Wash U campus dining is top notch—and most everyone on campus is quite proud of our consistently high food ranking. That said, Bear’s Den stir fry, the Village sandwiches and DUC sushi will all get old eventually, and when that time comes, it’s important that you know where to go in St. Louis to satisfy all of your cravings—from killer coffee spots to restaurants built for taking advantage of parent and family weekend.
This guide navigates through 12 STL spots that can and will meet all your food needs. Get eating.
1. When you’re sick of Starbucks coffee: Kayak’s
This ski lodge-themed coffee shop is just across the street from the Brookings steps. It’s the ideal place for both a plain old cup of coffee or any variety of fancy coffee shop frappuccino-esque drink. Kayak’s sources coffee beans from the St. Louis-based Kaldi’s Coffee Roasters, as does Wash U, BUT the important difference here is that the baristas at Kayak’s know what they’re doing in terms of brewing—which means that instead of over-heating or burning the coffee, they brew it to perfection.
#SpoonTip: Kayak’s gets packed around mid-morning on the weekends and especially during exam week, so go early (or have a friend go early). It’s the perfect place to camp out for a few hours, study, eat and, of course, drink loads of coffee.
Location: 270 N Skinker Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130
2. When you’re craving some 2 am munchies: Uncle Bill’s Pancake & Dinner House
This old school pancake house serves up old school favorites (read: two eggs, two pancakes and two strips of bacon), done in a perfectly fine manner and nothing more. That said, it’s a pretty perfect spot for a midnight breakfast anytime your night out turns into a morning out.
It’s a St. Louis classic, so you’ll run into a bunch of locals (and probably some doctors in between late-night shifts because it’s open 24 hours a day). But if breakfast-for-dinner isn’t up to par with your late night meal expectations (or the trek to Uncle Bill’s is just too far), you have other options to satisfy the midnight munchies in St. Louis.
Location: 3427 S Kingshighway Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63139
3. When you’re going on a Tinder date: Bailey’s Range
This burger haven is far enough away from school to avoid running into all of your frat bros or classmates or best friends, and simple enough to avoid any awkward first date struggles over the menu. Who doesn’t like burgers and fries? Pick your favorite burger type and toppings, and then offer to share a basket of delicious homemade fries (and spicy ketchup) with your Tinder hottie. Afterward, take a walk around downtown STL, and maybe steal a kiss under the arch.
Location: 920 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63101
4. When you’re craving Italian food (and the Hill is too far away): Pastaria
Hands down the most authentic pasta you’ll find in St. Louis, served up with love from a woman who knows pasta like the back of her hand—and never gets tired of making or eating it. This woman, Ashley Shelton, was just named one of Eater‘s 2016 Young Guns, an award given to up-and-coming chefs redefining the restaurant culinary experience for our generation.
At Pastaria, the bread alone will hook you, but the creamy and peppery cacio e pepe will keep you coming back for more. It’s foolproof comfort food with a homemade deliciousness that will shut up even your snobbiest of foodie friends (myself included).
Location: 7734 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, MO 63105
5. When you’re trying to be healthy: Crushed Red
You can only have so many half-and-half specials until you start craving foods that span the entire spectrum of colors in the rainbow. Crushed Red is your place for when you want a big, fresh salad jam-packed with your favorite veggies, meats, cheeses, nuts and fruits, chopped to your liking—and all in a fast, casual setting.
It’s a perfect, quick mid-week option, especially because if a salad isn’t enough to satisfy you, Crushed Red also offers homemade soups and flatbreads made with the same wholesome ingredients.
#SpoonTip: If you like goat cheese (even in the slightest), you definitely need to order the goat cheese appetizer: a delicious dip packed with almonds and dried cranberries and served with crackers and pieces of Crushed Red’s flatbread pizza dough.
Location: 8007 Maryland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63105
6. When your parents are visiting and they’re footing the bill: Elaia
This is the fancy little restaurant is connected to the bar OLIO. With á la carte, fixed price and tasting menus, it’s clear from the get-go that this one’s a bit of a splurge, to say the least. The name is Greek for “olive” and the Mediterranean-inspired menu holds up to the name.
