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The Sweet Tooth Guide to St. Louis

The Sweet Tooth Guide to St. Louis

Rhubarb & Honey rounds up the best of the city's sweets

Kakao creates artisan chocolates.

Whether you're a "choco-a-holic" or a "candy-a-holic," St. Louis has something for you! Check out these spots when you're in town and have a craving for something sweet:

Crown Candy Kitchen
Crown Candy Kitchen opened in 1913, and they’re still practicing the venerable art of confectionery today. While the specialty of the house is Crown Candy’s famous malted milkshakes made the old-fashioned way (using malt powder, cold milk, and their own ice cream) this is the place to get your hands on the perfect nibbles for that sweet tooth … malted milk balls, red shoe-laces, Swedish fish, and even old-school chewing-gum such as Clove, Blackjack (my mom’s favorite), and Beeman’s. All candy, desserts, and souvenirs can be packaged for takeout.

4 Seasons Baked Goods & Catering
I first met Agi and Aaron Groff, the owners and bakers of 4 Seasons Baked Goods, a few years ago at the Maplewood Farmers’ Market, and I’ve been in love with their cookies ever since. Agi and Aaron strive to provide superior artisan baked goods made with local, seasonal, and natural ingredients, and they definitely succeed. Their snickerdoodles and mocha macaroons are amazing.

Gooey Butter Cake From Gooey Louie
Using a recipe from a St. Louis family that spans four generations, Gooey Louie opened shop in the fall of 2006 and premiered their amazing gooey butter cakes at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s annual Best of Missouri Market. Shortly after that, making gooey butter cakes became a full-time profession. Gooey Louie hand-forms each crust and uses only butter, flour, farm fresh eggs, cream cheese, and pure vanilla extract to make the perfect gooey butter cake. My favorites? Try the appropriately named "Chocolate Chippewa," the "Turtle Park," and the "Highway 40: Driving Me Nuts"… I promise, you’ll love them all.

Kakao Chocolate

Kakao strives for nothing short of the finest chocolate experience, using only the finest all-natural ingredients — and no artificial flavors or additives — to create exceptional artisan chocolates and confections. Owner and chief chocolatier Brian Pelletier spent the first 20 years of his career in the corporate world, but turned his pursuits to chocolate-making in 2008, and St. Louis is the better for it. You can’t go wrong with anything at Kakao, but their sea-salt caramels and marshmallow pies are out of this world!


The Sweet Tooth Guide to St. Louis - Recipes

As locals say, “somewhere between Mayberry and Metropolis is Maplewood,” a rare find that juxtaposes an old-style vibe with one that is truly hip.

Residents say you can meet the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker — and then talk to the brewer and the blacksmith.Stroll down the street any time of day and find a wonderful mix of families, millennials, hipsters, old-timers and visitors. Same thing at night. The area’s downtown is a place where one can so totally immerse themselves in a most distinctive shopping and dining experience — where it seems every day is Small Business Saturday, with an extraordinary twist.

Buttressed by Schlafly Bottleworks on one end and Side Project Brewing at the other, the quarter-mile stretch of Manchester Road, and relegated side streets, is home to over 200 businesses, restaurants, breweries and boutiques, more than 25 of them that produce and sell their own products on site — everything from culinary knives, colorfully welded iron and steel bottle openers, artisanal leather handbags and wallets, beer, soaps, Strange Donuts and more.

Strange Donuts? Yep — operating under the slogan Be Nice. Stay Strange. — the donut shop has quickly become a staple of St. Louis culture and its own unique way of life. The from-scratch donut menu rotates monthly to reflect in-season fruits and available ingredients. The donuts have names like Gooey Butter, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Blueberry Cheesecake. The company’s “Stranger” donut flavors change weekly and are available Thursday through Saturday until sold out — think, Hotdogs and Ketchup, Pizza, Bubblegum, and Sweet Potato. Order quickly though — they sell fast.

