St. Louis Weekend Foodie Getaway
Something exciting is happening in America and it’s making America great again.
It has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with food.
It’s the shift in the food culture that’s been happening slowly for a few decades moving away from fast food, to foodie mania, to the eat local movement to food-centric vacations.
On a recent weekend trip to St. Louis, I was excited to see what was happening with their urban food scene, and I was happy to be staying downtown. You’ll find a list below of everything we sipped and tasted and where.
St. Louis Grand Marriott Downtown
We were both invited to be guests of the St. Louis Grand Marriott downtown location and sample the cuisine over a weekend.
We are not strangers to the Marriott. They were home for my fifteen years of corporate travel and my husband is currently a platinum member. We appreciate the mindful planning for the business traveler as well as the vacationing family.
We understand what is important to both kinds of travelers.
Guest rooms are modern, sleek and comfortable with have a stylish seating area.
The hotel has combined the best of its history with the latest modern conveniences and design for a relaxed stay. The rooms are sleek with ultra comfortable beds and many have city views. The business traveler will find the rooms quiet and tech savvy. You are able to plug in everything you need, even plug-ins at the bedside tables, because we all sleep with our phones next to us.
This is the view from our room at Marriott St. Louis Grand.
The lobby area is designed like a great room and has comfortable seating for business meetings, and tables with plug-ins and coffee availability, and a very large bar. Furnishings with tables, comfortable chairs, and sofas surround the bar to serve as meeting places for business and family.
The lobby has several stations, designed to accompany large crowds for check-in/check-out and is adorned with beautiful modern artwork with St. Louis cityscapes, embracing all that is local in St. Louis.
We were able to tour the hotel and learn a little history. Built in 1917, the hotel has gone through several transitions, and recently a $30 million renovation. It’s beautiful. The Crystal and Statler ballrooms maintain their stunning historic architecture. The Statler Ballroom held the original lobby, and has the most beautiful ceiling. The Crystal Ballroom has large windows with city views and gorgeous chandeliers. Both are perfect wedding venues for ceremony and reception.
The Food at St. Louis Grand Marriott Promotes a Chef Driven Menu, Local Flavors
We were especially pleased with how the downtown Marriott has intentionally made a decision to offer chef driven food and local brands in ways not typically done in major hotel chains. It’s refreshing to be able to enjoy the real talents of a local chef who has freedom to be creative and work with local vendors.
8th Street Pantry: Grab and Go
The business and family traveler will find the 8th Street Pantry, located off the lobby, filled with grab and go items, a friendlier alternative to room service.
They stock meals to go, prepared by the chef’s kitchen on premises, including sandwiches, salads, pizza, bagels, muffins and more. The packaged snack products are mostly made by local food artisans. It feels nice to know you’re in St. Louis, surrounded by the city’s personality, and creative enterprises.
We were treated to a lovely dinner at the Zenia Bar & Grille, led by Executive Chef Tim Jansen, who travels the world yearly looking for new flavors to fuse into American Cuisine.
Many business travelers prefer a good steak, and the bone-in rib-eye is excellent, tender, cooked perfectly to order. The charred cauliflower is a stunning vegetarian dish, great as a shareable. My husband’s favorite food is scallops and this was a hearty preparation on top of white beans in a broth. He loved it.
Save room for dessert as you can’t leave St. Louis without eating a gooey butter cake, a St. Louis specialty, prepared as rich, sweet and buttery as can be.
Brunch is served in Zenia Bar & Grille, buffet style, which made me quite happy, filling up on smoked salmon and fresh fruit. If you like biscuits, pancakes and cinnamon rolls, and made to order omelettes, they have plenty of that too. There was another food writer who is strictly gluten free, and they accommodated her special requests with ease.
St. Louis Foodie Getaway Weekend – Exploring the City’s Beauty & Food
We enjoyed the amenities at the hotel, but had plenty of time to take off and enjoy the city.
Neighborhood by neighborhood, restaurants are taking over historic spaces, warehouses, garages, and revitalizing city culture.
Most people know St. Louis for its specific local take on a few American standards. They eat toasted ravioli stuffed with meat and cheese with a side of dipping sauce, and they eat cracker crust pizza with provel cheese. I didn’t get to Imo’s (the place to get that pizza) to try it, but if you do, let me know what you think. So far, I haven’t found a single St. Louis native that doesn’t love it. Provel cheese is a processed cheese combining swiss, cheddar and provolone. I bought some and tried to make a pizza. It burns easily, which explains the “cracker-type” crust they use.
St. Louis is not a southern city, but they are a meat city, and St. Louis ribs are a saucy phenomenon. St. Louis food doesn’t stop at old school Italian or saucy ribs.
There is a great interest in collaborating with local farmers, vendors, and embracing an evolving food movement which understands food is not just for eating or stuffing, but it’s an experience, which starts the minute you darken the door.
We started our St. Louis Weekend Foodie getaway on Washington Avenue at Robust Wine Bar. We specifically went there because they serve wine flights and charcuterie. Small plates and larger entrees are available, making this a Friday night choice to gather with friends. Doug ordered an Italian wine fight and they worked with his personal tastes. We intended to order dinner, but the charcuterie board with Tuscan salami and cheese filled us up. They have a delicious, fresh rock shrimp chowder which we sampled.
