St. Louis' neighborhoods are gems in their own right: full of history, great people and, as far as Gut Check is concerned, fantastic food. Each week we'll take you into a specific neighborhood and point you in the direction of the best places to grab some bites.
Once upon a time, Webster Groves' Old Orchard district was famed for its vintage clothing shops. That was back when men were men, middle school was junior high and kids wore army jackets they bought at vintage clothing shops (which were called "used clothing stores"). In more modern times, Old Orchard -- that stretch of Big Bend Boulevard between Laclede Station Road and the fork at Lockwood Avenue -- is somewhat more cosmopolitan in its offerings. Which is to say there's a Starbucks. (Kidding!) There's a wide range of eating options, many of which keep nearby Webster University students and faculty caffeinated and calorified.
Hwy 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen
(34 South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-968-0061)
Highway 61, the road, winds from Minnesota to Louisiana. Hwy 61, the restaurant, draws inspiration from St. Louis and points farther south along the Blues Highway, and it's evident in the festive décor and dishes such as Memphis favorite "BBQ Spaghetti" and New Orleans-style po'boys. Sunday brunches go beyond the standard pancakes and omelets with eats such as beignets and cheddar grits, to say nothing of its top-shelf bloody mary bar. An episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives was filmed here, exposing Hwy 61 to a national audience and confirming what locals already know: While Soulard might be St. Louis' historical home of Cajun cooking and the blues, Hwy 61 admirably pushes that boundary westward.
Weber's Front Row (8169 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-961-4500) Weber's is a sports bar, and in that ever-more-crowded realm, it manages to stand out by being as homey and unpretentious as they come. It's not a giant-screen, knock-your-socks-off theme park. It's a bar. The kind of joint where the servers greet you like they're your neighbors, where everything on the bar-food-centric menu is prepared and served with care but without fuss, and where the beer is always ice cold. St. Louis is blessed with a heaping helping of bars like these, and we're very thankful for that fact. We're especially thankful for Weber's.
Dvin (8143 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-968-4000) You'd be forgiven for overlooking Dvin: The storefront is tucked off of Big Bend Boulevard, and it's easy to miss. If you do manage to find it, the posted hours, it seems, are merely suggestions. (Place a phone call and double check first.) But this Russian/Greek/Armenian place, run by mother-and-daughter team Lidiya Skiloti and Natalya Bryantseva, is a quirky jewel worth uncovering. Eastern European dishes including borscht, gyros and blintzes are as genuine as what you'd find a half a world away because everything here is cooked from scratch. Ukrainian dishes, such as vareniky (dumplings), are worth a go, and specials change daily.
See also: - RFT Review: Dvin
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