The Bonfire Donut at The Strange Donuts

For the Maplewood Maker’s Map that features not only these creative businesses, but also all of what the city has to offer, visit www.enjoymaplewood.com. Located approximately 10 minutes from downtown, you can take MetroLink to the Maplewood station and walk east just a few blocks to start your tour. Or, drive and park your car in one of the many free lots or street side spots available. And then leave it. You won’t need it the rest of the day.

Maplewood is a gift chaser’s dream — peruse, purchase and please everyone with everything from your own logoed t-shirts (Tiny Little Monsters), sweet potato marshmallows and homemade dark chocolate (Kakao Chocolate), made-from-scratch pies (Pie Oh My) and artisanal breads (Living Room and Great Harvest Baking Co.).

Orbit Pinball Lounge is furnished with classic pinball cabinets.

Wait, there’s more. To wit: a real leather wine tote (Sole Survivor), a blacksmith-produced kitchen utensil set and/or hunting knives (NHB Knife Works), seasonal preserves with a strong hint of a local beer (Larder and Cupboard), beer-infused hair gel (Bee Naturals), and “Don Draper”-scented bubble bomb soap (Maven). At Bolyards Meat & Provisions the smell of fresh-smoked meats waft through the parking lot outside, drawing visitors in from near and far. Choose from choice cuts of pork, chicken, beef and lamb that all hail from the lush pastures of Midwestern farms. Sit for a while at one of the three communal-style tables inside, or umbrella-covered tables outside, and sample some of the incredible beef-laden sandwiches that are made to order.

Or walk one block to get a feline fix at Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge. Make a reservation before you go though. The free-roaming live cats are available for adoption, or just comfort, along with a Cup of Joe. Also on Sutton is St. Louis’ only holistic respiratory and wellness experience, the Saint Louis Salt Room. Here, you can dream of ocean waves and sea spray as you lounge in a reclining lawn chair under dimmed lights and the sound of soft music. Let the power of salt calm your senses, all in 45 minutes. Need more action? Try the Skee-Ball and pinball machines at Orbit Pinball Lounge and Bar. Jurassic Park, Last Action Hero and The Simpsons are a few of the games that harken back to an earlier time.

Tapped, a self-pour bar and restaurant

Beer and whiskey drinkers delight in Maplewood’s new age offerings. At Tapped, patrons receive a bar-coded wristband that is digitally activated when held up to one of the more than 40 beer taps and eight wine taps that line the walls. Pour what you wish to taste, sample the offerings, eat a wood-fired oven pizza and know that your tips are being donated to a local charity announced each month. Since its grand opening in May 2017, the establishment has donated more than $45,000 in tips to area charities such as Artists First, Joe’s Place and Wheels of Hope. A few doors down, at Vom Fass, where the motto is “look, taste, enjoy,” and you have a choice of sampling the world’s finest oils, vinegars and spirits, including Teeling Whiskey Co.’s 26-year-old aged Bunnhaneim whiskey.

Water Street Cafe a cozy hangout with a vintage flair
serving elevated bar snacks & entrees, plus signature cocktails.

In 2014, Maplewood was designated the first-ever Green Dining District in the nation. With its multiple eco-friendly restaurants committed to minimizing their environmental footprint, and menus of farm to table local foods, the city has become a foodie’s paradise. Some of these hotspots include Kakao Chocolate, Foundation Grounds Coffee House & Cafe, The Post Sports Bar & Grill, Great Harvest Bread Co., Water Street Cafe, Pie Oh My, Traveling Tea, and Schlafly Bottleworks, to name a few. At Boogaloo’s, you can sit at the bar in a swing suspended from the ceiling. A smoker in the back cooks up the most tender pork for the site’s infamous tapas and sandwiches. Make sure to order a side of cornbread. Eat up — it’s all good.

Farm to table enthusiasts can keep it fresh at the Schlafly Farmer’s Market from 4 to 7 p.m., every Wednesday, April through October. Winter markets are held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., one Saturday a month from November through March. More than 30 farmers and local food purveyors participate each week — farm fresh eggs, herbs, mushrooms, artisanal loaves, pork and more. Live music plays on the Bottleworks Patio on market days and, of course, you can enjoy a Schlafly beer while you shop. The brewery brews more than 70 styles of beer annually and has been described as the one of the best places in St. Louis to arrive hungry and thirsty. The city’s first new production brewery to open since the end of Prohibition, make sure to catch a free Schlafly brewery tour.

