St Louis Skyline photo. Photo by explore St Louis

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I lived in the St. Louis area for five years and fondly remember the city. I met my husband at a Cardinals baseball game – and later married him across the river in Illinois – learned to drive in the snow, and first tasted craft beer at Schlafly Tap Room.

We moved away in 2010, and I recently had the opportunity to return. My once familiar stomping ground has turned into a seriously impressive food scene.

Sure, I have fond memories of St. Louis food—gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, super-thin crust pizza—but the St. Louis eats I discovered nearly 15 years later wowed me, and I’m a little hard to wow.

I’ve traveled all over the world and am a pretty adventurous eater. I expected to find some fun nostalgia revisiting St. Louis—which I did—but the exploding culinary scene was the best surprise. Here’s what’s new and why St. Louis is making a name for itself as a culinary center.

Everyone is still crazy about Cardinals baseball and says, “Look, there’s the Arch” every time they drive past the Gateway Arch, no matter how many times they’ve passed it. Although St. Louis has experienced a culinary glow-up, the city’s heart and vibe remain the same. 

Why St. Louis is an Emerging Spot for Global Cuisine

Vicia has inventive cocktails using locally sourced ingredients. Photo by Jill Robbins
Vicia has inventive cocktails using locally sourced ingredients. Photo by Jill Robbins

St. Louis is a diverse community and a melting pot of ethnicities and flavors. Chefs from all over the world have settled in this Midwest city, which is rapidly becoming well-known to foodies. A growing number of chefs and restauranteurs have moved away from the Midwest to go to college or attend culinary training and ultimately decide to come back to their roots, raise families, and bring what they’ve learned into their community.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

The short film The Flavor of St Louis does a smashing job of highlighting what makes eating in St. Louis special. It profiles chefs from three St. Louis eateries and introduces viewers to their restaurants, menus, and whys. The 2023 film, which highlights the city’s culinary diversity, was accepted into the prestigious St. Louis Film Festival and plants this Midwest gem firmly on the map as a culinary center to be reckoned with.

The film encourages visitors to “come hungry” to St. Louis, advice I had no trouble taking quite seriously. Here’s where you should eat in St. Louis.


5201 Shaw Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

Fresh Salad and tempura shrimp at Sado. Photo by Jill Robbins
Fresh Salad and tempura shrimp at Sado. Photo by Jill Robbins

Sado is a sushi-focused restaurant on “The Hill,” one of St. Louis’ oldest neighborhoods. The Hill was originally settled by Italian immigrants and is often called “Little Italy,” so Sado brings a welcome burst of diversity.

Sado’s menu heavily features sushi and sashimi, but there are plentiful options for those who want hot food or don’t eat uncooked fish, such as steamed pork buns, dumplings, and tempura dishes.

Sado, which means ‘tea ceremony,’ has two dining rooms and a sushi bar. It is open daily for dinner at 5 p.m. Reservations are suggested, but walk-ins are accommodated when possible.

Sado is owned by James Beard nominated Chef Nick Bogner, who also owns Indo, which serves Southeast Asian-inspired small plates.


4260 Forest Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108*

Radishes and Pesto at Vicia - Menu changes regularly based on what is available. Photo by Jill Robbins
Radishes and Pesto at Vicia – Menu changes regularly based on what is available. Photo by Jill Robbins

This unique dining experience focuses on locally sourced ingredients, and the menu changes frequently based on what’s locally available. Run by James Beard-nominated husband-and-wife team Michael and Tara Gallina, the menu is bright, vegetable-forward, and elevated without being unapproachable.

The best way to experience Vicia is with its family-style three-course menu and sommelier-curated wine pairings. However, anyone seeking something lighter would be delighted with a cocktail and small plate in Vicia’s bar area.

Tip: Peruse the menu online before making a reservation. Since the offerings rotate frequently and the menu is small, make sure you love what the restaurant makes when visiting.

* Entrance On Boyle, At Corner Of Duncan Ave

Brasserie By Niche

4580 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108

Hearty meal at Brasserie - mussels and frites. Photo by Jill Robbins
Hearty meal at Brasserie – mussels and frites. Photo by Jill Robbins

Brasserie by Niche is approachable French food in a warm, lively, welcoming setting. The menu has simple delights, like mussels steamed in wine, steak frites, and a croque madame sandwich.

The menu also has a bistro burger, and if the menu description piques your appetite, don’t automatically dismiss ordering it because it seems wrong to order a burger in a French bistro.

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Although I didn’t order it, our server told me it was one of her top two favorite menu items and that the chef had taken great pride in crafting what he considered the best burger in town.

I ordered the mussels, which are always my choice when I see them on a European-inspired menu. They were sublime, but I’m just about convinced I should take the bistro burger out for a spin on my next visit. Brasserie By Niche has a brunch menu with rotating pastry selections, brioche French toast with lemon curd, egg dishes, sandwiches, and more.

By the way, the mussels were perfection. 

