Neighborhood guides: Cherokee Street
For many Washington University students, the city of St. Louis can feel like a great unknown. If you are curious to explore off-campus areas other than the Delmar Loop, give the Cherokee Street neighborhood a try. Cherokee Street is an eclectic mix of old and new, claiming a unique cultural identity within St. Louis. Famous for its antique shops, Cherokee Street hosts a growing graphic design and printing community, as well as a thriving Hispanic population and many young artists. Last week, the neighborhood hosted the Southern Graphics International Conference from March 16 to 19, which was an exciting recognition of its vibrant community. Cherokee Street is part of the Benton Park West neighborhood, and is south and slightly west of Soulard. While best accessed from Wash. U. by car, Cherokee Street itself is an easily walkable area, with plenty of inviting shops to catch a passerby’s attention as they stroll through the neighborhood. Below are a few of the many shops that curious Wash. U. students should check out.
3159 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO
STL-Style, located on the corner of South Compton Avenue, is one of the first stores you’ll come across. It is part of Cherokee Street’s up-and-coming graphic arts scene. Owned and founded by the Vines brothers, STL-Style’s specialty is custom St. Louis clothing designs, with each design attempting to capture the unique character of St. Louis and its many neighborhoods. Their clothing is intended to promote city pride and is catered to St. Louisans, often featuring cheeky slogans and inventive logos. For more information—or to buy a T-shirt—visit stl-style.com.
2801 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO
La Vallesana, located on Cherokee Street at the corner of California Avenue, is crowded for a reason. The restaurant carries authentic and delicious Mexican food, as well as homemade ice cream, with a menu printed in both Spanish and English. If you order a Coke with your meal, take a moment to marvel that it not only comes in a glass bottle but was also made in Mexico with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. With a friendly staff, local clientele and affordable burritos that leave you more than satisfied, La Vallesana is a must-eat. But be careful: Since the guacamole and quesadillas are to die for, it might be a struggle to leave room for a scoop (or two) of ice cream after lunch.
2303 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO
A joint venture between two lovers of vintage items, Retro 101/ Cherry Bomb Vintage is located just east of Jefferson Avenue at the beginning of the antique shop area of Cherokee Street. Filled to the brim with apparel, furniture and jewelry, Retro 101/ Cherry Bomb Vintage puts all other vintage stores to shame. The store specializes in 1950s and 1960s furniture as well as apparel from most of the 20th century. It carries unique, beautiful and high-quality used clothing, all of which has been dry-cleaned before being placed on the racks. The prices are affordable, and the staff is incredibly friendly and passionate about its work. In fact, Retro 101/ Cherry Bomb Vintage was voted Best Place to Buy Used Clothing in 2010 by the Riverfront Times.
2831 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO
2308 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO
Cherokee Street houses two unique music stores, Phono-Mode and Apop Records. Apop Records is between Oregon and Nebraska avenues and features artists that are a little more hardcore or experimental than those usually found at Vintage Vinyl on the Loop. The two-story store sells cassettes, CDs, vinyl records, VHS tapes and books. The store also has pinball machines. The unique art on the walls makes Apop Records a sight to see, regardless of your music taste.
Phono-Mode, located east of Jefferson Avenue, is a new vinyl-only store on Cherokee Street. It is a must if you’re especially into old soul 45s or simply want to see what a passion for vinyl records can bring about. The shop is two stories as well, with the basement made of cool cement and full of wooden pews holding albums. Prices start around $1 and vary accordingly.
Foam Coffee and Beer
3359 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO
This unique café offers a quiet, easy-going place for those who like to take a break from the hustle of daily life. Sleek and trendy, Foam is the perfect place to sit down and study during the day or pop in for a live music performance at night. Featuring a wide selection of coffee, tea, beer and wine, as well as food, Foam is a perfect place to meet for a drink, whatever your tastes. It is a newer addition to the Cherokee Street community and is quickly becoming a local favorite. Check out their website, foamstl.com, for a list of upcoming events.