Schlafly ArtOutside: An Alternative Art Fair featuring
local artists, live music, food, unique art and of,
course, beer.

Local artists, local beer — the craft brewery hosts one of Maplewood’s most approachable, affordable and quirky art fairs of the year, Schlafly ArtOutside: An Alternative Art Fair. The three-day juried event, which draws nearly 15,000 patrons annually, features approximately 65 local artists in the brewery’s parking lot. The family-friendly fair features live music, food, unique art and of, course, beer.

Festivals are aplenty in Maplewood. For example, one of the more whimsical renowned tributes to Bastille Day, Let Them Eat Art, is held each year the second Friday of July. As part of the celebration, downtown businesses host their own artists who engage guests with stories, music and, naturally, art. Beer crawls (ongoing), the Sweet Tooth Tour (January), the Coffee Crawl (March), Stringfest (May), the Taste of Maplewood (May) and the Green Dining District Tour (self-guided) occur regularly in Maplewood. So do whiskey and chocolate pairings, cheese and soap making classes, national grilled cheese celebrations and even grilled s’mores days.

While walking through the district make note of the seven Walk of Fame plaques that pay tribute to the businesses that served the patrons rolling through here on Route 66 (1924-33) when Manchester Road was part of its path. Each of the seven are still family-owned and operated:

  • Scheidt Hardware (1916) is the kind of place where the owner always knows the real name for the “thing-a-ma-jig” that you need for that special home project. If you look close enough you can see the marks on the walls where the floor was leveledto convert the former theater into a hardware store.
  • Citizens National Bank (1915), the first bank in the Midwest to offer a drive through and walk-up window.
  • Saratoga Billiards and Bowling Alley (1916) is the oldest upstairs bowling alley west of the Mississippi and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The eight-lane bowling alley, located on the second floor of the building, is best known for its vintage interior. If you’re hungry while bowling, you can always have a pizza delivered. It’s that easy.
  • The owner of Empire Supply can help you with any doors, windows or glass orders, just as his grandfather, a former Russian Czar Guard, did back in the 1940s Kalb Electric, in business for more than a century, now sells lighting fixtures and lamp parts Paramount Jewelers (1946) creates and restores those favorite rings and things from it’s humble start on the side of the road in the early 1900s, the Sunnen Products Company is now the largest integrated precision bore sizing company in the industry, employing more than 800 with offices throughout the world.

It’s all here, all day long. From vintage to new age, holistic and hip, you can experience Maplewood in real time — taste, touch and smell as you shop, dine, drink and bowl. There’s nothing like it.

From downtown St. Louis, take I-64/Highway 40 west to Big Bend south to Manchester and turn left (east).


Mastodon State Historic Site

Just outside of the city limits is the Mastodon State Historic Site, where guests can picnic in a spot that was once completely surrounded by the bones of 14,000 year-old mastodons that provided the very first evidence that humans coexisted with the massive monsters.

Tip: Be sure to visit the on-site museum, where you can see bones of the prehistoric beasts on display, learn about the discoveries, and even see a giant ground sloth!

Rock Hollow Trail, most famously known as Zombie Road, is a 2.3 mile stretch of railroad that is the site of one of the largest Native American burial mounds in the country.

Once used by the Army during the Civil War, Zombie Road is a notoriously strange place with an even stranger urban legend attached to it. According to the legend, curious visitors have claimed to have seen actual zombies lumbering along the trail in the dead of night. Only the bravest need apply!


Fun Things to Do in St. Louis

1. City Museum

If you ask a native Missourian to list the most fun things to do in St. Louis, I can almost guarantee that City Museum will be their top recommendation. Saying it’s a local favorite is a grand understatement. Formerly the International Shoe Company, City Museum is 600,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor children’s playgrounds, industrial (and adult-friendly) jungle gyms, and architectural wonder made entirely from unique, industrial found objects, like old school buses, light aircrafts, and construction materials.

