• Scott G Gilbert

The Restaurants of the Central West End


Great list of recommendations from Saint Louis Magazine of most of the restaurants here in the Central West End... they really did a good job of covering the different "corners" of the neighborhood from Cafe Osage to the north to The Scottish Arms to the west and everything in between! One sad thing to report is that Herbie's Vintage '72 will be moving to Clayton soon... But I still have some of my favorites - how about you?

  • $ = Entrées $10 or less

  • $$ = Entrées $11–$17

  • $$$ = Entrées $18–$24

  • $$$$ = Entrées $25 or more

The BBQ Saloon

Barbecue. Owners Phil and Tracy Czarnec, who also run Wild Flower Restaurant across the street, take a nonconformist approach to barbecue. Here, you’ll find spare ribs instead of baby backs, spice pastes instead of rubs, and boutique meats (wild boar, ostrich, kangaroo burgers) in addition to the usual suspects. A back bar with 600 whiskeys (pictured) sparks conversation and supplies liquid courage. Our favorites include the beef ribs and the coleslaw with blueberries. Lunch Tue–Fri, dinner Tue–Sun. 4900 Laclede, 314-833-6666, www.bbqsaloonstl.com. $$

Bar Italia

Italian. Come spring, enjoy a gentle breeze and Negroni on the patio. The veal, salads, and pastas—such as a mushroom-studded rigatoni—are notable, as are the antipasti and drinks. It’s a perfect place for people-watching. Lunch and dinner Tue–Sun, brunch sun. 13 Maryland Plaza, 314-361-7010, www.baritaliastl.com. $$$

The Block

American. “Meat-friendly” hardly covers it. The place has its own meat-for-sale butchery, just in case the braised pork, beef ribs, and bacon jam aren’t enough. On a nice day, consider the multi-level patio. Dinner Mon–Sat, lunch mon–fri 33 N. Sarah, 314-535-5100; www.theblockrestaurant.com. $$

Brasserie by Niche

French. Chef Gerard Craft’s third restaurant is simply the best brasserie in town. Don’t believe us? Try those mussels. Or savor the braised beef, exquisite steak frites, a glorious croque-madame—and a local draft beer to boot. It’s served in a classic, convivial atmosphere that’s indubitably Parisian. Dinner daily, brunch Sat & Sun. 4580 Laclede, 314-454-0600, www.brasseriebyniche.com. $$$

Café Osage

American. A hidden gem, Café Osage is tucked into a lush urban nursery where many of the café’s ingredients are grown in season. Lunch options include the Brie LT. Breakfast on the sun-dappled patio is a perfect way to start the day. Breakfast daily, lunch Mon–Sat. 4605 Olive, 314-454-6868, www.bowoodfarms.com. $$

Central Table

American. This cavernous hall (pictured) is populated with several kitchens producing pizza, sandwiches, pastas… It might sound weird, but it works. At lunch, the place is packed with professionals. Things are more sedate during dinnertime, in a spot that’s bound to please all appetites. Breakfast and lunch Mon–Fri, dinner Tue–Sat. 23 S. Euclid, 314-449-1600, www.centraltablestl.com. $$$

Dressel’s Public House

Bar & Grill. Few places capture the Welsh pub experience as well as Dressel’s. The dark wood–and–brick interior holds a lively crowd enjoying draft beers. Completing the effect is the food: rarebit, lamb burgers, fish and chips, soft pretzels. It’s hearty dining in a charmingly informal vintage setting. Lunch Mon–Sat, dinner daily, brunch Sun. 419 N. Euclid, 314-361-1060, www.dresselspublichouse.com. $$

Drunken Fish

Japanese/Sushi. Everyone eventually passes the intersection of Maryland and Euclid, where there’s no better place to people-watch than at this local sushi chain. Cocktails and an assortment of Japanese beers are suitable postprandial libations. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 Maryland Plaza, 314-367-4222, www.drunkenfish.com. $$$

El Burro Loco

Mexican. Hark back to the days when such places as Chi-Chi’s and the beloved Casa Gallardo introduced Mexican food to the mass market, with fajitas, chimichangas, and other then-exotic menu offerings. Toss in the wackiest and most whimsical Mexican décor in town, as well as fishbowl-size margaritas, and you have El Burro Loco. Celebrating an adult’s birthday? Opt for the same free birthday dessert the kids get—or a complimentary shot. Lunch and dinner daily. 313 N. Euclid, 314-224-5371. $$

