November 27, 2015
With cool independent eateries, an active cycle culture and live music hangouts, as well as a vibrant LGBT scene, The Grove in St Louis is quickly becoming Missouri’s place to be seen. Formerly known as Adam’s Grove in the 1850s, this old commercial district is now a vibrant cultural hub, indicated by a giant neon sign. From the burgeoning urban art scene to the annual cycle festival, take a look at our guide to discovering the best of St Louis’ hippest “˜hood.
Get your day off to a good start by visiting popular local breakfast spot, RISE Coffee House, which brings locally roasted, speciality coffee to The Grove in St Louis. Along with great coffee, RISE also has a tempting selection of baked goods from Whisk Bakery and sweet treats from Eddie’s Southtown Donuts. Pull up a barstool or settle into a sofa in the bare-brick, rustic interior.
Local tour outfit Trikke STL host tours around St Louis on their three-wheeled trikes. And one of these is a tour of the best art murals to be found around The Grove. Navigate the neighbourhood’s friendly streets on three wheels and see the best urban art in the area.
One of two Urban Chestnut Breweries, Grove Brewery & Bierhall gives visitors the chance to do free self-guided brewery tours to see how the beer is made, with tastings for an additional fee. The brewery also has a restaurant, which focuses on Bavarian dishes made with locally sourced produce, like Schnitzel sandwich, brandade beignets – battered salt cod with potato and garlic, and a bratwurst board.
One of the neighbourhood’s most popular independent stores is the eclectic Music Record Shop. While the shop is best known for its extensive collection of rare, imported and limited edition records, live music events are also hosted here.
Close by, local artist Dexter Silvers exhibits his paintings, drawing and sculptures at the creative space, Dexter’s Art Studio. Studio visits are by appointment but Dexter also hosts Paint and Sip evenings, giving visitors the chance to try their hand at painting while indulging in a glass or two of wine.
White Flag Projects is another of the neighbourhood’s art venues to check out. The non-profit gallery, supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, showcases contemporary artworks by international and local artists in temporary exhibitions.
Each May, Tour de Grove brings people from across Missouri and beyond to line the streets of The Grove in St Louis. While the two main events are the elite men’s and women’s cycle races, smaller races and family activities also take place throughout the day. Another annual event to look out for is Grove Fest. Held in October, this vibrant street festival encompasses food from local purveyors, family-friendly activities, live music acts, and arts and crafts stands.
Perhaps the greatest draw for visitors to The Grove is its outstanding offering of independent eateries. Head to Sweetie Pie’s at The Mangrove for Mississippi soul food, like chicken wings or baked fish, paired with sides such as candied yams, mac and cheese, and black-eyed peas. Former soul singer Robbie Montgomery, who performed with greats like Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder, is the woman behind Sweetie Pie’s, following her own family recipes.
For laid-back Lebanese food, try the resoundingly popular restaurant, Layla. Order a shawarma -stuffed with flavourful fillings like smoked brisket or falafel – or one of their gourmet burgers, such as bison with smoked poblanos, or the signature lentil burger, and wash down with an indulgent shake, craft cocktail or local beer.
Fitting in with The Grove’s cycle culture is the bicycle-themed bar HandleBar. With a focus on sustainability and craft beer, the bar promotes the use of bicycles in the surrounding area, while also supporting the local artisanal breweries. But it’s not all about bicycles and beer; HandleBar’s food menu encompasses Russian specialities, like blinchiki (crepes) and pelmeni (dumplings), as well as gourmet pizza.
With 17th and 18th century artworks on display and a 19th century-style French conservatory, Sanctuaria Wild Tapas is an atmospheric setting in which to enjoy a long and languorous dinner. Order from a selection of Latin American and Spanish tapas and sip on unique handcrafted cocktails like the Pretty Penny Paloma with Mezcal, grapefruit, lime and agave.
Atomic Cowboy is a popular neighbourhood haunt for its live music performances, industrial-chic bar and menu of Mexican eats. The bar is a standout Sunday brunch spot, with dishes like Cancun crab-cakes, to wash down with cocktails you can get away with drinking early in the day, like a spiked Spanish coffee or a Bloody Mary.
Gramophone also stays open from early in the day until late into the night, with regular live music and a night to “bring your own vinyl’. Fill up on club sandwiches and choose from a great selection of beer, while taking your turn on the pool tables and pinball.
Inspired by Taha’a Island in French Polynesia, Taha’a Twisted Tiki boasts a 150-strong collection of different rums, which are shaken up in tropical cocktails with house-made flavoured syrups. The outdoor grill – complete with fire pit and tiki torches – serves up Pacific island eats like fish tacos, grilled skewers and ceviche.
Held in particularly high regard is the cocktail bar, SoHo Restaurant & Lounge. In this hip dining space try contemporary southern cuisine with the bar’s speciality cocktails. The lounge’s regular events include a Thursday supper club with a live band and $4 martinis, as well as a Southern Sunday Brunch.
Virgin Atlantic and Delta operate flights to St Louis, making it easy to explore the city’s neighbourhoods.
Written by Lauren Hill