Take note; you should make reservations well in advance for any downtown restaurant when there is a convention in town. Don’t rely on open table. We learned the hard way, but Robust did their best accommodate us.
Tip Toe Through the Tulips
On Saturday, we explored the city neighborhoods, which were bursting with tulips. There has to be a story about this somewhere. If you know, please tell me in the comments. We could not turn a corner without seeing tulips in every color adorning trees or sidewalks of the most beautiful neighborhood homes, and clearly intentionally planted.
The architecture is so very charming, especially if you like historic row houses in chic neighborhoods that makes me want to know who lives there, what books they are reading, and how they choose to decorate. I always imagine quirky art and retro cocktails. You just don’t feel that way driving through a new suburb.
I came across a set of these lights. How charming are they? Made me think of historic St. Louis.
We headed to Central West End for a Saturday Brunch, an upscale urban neighborhood sprinkled with outdoor cafes.
Brasserie by Niche is a casual, elegant, approachable French cafe that knows how to make a crispy red potatos feel like the best thing you ever ate. I would return to eat everything on the menu. The inside is as charming as the outside.
If you want to combine ice cream and happy hour, Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery is a must. Flavors are divided between naughty and nice. Booze or no booze. I chose one from each with maple bourbon with candied pecans and salty cracked caramel. Creamy, dreamy, smooth, balanced and flavorful.
Forest Park is a must visit, named best City Park in USA Today 10best Readers Choice Poll.
We spent some time just browsing the neighborhoods, admiring the architecture, and then drove through Forest Park, the sixth most visited urban park in America and host to the 1904 World’s Fair. Forest Park houses museums, a science center and the zoo, which is free. It’s spectacular and on any given weekend, you’ll see many wedding parties being photographed.
On Sunday, we spent some time shopping at Ikea, because the closest Ikea to Nashville is hours away.
Of course, there are many things to see and do in St. Louis.
We always leave a city scouting out the best bite of food we can find, leaving on a happy note.
We found just the right place to eat our last meal before starting our five hour drive home to Nashville, at the Tavern Kitchen & Bar in Central West End.
I do not like to exaggerate. If I say these the blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes are the best of my life, trust me. I spent the whole weekend gluten free and these pancakes broke me. It’s their signature dish, and I plan to write a post devoted to them. We hung out a little longer than planned making friends and experiencing what it might be like if we lived in the neighborhood. Afterward we ventured across the street to Left Bank Books. (mentioned below).
St. Louis Weekend Foodie Getaway – Visit, Eat, Drink
In less than 48 hours, we experienced urban St. Louis through food, drink, nature and landmarks.
- Enjoyed a downtown stay at the Grand Marriott on Washington Avenue, dining at Zenia twice.
- Cocktails in the Lobby Bar at the Marriott. Loved the Vieux Carre.
- Wine flights, Charcuterie at Robust Wine Bar on Washington Avenue.
- Breakfast in the Concierge Lounge at the Marriott.
- Starbuck’s Flat Whites from right inside the Grand Marriott Hotel.
- French-Inspired Brunch at Brasserie with classy cocktails in Central West End.
- Steak Dinner, Fried Ravioli, Incredible Gooey Butter Cake at Zenia Bar & Grille in the Grand Marriott.
- Maple Bourbon Ice Cream with Candied Pecans at Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery
- Ted Drewes Frozen Custard sold in St. Louis over 80 years, found in the 8th Street Pantry.
- Spicy chips from the Billy Goat Chip Company and Fitz Root Beer. Fitz’s offers tours and serves lunch.
- Signature lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Brussels Sprouts Hash at the Tavern Kitchen & Bar.
- A stop at legendary Left Bank Books, independent since 1969.
This is how a foodie does a weekend getaway in St. Louis. Don’t worry, I came home, worked out hard for the next five days, cutting carbs and living on good food memories. I do not eat like that every day, but for you, I had to try everything, and sometimes it’s just a bite (except I did eat those pancakes).
There were a few places I didn’t get to on our St. Louis Weekend Foodie Getaway, but found interesting enough to mention.
MaryAnn’s Tea Room – I stumbled in a shop and discovered this adorableness.
Taste – Known for serious crafted cocktails. I won’t miss this next time.
Imo’s Pizza, just because you have to, and they have a Washington Street location.
Mango Peruvian Cuisine on Washington Avenue because more than three people recommended it.
Ribs somewhere. We just didn’t have time, but we did bring home some Fitz’s Barbecue Sauce.
We crammed a lot of fun and food into our St. Louis Weekend Foodie Getaway.
So tell me, have you been to St. Louis as a tourist and if so, what’s your favorite place. Do you like to stay downtown like we do?
Here’s a trivia question for you. Can you name this famous author who grew up in St. Louis?
Answer: Tennessee Williams.
Disclaimer: Our hotel room and two meals were sponsored by the St. Louis Grand Marriott. Everything else in our St. Louis Weekend Foodie Getaway was paid for by Spinach Tiger.