Tickets to the museum are $12 per person. You can also add $5 for roof access, which I highly recommend you do (weather permitting), and $6 for aquarium access. You can purchase your tickets when you arrive or online for a $1 convenience fee. City Museum is open 7 days a week and gets super crowded on the weekends. We went on a Sunday and had to wait 45 minutes just to get inside. If you can finesse a week day visit, your experience will probably be most enjoyable. See more information on the City Museum on Expedia.com.

Again, $5 for roof access is worth every penny. You have a stunning view of the city, plus access to a 10-story slide, ferris wheel, and dozens of other fun nooks and crannies.

2. Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Kyle and I were in heaven at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. It’s an American institution! When it comes to fun things to do in St. Louis for couples without kids, this is a must-do. The St. Louis Anheuser-Busch complex is the oldest and largest Budweiser brewery location in the country. Opened in 1852, three of its buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. General brewery tours showcasing their 7-step brewing process are completely free, although you may want to get there early on weekends to reserve your spot. If you do end up having to wait, you can hang out around the complex, grab a bite, and sample some of their brews in the The Biergarten.

You can also pay between $15-35 for the St. Louis Beermaster Tour, which includes a trip to the famous Budweiser Clydesdale Paddock and Stables, or to take a Beer School class. Special events and seasonal attractions vary depending on the brewery’s schedule.

And how gorgeous is this Clydesdale? What a beauty! We went on a Saturday afternoon, and he was available for photos until 4PM. Call or email for specific dates/times.

3. The Gateway Arch

When it comes to local monuments, it doesn’t get much better than The Gateway Arch. As previously mentioned, it was erected to symbolize the role St. Louis played in America’s westward expansion. It’s huge, and photos don’t really do the architectural design justice. For the best view, head to Kiener Plaza! On particularly hot days, you can duck into the Old Courthouse for shelter from the heat and to purchase Journey to the Top tickets. Yes, you can pay $13 to ride a giant elevator to the tippy top of The Arch. If small high spaces aren’t your thing, you can check out the Museum of Westward Expansion, located under The Arch. Unfortunately, it’s currently under significant renovations, so it’s been closed every time we’ve tried to go.

4. Saint Louis Zoo

Whether you have kids or not is irrelevant– the St. Louis Zoo is a must-do for people of all ages. Entry is completely free to the public, and it was recently voted Best Zoo and America’s Top Free Attraction. I’ve already gone twice to experience 17,000+ amazing animals in the Zoo’s care. It does get very hot and very packed in the summer months, so dress accordingly and try to go during the week if you can.

I would say it’s hard to pick a favorite exhibit, but it’s really not. The Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit is phenomenal. You wait in a five-to-ten-minute line adjacent to Humboldt Haven, which houses dozens of playful Humboldt penguins. Then, you’re gradually allowed inside Penguin Cove and Puffin Bay, and you literally shiver your way between two rocky cliffs filled with four different species of penguins, two types of puffins, and various other water birds. There are no cages. It’s Happy Feet magic.

You could easily spend all day traversing your way around the St. Louis Zoo. There are so many incredible exotic animals to see. Second to the penguins and Antarctic animals, the Red Rocks exhibit, which includes zebras, elephants, giraffes, and Big Cat Country, is a must-see.

If you or your children are particularly devout animal lovers, you’ll also want to stop by Grant’s Farm. It’s a little further outside the city, but we’ve been told it’s 100% worth the trip, especially for small children. We were only in town for the weekend, so we couldn’t fit the 30-minute drive to the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family into our itinerary. Grant’s Farm is definitely on our hit list for next time, though! Oh, and general admission, tram rides, and shows are all completely free.

5. Saint Louis Art Museum

Imagine a city museum filled with more than 33,000 original works, including paintings, sculptures, and masterpieces from Picasso, Monet, and van Gosh. Now imagine it’s completely free to the public. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the principal American art museums, and it’s visited by up to a half a million people every year. You can easily lose yourself in any of the hundreds of rooms spanning three floors of artwork.

