Around the World in 6 Blocks of St. Louis

St. Louis' South Grand district circles the globe

Eleven countries are represented at EPCOT Center. South Grand Blvd. showcases 14, the most diverse corridor in St. Louis. The walkable commercial district from Arsenal to Utah sports a United Nations of restaurants and shops that cater to any taste and budget. Take the tour.

Starting from the southeast corner of Tower Grove Park (a worthy destination in its own right) at Arsenal St., head south along the west side of South Grand Blvd. You'll encounter MoKaBe's Coffeehouse, Domino's Pizza, Dunaway Books, The Upstairs Lounge dance club (open nightly until 3 am) and Mekong Restaurant, serving Vietnamese cuisine.

Tower Grove Park

Cross Hartford Ave. and you'll pass by longtime neighborhood standby, City Diner, a comfort-food paradise. Mangia Italiano delivers updated Italian classics nightly and live music after 11 pm. On the other side of a pocket park, The King & I serves a popular menu of Thai cuisine. Around the corner on Juniata (that's "june ee atta"), VP Square goes pan-Asian with Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes.

The King & I

South of Juniata, LemonGrass adds more Asian flavor to the district with Vietnamese cuisine. CBGB, a quarter-century old, is the neighborhood's favorite dive bar. At the south end of the block, The Vine Café, Wei Hong Bakery and Restaurant and Tree House offer Lebanese, Chinese and vegetarian fares respectively, plus great patios.

Patios at Tree House and The Vine

On the other side of Connecticut, Basil Spice Thai Cuisine sits next to Rocket Century, where nicely curated mid-century modern furniture and accessories are sold. Baida Restaurant brings Moroccan cuisine to the table, and Pho Grand offers yet another iteration of Vietnamese fare. Gelateria Del Leone caters to lovers of Italian ice cream and coffee and features a multitude of places to sit, chat, read or just sip.

Rocket Century

Past Wyoming, Lulu's Local Eatery goes completely vegan. Bali Cargo Company carries handmade goods from the island of Bali. Side-by-side CheapTRX and TRX Tattoos & Piercing offer services and merchandise for the tattooed/pierced. A few more steps take you Zee Bee Market, home to fair trade, handcrafted and sustainably produced apparel, accessories, gifts, coffee and more. Next, Café Mochi turns out inventive sushi along with Vietnamese and Chinese specialties. 

Bali Cargo Company

Cross South Grand to the eastern side and head back north. First, there's Sheesh Restaurant serving Turkish dishes, and then there's Brasilia Restaurant, dishing up Brazilian cuisine (the weekend brunch buffet rocks!). Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant is named after the first month of the Ethiopian calendar and features a wide variety of dishes served with the traditional flatbread, injera (used in place of flatware to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes). Apotheosis Comics and Lounge sells comics and, yes, booze. Longtime neighborhood favorite Café Natasha's specializes in Persian cuisine, and the accompanying Gin Room specializes in, well, gin.

Cross back over Connecticut and enter the amazing world of Jay Asia International Foods, a mesmerizing smorgasbord of staples, treats and oddities from around the globe.

Past Juniata lies Rooster, a European-style café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bloody Mary anyone?

Rooster

At Arsenal, you can go for fast-casual Mexican at Qdoba or head to the Philippines at Guerilla Street Food, a food-truck success story that has blossomed into four bricks-and-mortar locations. Tour complete; we highly recommend next visiting the nearby Missouri Botanical Garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden

David Lancaster
About the author

David Lancaster is an accomplished artist and photographer whose work has been shown in galleries in St. Louis, Chica...