Beginning this week, we're rolling out our first-ever City Guide, a glossy special issue focused on loving St. Louis like a native — and living in it like a tourist. Why not kick things off with our guide to 24 hours in our favorite part of the city? Check back in the coming days for guides to the Central West End, the Loop, Overland, St. Charles and St. Louis as a whole, plus much, much more!
South St. Louis is home to a diverse population that makes the area one of the most interesting places to visit in the greater region; in its six-block business district, South Grand alone boasts of representing fourteen countries and five continents. Out-of-towners, too, may be shocked at how far their dollar will go here. Both drinks and food tend to be extremely reasonable.
A word of common-sense caution for travelers, though: Like anywhere worth visiting, south city isn’t a sterile, suburban environment. Don’t leave anything you care about in your car and stick to the main streets if you’re a tourist.
For a unique culinary experience, start your trip with a visit to Lona’s Lil Eats (2199 California Avenue, 314-925-1888)
. We insist that you try a rice-paper wrap. We know, that sounds like we’re tricking you into eating a light, healthy lunch, but in reality these wraps are massive, Qdoba burrito-sized spring rolls, stuffed with your choice of delicious proteins, savory, pan-Asian inspired sauces, veggies, and rice or stir-fried glass noodles (our favorite).
Get Juiced Up
You have a long day of fun ahead of you, and you just ate a baby-sized rice-paper burrito, so you’re going to need fuel. Get a caffeinated kick in the teeth from Kitchen House Coffee (3149 Shenandoah Avenue, 314-732-0009)
, the most adorable neighborhood coffee shop in St. Louis. Kitchen House Coffee has upcycled wooden décor, shelves stocked with books on sustainability and beekeeping, backyard chickens behind the shop and its own urban farm right down the street.
Buy Yourself Something Pretty
Flowers and Weeds (3201 Cherokee Street, 314-776-2887)
is to south city what the Jewel Box is to Forest Park. The shop transformed this once-depressing corner of Cherokee Street into a magical, light-drenched, glittering escape from the city. Dozens of terrariums hang from silver beams that crisscross their skylights, while air plants, cacti, carnivorous plants, succulents, interesting ceramics and assorted oddities cover every available surface. Build a tiny terrarium of your own for a souvenir, or pick up an interesting accessory, like earrings made from the vertebra of a python.
Head down to the Silver Ballroom (4701 Morganford Road, 314-832-9223)
before it gets too crowded and have your pick of the coolest collection of pinball games in the city. Afterwards, take a short stroll down Morganford past the historic Bevo Mill (soon to open as a beer garden/brunch spot called Das Bevo) to admire the Sebilj (5000 Gravois Avenue)
, a stone-and-wooden monument celebrating the mutually beneficial relationship St. Louis has enjoyed with the thousands of Bosnian refugees who immigrated here in the early ‘90s.
Playing pinball works up a serious appetite for some serious pizza. Ignore the urge to eat at a St. Louis-style chain and either dip into Soulard for dinner at Pizzeoli Wood Fired Pizza Napoletana (1928 S. 12th Street, 314-449-1111)
for a pie with a perfect crust, or head to Cherokee and enjoy a cheesy, sweet-sauced slice of doughy deliciousness, made-to-order by Master Pieza (2846 Cherokee Street, 314-899-9939)
Drink the Whiskey Drink
The Whiskey Ring (2651 Cherokee Street, 314-669-5817)
has earned its place as a favorite on the Cherokee strip, offering fancy whiskey drinks, cheap Stags, kitschy velvet paintings on the walls, dark wooden decor and excellent jams on their sound system.
Ice Cream and a Show
Stop by La Vallesana (2801 Cherokee Street, 314-776-4223)
and grab a strawberries ‘n’ cream ice cream bar to devour while walking either east towards Blank Space (2847 Cherokee Street, 314-300-8831)
or west towards Foam (3359 S. Jefferson Avenue, 314-772-2100)
. In either case you’ll find live music, art exhibits and other interesting events just about every night of the week.
Late Libations and South Side Flavor
After last call, head to South Grand and visit Mangia Italiano (3145 S. Grand Boulevard)
for a nightcap. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a few songs from the Dave Stone Trio, which has had a late-night Friday residency on the premises for seventeen years. Be sure to admire the incredible artwork by local legends Wayne St. Wayne and Bob Reuter while you’re there. Get a snack from their diverse and delicious late-night menu, or shuffle off to the greasiest greasy spoon around, the Buttery (3659 S. Grand Boulevard, 314-771-4443)
, for some solid jukebox tunes and a bizarre, but thoroughly entertaining, late-night crowd.
The night isn’t over until you’ve made a stop at John Donut (1618 S. Broadway, 314-241-3360)
. The shop opens for business at 11 p.m. The earlier in the morning you make it, the better the chances that the old-fashioned cake donuts will be hot and fresh out of the oven.
If you must get some shuteye (or even just a shower), you can book an Airbnb near Tower Grove Park for $65 to $70 per night. Or stay in the pricier but lovely Casa Magnolia (4171 Magnolia Avenue, 314-664-8702)
, a historic bed-and-breakfast less than one block from the park.
Walk off your hangover and wander across the street into Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue, 314-771-2679)
to see the ruins and fountain, made famous by countless wedding photo shoots. The ruins are actual, really real ruins, built with limestone blocks that Henry Shaw picked out from the remains of the Lindell Hotel after its 1867 fire.
It’s an easy walk from Tower Grove Park to Treehouse (3177 S. Grand Boulevard, 314-696-2100)
, where you can get a satisfying vegetarian brunch. Try the Desayuno Latino, or go traditional with the biscuits and gravy, hash, eggs benedict, or a slinger — St. Louis’ finest food (next to Red Hot Riplets, of course). Accompany your meal with the unusual, but delicious, kimchi bloody mary or fresh-squeezed juice — you’ll need a nutrient boost to recover from 24 hours on the south side.