Yesterday we introduced Amanda Doyle's new book, Finally, A Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Louis By and For St. Louisans, Neighborhood by Neighborhood.
We sat down with Doyle at Rue Lafayette to discuss her favorite restaurants and what makes St. Louis special.
Mabel Suen: How long have you been living in St. Louis?
Amanda Doyle: I've lived in St. Louis since 1997, so right around 14 years. When I moved to St. Louis, we lived in Lafayette Square for a year. I've lived in Tower Grove Heights/Tower Grove South ever since with my husband, a menagerie of cats and dogs, and my three-and-a-half-year-old son.
What do you think makes St. Louis so great?
I like how easy life is here. I have a lot of friends from high school and past lives that live in a lot of great places like Los Angeles, New York and Austin. I go to visit them and I think it's hard as a daily life. I like that St. Louis is kind of a lazy city. You can get anywhere easily and gain access to things easily.
What inspired you to write your book?
Ten plus years of accumulating all this knowledge about places in St. Louis. For my day job, I'm talking to visitors about places like the Botanical Gardens, the Arch, Tony's and other obvious things people do when they come here. But I also knew about all the other quirky stuff you tell your best friend and finally had an outlet to do that. Reedy Press, a great St. Louis focused publisher, had a vision for it, and after talking to enough people about it, we found there was a need. Put in a little effort and you could be a pretty good expert on whatever you want.
What are your favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis?
Tower Grove is great. I really like Maplewood, and I love Ferguson. It's my north county sleeper. I like a lot of parts of north city like Old North St. Louis. There's so much unnoticed there that's really of value that people should know about. And I love Cherokee Street. The energy down there is great.
What are a few of your favorite destinations?
Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in North County is somewhere I had not been prior to researching for the book. It's amazing for that much kind of wild nature to be just 20 minutes from downtown. You'll feel like you're in the middle of the wilderness gazing upon trumpeter swans. I also love Cherokee Street. When we first moved to St. Louis, it was when Metropolis St. Louis, a group of young people gung ho to revitalize and restore pride in the city, was getting its start. There's a lot of that kind of do-it-yourself spirit on Cherokee. I also enjoy the many, many corner bars of St. Louis, particularly the corner bars of North St. Louis, which are an under-visited asset. Another hidden place is The Chapel in Clayton. A lot of people don't know about it. It's magical to me. That room is beautiful and they have shows all the time.
Tell me one thing most people don't know about St. Louis
In north county, you can probably get into a fist fight over which north county pizza place is the best. I've seen families get into heated arguments. Everyone has a strong opinion. A lot of people say that Angelo's in Florissant is the best, but I've also heard Faraci, Pirrones and Nick and Elena's, and some of these places are tiny!