The San Franciscan's Guide to St. Louis

Categories: Sports
busch-stadium.jpg
Yeah, it's nice. No AT&T Park or anything, but it's all right.
Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants play in St. Louis for game three of the NLCS. Roaming bands of Giants Nation will surely join them at Busch Stadium.

Of course, San Franciscans leaving the safety of our peninsular nook to visit The Lou this week may initially find themselves in a deep state of disorientation. The free parking and clear roads and ever-present cigarette smoke are more than enough to knock any of us off our game.

Not to worry. For fans making the Eastward trek to the Gateway to the West, here's a detailed cheat sheet to prepare you for and enhance your St. Louis experience.

[Updated to show that Lacy Clay beat Russ Carnahan in Democratic Primary in August, and that Lewis Reed would be St. Louis' third black mayor, not second. Fact check hat tip to Joe Holleman at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.]

Similarities: Like San Francisco, St. Louis is a kicked-back, laissez faire, uniquely architecture'd left-leaning port town controlled by political dynasties. Like San Francisco, St. Louis is composed of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own flavor, culture, and smell. Just as you can go from Mission to Sunset to the Marina to the TL and feel like you're in a different city each time, in St. Louis you can experience the same sensation going from Tower Grove to The Loop to the Central West End to Soulard.

Mexican neighborhood slowly gentrifying with artsy types and college kids: Cherokee Street is their Mission.

Swanky and Martini-scented location filled with guys in blazers and girls in heels: Washington Avenue is their Marina.

Across the bridge counterpart: East St. Louis is their Oakland. Except with more crime, less resources, more dysfunctional city politics, fewer jobs, more poverty, and fewer hipsters. The city, however, has a proud jazz and sports tradition, producing Miles Davis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kellen Winslow, and Darius Miles. It is also home to the winningest high school football program in America.

Identifying monument that lingers on the horizon as you drive and is, no surprise, expensive to enter: The Gateway Arch is their Golden Gate Bridge.

Baseball hero statue in front of new ballpark: Stan Musial is their Willie Mays.

Three things they do better than us: $2 beers, BBQ, affordable housing.

Three things they don't do better than us: snowless winters, burritos, baseball stadiums.

So, what's the story on weed there?: The pot is not as strong and more expensive. Also, Missouri has some of the strictest marijuana laws in America -- any possession can be a misdemeanor and an ounce in the pocket can get you up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Political Dynasties: There's the Slays (current Mayor Francis G. and his father, powerful Democratic Committeeman Francis R.), the Clays (current Congressman William "Lacy" Jr. and his father, former Congressman Bill), and the Carnahans (Congressman Russ, his sister, Secretary of State Robin, their father, Governor Mel, and their grandfather, seven-term Congressman Albert Sidney Johnston).

Political Dynamic: Like San Francisco, St. Louis is a dark-blue Democrat city. There are no Republicans on the Board of Aldermen. But while SF's primary city hall conflict is Progressives vs. Moderates, St. Louis' is North City vs. South City (aka Black vs. White).

St. Louis' population is 49 percent black, 44 percent white, and 7 percent everything else. The city is effectively split into halves -- north of Delmar Boulevard and south of Delmar Boulevard. Historically, white people lived on the south side and black people lived on the north side. While that divide is less stark now than it was decades ago, north St. Louis remains almost exclusively black and south city remains majority white.

City hall voting often splits along those lines as well.

There are two big political races that underscore the significance of the north-south divide. Due to redistricting orchestrated by the Republican state legislature, most of Carnahan's district merged with Clay's. For months, the two (Carnahan is white, Clay is black) were locked in a vicious battle for the city's sole House seat, each man testing the strength and depth of his long-entrenched local loyalties. Clay won the Democratic primary in August.

Meanwhile, Slay is seeking to become the first mayor in the city's history to serve for four terms. But he'll first need to get past his most formidable challenger yet: Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed, who would become just the city's third black mayor.The election is in Spring 2013, and Giants fans watching local St. Louis television might catch Reed's debut campaign ad.