For example, during my last visit, I stumbled upon Monet’s Water Lillies while trying to find the bathroom. My mouth just dropped. Whether or not you’re an art aficionado is irrelevant. Standing just two feet away from a long-standing artistic masterpiece will take your breath away.

6. Forest Park

Forest Park is a park lover’s dream come true. It covers over 1,300 acres of scenic natural and recreational areas. Due to its stunningly green atmosphere, Forest Park is frequently inhabited by runners, picnics, and festivals. It’s also home to a handful of cultural institutions, like the aforementioned Saint Louis Art Museum and Saint Louis Zoo, plus the Missouri History Museum, The Muny outdoor musical theater, the Science Center, and the Shakespeare Festival.

Forest Park is also home to the World’s Fair Pavilion, which is a prime photo op for photographers and bloggers! You can snag these outfit details here.

7. Citygarden

Citygarden is exactly what it advertises– an urban oasis in the heart of downtown St. Louis. It’s completely free to the public and has an audio tour and free iPhone App that are designed to enhance the visitor experience and highlight the garden’s twenty four sculptures. In addition to local artwork, the garden is rich with an extensive, Instagram-worthy plant and flora palette. Similarly to the rest of the parks in St. Louis, the garden is open from sunrise to 10PM.

Also, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Citygarden features multiple pools, fountains, and spray plazas for summertime fun. Click here for water feature rules and guidelines.

8. Saint Louis Science Center

The Saint Louis Science Center is yet another community favorite. If you’re somebody who thinks science isn’t fun, there will be long line of anxious fans wrapping themselves around the building at 11AM who adamantly disagree with you. General admission is free, although you need to purchase tickets to access quite a few of the exhibits. For example, the Saint Louis Science Center features an IMAX dome theater, which plays both new feature films and informative documentaries, and a 24-meter dome planetarium, both of which require separate entrance fees.

9. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Construction of the breathtaking Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis began in 1907. Paved with Romanesque windows and 83,000 square feet of mosaic art, this cathedral was dubbed “the outstanding cathedral of the Americas” by Pope Paul VI. Guests are encouraged to take complimentary guided tours, attend mass, visit The Mosaic Museum, and shop in the Cathedral Shop. Proceeds from the Mosaic Museum and the Cathedral Shop are allocated to help ensure that the cathedral remains open to over 200,000 visitors per year.


Consider the finer points of the pork steak

T-ravs aren't the only St. Louis food tradition.

Whereas a pork chop may be as tough as a shingle, pork shoulder is tender. It can be sliced anywhere from ½ to 1 ½inches thick, making for a great value at some restaurants. Compared with ribs, there’s more meat—and fewer sticky fingers.

The tender 22-ounce pork steak comes with a light rub, but it may be anointed with any of five sauces.

Try the pork steak in a sandwich loaded with bacon and cilantro. Yes, it’s unexpected, but it’s very good.

With a name like Ms. Piggies’, you know there’s pork steak—and with a sauce that’s sweet-tart and just a little hot.

The place has been around for decades, serving up mildly smoky thin pork steaks in a sauce with notes of cinnamon.

Order a thick, tender piece of swine with a side of onion rings.


How To Make The Perfect Gooey Butter Cake, According To St. Louis Chefs

Some desserts are made to be eaten while wearing a tight-waisted ballgown or a perfectly tailored little black dress. Light-as-air macarons or adorably tiny petits fours are the post-prandial choice of the sort of person who nibbles daintily, brushes crumbs away from still-lipsticked lips and declares, “I couldn’t eat another bite.”

Gooey butter cake is not that kind of dessert.

In its birthplace of St. Louis, GBC is the sort of treat that’s best enjoyed while wearing the roomiest sweatpants possible, preferably while standing at a kitchen counter (perhaps while still a bit hungover) or seated at a splintery picnic table at a swelteringly hot family reunion (perhaps while ankle-deep in chiggers , an essential part of the Missouri summer experience). It has never been — and couldn’t be even if it tried — a dessert that puts on airs.