Evangeline’s Bistro

Cajun/Creole. Enjoy nightly live music and food, both of which lean toward Louisiana traditions. It’s a particularly fine spot for a long, leisurely brunch, especially with New Orleans eye openers like brandy milk punch and a Ramos gin fizz. Lunch Mon–Sat, dinner daily, brunch Sun. 512 N. Euclid, 314-367-3644, www.evangelinesstl.com. $$

Gamlin Whiskey House

Steakhouse. Whiskey for dinner? Genius! If you want something more than the myriad labels available, the restaurant can fix you up with prime rib, chicken and waffles, or shrimp and grits. The atmosphere’s rustic-chic, with a nice patio and cozy bar. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat & Sun. 236 N. Euclid, 314-875-9500, www.gamlinwhiskeyhouse.com. $$$

Herbie’s Vintage ’72

American. This historic bistro, which will soon relocate to Clayton, is dimly lit and romantic, with a distinctive French vibe. The menu includes scallops, roasted chicken, and escargot, as well as a first-rate wine list. Dinner daily, brunch Sat & Sun. 405 N. Euclid, 314-769-9595, www.herbies.com. $$$

Juniper

Southern. Juniper feels like a pop-up restaurant that (fortunately) decided to stick around long-term. It serves some of the best fried chicken in town, as featured in the chicken and waffles (pictured), along with other down-home Southern eats conjured in a delightfully uptown style. The scene’s folksy, friendly, and wildly popular. Dinner Mon–Sat. 360 N. Boyle, 314-329-7696, www.junipereats.com. $$

Kingside Diner

American. Looking for a restaurant with a great short stack? Check. How about a kale salad? Check. Whatever your order, ask for a seat on the upstairs patio. The view from this chess-themed throwback is fit for king, queen, or bishop. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 4651 Maryland, 314-454-3957, www.kingsidediner.com. $

Little Saigon Café

Vietnamese. This snug spot serves pho and other noodle dishes, soft spring rolls, and iced coffee. The outside seating is pleasant, and a wall-length window makes inside seating equally desirable for watching the neighborhood’s movable circus. Lunch and dinner Mon–Sat. 10 N. Euclid, 314-361-8881, www.littlesaigoncafe.com. $$

Llywelyn’s Pub

Bar & Grill. It’s boisterously happy—and not just because of that beer menu that’s longer than a Stephen King novel. It’s suitably pub-ish, with old brick and dark wood. Llywelyn’s serves as a headquarters for all things Celtic in St. Louis. Lunch and dinner daily. 4747 McPherson Ave, www.llywelynspub.com. $$

Mary Ann’s Tea Room

Café. Yes, the Central West End has a place to have high tea. But for that experience, you’ll need to make reservations two days in advance, and it’ll run you at least $30 per person. If that’s not in the cards, you can still have a lovely lunch in a formally set greenhouse space. Do wear something nice, dear. Lunch and high tea daily. 4732 McPherson, 314-361-5303, www.maryannstearoom.com. $$

Nathalie’s

American. Housed in a charming Victorian-era house, Nathalie’s offers local ingredients from Overlook Farm, soft jazz, an attentive staff, and a massive wine cellar. Make sure to visit all three floors. Consider the free valet; parking can be difficult. Dinner Wed–Sun, brunch Sun. 4356 Lindell, 314-533-1580, www.nathaliesstl.com. $$$

Pi Pizzeria

Pizza. Award-winning pizza is the specialty at Chris Sommers’ popular restaurant. Go with the deep-dish offerings: cornmeal crusted, with a delicate balance of cheese, toppings, and sauce. An upstairs area is great for private parties. Lunch and dinner daily. 400 N. Euclid, 314-367-4300, www.pi-pizza.com. $–$$

Pizzeria Mia

Pizza. One benefit of the huge Bosnian migration into St. Louis has been the opening of some excellent pizzerias. With a bake time of roughly six minutes at 650 degrees, the pies here are not quite Neapolitan, not quite American. The dome-shaped oven is faced with repurposed red brick. Lunch and dinner Tue–Sun. 4501 Maryland, 314-400-7706. $$

