St. Louis’ Soulard neighborhood is the city’s heart. Historic brick buildings and cobblestone streets reflect the STL’s French roots. Restaurants serve jambalaya and barbecue, while live blues and soul music rock the neighborhood’s many nightclubs. Soulard is home to the city’s produce market, which is the oldest continually operating farmers’ market west of the Mississippi river. Soulard is also the venue for some of the city’s most rocking festivals, including a massive Mardi Gras celebration.
Soulard Coffee Garden 910 Geyer Ave.St Louis, MO 63104(314) 241-1464www.soulardcoffeegarden.com
Start your day in Soulard at the neighborhood’s favorite breakfast spot. The Eggs Benedict is legendary and the coffee is always perfect. Pass through the tiny downstairs restaurant to the courtyard, where a jumbled-together, rambling garden gives the restaurant its name. It’s not manicured, but the vibe is so relaxed and pleasant that you’ll want to linger. In bad weather, you can sit upstairs on a covered patio or in the indoor dining room. Don’t miss the fabulous mosaics in the bathroom, they are extraordinary.
Soulard Market 730 Carroll St.St Louis, MO 63104(314) 622-4180www.soulardmarket.com
The historic farmers’ market is the place to shop for produce and food, and also a popular Saturday morning hangout. Besides the usual fruits, flowers and vegetables, you’ll find a unique butcher shop, spice market and a pet store. One wing of the market is mostly a flea market. Come on Saturday morning for live music, bloody Marys, fresh mini-donuts and more. The city’s immigrant population loves the Market — you’ll see many styles of dress and hear all sorts of languages spoken.
Bogart’s Smokehouse 1627 S. 9th St.St Louis, MO 63104(314) 621-3107www.bogartssmokehouse.com
If you want to eat St. Louis’ best barbecue, wear comfortable shoes and bring your patience. The line for lunch at Bogart’s often wraps around the block. Smoked prime rib, delectable pulled pork, apricot bruleed ribs, beef brisket, turkey, pastrami and other barbecue treats draw quite a crowd. Many people have called the ribs at Bogarts a religious experience. This is one of the top places for barbecue in a city where the locals really know their barbecue.
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BB’s Jazz Blues & Soups 700 S. BroadwaySt Louis, MO 63102(314) 436-5222www.bbsjazzbluessoups.com
After an afternoon exploring the Soulard Art Market and Contemporary Gallery, you’ll be ready for a leisurely dinner. Choosing a place to have dinner in this district is a delicious conundrum, but you really can’t go wrong with any of Soulard’s restaurants. At BB’s, you can get a delicious dinner and hear some of the best live music the city has to offer. BB’s is pure St. Louis, with a menu that features the city’s signature dishes, like toasted ravioli, gumbo, barbecue and Mississippi Mud Pie. The walls are a museum of jazz and blues music, and the concerts will blow you away.
Broadway Oyster Bar 736 S. BroadwaySt Louis, MO 63102(314) 621-8811www.broadwayoysterbar.com
The neighborhood has so many great music venues that you can hardly go wrong. If Steve Pecaro is playing at the 1860s Saloon, you should probably drop everything and head that way. Otherwise, Broadway Oyster Bar is the one venue you shouldn’t miss. The building looks like a ramshackle pile of bricks, but it’s withstood decades of being rocked by the city’s best soul and blues music, and will hopefully stay up for many more years.
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Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at Lauren@LaurenHaas.com