St. Louis, MO, is an incredibly diverse city with a ton of fun things to do in and around the downtown area. Whether you are visiting St Louis for a Blues or Cardinals game, a convention, or visiting the Gateway Arch, you will eventually get hungry, and the Downtown area has a fantastic, and diverse variety of restaurants to discover that will satisfy your culinary desires.
Picking this list was way more difficult than I thought it would be as I sat down to type. St Louis has fabulous restaurants throughout downtown, Soulard, and the Central West End. This list could easily have been 20 or 30 restaurants, but I forced myself to keep this list somewhat brief. There are several fabulous restaurants that I loved visiting that did not make this list. That said, these are my top spots that I will be visiting on my next trip back to St Louis, and hopefully, they make your list of favorites also.
1) Bogart’s Smokehouse
Located in one of St Louis’ oldest neighborhoods, Bogart’s Smokehouse it a staple of the historic Soulard District and my favorite BBQ place in all of St Louis. This is saying something because St Louis is loaded with amazing BBQ joints that will blow your mind and will fill you up with delicious St Louis style ribs, pulled pork, or beef brisket.
Bogarts may have a small seating area and a relatively simple menu, but it makes up for it with big flavor and BBQ that is done right… EVERY time! There is almost always a line out the door and down the street, but don’t worry, the line moves pretty quickly. Bogarts is the one BBQ joint where the smoky goodness and dry rub is so good that I pass on BBQ sauce. But if you decide to go with BBQ sauce, bogarts provides four sauces that will blow your mind. Try the Pineapple Express sauce with the pulled pork, it sounds funky, but the combination of sweet and tangy goes together perfectly!
Bogart’s Smokehouse, 1627 S 9th Street, St Louis, MO 63104. 314-621-3107
2) Baileys’ Range
Located within walking distance of most downtown hotels, Baileys’ Range offers customers a variety or appetizers and salads, focuses on their burgers that will melt in your mouth. Their burgers are made with 100% grass fed Missouri range beef, and you can taste the quality in every burger that they make.
As good as their burgers are, Baileys’ “boozy” lemonades, floats, and shakes are even better. On a sweltering summer day in St Louis, there is nothing better than one of Baileys’ ice cold strawberry basil lemonades made with Tito’s vodka, fresh basil, and strawberry nectar. It is light, refreshing, and beyond delicious. If traditional beers or cocktails are more your thing, Baileys has an extensive bar that serves all your favorite adult beverages and beers from local breweries.
And before you head out for the rest of your day, you should try one of Bailey’s fabulous ice creams or desserts that are made with real cane sugar and natural ingredients. They offer the standard flavors of ice cream in addition to more eclectic flavors like lemon raspberry and goat cheese & blackberry swirl. You can get Baileys’ delicious ice cream flavors by the scoop, in a waffle cone or mixed into a delicious milkshake. Their malted shakes are my favorite.
Baileys’ Range 920 Olive Street, St. Louis MO 63101. 314-241-8121
3) Rooster, Downtown
The original Rooster location sits a couple of blocks away from Baileys’ Range and is my favorite breakfast spot in downtown St Louis. Friends tell me that Rooster’s brunch and lunch menus are also super yummy, but their breakfast menu is what I know well, and their breakfast is top notch.
While Roosters scrambles, French toast, and pancakes are amazing, their crepes are out of this world good! They offer over 20 different types of crepes from more traditional breakfast crepes to savory crepes and sweet crepes. The roasted apple crepe is the perfect way to top off any of Roosters amazing breakfast options. Or you can opt for one of their delicious coffees or espresso drinks.
If I’m in St Louis and have to pick only one place to have breakfast, I’ll choose Rooster 11 out of 10 times! There can be a bit of a wait during the weekends, but their food is worth the slight delay to being seated.
Rooster Downtown, 1104 LOCUST STREET, St. Louis, MO 63101. 314-241-8118
4) Sauce on the Side
If you love calzones and you are in St Louis, then Sauce on the Side is a must for lunch or dinner. Just as the same implies, the sauce for their calzones come on the side. The Sauce on the Side downtown location is about a block and a half from the convention center and is a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy one of the best calzones you’ll find.
Sauce on the Side offers some unique flavor combinations that come together nicely The Cock-A-Doodle Noodle is one of my favorites (minus the provel) and was featured on the Travel Channel’s show, Food Paradise. Sauce on the Side also salads that will blow your mind. I’ve gotten used to the salads at pizza places being sub-par, but not the case at Sauce on the Side. Their Zen Garden and Strawberry Fields salads are full of flavor and are perfect on those hot St Louis evenings. Sauce on the Side also has an outside sitting area where you can relax, enjoy a calzone and a cold beer while relaxing and planning your next adventure.
Sauce on the Side. 411 N. 8th St, St. Louis, MO 63101. 314-241-5667
5) Mango Peruvian Cuisine
Along Washington Avenue sit’s an absolute gem of a restaurant. Mango brings authentic Peruvian cuisine to St Louis. Mango came to my attention because at least once a week someone would ask me where the restaurant moved to while I was walking my dog. About I moved into my loft in downtown St Louis, Mango moved from right next to my building to a new location just down Washington, and people’s phones would bring them to the old location. They’d ask where Mango went, and I told them how to get to the new location. After about two months of this, I had to check them out, and WOW was it worth it!
The restaurant has an upscale ambiance while still being approachable and down to earth. It was common for my husband and myself to see the owners, Jorge or Nori Calvo, and they would stop by to see how the meal was. Before eating at Mango, I hadn’t had Peruvian food, and the staff was approachable and happy to answer questions and make recommendations.
Many of their dishes have a citrus twist that gives their dishes a sweet and savory flavor that balances amazingly. It is difficult to accurately describe the complexity of flavors of the dishes that they serve at Mango and do them justice. I could recite the ingredients of some dishes as listed on the restaurants’ website, but that would not come close to doing justice to just how good the food is. The Jalea Mixta and Pollo en Salsa de Mango are two of my favorite dishes that complement each other well. I’m not going to try to describe how amazing they are because I can’t accurately describe just how good the flavor combinations are.
Mango Peruvian Cuisine, 1001 Washington Ave. St. Louis, MO 63101. 314-621-9993
6) Schlafly Tap Room
The Schlafly Tap Room will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first restaurant I ate at when I moved to St Louis. Friends of mine, took me to lunch there the day I arrived in Missouri. It was a typical hot and humid summer day and the Hefeweizen that day still stands out as the best one I have ever had. Their hard apple cider is also excellent. It’s light and crisp, but not overly sweet. One of the largest downsides of moving back to Reno is not being able to find Schlafly’s assortment of beers.
The Schlafly Tap Room offers the standard variety of pub-style fair and several items that are unique, and have to be explored. Schlafly offers Poutine, a Canadian dish that is amazing, especially on a cold winter day. If you haven’t had it, it is incredible! A Canadian couple that I met at a Blues game said that Schlafly’s Poutine was almost as good as it is back home. The Lamb and Beef Shepherd’s Pie and Shave Prime Rib sandwich are my other two favorite options on the menu.
Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust St, St. Louis, MO 63103. 314-241-BEER (2337)
One last note on provel cheese. My friends that grew up in the St Louis area love provel and sing its praises, but it is an acquired taste. Provel is a cheese blend unique to St Louis and is found in what is referred to as “St Louis style pizza.” Provel is made up of a blend of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses. It has a very unique texture and flavor that is unique, to say the least. Most pizzerias in the city will gladly replace provel with another cheese if you ask. People that are from St Louis love provel, but it is a flavor and texture combination that I will pass on.