Visitors to St. Louis often think, “this city is nothing but provel-covered pizza and BBQ” and they are WRONG. St. Louis is so much more than that (if you can’t tell by the onslaught of national press the city’s dining scene is getting…). Whether you’re on the hunt for a sandwich you’ll never forget, a gut-busting French brunch, or boozy ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, we have you covered.
Rumor has it that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’re not sure we believe it, but fine, we’ll go with it. If you’re looking to sit down and enjoy your breakfast, we’d go with Half & Half, Southwest Diner, or Living Room. Half & Half brings a slightly refined, creative spin to all the breakfast classics you know and love; Southwest Diner is, shockingly, a Southwest-themed diner. And oooh buddy, it’s worth the wait if you’re into New Mexican cuisine. Living Room is more like your neighborhood spot, with lots of vegetarian/vegan options, plus some damn good coffee.
For weekend brunch, you must go to Brasserie. It’s just flat out the best. You will do nothing with the rest of your day. Worth it.
Lunch is the actual most important part of your day, and lunch in St. Louis kills it. If you offer to take us out and let us pick the spot, there’s a 112% chance we’re going with Union Loafers. Not only does it have the best bread in town, but the sandwiches and salads are just magical. This is a BBQ town, there’s no doubt about it, but we’d recommend skipping the madhouses that are in the Pappy’s family (though if you feel like waiting, more power to you), and heading over to Salt and Smoke. Get the burnt end toasted ravioli and the Bestie platter, where you can pick two or three types of meat.
Other great options include chef Rick Lewis’ take on a meat and three at Grace, and the two kings of the smashburger: Carl’s Drive In and Mac’s Local Eats. Oh, you want to check out The Hill? Okay, you need to go to Gioia’s Deli and get a hot salami and roast beef sandwich with a bag of St. Louis’ own Red Hot Riplets on the side.
Picking isn’t going to get any easier now, folks. For dinner, we’d recommend heading to Pastaria if you’re looking for something casual, Louie if you’re looking for something nicer but not too fancy, and Sidney Street Cafe if you’re a foodie on a mission. Pastaria is James Beard winner Gerard Craft’s casual Italian-American eatery that has basically become a landmark in St. Louis. No matter the occasion, it’s the right choice (assuming you enjoy freshly made pizzas and pastas).
Louie is a relative newcomer to the food scene, but with the veteran team behind it, it sure doesn’t feel like it. We’re in love with this restaurant. Like, we’d marry it. The menu is vaguely Italian, but it feels more like New American perfection to us. Get the prosciutto, get one of the housemade pastas, and get the chicken. Seriously.
Sidney Street Cafe is St. Louis’ only restaurant with a James Beard award, so when you go, prepare to try some really inventive and delicious contemporary American dishes. We definitely recommend getting the chef’s tasting menu.
Here’s the game plan: if you want to prepare in advance, you’ll go to La Patisserie Chouquette when you’re done at Loafers and pick up some divine French pastries. If flying by the seat of your pants is more your thing, head to Ices Plain and Fancy after dinner for boozy ice creams made right in front of you using liquid nitrogen.