Distinctive architecture: San Francisco has Victorians, St. Louis has brick. Rows and rows of gorgeous red-brick houses. Why brick? The fire of 1849 devastated the city and changed the way they constructed buildings, much in the same way the 1906 quake did to San Francisco.

Brick is a valuable commodity, though. And stretches of St. Louis are also blighted by abandoned homes. So after drifters or thieves take those copper wires and aluminum gutters, they chip off the brick. In some parts of north St. Louis, you'll find whole blocks lined with houses missing entire walls.

Suggested bars: After a night at the ballpark, visiting San Franciscans will need somewhere to celebrate the win. And St. Louis has a very solid bar scene. For dark-wood and dimly lit sophistication, there's Brennan's in the Central West End, a good place to sip a whiskey and puff a cigar. For live blues, creole cuisine, and outdoor cool, there's Broadway Oyster Bar, which is two blocks south of Busch Stadium. For some young professional home flavor to watch tonight's debate, there's the Royale, which features framed photographs of JFK, RFK, MLK, and Nelson Mandela, among others, on its walls.

Strip clubs: San Francisco is considering a weird law banning nudity in public. Missouri has a weird law banning nudity ... in strip clubs. But just like San Franciscans can zoom across the Bay Bridge to cop free plastic bags, St. Louisans venture across the Eads Bridge or the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge to indulge in Illinois strip joints along the Mississippi Riverfront.

Restaurant creating a conflict-of-interest that Fox has decided to ignore: Joe Buck's, which features a new dessert called "The Big Freese."


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38 comments
ChrisReimer
ChrisReimer

@ericasmith @JoeHolleman thanks much

theroyale
theroyale

While our weed ain't any of that high grade medicinal grass, the STL city proper doesn't really prosecute minor possession unless you are being an outright a-hole. However we have some of the most reasonable laws when it comes to alcohol. Open containers are pretty much fine- there is no state open container law in cars. Go cups are common and it is usually not a crazy high tax shakedown to get a liquor license. And dry counties are illegal. Thank god for that. Anyway, Thais for the much more interesting take on my town. I welcome any SF peeps to stop down after the game on Friday. I will be at the game, but heading back to the Royale right after. And if yer in town on Saturday we are having our Cuban Missile Crisis Party- 50th anniversary and celebrate like it is 1962 and the world might end. Cheers, Steven Fitzpatrick Smith Tavernkeeper The Royale 3132 South Kingshighway STL MO

learn.work.teach
learn.work.teach

St. Louis is a bunch of small towns that merged into a BIG city by 1900 but we still have very distinct neighborhoods.  We are a food city that has classic restaurants, and bakeries that have been around for generations.  We have historic businesses that have been making hand dipped candies (Globe Drugstore in Soulard, Mavrakos? on Grand), cakes (Doerrings in Carondelet), cannolis (Vitales, Amighettis), MacArthurs for anything.  The best Italian sausage factory is right on the Hill.  Great Octoberfests, St. Patricks Day Parade, Italian and Greek Festivals and any day at Shaw's Garden or Tower Grove Park festivities.  Come back in the spring and get a freshly made buttercake, a strawberry and whipped cream roll at the oldest family bakery in the city, still at its original address in Carondelet.  Next to a new theater and across from the oldest horse trough (Now a fountain) in the city.  We're talking 1700-1800's.  Then watch the river traffic from Bellerive Park Bluff or drive out to Beetree Park or Kimmswick for dinner!!!  East to the River Road restaurants and Inns. 