Its looks are unassuming, to put it kindly. In the traditional version, it’s served directly in its baking pan and covered with nothing more than a light dusting of powdered sugar. Yellow, flat and unadorned, it lacks height, depth and decoration. But take one bite and you’ll realize that, despite its humble looks, gooey butter cake will get you right in the feels: buttery, sweet, crunchy and creamy sensations come with each blissful bite.

If you’ve never eaten gooey butter cake, try to make do with this description until you can get to the nearest kitchen and start baking one on your own. First, there’s the more-cake-than-crust bottom layer, with crispy, blondie-reminiscent corners that allow aficionados to choose their preferred eating experience ― soft and crumb-like on the sides, or with maximum crunchability at the corners. Once your perfect piece is cut and lifted from the pan, you’ll be nibbling your way through the topping, a custard-like culinary masterpiece that’s sometimes created with corn syrup, butter and eggs, and, in updated versions, is often amped up in unctuousness with the addition of cream cheese.

Is this the most beautiful cake in the world? It is not. Is it one of the most surprisingly addictive? Yes it is, as evidenced by the fine citizens of this city on the Mississippi River, who serve it just about anywhere people might hanker for a sweet pick-me-up. It’s sold from countertops at neighborhood bakeries on The Hill , hawked in stalls at the Soulard Farmers Market and served on fine china plates at chic suburban bistros , looking positively dainty for such a schlub-at-heart dish.

Was gooey butter cake an accident?

Thanks to its significant German immigrant population, St. Louis always had a plentiful supply of corner bars (serving up lots of beer, including Anheuser-Busch products, since the brewery was founded in south St. Louis). The only thing those early residents loved as much as beer was sweet baked goods, so the corners of St. Louis that weren’t occupied by taverns filled up with neighborhood bakeries. Lots of bakeries meant lots of competition, which led to increasing attempts to come up with new sweet treats that would keep customers streaming to your little corner of the world.

Although there are many versions and variations of the story, the basic legend goes like this: the first gooey butter cake most likely was made sometime in the 1930s at St. Louis Pastries Bakery. It was cooked up by baker John Hoffman, said Dale Schotte of Park Avenue Coffee. But Hoffman mistakenly reversed the proportions in his cake batter. With so little flour, the cake didn’t rise, and with so much sugar, it was heavy, dense and caramelized around the crust. Hoffman named his mistake “gooey butter cake.” People loved it, and a bakery star was born.

Catherine Neville is the publisher of Feast , a regional culinary publication headquartered in St. Louis. She’s also producer and host of the PBS show “ tasteMAKERS .” For her, the key to gooey butter cake’s lasting popularity is its roots in home kitchens. “Anyone who grew up in St. Louis remembers eating this cake,” she told HuffPost.

She’s seen versions and “discoveries” of this cake from as far afield as Paula Deen and Bon Appetit magazine (which insists on tossing in an extra adjective and calling it “ ooey gooey ”), but Neville says the best GBC always offers a perfect balance of sweetness and texture. In what is most likely the only time in history that this cake will be compared to an iconic French dish, Neville said, “With that caramelized sugar on top, and the gooey part underneath, that textural difference makes it reminiscent of a perfect crème brûlée .”

Every St. Louis family with even rudimentary gustatory inclinations will claim to have a “secret family recipe” for gooey butter cake, but it often turns out to be a no-big-deal version made from a box of yellow cake mix and a brick of cream cheese. So yes, you may love Mee Maw’s handed-down recipe above all others, but really, you can do better than that. HuffPost talked to three of the city’s top GBC purveyors for tips on making an elevated home-baked version of this classic.

The Willy Wonka of GBC: Park Avenue Coffee

After years of being a strictly local indulgence, gooey butter cake has been gaining a national reputation, most notably when Iron Chef Michael Symon of “Food Feuds” declared Park Avenue Coffee to have the best GBC in town. The shop, which has five locations in St. Louis, is owned and operated by the brother-and-sister team of Dale and Marilyn Schotte. “We grew up in a large Catholic family, and for big events, everyone was commissioned to make a dish,” Dale Schotte told HuffPost. “Our mom always made the gooey butter cake, using her grandmother’s recipe.”

