Shangri-La is a luscious slice of Americana

Strawberry-lime-orange juice. Iced coffee. A broccoli-Cheddar quiche that tastes like a homey cheese casserole. Watermelon slices. Fake bacon ("Fakin'"?) that comes off more like construction paper dip-dyed in red ink. A pretty good sloppy Joe, made from TVP (texturized vegetable protein, the same stuff found in most supermarket-sold veggie burgers). And a crème brûlée French toast best scarfed down without coming up for air, a gooey, undercooked delight with bits of burnt, crusty sugar like hardened lava. (Sugar's skin-wrinkling, metabolism-screwing properties be damned, Mari knows her way around sweets. She makes a cupcake called Hostess with the Mostess, an oversize, homemade rendition of Hostess' cupcakes that, in comparison, renders the original akin to sawdust smeared with caulk.)

Shangri-La's Sunday brunch is often packed, yet everybody there seems to adopt a cheery approach to the crowding, squeezing along the banquette, passing highchairs over the heads of those huddled by the doorway, waiting for a table. It helps that tables seem to open up with good frequency, keeping the waits short; it also helps that everybody seems to know everybody else, like one big open-minded, counterculture-infused, progressively charged family. (Mari estimates that 75 percent of her brunch business comes from "upwardly mobile vegan hipsters," the rest, "mom-and-pop antiquers who come in looking for meat but stay anyway because they love the food.")

Living doll: Ten-year-old Kai Anne Tyler donated her Barbies to augment Shangri-La's kitschy-fabulous décor.
Jennifer Silverberg
Living doll: Ten-year-old Kai Anne Tyler donated her Barbies to augment Shangri-La's kitschy-fabulous décor.

Location Info


Shangri-La Diner

2201 Cherokee St.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - South City


Brunch $11
African spinach stew $6
Strawberry lemonade $2
Hostess with the Mostess $3

314-772-8308. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun.

2201 Cherokee Street

The institution of brunch, that cutesy, cosmopolitan thing you do on late weekend mornings, may not date back that far in the history of American gastronomy. Eating good food in good company -- well, that's classic. Welcome to Shangri-La.

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