 

On to Soulard, where you can go non-stop from bar to restaurant to coffeehouse to bar to restaurant, many with great live entertainment.  Some of the best jazz, blues and southern rock in the Midwest.  We're an older city with many older families that stayed where they were born.  So, we have an older population and we love to eat great food. BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, Beale on Broadway, Joanie's, McGurks, 1860's, Nortons, Fraziers, Clementines and don't forget Imo's and Gus' Pretzels.  Nouveau is available everywhere but our strength is our neighborhood restaurants and microbreweries in a town that knows beer and wine intimately.  Italian, German, Greek, Irish, Cajun, French, Chinese . . .  And we specialize in Steak, Pork, BarBQ and great blues.  I don't know of anyplace short of New Orleans, Chicago or Memphis that even come close to the home-grown music community St. Louis has going for it.  We lent John Goodman to New Orleans, so we miss his presence but look at what he's helping to build, so we don't mind.   

 

So much to say, so little space.     

ParallelParker
ParallelParker

I concur -- a not at all bad piece.  It avoids the "Whoa are the folks who live out in the provinces" perspective that the residents of "fly over country" usually have to endure when we are the subjects of review and commentary by folks on either of the coasts.  The one thing in the article that I would quibble with is the notion of an all-white Southside.  That may have been the case 40 years ago, it pointedly has not been the case for several decades.  Suffice it to see the Southside is highly diverse.  I will spare everyone the demographic data that illustrates that fact.  Glad to be in NLCS with an outstanding baseball franchise in the form of the Gigantes.

Lindy
Lindy

I have lived in St. Louis city and now St. Louis County for over 30 years and have only been to San Francisco four times. St. Louis is a fine place to live, but San Francisco is a wonderful place to visit (and if you are wealthy, you could live there). I tell my fellow St. Louisians to go to AT & T park and then tell me if it isn't the BEST baseball park in the U.S.! Not just the park, the view (especially at sunset!), the food, the section where parents can take their kids to play, etc. We should be so smart here. However, as one St. Louisian wrote after our "new" Busch stadium was finished, "when has St. Louis ever built a good stadium?" This article was generous in praise: but some of the comments are good for consideration: Yes, go to the "Hill" area where Joe Garagiola, Sr. and Yogi Berra grew up for some of the best Italian food (travel a little south and try Trattoria Marcella) but save room for dessert because less than a mile away is Ted Drewes frozen custard. My out of state family/friends want to go there BEFORE dinner!

timkawakami
timkawakami

@AlohaAlliJohn much thanks AllyJ. amazingly, Joe Buck's restaurant is getting rave reviews from Bay Area scribes so far.

nickbankhead
nickbankhead

Yawn. The smug is overwhelming. Way to keep it complacent, SF. We'll keep in touch while we're playing the Tigers...honestly, we probably won't. 

jbradhicks
jbradhicks topcommenter

As the author of the long-retired web page "The Low Bullshit Guide to St Louis," I'd say this isn't a bad synopsis; it lacks only the recommendation that you must, must, must see at least one of the following three attractions while here: the City Museum (which is less a museum than an insanely whimsical indoor amusement park constructed by one of America's all-time great sculptors), the Missouri Botanical Gardens (imagine a smaller, but cleaner and even more beautiful Golden Gate Park), or the tour of The Fabulous Fox theater (eye-popping rococo architecture).

 

If you're already down town, it's worth walking up to the Arch and enjoying it as a piece of art (America's largest free-standing sculpture), but don't bother going in, let alone up to the top. It's not only not worth the money, it's not worth the time.

secretleaves
secretleaves

I take exception to only one thing in the article: The South Side is without question the most diverse neighborhood in the metropolitan area: white, black, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Asian, Bosnian, gay, straight, young, old, singles, couples, families,  -- we proudly have it all. Not to mention Tower Grove Park, Missouri Botanical Garden, the Royale, Cherokee Street, the Hill...best place in the whole city.

ostermeyer5417
ostermeyer5417

Love the city of San Francisco, great games so far. This article was very good but like any big city I would tell our guest to be careful and lock you doors and be extra careful traveling to east st Louis. Go to "the hill" for great food and great bars. We hope to see our guest here. Have a great time.

splogcooper
splogcooper

Yes, the city is 44% white, but the suburbs are 90% white. For Italian food, you must MUST  go to "The Hill" (in south city). You can't throw a stone without hitting a great Italian restaurant. And then, go to Ted Drews for dessert. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

cards
cards

Don't forget about City Museum!

stlgirl
stlgirl

Just got back from SF and Washington Ave. in St. Louis is DEFINITELY not our Marina.  Clayton would be our Marina.

