A Broke Student’s Top 100

The best restaurants to hit on your next Saint Louis visit but on a budget

Anytime I am looking for a good place to eat with family or friends, I open up Ian Froeb’s top 100 list. This list is compiled of the top 100 restaurants in the Saint Louis area and contains foods across all price ranges and all types of cuisines. My friends, family, and I have tried a very large number of these restaurants and have some staples you must hit if you’re looking for good food but on a student’s budget. All of these restaurants listed from Froeb’s list are in the mid to lower price range in comparison to some of the other restaurants featured. In no particular order, these are some of my recommendations with a lower price point in mind. 

Beast Craft BBQ and Co.: Beast Craft is a must-hit for the best Saint Louis-style BBQ. With numerous choices ranging from plates with sides to hand-crafted sandwiches, Beast Craft has it all. Although everything there is phenomenal, my favorites have to be the BBQ pork steak and the rib tips. They are tender all the way through and simply cooked to perfection. Truly you could choose any item menu and be fully satisfied post-meal. 

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery: Move over Ted Drewes, Clementine’s is coming in hot. If I were to describe Clementine’s to a newcomer I would say they are the funky and spunky cousin in the family. Ranging from crazy flavors like “White Chocolate Geranium”, “Honey Lavender”, and “Pineapple Upside Down Cake” to some classics and staples like “Saint Louis Style Gooey Butter Cake”, “Salted Cracker Caramel”, and “Peanut Butter Lova” you simply cannot go wrong here. They even have a vegan line of ice creams. My personal favorite, and you cannot go wrong with this one, is the “Vegan Coconut Chocolate Fudge”. It’s super decadent, rich, and delicious. Overall, a fantastic ice cream place. 

Guerrilla Street Food: Filipino food is obviously a delicious genre of cuisine but Guerilla Street Food truly takes Filipino cuisine to the next level. Their Fresh Lumpia is a great starter, packed with fresh veggies and coconut milk crepes with your choice of pork, shrimp, or soy-marinated tofu, but Guerilla’s true star is the “Flying Pig” entree. Similar to a bowl, it is pork shoulder with in-house-made Hoison, chile sauce, calamansi (which is Philipino citrus), Missouri jasmine rice, and the usual bowl toppings like green onions, fried garlic, and black sesame. Truly delicious and a great take on Filipino street food. 

Pâtisserie Chouquette: Now if you’re looking for authentic French Pastries, La Pâtisserie Chouquette is the place to go. Their french Macarons are truly the epitome of authentic French Macarons and emulate them in the best way despite being made here in the US. Some of my favorite flavors include “Strawberry Champagne”, “Vanilla bean”, and “Cafe Au Lait”. The cookie is perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with a touch of sweetness. Additionally, they have fantastic coffee ranging from hot drinks to cold brew and their pain au chocolat, cannelé, galettes, and croissants are all fantastic pastries. Pâtisserie Chouquette is a french pastry lover’s dream. 

Tejana Taqueria: If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, Tejana Taqueria is the spot. Their menu has so many choices on it and all choices are authentic to Mexican cuisine. The absolute best choice on the menu is the Tacos Al Pastor. This combination of spicy pork, pineapple, cilantro, onions, and corn tortillas is truly unmatched in the realm of Tacos Al Pastor. Tejana Taqueria does these tacos, and all other tacos, right.

Mac’s Local Eats: Mac’s is the epitome of American cuisine. They are all locally sourced and produce their product with the best of ingredients. They have the “Classic Burger” where you choose the number of patties you want (1-3) and it is finished off with ketchup, mustard, American cheese, pickles, and onions or they have some fantastic special burgers. The best special burgers, in my opinion, are the “Louis” which has provel cheese, sauteed onions, and sauteed red and orange bell peppers or the “Dirty” which is two beef patties, pepper jack cheese, onion, bourbon molasses pickled jalapeños, and salsa aioli. Mac’s is definitely a must-hit spot for classic American burgers. 

Seoul Taco: Now, this is probably my top spot on this list. Seoul Taco combines Korean and Mexcian style food into an absolute masterpiece of cultural cuisine fusion. They have many different menu items ranging from “Gogi and Waffles”, tacos, “Gogi Bowls”, Quesadillas, and nachos but the absolute best menu item they have are their burritos. Severed warm, you get a toasted tortilla packed with kimchi fried rice, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, carrots, green onions, Seoul sauces, and your choice of Bulgogi steak, chicken, spicy pork, or tofu. This combination of cuisine might seem weird but you truly cannot knock it until you try it, it is delicious. 

The Wood Shack: This was a more recent find for me after a spontaneous trip to the Saint Louis Art Museum and it was a perfect foodie spot to end the day. The Wood Shack is a wood fire sandwich shop where all meats are smoked to perfection. Two of the best-sellers are the “Ragin Cajun” and the “The Pollo Loco” which I can attest are absolutely phenomenal, but any sandwich on the menu is a hit because they cook either meat to perfection adding a fantastic smokey flavor to all sandwiches. A great quick bite to eat!

Lemmons by Grbic: I had never heard of Balkan food before hearing about Lemmons but boy was I missing out. This Balkan food is simply to die for. There are a few standouts on this menu in my eyes and you cannot go wrong with any of them. For starters, the smoked chicken wings and the White Sirenje are phenomenal appetizers, very simplistic but are packed with a flavor punch. For Entrees, the Schnitzel is cooked to perfection and the garlic mashed potatoes are chef’s kiss, the Cepavi Flatbread is so simplistic with its ingredients but there could not be more of a perfect flavor combination, and the Smash Burger is absolutely astonishing because of the bacon jalapeno jam they put on it. If you want something different from your usual dinner place, this is definitely the place to go because of all its unique choices. 

Mayo Ketchup: If you’re looking for some classic Latin American-inspired street food, Mayo Ketchup is where to go. They have numerous menu items including twice-fried plantains and empanadas, bowls, and sandwiches. All of which have Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican style influences. Any choice on the menu is fantastic but my personal favorite has to be the “El Cubano” or the “La Tripleta”. Both choices pack a big flavor into every bite and are really great. 

With that being said, if you’re looking for a variety of choices and cuisine to choose from on your next trip to Saint Louis these restaurants are incredible choices. At all of these locations, the food is made with quality ingredients and they all have created the best experience for the customer while continuing to be in a more affordable price range. Overall, you are guaranteed an exceptional experience, great memories, and fantastic food while balling on a budget choosing any of these places.