By Ryan Saale
Known for its barbecue ribs, St. Louis is a Midwestern epicenter for great food. Check out my top lists of restaurants below for ideas where to nosh during the NAFSA conference.
Downtown Lunch Spots
The NAFSA conference is located in Downtown St. Louis, the city’s largest business district. This means there are lunch spots catering to those with limited time. Here are a few of my favorites near the convention center:
- Cafés: Blondie’s (pictured at right), London Tea Room, and Rooster.
- Fast casual: Bailey’s Range, Over and Under Grill, and B&T Pizza.
- International: Mosaic Tapas, Mango Peruvian, Takaya, Wasabi, and Rosalita’s Cantina.
- Lunch meetings: Robust Wine Bar, Lucas Park Grille, and Capri at the Renaissance Grand.
- Best views: Cielo at the Four Seasons Hotel, and 360 Lounge at the rooftop of Hilton at the Ballpark.
Many notable restaurants are scattered throughout the St. Louis area, and these are always at the top of mine list.
- Niche/Brasserie/Taste/Pasteria (pictured at right): Gerard Craft, noted as one of the best chefs in the Midwest—and a James Beard nominee—oversees this group of four restaurants. You won’t be disappointed if you make a reservation at any of these.
- Sidney Street Café: A great dinner destination in the historic Soulard neighborhood, serving unique American food in a traditional, upscale environment.
- Herbie’s: A local institution since the 1970s, Herbie’s serves a wide variety of American and European fare.
- Pi: A personal favorite of mine, and President Barack Obama too. Pi serves its unique pizza at several area locations, its newest across from the convention center.
If you’re in the mood for dinner and then something afterward, these areas offer great restaurants, bars, and nightlife.
- Washington Avenue: Downtown’s nightlife district, the street has many great restaurants. The convention center is also located here.
- Central West End: St. Louis’ most historic and walkable neighborhood, the Central West End has a wide-variety of restaurants, sidewalk cafes, bars, and after-dinner options. From downtown, take Metrolink to the “Central West End” station.
- Clayton: One of the wealthiest districts in the region, Clayton offers many upscale restaurants, cafes, and bars. From downtown, take Metrolink to the “Clayton” station.
Only in St. Louis
A few dishes reign from St. Louis, so make sure to try one or more during the conference.
- Toasted ravioli: Served at most restaurants and bars in town, this local twist on ravioli is a great appetizer or snack. Try it in The Hill neighborhood, a largely Italian enclave.
- St. Louis-style pizza: Thin and crispy crust topped with provel cheese (a special blend of cheeses not widely available anywhere else). Imo’s is the largest local chain serving up this unique pizza.
- Ted Drewes frozen custard: This frozen custard is a summertime tradition in St. Louis, especially after a Cardinals game. The Chippewa outlet is located on historic Route 66.
- St. Louis-style ribs: A heavily sauced and delicious spare ribs. Try them at Pappy’s downtown or Bogart’s in Soulard.
- Gooey butter cake: A sweet dense cake topped with powdered sugar. If you have a sweet tooth and see this on a menu, do yourself a favor and order a piece!
- Bosnian cuisine: St. Louis is home to the largest concentration of Bosnians in the United States. If you’d like to try authentic Bosnian food, this is the place. Grbic Restaurant is the most famous in town.
Looking for more dining options, or to learn more about the culinary scene in St. Louis? Check out our local publications, Sauce Magazine and Feast Magazine. These monthly magazines cover the full-range of dining options in St. Louis with unique stories and recent openings.
What types of food are you most excited about eating in St. Louis? For those that have been or live in St. Louis, what restaurants would you recommend?
Ryan Saale is the Local Arrangements Committee (LAT) communications chair for NAFSA’s 2013 Annual Conference & Expo. Ryan is a St. Louis native who spent time living, studying, and working abroad in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain, and recently completely his master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He began his career in international education in 2009 after working in corporate communications for five years, both in St. Louis and Santiago, Chile. Ryan is assistant director of international affairs at Fontbonne University where he is responsible for all international student recruitment and global outreach initiatives.