A Breakdown Of St. Louis’s Neighborhoods

July 19, 2014 6:00 AM

Photo: Thinkstock

St. Louis has several neighborhoods that offer dining, shopping and nightlife, each with its own unique personality. Whether you’re looking for rolicking nightlife or a place to shop and have lunch, the city has a spot to suit every mood and personality. 

University City

The portion of Delmar Boulevard known as “The U City Loop” has been one of the city’s most popular dining and entertainment districts since the 1970s. It’s a mildly funky neighborhood anchored with art galleries, fair-trade import stores, ethnic restaurants and St. Louis’s iconic alternative theater, the Tivoli. Shop for vintage clothing, have an organic vegan bite to eat or sit in a sidewalk cafe and watch the street pageant of trendy hippie-wear go by. The Pageant Theater, an intimate concert venue, sits next door to the Moonrise Hotel, a boutique hotel with one the city’s favorite rooftop bars. Have a burger at Blueberry Hill (Chuck Berry still performs here occasionally) or watch the bottling plant in action while you enjoy a sandwich and a float at Fitz’s Root Beer. The Loop is also one of the few places in the STL to enjoy street musicians, and some great ones play here.

South Grand

For six blocks south of Arsenal, South Grand Boulevard is rich with unusual shopping opportunities and unpretentious ethnic restaurants. Besides the usual Thai and Mexican offerings, this neighborhood serves up Persian, Moroccan, Vietnamese and Ethiopian cuisines. Pho Grand is a city favorite for affordable and delicious Vietnamese food, and Meskerem has the best Ethiopian food in the city. The international district is bordered on the north by Tower Grove Park, one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces. The neighborhood hosts events and festivals throughout the year. 

Central West End

The Central West End is the city’s most established neighborhood for upscale nightlife. Fine dining abounds along this stretch of Euclid near McPherson and spills onto the surrounding streets. Sidewalk bistros are very popular in nice weather, or enjoy the city’s top-tier dining at Cafe Eau or the new Gamlin Whiskey House. Stop by Bissinger’s Chocolatier for an in-house dessert or a box of chocolates to take home — the Bissinger family was the Confiseur Imperial to King Louis XIV and has been selling chocolates in this neighborhood since 1927. 

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This historic French neighborhood just south of downtown is the city’s hub for gritty nightlife. Cobblestone streets and classic STL brick buildings ooze old St. Louis charm. The Soulard Farmers Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market west of the Mississippi River. Just south of the Market, you’ll find streets lined with restaurants and nightclubs. Blues and rock and roll music (and sometimes drunken revelers) pour out of every open doorway on weekends. Molly’s, Broadway Oyster Bar and McGurk’s are some of the neighborhood’s most popular clubs. Soulard Coffee Garden is where everyone goes to eat eggs Benedict and drink coffee the morning after. 

Washington Ave

Washington Avenue, the city’s historic garment district, is a shining example of urban revival. The stretch of Washington between 8th Street and Delmar was mostly popular with the homeless when sculptor Bob Cassilly first opened his majestic indoor playground for adults, City Museum, in the neighborhood. Now this street is the city’s toniest hangout. Cocktail bars, dance clubs, hookah joints and great restaurants line both sides of the street, and the sidewalks are clogged with young people in their finest club wear. The loft apartments are where all of the city’s cool kids want to live now.

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Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at Lauren@LaurenHaas.com