5 Hidden Gem Lunch Spots in St. Louis
Happy Tuesday, everyone!! I have been working on this blog post for what seems like months now. I’ve tried TONS of different restaurants in the St. Louis area looking for the BEST hidden gems and yummy spots to eat lunch at. I had some criteria I was specifically looking at: location, menu choices, food taste, presentation and restaurant ambiance. I took my mom with me each time so that we could order super different things on the menu to get a variety – plus we also ordered drinks, appetizers and dessert to make sure we got the full restaurant experience. All meals totaled around $30-$35 before tip for two people (+ appetizers and dessert). Let’s dive into which spots made the top five.
5 Hidden Gem Lunch Spots in St. Louis
FIVE: Lulu’s Local Eatery
Lulu’s is a local vegan restaurant located on Grand Ave. It’s a great little spot surrounded by other cute restaurants and shops. It’s easy to find – just be aware it is street parking so you may have to walk a ways once you park.
PROS: The food options were great. I got their hummus plate appetizer and it was PHENOMENAL. SO yummy and fresh. We also ordered sides of their tater tots to eat with lunch. I got their black bean and sweet potato burger on a pretzel bun, and my mom got the sweet potato falafel. Both dishes were very flavorful and packed a punch. The pretzel bun was so good I STILL think about it – soft and sweet and the perfect compliment to the burger. The falafel was a little bit hard to eat (because there was so much happening on the plate) but it was super yummy once you got it in your mouth! There are tons of things to order on the menu and even if you aren’t vegan, I think you’d be safe ordering anything here!
CONS: I wish there had been more standard sauce options (like vegan ketchup and mayonnaise). They had really just had a ranch sauce, tzaziki sauce, buffalo sauce and spicy chipotle sauce. I would have preferred a mild mayonnaise on my burger to the chipotle sauce, and definitely would have preferred a ketchup on my tater tots vs the chipotle sauce they brought to the table. But that’s mainly personal preference. The seating is a little tight, so while you can seat yourself, you may be waiting just a bit if it’s a busy time. I also wish there had been a bit more drink options to choose from: they had water, Izze juices and La Croix.
FOUR: Mission Taco Joint
Technically – this is the only restaurant on this list that is a chain. BUT it’s a chain local to only St. Louis and Kansas City, so I considered it a part of the game. This is one of my all-time favorite spots to eat. It’s got a great fun atmosphere, friendly staff, and obviously delicious food.
PROS: There are several spots in St. Louis you can go to eat at this restaurant! Chances are, you probably aren’t too far from one, which is ideal. The food is fantastic – I ordered their Chicken Flautas + Mexican Street Corn, and my mama got the Cali Burrito (vegan, made with Impossible Burger meat). We got a churro for dessert because #treatyoself. Mine was mouth-watering and SO yummy. It’s one of those meals that I honestly just can’t get enough of. It’s a big portion, so I was able to take some home with me to eat for later. The Cali Burrito was very flavorful, and you couldn’t even tell you were eating anything vegan. It tasted just like another delicious burrito. The menu is expansive and there are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians as well!
CONS: It doesn’t feel quite as “hidden” as the other places on this list – and is definitely busier. BUT, if you are new to the city, you may not be as aware since it is a local place. They are little pricier than other places, and you do not get complimentary chips and salsa. If you want to get the tacos – they are priced individually and are a bit pricey at $3-$4 a piece (and you do need 3-4 to make a full meal). I always go burrito or the flautas which I feel are a much better bang for your buck!!
Frida’s is another vegetarian and vegan-friendly place! The location is a bit out of the way, but still easy to get to. The ambiance is lovely, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s quiet and easy to have a conversation in.
