Planning a visit to St. Louis but want to hop off the tourist trail and chow down at places locals love to eat? You are in for a treat as the ‘neighbourhood city’ is covered with eclectic pockets of foodie areas offering a buffet of unique specialities.

    Renowned for introducing the world to the hot dog bun and waffle cone at the 1904 Word Fair, St. Louis continues to cement its status as a creative leader of American cuisine. A culinary adventure awaits all visitors to this city, as long as you know where to look. Here are the best places locals love to eat in St. Louis.


    Pappy’s Smokehouse

    Legendary BBQ with a laid-back vibe

    • Food

    There’s no argument among locals that Pappy’s Smokehouse is the place for classic St. Louis-style BBQ. With its down-home setting providing an atmosphere of great food and great times, locals are known to queue up for over 1 hour to get their order. Show up at late lunch to beat the crowds – but not too late because they typically run out of some meats early.

    Pappy’s does the classic BBQ offerings, but their signature 14-hour smoked ribs are the main event. Best served slathered in one of 4 house-made sauces and served alongside a Frito pie or bowl of mac n’ cheese. Occasionally the Pitmaster likes to take breaks from the grill and chat with patrons, so keep your eyes peeled for a sauce-covered man walking around.

    Location: 3106 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63103 USA

    Open: Monday-Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 314-535-4340


    Soulard Farmers Market

    Enjoy international-inspired fare in a warehouse setting

    • Shoppers
    • Food

    The Soulard Farmers Market is the oldest public market in St. Louis, offering over 140 vendors and restaurants. Selling everything from spices and local produce to exotic eats from around the world, this market is buzzing from open to close.

    Juan More Tamales is the most popular stall among locals, serving up mouthwatering Mexican staples such as chile verde (green chilli) and tinga (shredded chicken taco or tostada filling) alongside a refreshing paleta (ice-pop). For delicious Bloody Marys and Southern comfort food like beignets or red beans and rice, check out Julia’s Market Café. Lona’s Lil Eats has been tantalising palates with delicious Asian-style soul food for over a decade.

    Location: 730 Carroll St, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm, Friday from 7.30 am to 5 pm, Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 314-622-4180


    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Benton Park Cafe & Coffee Bar

    Serving up tasty brunch in quaint Benton Park

    • Food

    Benton Park Cafe offers an incredible blend of unique dishes, coffee cocktails, and live music, making it the go-to brunch spot for locals. Located in the pretty Benton Park West neighbourhood, the laidback patio atmosphere is best enjoyed on a warm weekend morning. Just make sure to get there early as hour-long waits are common after 10 am.

    For breakfast lovers, Benton Park Cafe’s ultimate eggs Benedict is loaded with creamy spinach, avocado, and bacon. If you’re feeling rather sophisticated, go with the shrimp po'boy or marinated beef tip melt. Accompanying your meal with a hot or iced coffee cocktail is a must – the BPC Moka Vodka Latte will really get your day going.

    Location: 2901 Salena St, St. Louis, MO 63118, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 314-771-7200


    photo by Chris Yunker (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Drunken Fish

    A little piece of Tokyo in St. Louis

    • Food

    Drunken Fish is where premium Japanese sushi lounge meets Midwest modesty. An excellent place for sushi and happy hour in St. Louis, you will find an eclectic group of patrons here nightly in search of 1 thing – quality sushi.

    Fresh fish is brought in every day to fill their 14 signature rolls and 20 different sashimi offerings, and best enjoyed with a house-made cocktail. The decor is vibrant and modern, yet still homey, making it a perfect place to socialize with friends, as well as host a romantic date night. Drunken Fish has 3 locations in the city, with the most popular being at the Ballpark Village – a favourite pre-Cardinals game spot.

    Location: STL Ballpark Village, 601 Clark Ave #104, St. Louis, MO 63102, USA

    Open: Monday and Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 1 am, Tuesday–Wednesday from 11 am to 11 pm, Thursday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 314-899-0500


    John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub

    Home to St. Louis’ favourite outdoor patio

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub is a Soulard neighbourhood institution for locals looking for an electric atmosphere and traditional Irish fare. The centrepiece of the pub is a massive 15,000-sq-ft outdoor patio complete with 3 outdoor bars, and a cascading waterfall. It’s an ideal setting for enjoying Irish classics, such as bangers and mash or Irish stew on a beautiful fall day. If you enjoy more American-style grub, steaks and pasta specialities are excellent choices.