For the super splurge experience, go for the 10-course tasting menu ($120/person), but if you’re not trying to get too crazy, the á la carte menu offers several unique, artfully designed dishes in four courses to please even the most upscale of palettes (and it changes each day depending on what’s fresh and the whims of the chef.)
And I strongly advise against skipping dessert. The ridiculously rich chocolate ganache I ate was easily worth the full price of my meal.
Location: 1634 Tower Grove Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110
7. When you’re “doing it for the Insta:” Cafe Osage
Foodstagrammers, get ready. This is a trendy breakfast, brunch and lunch spot located right in a garden. Can you say natural lighting?! And to top it all off, the café takes veggies right out of the garden and uses them in dishes throughout the menu.
Enjoy your meal in the garden courtyard or outside among the plants for a lovely and totally natural (literally) experience. Be sure to order the photo-friendly Greens, Eggs and Ham or blue corn biscuit sandwich to set yourself up perfectly for an upload that will flood your profile with Instagram likes.
Location: 4605 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63108
8. When you turn 21: Moonrise Rooftop Terrace Bar
The moment has finally come: you can enter a bar or dance club establishment cool as a cucumber, show your actual ID and move forward with no problem. That means it’s time to take advantage of your new power and hit up the chicest spot on the Loop, notorious for being hard on IDs.
Moonrise is a rooftop bar above a hotel and restaurant with an awesome view of Delmar and trendy, colorful decor to maybe make you feel like you’re not just in a suburb of St. Louis, a couple blocks away from your school. You can drink awesome shooters, listen to awesome music and then just sit around and soak up each other’s coolness.
Location: 6177 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112
9. When you or your friends don’t eat meat: Tree House
This is your place to totally veg out—and bring along all of your vegetarian and vegan friends. Tree House prides itself on “food-forward, plant-based cuisine, simply prepared,” which is a fancy way of saying all-natural, all plants, all the time.
The restaurant values sustainability (on the table and in business practice), as well as supporting local and regional farmers. Beyond that, the food, which includes wild mushroom ravioli and beet fries, is absolutely delicious (not to mention photogenic) and offers a welcome departure from the usual salad for your most health-conscious friends.
Location: 3177 S Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63118
10. When you’re hungover: Winslow’s Home
What better time than after a night of drinking to enjoy a hearty homemade brunch inside an adorable little store/restaurant just down the street from the 40? Winslow’s is a cute, homey spot with a menu that changes seasonally (and sometimes more frequently than that), but always includes delicious brunch classics like quiches, omelets, egg scrambles and fancy toasts.
There’s something for both adventurous and conservative brunch eaters, making this spot perfect for your whole crew of party friends. The super fresh ingredients, protein-packed dishes and full coffee menu are sure to cure any hangover. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to pick up one of Winslow’s signature giant chocolate chip cookies or unique goat cheese cookies.
Location: 7213 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130
11. When you’re craving something sweet: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
The beloved Ohio-based ice cream company finally made its way to St. Louis last year, and Wash U students have been flocking to it ever since. In Jeni’s Instagram-perfect, white-and-pastel store in the Central West End, you can sample as many original ice cream creations as you like (read: brown butter almond brittle and sweet cream biscuits & peach jam) and then get your scoops piled high on top of a delicious homemade waffle cone. You won’t find other fro-yo as creamy and rich as this.
Location: 389 N Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
12. When you’re trying to be fancy: Cafe Napoli
Offering up classic, hearty Italian dishes like chicken parm and chicken marsala, Cafe Napoli is an elegant yet homey restaurant in Clayton that’s perfect for the whole fam.
Attached to the swankier Bar Napoli as a more recent addition, the restaurant is a family affair dating back to 1989. Entrees are priced in the mid-20s, so it’s not an every night type of place, but for once in a while, it’s a perfect spot to indulge in traditional Italian food that tastes like it came straight from Grandma’s kitchen.
Location: 7754 Forsyth Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63105