Monday, September 19, 2011

Touring in my home town: St. Louis


Union Station - Downtown St. Louis

I haven’t lived in St. Louis for over 15 years.  When I do return, I have my favorite haunts that I like to visit.   The Missouri Botanical Gardens, Grants Farm and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard and the Hill neighborhood to name a few.
The Hill's - Amighettis Bakery - far side of the street


When most people visit St. Louis, they visit the Arch, the Old Cathedral and maybe the Brewery and move on down the road.  But St. Louis has much more than the Arch to offer.  In addition to the Zoo and the whole Forest Park area where the 1904 World Fair took place, St. Louis has many neighborhoods offering their own unique set of restaurants, shops and experiences.  To name a few, there is the Central West End, the Loop, Grand South Grand, the Shaw Neighborhood, Soulard’s,  and my favorite “the Hill”.   


Gelato on the Hill


The Hill area was originally settled by Italian immigrants and while the residents are from many ethnic backgrounds today, the neighborhood has still kept it’s Italian identity.   You know you are on the Hill when you start seeing the red, white & green fire hydrants and banners saying “The Hill”.   Here you will find narrow streets with Italian restaurants, markets, and bakeries tucked in among the small brick homes.   There are restaurants for every budget and the food is fab.  I rarely eat Italian elsewhere in the country because I have been spoiled by the Italian food in St. Louis.  I made a few trips to the Hill in my visit this summer.   
Vince Mantia, Mantia Fruit Co.


Despite having grown up in St. Louis I continue to find new places to go and see.  Thanks to my Uncle who played 'Tour guide for a day', I discovered some new sights and sounds and learned a bit of history as well.

Our first stop was the St. Louis Produce Row where he introduced me too Vince Mantia, president of the Mantia Fruit Company.  Vince told me stories of his father coming over on a boat and starting their Fruit Co that has provided fruit to St. Louis eateries and grocers since the 1920’s.  Produce Row is apparently where most of the bulk produce is purchased from in St. Louis.  My restauranteur family members, of whom I have several, apparently did all of their shopping here.  It was an interesting visit as we picked up fruit for the Soup Kitchen my Uncle volunteers at.
Making my Malt @ Crown Candy Kitchen


Next we visited Chili Mac’s, which had previously been my Grandmother’s Coffee Shop.  We had some great Chili and reminisced with the owner John who bought the shop from my grandmother.  Then we were off to Crowns Candy Kitchen. Crown’s Candy Kitchen has a national reputation.  In fact their Malts were just featured on the the Food Network.   They serve food in addition to having candy and malts.  I had to go for the Malt though & indeed it was good.  I think I will have to go back.
Services in Polish  .. who knew!?


I sipped my Malt as my uncle narrated the points of interest in the Polish section of St. Louis & on some of the historical buildings in downtown.   I learned many new interesting facts on our trek and appreciated the tour.  Can’t think of a better way to tour my hometown!

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