    Make sure to stop by for happy hour (Tuesday–Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm) when a bottle of Budweiser costs around $3. Irish musicians entertain patrons nightly, so get there early to grab a good seat.

    Location: 1200 Russell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 2 am, Sunday from 3 pm to 1 am

    Phone: +1 314-776-8309


    Brasserie by Niche

    Enjoy a Parisian date-night in the West End District

    • Food

    Sitting in Brasserie by Niche, with its classic French-inspired cuisine, upscale ambience, and wafts of freshly baked baguettes, transport you to Paris. An entire wall of red-trimmed windows overlooks the street and provides great people-watching while enjoying fine dining.

    Open for dinner and weekend brunch, French classics litter both menus, which are surprisingly affordable. For a delightful dinner, you can’t go wrong with the traditional mussels, steak Frites, or polarizing escargots (snails), accompanied by a robust cheese plate. Brunch staples such as beignets, quiches, and Croque monsieur can be paired with a nice cocktail. Don’t forget to ask your knowledgeable server about the best wine pairing with your meal.

    Location: 4580 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 1 pm to 8 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 314 454 0600


    Peacemaker Lobster & Cafe

    A taste of Cape Cod in St. Louis

    • Food

    Peacemaker Lobster & Café’s menu combines classic and creative fish dishes, using only the highest-quality seafood. The Benton Park restaurant has a rustic and nostalgic vibe, with walls lined with photographs of fishermen who supply their daily catch to the establishment.

    You must try the house speciality – the namesake Peacemaker Poorboy – a fried oyster sandwich that was invented in the 1800s. Locals come daily during the summer to enjoy the extensive raw bar, which has a rotating selection of fresh oysters and shrimp, along with a refreshing spiked slushy.

    Location: 1831 Sidney St, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 314-772-8858


    Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

    St. Louis’ favourite frozen custard house since 1931

    • Food

    Take a trip down nostalgia lane and head to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. A 4th-generation family business, its menu is filled with delectable malts, shakes, sundaes, floats, and an abundance of fruit, nuts, candies, and sauces to mix with.

    Favourite flavour combinations include the 'Muddy Mississippi' – a blend of peanut butter, chips, and vanilla custard – and the ‘Fox Treat’ – a concrete sundae with hot fudge, raspberries, and macadamia nuts. Warm summer days bring out the local crowd to their 2 locations: Lindenwood Park and Dutchtown. Don’t worry if you miss a chance to stop by as you can snag a last-minute cup from the bright yellow custard dispensers at the airport.

    Location: 6726 Chippewa St, St. Louis, MO 63109, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Wednesday from 11 am to 8.30 pm, Friday–Monday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 314-481-2652


    photo by Indrian (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Salt + Smoke

    A hip, Texas-style BBQ experience

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Salt + Smoke is a prominent name in the St. Louis BBQ scene thanks to its dynamite ribs and fresh ambience. Five locations dot the city, with the Delmar Loop spot being the most popular. There’s always a wait but head to the bar and peruse the pages-long bourbon list while you wait.

    Once seated, order a Bestie Combo, which comes with the signature saucy ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and a side of white cheddar cracker mac and cheese. The space is more refined than a typical BBQ joint, with high ceilings and modern decor, making it great for date nights and business meetings. After 9 pm, the vibe becomes more boisterous as the menu thins and booze deals are unleashed.

    Location: 525 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 314-727-0200


    Tom’s Bar & Grill

    A homey tavern with hearty pub fare

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Tom’s Bar & Grill is a local haunt where folks chow down on classic pub-grub, play trivia, and sing karaoke in a comfy setting. The brick-walled pub has a combination of booths, large tables, and bar-seating to accommodate all types of social gatherings.

    Located in Central West End since the 1970s, Tom’s is best known for having the best burgers and wings in town. Go for the Patty or Frisco Melt to get your cheese fix on, or nibble on a pound of heavily sauced chicken wings. For evening events, head there on Tuesday for trivia, Wednesday for all-you-can-eat boneless wings, and Friday and Saturday for karaoke. You’re bound to feel like a true St. Louisan after a night here.

    Location: 20 S Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 1.30 am, Sunday from 11 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 314-367-4900

    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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