For the Schottes, the fun is in the flavors, and they offer a host of imaginative versions that rival Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. They bake 73 varieties of gooey butter cake, including mom’s traditional, red velvet, butter pecan, chocolate chip cookie dough, turtle and Elvis (layered with Ghirardelli chocolate, peanut butter and banana filling). Seasonally, they offer specials like pumpkin caramel pecan, peppermint bark, eggnog and gingerbread.

“We have the top six sellers available at all locations every day, plus six seasonal flavors,” he said. “We bake 50,000 cakes a year, and we’ve shipped to all 50 states and around the world.” For those who want to re-create the GBC taste in their own kitchens, Park Avenue Coffee offers a bake-at-home mix in mom’s traditional, double chocolate and white chocolate raspberry versions.

Park Avenue Coffee’s tips for home cooks

There are two kinds of people in the world of gooey butter cake appreciation: Team Crust and Team Goo. If you’re goo-identifying, the most highly prized spot in the cake is smack-dab in the middle. To achieve that perfect texture, the cake should be slightly underbaked in the center.

“People will tell me they tried it at home and it didn’t work,” Schotte said. “There’s a fine line between done and underdone, so when you think it’s ready, don’t use a cake tester just shake the pan around a little bit. It’s ready when the crust is firm but the center still jiggles. If the outer edges around the crust jiggle, it’s not done. And if the crusts are firm but the center doesn’t jiggle, it’s too late. You overbaked it.”


A local’s guide to St. Louis

Life is all about balance, which is what makes St. Louis a city worthy of your time. Eat more barbecue than any person should for lunch, then dine at an award-winning vegetable-forward restaurant at dinner. Take a walk around Forest Park, then explore some of the 60-plus breweries in town (this is the birthplace of Anheuser-Busch, after all). Get cultured at the Saint Louis Art Museum, then get crazy at the impossible to define City Museum.

St. Louis has a long been a melting pot of cultures. It’s a city full of entrepreneurs, artists and creators. Shop (and eat) your way around the streets of Maplewood, the Grove or the Central West End, and you’ll get it.


The Midwest often gets overlooked when booking travel in the USA, but it's full of underrated gems. Like St. Louis, Missouri — the next stop on your bucket list! (Trust us, you'll agree by the end of this article.)

St. Louis is full of history, from its stunning churches to streets lined with brownstones all just waiting to be explored. That's why we've compiled the best places to stay, things to do, and foods to eat while you're there!


Day One Afternoon: Forest Park

1:30 p.m.: Make the short drive from The Hill to Forest Park for the afternoon. Forest Park has been chosen as the best urban park in the nation by readers of USA Today for its natural beauty. It's also home to many of the most popular free attractions in St. Louis. If you are traveling with children, the park offers two great options: the St. Louis Zoo at One Government Drive, and the St. Louis Science Center at 5050 Oakland Avenue. The Zoo has more than 5,000 animals from around the globe including elephants, hippos, tigers, and giraffes. The Science Center offers three levels of hands-on exhibits in astronomy, chemistry, and paleontology and more.

For a more adult-centered visit to the park, there's the St. Louis Art Museum at One Fine Arts Drive and the Missouri History Museum at 5700 Lindell Boulevard. At the Art Museum, you'll see works by masters like Monet, Degas, and Picasso, as well as, one of the world's best collections of 20th-century German art. At the History Museum, you'll learn about the key moments that shaped St. Louis including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the 1904 World's Fair and Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic.

If you'd like to spend time outdoors while visiting the park, you can sign up for a guided bicycle tour. City Cycling takes you through 10 miles of trails stopping at the 18 most historically and culturally significant sites in the park. The tours last up to three hours and cost $25 to $30 a person. Another option is to explore the park's waterways with a paddle boat ride. The Boathouse at 6101 Government Drive rents paddle boats by the hour for rides at Post-Dispatch Lake and the Grand Basin.