Rockwell Beer Company

1320 S Vandeventer Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

When it just has to be a burger and a beer, Rockwell Beer Company is a fun and quirky taproom easily recognizable by its shipping container façade. The bar is “kid in a candy store” fun for craft beer enthusiasts, with rotating taps with a beer for every taste. You’ll find stand-by favorites, seasonal brews, and limited collaborations. When it comes to craft beer, I’m an IPA girl, so it’s easy to pick out what beer would be to my taste, but if you’re a more adventurous beer drinker, the staff is very knowledgeable and can make recommendations or offer a quick taste.  

The food is simple but done very well. Smash burgers, loaded fries, wings…you know, all the food groups. While a non-beer lover can absolutely enjoy coming here to eat, for a true disciple of craft beer, this bright, casual eatery checks all the boxes.

Sweet Stuff

Whether you seek pastry and baked goods to enjoy later or a scoop or two to cap off dinner, St. Louis doesn’t disappoint.

La Patisserie Chouquette

1626 Tower Grove Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

Darkness Croissant at La Patiesserie Chouquette. Photo by Jill Robbins
Darkness Croissant at La Patiesserie Chouquette. Photo by Jill Robbins

Owned by New Orleans native Chef Simone Faure, La Patisserie Chouquette is a delightful place to grab a pastry and coffee. The patisserie serves a variety of sweet and savory pastries and baked delights, including a rotating selection of macarons, but the star of the show is 

Faure’s Darkness Croissant is a masterpiece of laminated chocolate dough filled with chocolate and topped with—you guessed it—more chocolate. It is available daily but sells out quickly, so if you want to sample one, be there when the shop opens for the day.

I thought the Darkness Croissant would be something I could take a nibble of and then declare, “Ooh, too rich.” Nope. I could have torn that whole thing up in a single sitting. I didn’t, because I sampled several delicious pastries during my visit, but I totally could have chowed down on that morsel of chocolate delight and probably still had room for a macaron or two. 

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery

1637 S 18th St, St. Louis, MO 63104*

Ice cream scoop at Clementines. Photo by Jill Robbins
Ice cream scoop at Clementines. Photo by Jill Robbins

This micro creamery serves small-batch ice cream made with grass-fed milk and local flavors. If you’re looking for basic vanilla and chocolate, you’re not likely to find it at Clementine’s.

Clementine’s flavors rotate regularly, but the ice cream flavors lean toward the unique and decadent, like Gooey Butter Cake and Midnight Pleasures, a triple dark chocolate made with African fair trade cookies. On any given day, you’ll find a selection of “naughty” alcohol-infused ice creams and a surprisingly robust selection of vegan flavors.

My poison was Gooey Butter Cake. Some St. Louis habits don’t die. I was not disappointed. 

*Plus five additional locations throughout the St. Louis metro area.

Other Places to Grab Food in St. Louis

While where to eat in St. Louis could—and probably does—fill several books, here are a couple of catchall spots to sample great food. 

City Foundry Louis Food Hall

3730 Foundry Way, St. Louis, MO 63110

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite between activities in the city or a gathering spot for a group where everyone’s taste buds crave something different, 17 restaurants under one roof is the answer. Pizza, burgers, and tacos are served alongside more adventurous choices such as Afro-Caribbean and superfood bars. 

Soulard Farmers Market

730 Carroll St, St. Louis, MO 63104

The Soulard Farmers Market is open Wednesday through Saturday, with Saturday being the day with the most vendor activity. Although there’s a heavy emphasis on fresh produce and other take-home foods, such as salsas and honey, there are also food vendors at the market where browsers can grab a bite or a drink to sip while perusing the stalls. 

If You Ask a Chef for a Restaurant Recommendation…

The saying goes, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.” When applying this logic to the St. Louis food scene, “If you ask a chef for a recommendation on where else to eat, he’s going to ask if you have notetaking material.” 

One of my favorite questions to ask a chef is where they like to eat on their day off. St. Louis is such a collaborative food community, and the camaraderie and close network that the chefs and restaurant owners share quickly become evident.

While each of the chefs I encountered in St. Louis was humble about their own culinary accomplishments, all were quick to praise the work of their friends and colleagues. If you still have some steam – and if your jeans still fit – after going through this list, ask restaurant personnel in St. Louis where else to eat. 

Just ensure you have a pen and paper handy, or be ready to whip out the notetaking app on your phone. Oh, and there’s still the gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and thin-crust pizza. There’s just room for more now. Who says you can’t go home again?

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Author Bio: Jill Robbins is a San Antonio-based freelance writer covering travel, culture, parenting, finance, food and beverage, and attainable beauty and style. Journalism is Act II for Jill. She spent 27 years in the United States Air Force. She has a Bachelor of Science (Summa Cum Laude) in Social Psychology from Park University in Parkville, Missouri, and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies from the Community College of the Air Force. When she’s not traveling or writing about traveling, Jill enjoys hiking and exploring outdoor spaces with her husband and two sons and looking for the next great YA fiction read.

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