March 08, 2017

11 Classic St. Louis Restaurants to Put on Your Bucket List

Gone are the days when St. Louis cuisine meant a kitschy set of local favorites or a mountain of overcooked pasta. The local restaurant scene is white-hot, and these days you can get just about anything you want at just about any time of day, from great Korean barbecue to ramen to sushi to feijoada. However, the trailblazers that put our city on the map continue to define the dining landscape, remaining relevant even in a business notorious for change. While they vary in both age and level of formality, these places all have two things in common: They’ve been good places to eat out for years, and they remain good today. -- By Cheryl Baehr

Gone are the days when St. Louis cuisine meant a kitschy set of local favorites or a mountain of overcooked pasta. The local restaurant scene is white-hot, and these days you can get just about anything you want at just about any time of day, from great Korean barbecue to ramen to sushi to feijoada.

However, the trailblazers that put our city on the map continue to define the dining landscape, remaining relevant even in a business notorious for change. While they vary in both age and level of formality, these places all have two things in common: They’ve been good places to eat out for years, and they remain good today.

-- By Cheryl Baehr

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Broadway Oyster Bar (736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811)
This raucous Cajun shack has been bringing a little bit of the Bayou to St. Louis for more than three decades. Photo courtesy of Flickr / CRYSTAL ROLFE.
Broadway Oyster Bar (736 South Broadway, 314-621-8811)

This raucous Cajun shack has been bringing a little bit of the Bayou to St. Louis for more than three decades. Photo courtesy of Flickr / CRYSTAL ROLFE.
The vibrant atmosphere and bluesy music alone are enough to guarantee a good time, but Broadway Oyster Bar’s casual, yet perfectly executed, Cajun cuisine puts an exclamation point on the party. Photo by Jon Gitchoff.
The vibrant atmosphere and bluesy music alone are enough to guarantee a good time, but Broadway Oyster Bar’s casual, yet perfectly executed, Cajun cuisine puts an exclamation point on the party. Photo by Jon Gitchoff.
The Crossing (7823 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-7375)
The restaurant scene has seen its fair share of changes since Jim Fiala opened his Clayton eatery in 1998. And though trends have come and gone, the Crossing has remained, thanks to its refined fusion of French and Italian cuisine. Photo by Caroline Yoo.
The Crossing (7823 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-7375)

The restaurant scene has seen its fair share of changes since Jim Fiala opened his Clayton eatery in 1998. And though trends have come and gone, the Crossing has remained, thanks to its refined fusion of French and Italian cuisine. Photo by Caroline Yoo.
Just take a bite of the luscious egg ravioli and you’ll see why this elegant spot has such staying power. Photo by Caroline Yoo.
Just take a bite of the luscious egg ravioli and you’ll see why this elegant spot has such staying power. Photo by Caroline Yoo.
Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 St. Louis Avenue, 314-621-9650) Since 1913, this Old North neighborhood candy shop has been serving much more than its signature chocolate figures. Photo courtesy of Flickr / Missouri Division of Tourism.
Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 St. Louis Avenue, 314-621-9650)

Since 1913, this Old North neighborhood candy shop has been serving much more than its signature chocolate figures. Photo courtesy of Flickr / Missouri Division of Tourism.
This old-fashioned soda fountain is also known for its outstanding malts and sundaes — but you may not have room for dessert after eating the “Heart Stopping BLT,” a monster stuffed with at least fourteen pieces of bacon and good enough to make you forget all about the warning contained in its name. Photo by Kelly Glueck.
This old-fashioned soda fountain is also known for its outstanding malts and sundaes — but you may not have room for dessert after eating the “Heart Stopping BLT,” a monster stuffed with at least fourteen pieces of bacon and good enough to make you forget all about the warning contained in its name. Photo by Kelly Glueck.
Café Natasha’s (3100 South Grand Boulevard, 314-771-3411) This beloved Persian eatery traces its history back over 30 years to a little cafeteria in a downtown office building. There, Hamishe and Behshid Bahrami began sneaking little bits of Persian cuisine onto their American menu, engendering a loyal following that has followed them all the way to their current location on South Grand. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Café Natasha’s (3100 South Grand Boulevard, 314-771-3411)

This beloved Persian eatery traces its history back over 30 years to a little cafeteria in a downtown office building. There, Hamishe and Behshid Bahrami began sneaking little bits of Persian cuisine onto their American menu, engendering a loyal following that has followed them all the way to their current location on South Grand. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
If you get just one thing, make sure it’s the beef shish kabob, tender pieces of beef marinated in a heavenly nectar that you’ll dream of replicating in every other kabob you eat for the rest of your life. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
If you get just one thing, make sure it’s the beef shish kabob, tender pieces of beef marinated in a heavenly nectar that you’ll dream of replicating in every other kabob you eat for the rest of your life. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Gioia’s Deli (1934 Macklind Avenue, 314-776-9410)
The James Beard Foundation has finally figured out what St. Louisans have known for decades: Gioia’s Deli is an American classic. This May, the century-old Italian deli will receive the foundation’s honor, thrusting the eatery and its “hot salami” sandwich into the national spotlight. Photo by Mindee Zervas.
Gioia’s Deli (1934 Macklind Avenue, 314-776-9410)

The James Beard Foundation has finally figured out what St. Louisans have known for decades: Gioia’s Deli is an American classic. This May, the century-old Italian deli will receive the foundation’s honor, thrusting the eatery and its “hot salami” sandwich into the national spotlight. Photo by Mindee Zervas.
The “Salam di Testa,” a secret family recipe akin to pâté, is sliced to order and served warm on crusty Italian bread. If St. Louis Italian food has a taste, this is it. Photo by Kelly Glueck.
The “Salam di Testa,” a secret family recipe akin to pâté, is sliced to order and served warm on crusty Italian bread. If St. Louis Italian food has a taste, this is it. Photo by Kelly Glueck.