“Gateway to the West,” was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and Auguste
Chouteau, and after the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port of the
Mississippi River. The population grew after the American Civil War, and it
became the fourth-largest city in the United States in the late 19th
Century. In 1904, St. Louis hosted the
World’s Fair, and the Olympic Games. The
city’s population peaked in 1950, after which began a long decline until the
beginning of the 21st century.
In 2010 St. Louis was the 58th-largest U.S. City with a
population of 319,294. The economic
increase is due to the manufacturing, trade, and transportation of goods.
Tourists come from all over to see the famous
Gateway Arch, which was built in 1965 by Finnish-American architect Eoro
Saarinen as a tribute to president Thomas Jefferson for his westward
expansion. The Gateway Arch is one of
our nation’s tallest manmade monuments at 630 feet. Take a ride to the top of the amazing arch,
for the fantastic views of the city.
As locals will tell you, “there’s more than meets
the arch” to St. Louis, and they are right!
St. Louis has to offer visitors, whether cultural, historical, sporting,
educational or just plain fun! Another must see, is the Mississippi River, just
across the street, where you can take a trip and enjoy a narrated tour of the
area on the Gateway Arch Riverboats. The narrator will help you re-live the
days of the Mississippi steamboats and what happened along the banks during
that time period.
Take a step back in time to the 50’s with a drip
down the famous Route 66, and the state park where you can see one of the most
famous highways in America.
Al's isn't deliberately retro, it's just a very traditional steak place. No written menu, just the house's version of "show" (main courses, superb quality protein, both land- and water-based) and "tell" (an incredible number of first courses) . The decor is unchanged from the Johnson administration, the service is impeccable, and yes, that's probably a professional athlete over in the corner. While the building, in an industrial area north of Laclede's Landing, doesn't inspire confidence, the limos parked in front are highly reassuring. Prices are never mentioned in the ritual of an evening, but they're steep; this is no longer the most expensive spot in town, but it could be if you're feeling indulgent. Male guests are asked to wear jackets.
1200 North First St.
He just wants a good steak, she likes haute cuisine. Solution: Annie Gunn's, which grew out of the meat market and smokehouse next door, meaning the sausages and things like huge smoked shrimp are all done in-house. This is New American cooking at its best--five or six potato dishes, a deft hand with game and banana bread pudding with caramel sauce that makes the unsuspecting groan with delight. The wine list is large, expensive and expertly handled. Reservations a necessity at this very popular (and loud) place in the Chesterfield Valley just off I-64, especially if you want one of the "snugs" that hold six to eight, depending on avoirdupois and relationship.
16806 Chesterfield Airport Rd.
St. Louis' first serious encounter with Italian that wasn't tomato-sauce based, Bar Italia in the Central West End has proven its worth. You never know what to expect out of this kitchen, with interesting treatments of risotti, fish and vegetables. The wine and grappa lists are very serious indeed. And it's become increasingly chic, with interesting types populating the bar late at night. The large outdoor seating area is protected from the wind, and no one grumbles if you linger over a mid-afternoon coffee. Service is knowledgeable, but the tempo of the meal is more leisurely than what most Americans are accustomed to. Dinner reservations are a necessity.
13 Maryland Plaza
Clayton is the hot restaurant district right now. Café Mira practically sizzles when you touch the door. Spare decor reminds customers to wear minimalist chic, but don't expect anything like similar treatment from the kitchen. That trend stops at the door. Dishes like sweet-hot fried calimari and rock shrimp, lamb shank in white bean ragout with tomatoes or Creole seared salmon with a crawfish and corn beignet appear with uncommon vegetable companions, leaving scarcely any room for the dynamite desserts. Reservations are important.
12 North Meramec Ave.
Cardwell's at The Plaza
Don't be fooled by a location in a shopping center and nearness to Neiman-Marcus. Cardwell's at the Plaza is a very serious restaurant indeed, serious enough that visiting wine gurus take lunch here. The menu involves riffs on how America eats now, which means everything from stellar soups to forays into curry. A little pasta, frequent variations on duck, a pork chop and some exciting vegetarian food, courtesy of one of the owner-chefs whose preference it is, add up to lots of choices. Not surprisingly, the wine list is a big one. This is too good to keep for the ladies who shop.
Cardwell's at The Plaza
94 Plaza Frontenac
At the southern end of the Central West End near Washington University Medical Center, Chez Leon does bistro French with considerable success. The interior feels right, with mirrors and hat racks above the banquettes and French doors opening to the street. So does the menu which delivers fine versions of bistro standards like onion soup, roast chicken and sweetbreads. There's also a cheese platter, a relative rarity in this town. Laudable steak frites, with better-than-French beef and earthshaking fries. Good service from people who understand their menu. Closed Mondays.
