The city of St. Louis is perhaps best known for its famous Gateway Arch, located on the west bank of the Mississippi river. The monument was opened to the public in 1967 and has remained a popular tourist attraction ever since (source). During my visit to this beautiful city, I had the pleasure of visiting a few vegan-friendly establishments.
This popular pizzeria has three locations in St. Louis and offers various vegan items including deep dish and thin crust pizzas. Aside from your typical pizza toppings, Pi Pizzeria also offers Daiya vegan cheese and vegan Match Meat sausage. Pi’s traditional deep dish pizza is prepared with a buttered pan, so should you want a vegan deep dish pizza, the restaurant requests that you call at least 6 hours before you plan to eat there so that they can prepare a special crust just for you, sans butter.
With so many delicious toppings to choose from, we settled on Daiya cheese, Match sausage, wild mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and fresh rosemary. With a thick cornmeal crust, delicious toppings and tasty chunky tomato sauce, this pizza is one you should not pass up.
If you are able to refrain from devouring a whole pizza, I recommend enjoying a couple of their vegan (and gluten-free) chocolate chip sandwich cookies. Who doesn’t love moist cookies with a delicious vanilla cream filling in between? To top it all off, we washed down this delicious fare with some local Schlafly beer. We left with our stomachs full and our hearts happy.
Local Harvest Café
Local Harvest Café came highly recommended by a friend, and after looking at their menus, I knew I had to go. Needless to say I was not disappointed! With two locations, we stopped by the Tower Grove restaurant for dinner one night. As an appetizer we split an order of the vegetable sushi and got to sample some house-made pickled apple, carrots and pineapple. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the pickled items, but found that their natural flavors were nicely accented with fresh dill and vinegar.
For our entrees we enjoyed the Baby Kale and Crispy Potatoes Salad, White Bean Soup, Sage and Parsley Polenta and the Vegan Mushroom Linguini. The salad was good and we loved the crispy potato topping, which provided a nice texture. The soup was deliciously creamy and hearty, but also crunchy thanks to the black pepper croutons on top. The polenta was drenched with roasted butternut squash stew and accompanied by sauteed tat soi (an Asian variety of bok choy or mustard), which had a very nice flavor to it. Finally, the linguini was served with porcini mushrooms, spinach, garlic, roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs, and covered with a nice, lightly-salted oil. Everything we tried was delicious.
Though the prices at Local Harvest are a little high, the food is very fresh and of high quality to match. From what I understand, Local Harvest takes part in a local CSA, where they obtain much of their produce.
After viewing Local Harvest’s brunch menu, we were quickly persuaded to visit the Downtown location for brunch a couple days later. After finding out that we are all vegan, our friendly waitress informed us about the vegan specials they had. We chose two of them: the Sloppy Joe Slinger and the Root Beer Float French Toast. Not knowing what a slinger was, we quickly found out that it is a potato hash covered in either chili or gravy. Local Harvest did an excellent job on the slinger as it tasted eerily similar to the Sloppy Joes I grew up with. Accompanied by a couple slices whole wheat bread, the Sloppy Joe Slinger was all you would need in a meal. The french toast was basically dessert for breakfast! Two thick-cut pieces of brioche flavored with root beer, smothered in chocolate syrup and then accompanied by two scoops of coconut ice cream, this breakfast was awesome! Though I could barely taste the root beer (if at all), it was a very memorable dish that I would recommend to others.
In addition to these two dishes, we also enjoyed some house-made coconut granola, potato hash, vegan sausage and a peanut butter banana smoothie. The granola and hash both had wonderful flavors, as did the sausage, however, it was more like a slice of bread (both in look and texture) than actual sausage. It wasn’t bad, however, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. To top it all off, the peanut butter banana smoothie tasted mostly like banana and could have used a little more peanut butter, but it was lightly-sweetened however, which was refreshing!
I had heard rave reviews about Sweet Art so we stopped by in between activities one day, and each of us ordered a Boston cream cupcake. A huge Boston cream pie fan, myself, these moist cupcakes had just the right amount of sweetness with a creamy vanilla center and chocolate topping. I could have easily devoured four of these in one sitting. AMAZING.
