By Jodi O’Connell
St. Louis, Missouri, known as the Gateway to the West, is quickly becoming one of the top destinations for foodies in the U.S.
In March 2019, Yelp declared the city the second-best place in the country after San Francisco to eat up. A diverse range of dining options and an ever-expanding eatery scene makes St. Louis an ideal destination for food touring.
Here’s how to explore the most tantalizing epicurean elements of this vacation destination.
Bite Into St. Louis-Style Pizza
You’ve heard about NYC and Chicago-style ‘za; this is how St. Louis puts a twist on the classic pie.
Start with thin, crispy crust smothered in Provel cheese (a mixture of cheddar, provolone and Swiss that’s uniquely Louie) with a smoky flavor that delivers an umami punch. The distinctive cheese caramelizes in the oven on its surface but stays creamy underneath, similar to the texture of American cheese. The round pizza traditionally gets sliced into squares, known as a “party cut.”
One of the best places to sample this tasty dish is Imo’s Pizza, the grandfather of St. Louis-style pizza. The joint has been serving up its “Square Beyond Compare” slices for more than half a century and has a network of restaurants throughout the city. Walk to two locations within a mile of the Red Lion Hotel in St. Louis City Center. Try all five flavors during your stay: deluxe, all-meat, barbecue chicken, veggie and “eggs-ceptional,” which has bacon, eggs, sausage and Italian dressing.
Explore Bosnian Cuisine
Monikered as the “essential Bosnian food capital of the U.S.,” St. Louis serves up tasty Eastern European fare ranging from canoe-shaped pide brimming with beef and cheese to spicy veal pljeskavica patties covered with feta cheese.
Set your GPS for the Bevo Mill neighborhood just six miles west of the Red Lion Hotel, and you’ll be in the heart of the Bosnian cuisine district.
Treat yourself to a white-tablecloth atmosphere and food that hails from the northwestern region of the country at Grbic. Try Austrian-influenced dishes like filet mignon Jägerschnitzel sliced thin, grilled and served in white-wine mushroom sauce alongside spätzles — homemade egg-noodle dumplings. The menu rotates with the seasons, so there’s something new to try anytime you return.
Or, opt for more casual fare with handmade Bosnian pitas or lahmacun — a variation on pizza — at J’s Pitaria. Pop over to Lemmons to catch a game in a sports bar atmosphere, and order up a Balkan dipping board loaded with goodies that include uštipci (fried bread), feta butter, a red bell-pepper sauce known as ajvar and mushroom duxelles. There’s also a food truck, Balkan Treat Box, that specializes in Old-World Bosnian cuisine, as well as a brick-and-mortar restaurant in nearby Webster Groves, where you can savor regional goodies served in wood-fired flatbread.
Get in the Loop
Named one of the “10 Great Streets in America” by the American Planning Association, the Delmar Loop is also famous as a Green Dining District. Head here when you’re jonesing for Asian cuisine, as the area offers a smorgasbord of options.
Lu Lu Seafood and Dim Sum boasts four chefs hailing from Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sichuan. Authentic cuisine with a modern twist is served up in Dim Sum bites, full meals and shareable hot pots. Head to Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine for Korean barbecue with a selection of more than 15 banchan (side dishes) including the famous rice dish bibimbap. Or, nosh on hand-pulled noodles and bubble tea at Corner 17. There are also nearby options to enjoy Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Indian fare.
Discover Greek, Mexican and American restaurants sprinkled along the Loop, too. Pi Pizzeria rolls out a unique cornmeal crust. Or, go for that funky fusion: Seoul Taco rolls out four protein options in both Asian and Mexican-influenced dishes ranging from nachos to gogi bowls.
Find Your Food Festivities
Billed as “The Ultimate Food Experience,” the Taste of St. Louis dishes up three days of fun foodie flair at Soldiers Memorial Park, less than a half-mile walk from Diamond Resorts’ Red Lion Hotel. Sample your way down Restaurant Row — home to more than 30 vendors — view exhibits or watch chefs compete for the title of Chef Battle Royale Champion. Think you can do it better? Throw your toque in the ring, so to speak, by signing up in advance to pit your skills against the pros’.
If you’d like a guided glimpse of the under-the-radar hot spots of St. Louis’ foodie scene, consider booking a food tour. Book a private VIP tour through St. Louis Culinary Tours to meet the chefs and sample the cuisine at local five-star restaurants. Take a walking Sweet St. Louis food tour to burn some calories and see the sights of St. Louis while intermittently dining on local delicacies. The tour takes place downtown and offers insights into architecture, history, entertainment and more. For focused cultural flair, Taste of the Hill through EAT St. Louis Food Tours delves into the city’s largest Italian neighborhood, the Hill, with bites that include St. Louis-style pizza.
Heading to St. Louis? We hope you’re hungry. Diamond Resorts can ensure your lodging is the perfect pairing for any epicurean adventure; get started planning your trip by perusing their St. Louis properties today.
Hoping to make this foodie destination an annual occasion? Soon, you’ll be able to consider Diamond Resorts’ St. Louis timeshare properties, ensuring a fabulous location right next to the famous Gateway Arch. Hurry up — this city is already on the map as a must-visit for vacationers, and sure to continue growing in popularity.