4580 Laclede Ave.
This relatively small spot in Clayton offers some of the best celebrity-spotting in town. But that's secondary at The Crossing, where the pleasures of the palate are indulged with luxurious food. The emphasis is on Midwestern products whenever possible, so game and duck are handled well, pork is always exciting, and particularly in summer, vegetables shine. Nevertheless, it's not Granny's food, unless she studied fairly recently at the CIA; this is definitely modern cuisine from a kitchen whose bloodlines come from Daniel and Gotham in New York. Pleasant but not overwhelming decor, service occasionally stumbles.
7823 Forsyth Blvd.
Eau boy, is this room in the reborn Chase Hotel in the Central West End a happening place! The café section does breakfast and lunch and serves as an after-dark meeting spot for the young and thirsty; the handsome, high-ceilinged bistro across the hall offers dinner and a fine Sunday brunch. The emphasis, not surprisingly, is on fish, but there's plenty to keep the carnivores content in this new enterprise of the Kansas City-based PB&J group. There's also a terrace overlooking the pool, particularly pleasant on a fine spring afternoon or an atypical (i.e., only slightly warm) summer night.
212 North Kingshighway Blvd.
The Clydesdales don't put on the feedbags at this dinner only spot within sight of the Anheuser-Busch motherhouse in south St. Louis, but everyone else does. Frazer's is a storefront serving food that refers to everything from New Orleans to a sweet white-haired granny, resulting in a variety that ranges from chicken sandwiches to lavender duck. The spot is noisy, with clientele that range from oncologists to blue-collar types on their way to sports events, but the good-natured servers are knowledgeable about their wares. If they mention a chocolate-studded bread pudding, grab it. Reservations are a very good idea.
1811 Pestalozzi St.
Dining on The Hill, St. Louis' Italian neighborhood, is a St. Louis tradition. Elegant restaurants sit elbow-to-elbow with small bungalows and Mom-and-Pop businesses. Giovanni's is a choice spot for really big celebrations, and the food, now under the second generation, is being reborn. Traditional dishes like osso bucco and tagliatelle with mussels glow, but newer ideas like duck breast in cognac/orange sauce positively sparkle. Giovanni himself is often in attendance, but the service from black-tie waiters doesn't lag, no matter what.
5201 Shaw Ave.
Harvest offers modern American food in a California-esque setting. In the close-in suburb of Richmond Heights and sharing a vestibule with a superior cheesecake bakery, it's a great spot for those who like their vegetables as well as their meat or fish because the interesting sides are part of the pleasure. First courses seem particularly tempting to the adventurous, but the traditional palates shouldn't miss the buttermilk-battered onion rings. Not a place for a quiet conversation but extremely popular. Reserve unless you want to beg them to let you eat at the bar.
1059 South Big Bend
King & I
Who knows how St. Louis ended up with one of the most authentic Thai restaurants around at least when it comes to food? The King & I introduced hundreds to the joys of pad Thai and yum squid. Diners, ranging from suburbanites to students, throng to the bigger-than-it-looks site in a multi-ethnic neighborhood of South St. Louis. Main courses are probably better than appetizers. Caution: This place is serious about spicing. Customers who specify "hot" often get much more than they bargained for. Pina coladas aren't ethnically accurate but prove to be an effective antidote.
King & I
3157 South Grand Blvd.
King Louie's began as an ancient brewery tasting room near the St. Louis University Hospital that became a bar which spawned a restaurant. In the process, the food evolved, too, adding contemporary riffs to global cuisine, from chicken sandwiches to Southeast Asian vegetable curries, pasta with mussels to steak under a porcini mushroom sauce. Word-of-mouth has drawn flocks of downtown lunchers and pre-symphony/theater/sports events diners who don't mind the advent of white tablecloths and an interesting wine list. Here's another vegetarian chef who takes care of his constituency but makes sure everything tastes good.
3800 Chouteau Ave.
Located in downtown St. Louis, that temple of the eating arts, Tony's is formal dining, traditional style. The Italian roots are still fully evident but the kitchen gives a wide range of treatments to the best ingredients money and reputation can obtain. Lobster albanello is the signature dish, its rich creamy sauce calling for pasta to avoid wasting any. First courses are a particularly hard decision, with wonderful soups, truffled scallops and lots of old favorites you'd forgotten you loved. The best cake-and-ice cream dessert in the Midwest, maybe the country, is served here. And if nothing sounds good, make a suggestion -- they can do it. Service is a little less formal than it used to be, perhaps a result of the long-awaited redecoration of the dining room.
410 Market St.
Loud, happy, packed with people having a good time and eating great food described as "rustic Italian," Trattoria Marcella rocks on. The menu carries lots of pasta, pizza and at least one risotto, plus carne and pesce done with American ingredients, but it's a far cry from spaghetti and meatballs. Swordfish paillards stuffed with eggplant and tomatoes, polenta "french fries" with a porcini sauce, flash-fried spinach and squid topped with shards of parmigiano show the house style. A young, new dessert chef brought up through the ranks shows great potential. Is it any surprise this is a family-owned restaurant? Closed Sundays and Mondays.
3600 Watson Rd.