Inside Scoop: Museum Professionals Recommend St. Louis’ Best Eats

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City of St. Louis with Gateway Arch in foreground

St. Louis skyline

The Annual Meeting in St. Louis is right around the corner (May 7-10). Let’s start exploring the Gateway City.

With some of the most innovative and diverse restaurants in the Midwest, St. Louis is quickly becoming known for its food scene. Local chefs such as James Beard winner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group, owner of Sardella, Pastaria, Brasserie and Taste; BBQ master Skip Steele of Pappy’s Smokehouse, which was named one of Yelp’s Top 100 Restaurants in America; pastry chef extraordinaire Simone Faure of La Patisserie Chouquette, who was featured on the Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship; and many more, are earning national recognition for their creativity and skill.

There are too many great restaurants to try in just one weekend, so we asked arts leaders from throughout the community for their top recommendations for AAM attendees!

Dr. Francis Levine
President
Missouri History Museum
AAM Local Host Committee Chair

Best Place for Breakfast: Want something different than bacon and eggs? Rooster (1104 Locust Street / 3150 South Grand) delivers with delicious crepes and more.

Best Place for a Late-Night Bite: After a full day at the conference, head to the Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar (1004 Locust Street) for a great cheese selection + local, regional, national and international craft beers.

Best Place to Eat Near Your Museum: Bixby’s (5700 Lindell Blvd.) in the Missouri History Museum offers delicious dining with a local influence. Have a great meal overlooking Forest Park and then visit our exhibits!

Best Place for a Cocktail/Drink: Great cocktails + an all vegetarian menu? Small Batch (3001 Locust St.) on Locust is the place and I’ll meet you there.

Best BBQ: St. Louis offers great BBQ options. If you’re staying close to downtown, try Sugarfire BBQ (605 Washington Ave.). BBQ + pies? Yes please—and visit the National Blues Museum next door. If you’re venturing out into the neighborhoods, Salt + Smoke (6525 Delmar Blvd.) in The Loop offers amazing BBQ + mac and cheese to die for.

Salt and Smoke

Jacqueline K. Dace
Director of Internal Affairs
National Blues Museum

Favorite St. Louis Restaurant: Broadway Oyster Bar (736 S. Broadway). The Lobster Po’ Boy and Bread Pudding is so good that they’ll make you cry, or do I just like food too much? Either way, I cry.

Best Place for Lunch: U-City Grill (6696 Enright Avenue). For several years I lived out of town and whenever I came home it was a required trek to this hole-in-the-wall of holes-in-the-wall to have my personal relationship with their Bibimbob and Kimchee…Oh, to have a bowl right now!!

Best “St. Louis-style” Experience: Anywhere on The Hill (St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood – south of Forest Park). Just drop me off, give me a fork and leave me alone.

Lisa Melandri
Executive Director
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Favorite St. Louis Restaurant: Parigi (8025 Bonhomme Ave.) It has consistently the best and most authentic Italian food, which even my Florentine father approves of. Also, the Marcello Mastroianni orange leather of the decor—in the same color as the interior of the actor’s Ferrari—is a thing of beauty.

Best Place for Lunch: The Fountain on Locust (3037 Locust St.) The food is great, but more than that is the fact that you can go back for a boozy milkshake at the end of the day. I also love the crazy décor.

Best Cheap Eats: Taqueria El Bronco (2817 Cherokee St.) An awesome Mexican breakfast.

Taqueria | El Bronco

Best Place for a Cocktail/Drink: A tie: Taste (4584 Laclede Ave.) /Planter’s House (1000 Mississippi Ave.) Incredible drink menus, extraordinarily knowledgeable mixologists, and perfect atmospheres.

Marie Oberkirsch
Director
Central Print

Best Place for Dessert:
I use to work at Ted Drewes (6726 Chippewa St. /4224 S Grand Blvd.) and can provide a true inside scoop! Not to be missed the custard is fresh, rich and creamy and you can’t go wrong with a vanilla cone. A flavored concrete is a real treat mixed to order with your favorite toppings. The hot fudge sundae is also a winner. You’ll be happy with the small size, it is truly the richest treat in town.