Aside from offering desserts, Sweet Art also offers brunch and lunch. We weren’t able to try their brunch this time around but we did enjoy some lunch on the following day. One of the nice things about Sweet Art is that they offer a 1/2 sandwich + salad or side deal for around $8. Wanting to try multiple things, we took advantage of this deal and settled on various combinations of their Mackin’ Cheese, Queen Kale Salad, Jewel and River Monster sandwiches. Sweet Art’s Mackin’ Cheese is rich and satisfying and full of greasy goodness. Since they offer Daiya on some of their sandwiches, I’m assuming the sauce is a Daiya mixture with nutritional yeast in addition to a couple other items. Tasty! The kale salad had chunks of sweet potato with steamed kale and a light dressing. Both sandwiches were also good. I especially liked the River Monster as it had panko-crusted seasoned fried tofu with a curry tartar sauce. I could eat that stuff by the spoon, it was so good. In addition, the sandwich also had organic mixed greens and agave-lime pickled red onions. The Jewel sandwich had caramelized onions, fresh herbs, local organic sunflower sprouts, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, Daiya cheese and their signature vegan magic spread on house-made hoagie.
Since we enjoyed the Boston cream cupcakes so much the day prior, we purchased a brownie, cinnamon roll, carrot cake cupcake and strawberry lemonade cupcake to go. Yes, all vegan! These were all moist and absolutely delicious as well. The folks at Sweet Art sure know what they are doing!
Black Bear Bakery
Having heard that Black Bear Bakery has a great Saturday buffet-style brunch with lots of vegan options, we elected to try it out. Unfortunately, however, we were disappointed. Perhaps the bakery was having an off day, but the buffet was small and the only vegan options offered were tofu scramble, potatoes, steamed kale and fruit. Not exactly my definition of “lots” of options, but then again, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I have high standards.
In addition, I found the food to be a bit on the bland side. While this can be seen as a good thing (i.e. healthy), everything could have used just a dash of salt and pepper to liven it up and bring out the flavor. The tofu scramble had carrots, green onion and turnips with a few cubes of tofu, the potatoes were plain but nicely roasted, and the kale had what looked to be a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. Luckily there was a table at the end of the buffet with a handful of seasonings such as Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast. After sprinkling some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos on most of my plate, I was happy to finish the rest of my food.
A nice added touch that the bakery provided was musical entertainment. A local folk-type band got their groove on while we all chowed down. We left Black Bear Bakery with a couple cinnamon raisin cookies and a crunchy carrot muffin. Both were actually very good and hearty.
I Scream Cakes
After an ice cream craving struck, we found I Scream Cakes, thanks to a friendly fellow vegan who waited on us at Pi. Located next door to Black Bear Bakery, I Scream offers 3-4 vegan coconut-based ice creams each day. Those featured when we stopped by were Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana, Strawberry and Tastes Like Purple. According to the gentleman behind the counter, purple tastes like tropical fruit and also describes the color of the ice cream. The flavors we tried were Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana and Strawberry. Both ice creams were nice and creamy, with the chocolate tasting primarily of, well, chocolate and banana. I felt that it needed more peanut butter as it was a little difficult to taste. The Strawberry ice cream was very fresh, and we could tell that I Scream used real strawberries to flavor this ice cream. Very good!
In addition to their frozen treats, this ice cream shop also sells local vegan baked goods such as cupcakes.
Schlafly is a popular St. Louis brewery offering guided beer tastings each Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the neighboring town of Maplewood. According to Barnivore, all of Schlafly’s beers are vegan, yay!!! After being provided with a 5 or 6-ounce glass, then watching a short video about the brewery, we tasted four of Schlafly’s beers: Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Dry Hopped APA and Oatmeal Stout. There were baskets of pretzels to munch on in between beers, which helped somewhat clear our palates before proceeding with the next beer. My personal favorite was the Hefeweizen as it is a light, unfiltered wheat beer, similar to my beloved Blue Moon. For those of you who enjoy coffee, I recommend the Oatmeal Stout as it tasted like straight coffe and was a favorite among the group.