The Preston

American. The main restaurant at the Chase Park Plaza hotel now bears the name of the building’s local architect, Preston J. Bradshaw. The best deal in the house is a $10 bowl of scallop chowder; most impressive main, octopus and gnocchi; and a must-get, an interactive dessert called the Chocolate Melt. Breakfast Mon-Sat, dinner daily, Sunday brunch. 212 N. Kingshighway, 314-633-7800, www.theprestonstl.com. $$

Retreat Gastropub

American. The menu is described as “scratch-made American pub food with a modern twist.” Half the items are vegetarian; the other half are g’pub staples like poutine and a killer burger (pictured). Even the house salad (with butternut squash and green apple matchsticks) is superior. And if you think concrete bar tops are sooo turn-of-the-century, wait until you see this one. Lunch and dinner Wed–Mon. 2 N. Sarah, 314-261-4497, www.retreatgastropub.com. $$

Scape

American. Among the reasons to visit this jewel: candlelight, starched linens, a tucked-away courtyard patio, impeccable service, great drinks, and seasonal cuisine, including macadamia-nut chicken and steelhead salmon. Dinner Tue–Sat, brunch Sun. 48 Maryland Plaza, 314-361-7227, www.scapestl.com. $$$$

The Scottish Arms

Bar & Grill. The front room’s casual, with a roomy bar. In back, the dining is more formal. The food is grand, with Scottish dishes such as lamb pasties and smoked salmon. An unparalleled list of single-malt Scotches headlines a fine drink selection. Lunch Mon–fri, dinner daily, brunch sat & Sun. 6–8 S. Sarah, 314-776-1407, www.thescottisharms.com. $$$

Sub Zero Vodka Bar

American/Sushi. Burgers and sushi are paired with 500-plus vodkas, enough to please even the most discriminating connoisseur. A frozen-drink rail, TVs, and energetic music add up to a hip atmosphere. Lunch and dinner daily. 308 N. Euclid, 314-367-1200, www.subzerovodkabar.com. $$

Taste

Small Plates. This speakeasy-inspired spot combines cool and romantic. Pair excellent tapas-style noshables with creative cocktails. Note: The place is small; waits are usually shorter on weeknights. Dinner daily. 4584 Laclede, 314-361-1200, www.tastebarstl.com. $$

The Tavern Kitchen & Bar

American. The Tavern serves artful comfort food. The Seafood Trio and Surf & Turf tasting boards are standouts. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free menus. And don’t miss the rave-worthy donuts and cocktails. Dinner Mon–Sat, brunch sun. 392 N. Euclid, 314-696-8400; www.tavernstl.com. $$$

The Tenderloin Room

Steakhouse. This elegant restaurant is known for seared steaks and sauced pepperloin à la tenderloin. The atmosphere is refreshingly formal, a setting of gentle refinement and stellar service. It’s one of the city’s most iconic dining spots for a reason. Lunch Tue–Fri, dinner daily. The Chase Park Plaza, 232 N. Kingshighway, 314-361-0900, www.tenderloinroom.com. $$$$

Tortillaria

Mexican. Fresh ingredients, homemade tortillas, and appetizingly presented plates separate Tortillaria from many Mexican restaurants. It’s informal, bright, and bustling. Fish tacos and giant burritos are specialties. Don’t miss the street corn or salsa bar. Lunch and dinner daily. 8 S. Euclid, 314-361-4443, www.tortillaria.net. $$

West End Grill & Pub

Bar & Grill. Devotees rave over the Hungarian goulash with spätzle. The mussels are a must-order. Located beside the Gaslight Theatre, it’s convenient for dinner before a show or a post-show drink. Lunch Mon–Fri, dinner daily, brunch Sat & Sun. 354 N. Boyle, 314-531-4607, www.westendgrillandpub.com. $

Wild Flower Restaurant, Bar & Catering

American. When you can’t agree on a dining destination, go here. It’s got everything: goat cheese fondue, duck confit, wild mushroom pasta—not to mention one of the best patios in town. The weekend brunch is expansive. The bar’s open nightly until 1 a.m., making for pleasant late conviviality. lunch and dinner daily, brunch sat & sun. 4590 Laclede, 314-367-9888, www.wildflowerstl.com. $$$

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