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St. Louis Restaurants That Have Stood The Test Of Time

December 11, 2019 Brasserie
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
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This summer, we got a voicemail message from a listener. She said we talk too much about the newly opened restaurants in the city. She said we don’t spend enough time on the eateries that have stood the test of time.

We realized she had a point. And so on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we put together a dream-team panel to remedy it. St. Louis Post-Dispatch food critic Ian Froeb, Riverfront Times food critic Cheryl Baehr and St. Louis Magazine dining editor George Mahe all joined us in studio for the conversation. 

Joined by callers who shared their picks, the team discussed such landmarks as Big Sky Cafe in Webster Groves to Cafe Natasha on South Grand. They paid tribute to Tony’s (going strong downtown since 1946), Brasserie (which has kept things fresh for 10 years in the Central West End) and Frazer’s (which began as a lunch spot in 1992 but has lured a new crowd with a first-rate cocktail bar). 

Mahe recently compiled a list of “tried-and-true” favorites that may interest curious diners. And each writer also chose one current restaurant that they believe has a great chance of still serving in 2029. Mahe chose Carl’s Drive-In, which opened in 1959. “It’s been there forever, it will be there forever, and everybody knows why,” Mahe said. 

Caption: Food writers Cheryl Baehr, Ian Froeb and George Mahe discussed the qualities that make a restaurant last on "St. Louis on the Air."
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Caption: Food writers Cheryl Baehr, Ian Froeb and George Mahe discussed the qualities that make a restaurant last on "St. Louis on the Air."

Froeb picked Balkan Treat Box, the new Bosnian spot in Webster Groves. “It’s the people’s champion, it’s the critic’s champion; everybody loves Balkan Treat Box … It’s a great big bear hug of a restaurant.”

Baehr’s pick: Olive + Oak, which opened in 2016. “I think it’s the Annie Gunn’s [of Webster Groves],” she said. “It’s still packed all the time, still one of the most difficult reservations in town, and for great reason.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.