ART

UrbArts, 2600 N. 14th St.

The age-old synergy between art and culture is a central theme at this 16-year-old nonprofit. Founder M.K. Stallings put forth the notion that cultural ideas and values can be harnessed to create new visions for the future.

On a practical level, this manifests into events like poetry readings, storytelling sessions and trap yoga (asana movements paired with a hip-hop DJ). Organizations from across the region rent the space for events—and as perceptions of the neighborhood change, these events are becoming more diverse, encouraging connections between attendees of varying backgrounds. It’s just one example of the ways art can change enrich the lives of community members and beyond.

UrbArts also puts great effort into its youth programming. A highlight is the VerbQuake Youth Poetry Slam, a six-month initiative that teaches writing, performance and leadership skills to neighborhood children. Teens also have the opportunity to join the youth advisory council to experience a challenging leadership role. There’s even a St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate competition—connecting young poets with publishing houses.

Firecracker Press, 2612 N. 14th St.

Firecracker’s letterpresses can print just about anything on paper. Examples include business cards, invitations, packaging for Kaldi’s special holiday coffee and even hand-held placards, which would be totally appropriate at a protest march. Firecracker Press even uses 100 percent cotton “paper,” which is specially made in St. Louis from recycled t-shirts. Like traditional paper, the material can handle the repeated pressing of an inked, raised surface, which gives letterpress printing its unique look and feel.

The original Firecracker Press location opened on Cherokee Street in 2002, but the newer Old North location is three times bigger. The extra space made it possible for Firecracker to expand and to launch the aforementioned nonprofit, Central Print, which offers printmaking classes and education.


Things to Do in St. Louis

From its origins as a trading post perched on the threshold of unchartered territory, St. Louis grew to blend disparate influences -- French, German, Ragtime, Rust Belt, Midwest and Southern. All tours begin at the Gateway Arch. Designed in 1966 by architect Eero Saarinen to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of westward expansion, the Arch is synonymous with the city. First-rate museums, an extensive botanical garden, and a strong musical heritage give visitors plenty of reason to say "meet me in St. Louis."

Laclede's Landing is a riverfront tableau of red brick, silt and cobblestone celebrating the city's steamboat-era roots. Take a riverboat trip at dusk and gaze up at the Arch's elliptical steel curves, bathed in the sunset. Citygarden is a quirky sculpture park amid wild flowers, but the City Museum takes it even further. Equal parts architectural salvage, aquarium and jungle gym, it is a psychedelic indoor theme park of gargoyles, chutes, sculptures and dreamscapes, with a labyrinth of mazes and slides.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Toast a night out with cocktails at Union Station's exuberant art nouveau Grand Hall. The intelligentsia and the post-symphony crowd gather at twin pubs, Dressel's (Welsh) and Llewellyn's (Irish). The Delmar Loop is arguably the city's liveliest strip of bars and clubs, featuring Blueberry Hill and its perpetual shrine to local legend Chuck Berry. Grand Center, with the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and Jazz at the Bistro, is the city's cultural heart.

Restaurants and Dining

The city's noteworthy contribution to American cuisine, St. Louis-style barbecue, features slow-cooked, tangy-sweet pork ribs tender enough to break with a fork. Pappy's of Midtown reigns as monarch of St. Louis smokehouses. Elsewhere, locals tout the Gateway City's pizza for its heavy dose of oregano, mix of four cheeses, and cracker-thin crust. Almost anywhere you go, St. Louis dining is a family affair -- portions are generous and settings often informal.

Enter an architectural time machine to the 19th century and stroll the Soulard, Compton Heights, and Benton Park neighborhoods and Tower Grove Park. Treat the family to the St. Louis Zoo where pavilions and granite bolder enclosures echo the 1904 World's Fair. In summer, the city's focus shifts to baseball and Busch Stadium where the beloved St. Louis Cardinals play. Fans are exceedingly gracious (even to rivals) and eager to explain the intricacies of the game.