PROS: The. Food. Obviously. The food here was one of the best. I opted for the Margherita pizza (YUM), while my mom got their version of a taco (made with sunflower meat instead of regular). We also go the bread and oil as a starter, and the avocado chocolate mousse as a dessert. I have zero complaints about any portion of our meal. We left SO satisfied. It was seriously amazing. My pizza was made on a warm flatbread, had plenty of toppings and wasn’t too much for a meal. Mom’s taco was seriously SO good and hit the spot for sure if you are looking for a vegan taco alternative. The bread was soft when served to us, and the oil was super flavorful. The highlight of the meal, though, was that dessert. Thick, rich and completely amazing (without a ton of guilt).
CONS: The service was a bit slow. Our server would occasionally forget to fill our water, and getting my check and paying took almost 20 minutes. BUT – that’s really the only complaint we had! Otherwise, the food came out relatively quickly, was made to order and presented beautifully.
Ok. So. We almost didn’t go here. It was an accident because we wanted to go somewhere else, but it was going to be a longer drive and we were STARVING (it was after my four hour hair appt). Anyways – we are so glad we did end up here because holy cow, friends. It is a TREAT. We initially were a bit nervous because it looked a bit disheveled inside, but the service was excellent and obviously so was the food.
PROS: The outdoor seating overlooks a park in the city, which is super nice. The staff was so polite and really helpful in deciding what we wanted to order (you order up at a counter and they bring you your food). We chose to sit outside because it was a BEAUTIFUL day. I ordered the chicken quesadilla with a strawberry lemonade, and my mom ordered their Blue Mac. This place is also SUPER friendly to vegetarians and vegans and there are TONS of options to choose from on that front. My quesadilla chicken was seasoned really well, the cheeses were yummy and I think I had the freshest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten on it as well. I enjoyed every single bite. My mom’s Blue Mac was PHENOM (and vegan!). She also had super fresh toppings and it was good to the very last bite. Neither of us had a single complaint about the food.
CONS: Street parking was a bit tough, and we did have a bit of a way to walk to the restaurant, but that isn’t SUPER uncommon in the city. It’s in a bit of a sketchier part of town, so there were a few colorful characters walking by, but they didn’t really bother us. My main complaint was the fact that some people beneath our seating section were smoking so we could get a strong second hand smoke smell every few minutes (I’m obviously hyper aware of that being pregnant). But as far as the actual restaurant went – A+.
I feel like you are going to think I am dramatic when I saw this is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in my life – and there is a REASON that it’s number one on this list. But I swear I’m not being crazy – it just really is that yummy.
PROS: Everything. All things. 100% pros. But for real: this meal will probably be etched in my mind for…..ever?????? I ordered the house made grilled cheese with tomatoes and spinach, and my. oh. my. Made with super thick and delicious bread, gourmet cheeses and super fresh spinach and tomato it was definitely the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. My mom ordered their vegan slinger which is basically vegan biscuits and gravy. I know a lot of you are probably skeptical but….WOW. I almost wished I had ordered it myself. They had little vegan sausage crumbles on the most delicious biscuit, and what made it so good was the GRAVY. I probably could have had an entire bowl of the gravy alone. For dessert, we got their Nutella, banana and strawberry crepe and just know you won’t be disappointed in the SLIGHTEST. The perfect sweet ending to our savory lunches. The service was awesome, there was parking lot parking, and the atmosphere inside was super friendly and inviting.
CONS: I honestly can’t think of any cons…..it was an awesome experience start to finish.
PIN THIS FOR LATER:
I am super happy with how everything turned out. There were places that we went to that DIDN’T make our list for sure – but these one’s really did beat out their competition. It was so fun taking my mom out to try all these fun local places (because even though I’ve lived here for 2 years, and she’s lived here for almost 3, we don’t venture all the way into the city as much as we could). We learned about new restaurants, and found some fan favorites that will be perfect to take the entire fam to!!
I hope this was helpful in finding all the fun places in St. Louis to eat at. I’m thinking about doing a Lunch 2.0 and Dinner post to continue this foodie series – let me know if you’d like that in the comments below!!!