Last year at this point, MB and I were going to go to St. Louis for a long weekend but we got thwarted by the floods as almost all bridges to the east or west of us were unpassable. We could have made it to Saint Louis but it was going to take us at least 3-4 extra hours and we bailed on the plan. It took us a year to try again, but we spent this last weekend in St. Louis. It’s a good town, plenty of good beer and food but also still a small midwest town at heart. What really amazes me is how quickly neighborhoods shift character, sometimes having a run-down neighborhood directly across the street from an upper-class neighborhood. For instance, we spent a good bit of time in Lafayette Park, an upscale neighborhood with a beautiful park and old townhouses like these:
while only a few blocks away is some fairly run down sections of town. I’m not sure what to make of it really, but I find it gives the town a unique flavor. I know that all cities are really a kind of mosaic, but it seems even more so in St. Louis. We spent some time chatting with Dylan, the beer guy at 33 Wine Bar & Tasting Room, and his take was that St. Louis is generally a pretty depressed town because it’s built solely on a river and rails infrastructure. But he sees the pockets of nicer neighborhoods expanding and his ultimate take is that there’s no city with more potential right now. In my limited exposure to the city, I think I get what he means.
We managed to hit two brewpubs, Schlafly and Square One. I’m already a fan of Schlafly beers and they were nice on tap (we were at the tap room, not the bottleworks) but the service was pretty bad I have to say. Square One’s beers were solid but unremarkable, but we had a great time there. We had a really good waiter and enjoyed the outdoor seating. Very comfortable place.
Just down the block is 33 Wine Bar which has a pretty fabulous beer list. We had some Founder’s, North Coast Old Stock, Moylan’s Hopsickle (amazing beer). Great place that I’m already looking forward to visiting again. Found a good Ethiopian restaurant and pretty nice Thai place. We also made it to the Hill for some Italian. We were really tired and hungry at that point, though, so I’m not sure we gave ourselves the time to make the best choice (especially since all restaurants had about an hour wait at that point); we found a good and entertaining restaurant, but nothing that special. A really funky place we discovered (well, really, we were pointed to it by the Yellow Dog) was the Iron Barley, a small hole in the wall in a residential neighborhood south of town. We got directions from our hotel that were so wrong on so many levels that it was amazing how much of town we saw to get to this place, but that in itself was interesting–and then the restaurant itself was a real find.
Good food, good cask ale on tap, good vibe.
We also got over to Clayton to go to the Wine & Cheese Shop to stock our bar for the summer. Plenty of good finds that we can’t get in Iowa. And Dylan turned us on to a few other places we should visit on our next trip and let us know about STLHops.Com, a blog that keeps a listing of all the different things on tap at the different bars–a nice and easy way to learn where to go to hunt down some of those hard-to-find goodies.
In general, we spent most of our time walking (which is what we really do in any city, walk until our feet can’t take it any more) through the parks and neighborhoods, a long time wandering through the Tower Grove Park and through Forest Park and the zoo. On our way back north, we stopped by the Columbia River Bottom at the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi. Great birdwatching area with Dickcissels everywhere.
We’re thinking about going back there at some point during spring migration.
A short but sweet little trip. Good food, good drink, some good walking and good birdwatching, all the stuff we love.