In the span of just one afternoon, two of my girlfriends and I made the plan for an impromptu weekend trip to St. Louis. None of us had ever been, one friend had just gotten engaged, and it was Cinco de Mayo—so there was plenty of celebrating to do!
Although STL isn’t a city that typically appears on a Bucket List, the hotel price (2 blocks from the Arch, btw!!) was unbeatable and the weather was starting to look up. It turns out that St. Louis has quite the Cinco de Mayo celebration including fortune tellers, live music, and food. Lots of food. The weekend was a foodie’s dream, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
If you’re considering a trip to St. Louis and are from the Columbus area, I would say the two are very comparable in price point. The cost of living is almost identical, so you won’t find touristy-jacked up prices like you would on a weekend trip to NYC ($17 for a cocktail in a speakeasy, no thank you). Although the food and drinks are pretty cheap, be prepared to spend a good portion of your trip’s budget on Ubers. STL is not a very walkable city (due to crime rates and most neighborhoods are separated by highways and overpasses), so I would suggest driving a car around or splitting those Ubers with some friends.
I’ve put together a list of must-do things in St. Louis, as well as all of the restaurants we had the pleasure to enjoy. Feel free to share and please let me know if you have any other recommendations I can add!
Where to Eat
#1 Mission Taco Co.
Looking around, I could have sworn the artists who decked out the inside of Condado in Columbus made a pit stop through St. Louis. With a tad more “surf’s up” vibe, Mission Taco Co. décor was a pretty close twin to that of our taco haven here.
Although we were too early for the happy hour (yes, I said early! Happy hour is 10pm-close every night with $2 tacos and $2 tequila shots) we enjoyed an array of tacos and Mexican street corn and our tummies were happy and full.
#2 Narwhal’s Crafted Urban Ice
Although one could argue that our next stop wasn’t technically a place to “eat”, we said to heck with meal structure and the slushy garnishes counted as our fruit and veggie servings for the day. If you’re in St. Louis and enjoy anything remotely sweet (that includes a good portion of booze as well), GO HERE.
At the time of our visit, Narwhal’s had fourteen flavors to choose from, all available for sample. Their staff let us taste as many flavors as we wanted, and it was hard to narrow down to just one! Luckily, the menu included an option for a 3 7-oz sampler board, so we all got our favorites.
#3 Atomic Cowboy
One of our favorite areas of St. Louis for both restaurants and nightlife was “The Grove”. Comparable to the Short North, many of the restaurants and bars were teeming with folks in their mid-20s. We chose a popular stop for dinner called Atomic Cowboy. You can’t beat $7 margs, nachos, and live music all night long.
A weekend trip to a new city isn’t complete without a boozy brunch, so we made our way back to The Grove on Saturday morning and hit up Layla’s for bottomless mimosas and some breakfast grub. A classic eggs benedict is always my go to choice when scouting out new brunch menus, so naturally I chose the Layla’s benny. The Texas toast came smothered in a spicy bacon sauce (ok so that’s what really sold me) and was served with my choice of fruit, potatoes, or hummus and pita.
With happy tummies, my girlfriends and I agreed that we would come back again, but for a morning when we were not looking to get boozy. Unfortunately, our mimosas were a little heavy on the OJ side and the service slowed down our chance to enjoy the “bottomless” perk of the deal. Can I just get drunk on this avocado hummus instead?
#5 Twisted Ranch:
Okay. Best for last. If you’re any bit of a foodie, those viral Facebook video montages about crazy restaurants always catch your eye—and we accidentally happened upon one! If you haven’t seen the vid yet, check it out here. Twisted Ranch is famed for serving 27 different flavors of ranch, and we got to try 5 of them.
If you’re planning to make a stop at one of the hottest restaurants in America, plan your day around it. The tiny restaurant (we’re talking 12 tables tops, here people) does not take reservations or call aheads, and accepts first come first serve. We arrived at the restaurant right when they opened for dinner at 5:30pm and were instantly put on a two hour wait. But please. Do NOT let this turn you away. Every item on the menu incorporates one or more of their homemade ranch dipping sauces, including this mac n cheese. GENIUS and DELICIOUS.
I’m drooling thinking about it. Even if you’re just passing through St. Louis, it’s a must-go for lunch or dinner! Just plan on a hard core napping sesh afterward.
What To Do
#1 St. Louis Arch
Although there are several locations where you can purchase tickets to ride to the top of The Arch (only $13 for adults!), we purchased ours from the Old Courthouse to do a little more exploring. The ticket includes a ride to the top as well as a half-hour informational video in an underground movie theater on the engineering and construction of the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. Pretty fascinating stuff!
#2 Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour
Two words: Free beer. The Budweiser/Budlight brewery hosts a variety of tours, with the cheapest being their free hour long tour. My girlfriends and I decided we’d save our money for later in the trip, and we opted for the free tour. We weren’t disappointed! You’ll see Clydesdale horses, learn about the brewing process (there’s rice in my beer??) and you’ll get a free 3 oz sample of Budlight as well as one 12oz pour of your choice to enjoy in their Biergarten. The best free happy hour I’ve ever been to!
#3 City Museum
Unfortunately, our weekend ran out of time to enjoy the City Museum, but I’ve heard great things about the creative playground. Check out Columbus local blogger Nick Dekker’s post from when he visited with family!
#4 Cinco de Mayo Festival
Located a few minutes south of Soulard, the celebration takes place down Cherokee street every year on the Saturday following the 5th of May. We walked down the street and sipped on pina coladas from a pineapple as we enjoyed live music, vendors, and even a fortune teller. Oh, did I forget the fake WWE wrestling? Unsure of the relation to Cinco de Mayo, so I’ll leave that to your imagination.
How could I forget to mention the waffle ice cream sandwiches? Out of this WORLD.
#5 Pieces, Board Game Cafe
A rapidly increasing bar scene in the Midwest seems to be Board Game Cafes, and St. Louis isn’t missing out. Located around the corner from the Soulard Farmer’s Market, Pieces provided us with hours of entertainment with a gigantic selection of board games. Our Columbus-native waitress even let us know that they’re open for brunch as well. That’s my kind of place!
To balance our visit to the big-name brewery, we wanted to support at least one local joint as well. 4 Hands Brewing Company was a quaint and rustic brewery tucked in its own little neighborhood. You could look beyond the taps at the bar to see all of the brewing equipment in the back room, almost a Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Taproom vibe. The kind staff let us taste any beers we desired, and we were all happy with our selections. Bring 4 Hands to Columbus, brewing gods!
Closer to our hotel was a popular restaurant/bar located next to Busch Stadium called Wheelhouse Downtown. In a perfect world, we had big plans for Saturday morning brunch including bottomless mimosas, a bloody mary bar, and Instagram-perfect eggs. Unfortunately, the Kentucky Derby happened to be that Saturday morning and we couldn’t get in, advance ticket purchase only. Bummer. However, it seemed like Wheelhouse was definitely a place to hit up for nightlife as well!
Another area we enjoyed was the Delmar Loop. More of a college strip, (right around the corner from Wash U), we found ourselves playing darts at Blueberry Hill and enjoying the people watching. I wish we could have spent more time here as well—outdoor shopping always gets me.
Until next time, St. Louis!