KCPopFlyBoy
KCPopFlyBoy

@AngieTaylorSTL @brandirahill Are you two able to stay kosher with all that is going on?

sonrie
sonrie

I don't know that I'd say East St. Louis has any hipsters...though it has a nice infrastructure and potential with the allure of a very short commute to downtown.

 

Pretty good article....  go Cards!

STLWaffles
STLWaffles

If your looking for a better place for a good cigar in walking distance to the stadium, Give Stanley's on Washington Ave a try.  Big walk in humidor and a good drink menu form the low end(Budweiser) to a $20+ glass of scotch.  Comfy leather chairs and great people.  

shownde
shownde

@LilMissButton @SFWeekly as a longtime expat I'll add The Grove=The Castro; The Loop~Haight Ashbury; St. Charles~Silicon Valley; MO wine.

dylanized
dylanized

Jack Dorsey built Twitter in San Francisco. But he thought it up in downtown St. Louis!

sassymouth
sassymouth

you forgot that they both are near major fault lines!

stephen112
stephen112

Nice article.  My favorite place is the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  It is ranked among the top three research gardens in the world (the other two are in New York and London) and it is also home to the largest Japanese Garden in North America.

stephengraveman
stephengraveman

@daniellesmyname Agreed! That was actually a pretty good article!

sportshuman
sportshuman

@JohnMarecek pretty good read actually

downtownstlbiz
downtownstlbiz

@JohnMarecek It's actually quite respectful, and the author has written for the RFT, so he knows his stuff.

LilMissButton
LilMissButton

@loganalexander @SFWeekly Except no mention of #parks! #SF & #STL have parks cultures. Tho Forest Prk > Golden Gate Prk in size & amenities

jhoff1257
jhoff1257

Can't forget about all the French Victorian mansions in Lafayette Square!

HalloweenChickn
HalloweenChickn

@JohnMarecek That was actually nice. Now imagine a KC writer doing the same puff piece on St. Louis. Exactly. "Unpossible."

adamstue
adamstue

@JohnMarecek It wasn't too bad

downtownstlbiz
downtownstlbiz

@LilMissButton @sfweekly Well done! Nit picking: @PresReed is seeking to become STL's 3rd African American mayor, after Bosley & Harmon.

STLHELL
STLHELL

 @Lindy

As a STL native now living in Las Vegas I have spent quite a bit of time in San Fran...typically to see Cardinals games. STL has an exceptional live music scene and some great BBQ...that is it. SF is a far superior city in every. other. way. possible. There are small, 30 seat, corner restaurants in SF that are better than anything STL has...seriously. MacArthurs bakery wouldn’t last for 2 weeks in SF...no one there would be impressed by their selection of Spiderman birthday cakes. As far as Italian food goes the Hill is truly awful. I'll admit that I still enjoy provel cheese but no place outside of STL uses it...not because they don't know about it but because it's basically white Velveeta. Only STL restaurants put sugar in their tomato sauce...the rest of the world doesn't. That’s just the food. I don't have time to get started on city politics, public transportation, or crime. People from St Louis never leave and when they do it is to go to Destin, Florida or Gulf Shores, Alabama for a family vaction. STL is a city full of misinformed, close minded, hillbillies.

AlohaAlliJohn
AlohaAlliJohn

Haha @timkawakami yeah, I think I've heard that name around here. People seem to looove him ;)

JohnMarecek
JohnMarecek

@downtownstlbiz I rank these things up there with bets by Mayors, and lists asking what Pujols may be doing.

loganalexander
loganalexander

@LilMissButton @SFWeekly Yeah, really good point.

STLARon
STLARon

@downtownstlbiz @lilmissbutton @sfweekly To be fair a lot of us try to forget about Harmon too.

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