The Best St. Louis Food To Try in 2024

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 | 0 Comments
Famous St. Louis food includes pizza, pretzels and frozen custard

St. Louis food reflects the hearty homeland where it’s served. While there are several James Beard award-winning chefs in the city, St. Louis food is more honest and straightforward than in other cities, much like its people. This city’s unique culinary scene proves that good food doesn’t need to be fancy.

What food is St. Louis known for? What are the most iconic dishes not to be missed? The Gateway to the West has its own style of barbecue, its own pizza and many scrumptious desserts that are not found anywhere else. And don’t forget to wash down whatever St. Louis food you’re eating with a local beer — because St. Louis is also home to Anheuser-Busch. To discover all of the foods unique to St. Louis, keep reading! 

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Get a Taste of Iconic St. Louis Foods

One of the best ways to get a feel for St. Louis foods is to take a cooking class with local chefs. Cooking classes in St. Louis will introduce you to the unique flavors that you’ll find on restaurant menus throughout the city, plus they’re a lot of fun!

11 Best St. Louis Foods

1. Frozen Custard at Ted Drewes 

Move over ice cream, custard is in town. Frozen custard is one of the most iconic St. Louis foods to try when you’re visiting the area. If you’ve never had one, frozen custard is a richer, creamier cold treat than ice cream, with a base of vanilla flavor. From there, it’s a lot like picking out a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. There are also mix-ins and toppings galore. The most famous place to get frozen custard is at Ted Drewes

The Vibe

Ted Drewes has three locations around the St. Louis area and all are take-out, come-as-you-are, family-friendly spots.

What to Order

The most famous St. Louis food to get at a custard shop is a “concrete,” which is essentially a thick soft serve made from frozen custard. It’s so thick your spoon will stand up, and even the most rambunctious child won’t be able to spill it. At Ted Drewes, try the Dutchman with chocolate, butterscotch and pecans. The Cookie Sandwich concrete is your second-best bet.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard | Multiple Locations | $

A yellow and green cup with strawberry ice cream
via Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

2. St. Louis–Style Pizza at Imo’s

Many cities have their own distinctive style of pizza, but St. Louis has one of the most unique. St. Louis serves up their pizza on a crust as thin as a cracker. And you’re going to get squares, not slices.

Another key difference to this St. Louis food is the cheese. Provel is a cheese product that was developed specifically for Imo’s Pizza, the best place to sample St. Louis-style pizza. Provel is a combination of cheddar, Swiss and provolone plus a touch of liquid smoke. It melts like a dream, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

The Vibe

Ted and Margie Imo opened their first restaurant in 1964. The neighborhood pizza franchise now has over one hundred locations. No matter which one you choose, you can be casual and comfortable. It’s a pizza parlor, after all. 

What to Order

It’s your pizza, so build it your way. The Imo’s sweet heat specialty pizza with chicken, red onion and bacon plus their secret sauce is a great option. No matter what toppings you choose for this St. Louis food favorite, you’re getting Provel cheese.

Imo’s Pizza | Multiple Locations | $$

St. Louis style pizza is a popular St. Louis food
via Imo’s Pizza

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3. Toasted Ravioli at Anthonino’s Taverna

One of the best St. Louis foods that anyone can love is the toasted ravioli. Anthonino’s Taverna is a top choice for the pillowy treat because their ravioli were featured on an episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

The Vibe

Anthonino’s Taverna feels like a modern brasserie. It's casual enough to be comfortable but also a little dressed up when you want to eat out somewhere other than a typical sports bar. 

What to Order

This local St. Louis food restaurant is a little bit Italian but also a little bit Greek. Because it’s one of the best places to get Mediterranean food in St. Louis, your best bet is to get the spanakopita with your ravioli or pair them with a gyro.

Anthonino’s Taverna | 2225 Macklind Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110 | $$

Toasted ravioli in a bowl with marinara sauce
via Anthonino’s Taverna

4. Russell’s Gooey Butter Cake 

Like the toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake from Russell’s Café is a St. Louis food that is easy to love. This decadent dessert is part coffee cake, part custard and it gets dusted with powdered sugar. In other words, it’s the perfect finish to any meal.

The Vibe

Russell’s has two café locations in St. Louis. Both are cozy bakeries that serve brunch and dinner and their take on a gooey butter cake in a variety of flavors.  

What to Order

The original gooey butter cake is traditionally made with a vanilla custard on a coffee cake base, but Russell’s uses their signature salted shortbread cookie crust instead. The blackberry and coconut versions of this St. Louis food are addictive.

Russell’s Café | Multiple Locations | $

Gooey butter cake is a popular sweet St. Louis food
via Russell’s Café

5. St. Paul Sandwich at Mai Lee

Whatever you were expecting this St. Louis food to be, you probably didn’t expect to find it on a St. Louis Chinese food menu. But that’s where the St. Paul Sandwich, another very unique St. Louis food, resides. 

The St. Paul sandwich at Mai Lee consists of an egg foo young patty dressed with lettuce, tomato and pickles on two slices of white bread. This is a cult favorite hangover food and the best St. Louis food to search out when you’re starving and on a budget.  

The Vibe

This Chinese-Vietnamese fusion restaurant has five different versions of the sandwich on its menu. This strip mall spot is clean and tidy with table and counter seating. 

What to Order

The original St. Paul sandwich is a good place to start, but the ham or pork version is tastier. If you want a backup plan, this restaurant’s extensive menu of over 200 dishes will give you plenty of options.