Mike Venso
Museum Curator
St. Louis County Parks

Best Place for Lunch: In Downtown STL, it’s Monty’s Sandwich Company (200 N Broadway #110). The Bavarian Rhapsody is music to my belly

Monty’s Sandwich Company – Where the sandwich is king

Where the sandwich is king


Best Place for a Late Night bite: Steak and Shake (various). Steakburgers, skinny fries, chili and a milkshake – what more could you ask for?

Best “St. Louis-style” Experience: Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 St Louis Ave.) Classic Soda Fountain with BLTs that make your heart stop, milkshakes that make your brain freeze and a candy counter where you can empty your pockets! And, Blueberry Hill (6504 Delmar Blvd.) Great burgers, cold beer, a pop-culture museum in the vibrant Loop neighborhood.

David Brinker
Assistant Director
Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA)
Saint Louis University

Best Place for Breakfast: Egg Restaurant (2200 Gravois Ave.) is my new go-to on Saturday mornings. The menu is limited but every dish has a twist that elevates it above the usual breakfast fare. Cornbread fills in for biscuits with the gravy, and for the English muffins with the Benedicts. Pulled pork, carnitas, and carne asada expand the meats palate, while the chakchouka (stew) makes for a flavorful vegetarian option. Throw in coffee and a breakfast cocktail and your day is off to a great start.

Best Coffee Shop: Kitchen House Coffee (3149 Shenandoah Ave). Proprietors Dave and Paul serve up locally sourced coffee, tea, and pastries. Their herbs and vegetables are harvested from their backyard urban farm down the street, and the eggs come from the chickens out back behind the coffeehouse. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

Best Place to Eat Near Your Museum/Attraction: The Grove neighborhood, just south and west of the Saint Louis University campus, boasts an array of cuisine ranging from soul food to Brauhaus. My favorite is Everest Café (4145 Manchester Ave), serving Nepalese, Korean, and Indian dishes. The lunch buffet serves up a fantastic array of flavors.

The Grove STL

4317 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, MO, United States

Olivia Lahs-Gonzales
Director
Sheldon Art Galleries

Best Place for Brunch: MoKaBe’s Coffee House (3606 Arsenal St, St. Louis, MO 63116). They have a great, mostly vegetarian, buffet (but they do have bacon!) at a reasonable price. Lots of yummy dishes, often with an international flair.

Best Place for a Late Night bite: The Courtesy Diner (Original Location: 3155 S. Kingshighway Blvd. / Alternate Location: 1121 Hampton Ave.). If you have a big appetite, try the St. Louis specialty, the “Slinger,” (two eggs, hash browns, a hamburger patty, topped with chili).

Best Coffee Shop: Kaldi’s (various) They roast their own coffees and have a great breakfast/lunch menu and baked goods.

Best Place to Eat Near Your Museum/Attraction: The Scottish Arms (8 Sarah Street). A variety of traditional pub-style foods served with a fresh flair

Almetta “Cookie” Jordan
Site Administrator
Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

Best Place to Eat Near Your Museum/Attraction: Pappy’s Smokehouse (3106 Olive St.). There may be a twisting line (because it’s that good) but take the time to enjoy the environment: signatures of celebrities who were directed to Pappy’s and loved the food, picnic tables for groups, Food Network recognition sign for “Best Barbeque” and a life-size pig. My favorite is the half slab of ribs adding a 1/4 lb. of burnt ends (brisket) with a side of fried corn and baked beans. Of course, I don’t eat it all in one sitting (I take the ribs home so I can really pig out like I want too)!

Pappy’s Smokehouse: Memphis Style St. Louis BBQ Restaurant

Top rated Memphis Style St. Louis Barbecue restaurant & BBQ catering. World Famous Slow Smoked St Louis Barbecue. Best among St. Louis BBQ restaurants

Best Place for a Cocktail/Drink: Peter Gunn’s Lounge is actually a tavern in North St. Louis (2713 Marcus Ave.), and is a good place to let the worries of the week float on by. A DJ plays R&B and straight up blues and the drinks are ample. Around the corner, another watering hole (in the wall) is NBC Lounge (4621 Dr. Martin Luther King). If you go, check out the photographs of black police officers from decades ago that adorn the whole west wall, there’s even a photo of President George Herbert Walker Bush when he was CIA director visiting the Lou.

Haven’t registered for the Annual Meeting? Click here to learn more. (Early Bird Registration ends March 6!)

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