The Top Five–St. Louis Area Restaurants

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ian Froeb has recently come up with the STL100 list of the 25 best restaurants in the area (ranked), along with another 75 great restaurants to round out the top 100 places to grab a bite to eat. This inspired me to come up with my own list…my five favorite non-chain (unless it’s a local place that has added locations over time), restaurants in the area (in no particular order), plus five honorable mentions, because I can.

  • Seamus McDaniel’s, Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis–Best burger I’ve ever had, in a really great neighborhood. Seamus will always be number one on my restaurant list!
  • Beast Craft BBQ, Belleville, IL–This is a new location on the St. Louis area restaurant scene, and it’s the place that really got me interested in BBQ. The burnt ends (an item hard to find in Belleville) are fantastic, and their “Big Sammich” series always leaves me wanting to try whatever they think up next!
  • Amighetti’s Bakery and Cafe, The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis–The Amighetti Special, made with turkey pastrami and Amighetti’s secret dressing, is the best deli sandwich I’ve ever had. They also make fantastic cannoli!
  • Olympia Kebob House and Taverna, St. Louis–Best saganaki in town!
  • Eckert’s Country Restaurant, Belleville, IL–If you’re looking for country-style food, this is the place to be. The fried chicken and chicken fried steak are both excellent, and the side dishes (available to pass family style) are just what you’d expect. If you’re still hungry after dinner (doubtful), you can walk next door and get a frozen custard for dessert (in season).

Honorable mention:

  • El Maguey, multiple┬áSt. Louis area locations–Great Mexican food on the Missouri side of the Mississippi.
  • Ted Drewes, St. Louis–Sometimes, you just want dessert, or to celebrate a Cardinals win. If so, Ted Drewes is the place to be!
  • Llywelyn’s Pub, multiple St. Louis area locations–Bonus points go to the St. Charles location, where you can actually eat in an old bank vault!
  • Schlafly Tap Room, St Louis–If the great beer selection isn’t enough of a draw, the food is also excellent. I’m partial to the schnitzel. And while you’re there, make sure to try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert!
  • Gordo’s Margaritas, Millstadt, IL (of blessed memory)–There are other restaurants named Margaritas around town, but my favorite was Gordo’s in Millstadt. The food was excellent (especially the chimichanga!), and the people who work there were great. I’m really sorry to see it closed…we’re going to miss eating there a lot!

Where are your favorite places to eat in St. Louis?

Christmas on The Hill 2012

It’s hard to believe that Christmas on The Hill has already come and gone, but as always, it was fun!

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The Nativity Walk is my favorite part of Christmastime on The Hill.

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This was my favorite Nativity scene.

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The detail on the pieces was amazing!

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The buildings all look so festive at this time of year!

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And I’ve never seen such a festive horse…it didn’t just have bells and bows, it had antlers and a red nose!

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Even its feet were decorated!

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Of course, we listened to La Befana tell her story.

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We also stumbled across some sort of flash mob…it was very entertaining!

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I love the Italian pride that is everywhere!

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And the fact that the center of it all is St. Ambrose Catholic Church.

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I have a favorite house on The Hill.

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I love that space under the stairs that’s just perfect for a Nativity scene!

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It’s nice to see local businesses get such good support from the crowds.

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Quite a few of the buildings on The Hill have these green bricks…I wonder if there’s some kind of story behind them?

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No trip to The Hill would be complete without a stop at Amighetti’s!

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Another fun (and windy!), day in December on The Hill!

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Tasty Tuesday–Amighetti’s

No tour of the hill would be complete without a stop at Amighetti’s, whether you’re buying bread or cookies to take home, or sitting down and eating in their cafe.

What Amighetti’s is most famous for is sandwiches, particularly the “Amighetti’s Special,” which has roast beef, ham, salami, brick cheese, pepperoncini, and their secret dressing, (among other toppings), all on their famous bread. Ryan’s a big fan of this sandwich!

I’m more partial to the pastrami sandwich, which is fairly similar, in that it has the same dressing, cheese bread, and toppings, (but hold the pickles on mine please! At least while I’m pregnant!), but the meat is obviously different.

They also have an impressive selection of cookies, which they sell by the pound. It’s fun just looking in the case, but actually trying to decide which one you want to sample? That’s quite a challenge!

Amighett’s is also a Toys for Tots drop off location–and if you bring in a donation, they’ll give you a free loaf of their amazing bread. That’s a win-win situation if I ever saw one!

Christmas on the Hill

I mentioned that we would be having a field trip related to our “Christmas in Italy” day in school, and today was the day! For the first time, we went to “Christmas on the Hill.” For those unfamiliar with St. Louis, The Hill is a predominately Italian neighborhood on the south side of the city. Both Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola Sr. grew up here–their houses were across the street from each other. It’s a charming neighborhood, filled with restaurants and bakeries, and lots of Italian pride. And at the center of it all is the Catholic parish, St. Ambrose.

We arrived just in time to get some salamites. As best as I can tell, these are basically salami, but served bratwurst-style, on a bun. Even though they weren’t hot (it was cold and *very* windy), they were delicious. Moose really liked his, although he thought it was just a hot dog.

The salamite tent tried its best to blow away, but it was unsuccessful!

Moose doesn’t care what it’s called, he just thinks it’s delicious!

We then got to tour St. Ambrose. It’s a beautiful old church, with high ceilings, lots of artwork, and a beautiful altar. It was also nice and warm! We didn’t get to stay long, as they were preparing for a wedding, but it was really cool to be able to look around for a bit. And yes, there’s an Italian flag flying outside.

One of the big attractions of Christmas on the Hill (aside from the Salamites), is the nativity walk. The shops have beautiful nativity scenes set up in their windows, most of them from Italy. The children were especially excited to look at these, because in school yesterday, we learned that traditionally, Italian families don’t put the Ges├╣ bambino figure in the manger until Christmas Eve. We looked at all the Presepi we could find, but only one of them hadn’t yet included the Infant (and it just happened to by my favorite nativity scene-a Fontanini).

Checking out one of the many nativity scenes.

This nativity scene was made by eighth graders at St. Ambrose school.

Another big attraction was listening to La Befana tell her story. This was done in a gelato shop, and the owners were great with all the children that attended. They had cider to drink before the story, and mini cones after. La Befana herself handed out candy, as well. It was fun to hear the story, told by La Befana “herself,” complete with Italian accent, and to have a chance to ask questions about the story. She also taught us a song about herself, in Italian–I’m sure the children won’t remember it, but it was cool that they had the chance to sing it through a few times. And I think we all remember the last line: “Viva, viva, La Befana!”

We also saw a man roasting chestnuts. Now, this isn’t really new to us–there is always chestnut roasting at Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO–but because there wasn’t a huge crowd, he was able to take some time to talk to the children. He explained to them that he was scoring the chestnuts with an “X” so that when they’re roasting, the moisture has a way to get out, lest they explode (or pop, as it says in the song). We also got to watch how he put them in the kettles, but lifting the lid of the kettle with a big stick through its handle, before pouring the chestnuts in. And they sure smelled good!

Of course, no trip to the hill is complete without a visit to Amighetti’s bakery. We brought home a loaf of their delicious bread, and also picked up a couple of deli sandwiches. It’s enough to make you wish you lived there, so you could always have that bread at your disposal! Overall, it was a great day, and I think it will become a new family tradition!

I leave you with some pictures of the Italian pride that is evident all over The Hill (the fire hydrants are my favorite!).

This immigrant statue (right outside the church) reminded me of the Walther statue we saw in Frohna, MO.