Mai Lee | 8396 Musick Memorial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63144 | $$

The St. Paul Sandwich is a classic St. Louis food
via Canva

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6. St. Louis Style Ribs at Pappy’s Smokehouse

St. Louis style ribs are a classic St. Louis food typically made with pork spare ribs instead of baby backs, which are fattier in general but also have more meat. Pappy’s Smokehouse has been named as having the Best Ribs in America by the Food Network, so that’s the place to go for this St. Louis food.

The Vibe

Pappy’s Smokehouse has two locations, and both are somewhat non-descript brick buildings mostly obscured by their smokers on the outside, but full of fun barbecue style on the inside. Don’t worry about finding a table. Just get in line.

What to Order

Ribs obviously. For those with big appetites, the Big Ben combination plate includes a full slab of ribs, a brisket sandwich, a pork sandwich, a smoked chicken sandwich and four sides. 

Pappy’s Smokehouse | Multiple Locations | $$

Various barbecued meats
via Pappy’s Smokehouse

7. BBQ Pork Steak at Five Aces Bar-B-Que

Another much-loved St. Louis food is found at Five Aces Bar-B-Que. The barbecued pork steak is made with a shoulder (or blade) steak that is slowly simmered in a tomato and vinegar sauce to help tenderize it. Navy veteran owner Antonio Ellis uses a combination of Creole and jerk spices to season the pork steaks before coating them in a sticky, molasses-like sauce. 

The Vibe

No frills are needed when you serve up St. Louis food like this. You can grab food from the food truck or sit down at the Smokestaq Lightning restaurant.

What to Order

Get the pork steak dinner with a “big ‘ol bowl” of potato salad and baked beans. Finish with a Southern-fried apple pie.

Five Aces Bar-B-Que | 4000 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110 | $$

Five Aces Bar-B-Que is a St. Louis food spot with barbecue dishes
via Five Aces Bar-B-Que

8. The Slinger at Courtesy Diner

If you’ve had a bit of a late night, the cure you’re looking for is at Courtesy Diner, and it’s a St. Louis food called the Slinger. The Slinger is a pile of perfectly crispy shredded hash browns topped with either a burger or sausage patty, plus chili and cheese.

The Vibe

A super cute retro diner that’s all about the food. 

What to Order

Get your standard Slinger, or go light by getting the Devil’s Delight, which leaves the hamburger patties off. Rumor has it that they occasionally offer a Super Slinger that has either tamales or a burrito under the chili. If it’s available, get the tamale version of this classic St. Louis food.

Courtesy Diner | Multiple Locations | $

The Slinger is a famous St. Louis food at Courtesy Diner
via Courtesy Diner 

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9. Kohn’s Traditional German Knackwurst

Busch Stadium is the home of the beloved St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and no game would be complete without a classic St. Louis stadium staple — the Kohn’s Knackwurst Sandwich. Kohn’s is a quality kosher restaurant, deli and meat market in St. Louis, and their stadium cart has been serving up Cardinal fans since 2013.

The Vibe

Kohn’s is a food cart located in section 147 of Busch Stadium. Ideally, you should be wearing a Cardinal’s jersey if you’re going to partake in this St. Louis food, but they’ll serve you regardless. 

What to Order

Get their traditional German Knackwurst, and pile the sauerkraut high. Might as well get the pastrami dog to go with it. You know you want to.

Kohn's | 700 Clark Ave., Section 147, St. Louis, MO 63102 | $

Hot dogs on a plate on a wooden table
via Canva

10. Hand Twisted Pretzels From Gus’

Gus’ Pretzels has been hand-twisting since 1920, so they must know a little something about a great pretzel. Whether you want traditional, garlic-buttered or cinnamon-sugared, this St. Louis food is the best deal in town. 

The Vibe

This simple family concept doesn’t overcomplicate. They serve to-go warm pretzels and pretzel sandwiches. That’s it. You’ll find Gus’ pretzels in stores around the city, and they’re available to heat and warm at home from local grocery stores. 

What to Order

They have a couple of pretzel sandwiches, the most tempting of which is the jalapeño pepper jack bratwurst. Pair that with a bag of cinnamon-sugar “Endz.” Otherwise, just stick to the OG, which will cost you less than $1.

Gus’ Pretzels | 1820 Arsenal St., St. Louis, MO 63118 | $

A pretzel next to two sauces and a Gus' Pretzels bag
via Gus' Pretzels

11. GOAT Eats Potato Chips

You might be surprised to learn that a potato chip is a signature St. Louis food. It’s also one of the most popular foods in America, with the St. Louis-based The GOAT Brand believing their chips are the very best. Developed by a team of professional chefs and using only the highest-quality ingredients, the chips are bagged by hand daily. 

The Vibe

GOAT Eats chips are available at local grocers around the area, including Whole Foods and Schnucks. You can order party-sized bags from their online store.

What to Order

In addition to the original chip, they offer a spicy Kicker option and a sweet potato chip.

The GOAT Brand | 3136 Watson Road, Saint Louis MO 63139 | $

Goat Eats chips are a great St. Louis food for a snack
via The GOAT Brand

Whether you’re visiting friends, taking in a baseball game or viewing the Gateway Arch, you’re going to get hungry at some point while visiting St. Louis. This friendly, laid-back Midwestern town has more flavor than you might expect, so be sure to sample some of these iconic St. Louis foods or have fun discovering your own. 

For even more ways to explore St. Louis and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.


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