean BBQ tacos. There is a lot of fried chicken and a vegan menu, too!
Downtown St. Louis Barbecue
The award winning Pappy’s Smokehouse, Memphis style barbecue specializes in dry rubbed ribs.
Chose ribs, beef brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, pulled chicken, spicy sausage or turkey breast. Vegetarian options are limited to sides like corn on the cob or baked potato.
Sugarfire Smoke House
Sugarfire Smoke House is a rare barbecue joint that acknowledges that there is more than brisket. Yes, there is plenty of brisket, pulled pork ribs and turkey. But there is also salmon and a double-decker smoked portabella sandwich.
Smoking isn’t just for meat. It is used to create smoked chocolate chip cookies and a smoked artichoke salad.
The house-made sauces are sold by the bottle so you can bring a little smoke house home.
Save room for dessert. Sugarfire Smoke House also has local, handmade ice cream house made pies and milk shakes with or without a slice of pie blended in.
Sugarfire Smoke House is next to the National Blues Museum.
Midtown in the Midwest
I never knew there was a midtown area of St. Louis. In the five years I lived there, anything past Forest Park was called downtown. But the growth of the Grand Center Arts District has fueled a renaissance, and this part of downtown St. Louis has its own identity. And some great places to eat.
Bulrush Restaurant & Bar
This Ozark traditon Bulrush Restaurant & Bar, in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District, is owned by award winning chef Rob Connoley.
We met him while walking along the outdoor art galleries, Walls off Washington. He had just returned from foraging mushrooms. He also cooks with acorns, mulberries, rhubarb, salsify – you will be on an adventure here. Dining is by tasting menu only.
City Foundry STL
The food hall City Foundry STL has 17 places to get food, plus a large bar. There is Indian food, Afro Caribbean, Asian tacos and STL Toasted, an artisan riff on the St. Louis specialty, toasted ravioli.
James Beard Award winner Gerard Craft, has Fordo’s Killer wood-fired pies. The pizza has interesting toppings like a shakshuka version, or one I tried with wild mushrooms.
Note: a St. Louis specialty, Imo’s Pizza, uses a controversial ‘Provel’ cheese that is nothing like a traditional mozzarella and is not recommended for pizza purists. Imo’s Pizza is not at City Foundry, but it is found all over St. Louis and Missouri.
Good Day has bowls and salads – you can make your own or get one of the premade items. I had a cauliflower rice bowl filled with tofu and veggies and topped with piri piri sauce. Yummy!
Schlafly Tap Room
This brewpub, not far from Busch Stadium, was the first brewery in Missouri to break the stronghold Anheuser-Busch had on the local craft brewing scene. As in, there was none. Schlafly has grown to include several other locations.
At the Schlafly Tap Room, you can bring your dog and eat dinner outside. The large menu includes soup, salads, burgers (with two vegetarian options) and chicken or tofu curry.
Schlafly Tap Room has the best tagline. Drink MO beer (MO is the Post Office abbreviation for Missouri).
On weekends, there is live music.
Small Batch, a whisky bar that serves only vegetarian vegan food, has a delicious brunch. You can get eggs with vegan sausage or mushroom bacon. At dinner there is a lion’s mane mushroom cake with roasted vegetables and preserved lemon, Brussels sprouts with piri piri and dukkah, and craft cocktails.
If vegetarian food isn’t your thing, Small Batch has a sister restaurant in downtown St. Louis, Bailey’s Range, specializing in burgers and ice cream.
Soulard, Lafayette Square and LaSalle Park
These downtown neighborhoods have a lot going for them, including great food.
Soulard, known for the historic Soulard farmers market on Wednesdays through Saturdays, also boasts an annual Mardi Gras celebration (that Cajun influence again!).
Mission Taco Joint has Mexican street tacos that include many kinds of meat, from brisket to pork to duck to fish. But there are also vegetarian mushroom tacos and spicy vegan ones with Impossible burger crumbles. Taco twins means you get two tacos; tacos trip is three. Try the Mexican street corn fritters, topped with queso fresco and garlic lime aioli
Bogart’s Smokehouse, also in Soulard, is another casual place to get your BBQ fix. And the dry rubs, sold at the restaurant, make nice gifts for those at home. And they are TSA-friendly! Smoked ribs are the specialty.
Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery, in Lafayette Square, serves small batch seasonal ice cream. There are alcohol-infused naughty ice creams and vegan options.
4 Hands Brewery
4 Hands Brewery, in LaSalle Park, has perfect bar food to go with its craft beers. Wings have a vegan cauliflower option, and there are burgers and nachos. Spicy Cajun potato chips are used in the nachos.
Other Downtown St. Louis options to consider:
- Broadway Oyster Bar, which has live music
- Carmine’s Steak House
- Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar