A taste of Europe in St. Louis: Exploring the STL food scene
While lacking singular iconic products like Chicago’s trademarked deep-dish pizza or New York’s unbeatable bagels, St. Louis offers a wide array of satisfying delights, from barbecue ribs to toasted ravioli. After I recently travelled to several countries in Europe and sampled the crepes of Paris and the English muffins of London, I realized St. Louis features outstanding restaurants with foods from all over the world, not just American classics like gooey butter cake and Provel cheese.
Returning to Washington University after winter break, it was hard not to miss all of the delicious French crepes I devoured on the daily during my trip to Paris, so I sought to find the best French restaurants in St. Louis.
And St. Louis does boast a French history of its own—it was founded in 1764 by two French fur traders and named after France’s King Louis IX. Though the territory flip-flopped owners—falling briefly into Spanish hands before being retroceded to France—it was finally acquired by the U.S.
While it is no longer owned by France, the effects of St. Louis’ French founding can be seen today, from the copy of Claude Monet’s water lilies residing in the St. Louis Art Museum to the crepes found throughout the Gateway to the West.
Boasting quiches, macarons and pastries galore, Nathaniel Reid Bakery in Kirkwood, Mo. is a casual and charming hotspot, with artistically arranged desserts, and it’s only a 15-minute drive from Wash. U. For a more elegant and formal restaurant experience, Clayton, Mo.’s Bar Les Freres features trout, cassoulet and other fancy fish, giving customers a taste of Paris despite the distance. And for those who just really enjoy crepes (like me), City Coffeehouse and Creperie has something for everyone, with an array of both savory and sweet offerings.
While the city’s French foods are certainly among its best in my eyes, other cuisine can be found throughout St. Louis. At the annual Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, 40 ethnic food groups—coupled with music and dance performances—bring the St. Louis community together every August in a free-admission, multicultural celebration.
Additionally, food trucks around St. Louis sell cuisine from cultures all over the world. From the St. Louis French Quarter Food Truck to Slice of the Hill, food trucks stationed around the city bring joy to the masses (and to Wash. U. students, too!). While other trucks like Vincent Van Doughnuts may appear, at first, to be a far cry from the ethnic roots of St. Louis, the city is bursting with the flavors and cultures of the past, and St. Louis continues to be a melting pot today.