Shaw is one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis. I like it for a bunch of reasons, but one of them is that it’s still relatively secluded.
When you go to Shaw, you’re walking into a community. Everyone is proud to live there and loyal to local businesses. It’s the kind of place where you see kids riding down the sidewalk on their scooters with their parents chasing after them, and young people laughing and talking as they walk toward nearby Tower Grove Park or a local restaurant. It’s laid back and welcoming, AND it has amazing food.
I was wandering around Shaw last weekend and texting my best friend from home, who now lives in D.C. “I’d like to move here,” I told her. “I could totally see you living there,” she said. Whether or not I actually do, I still like to come on lunch breaks and on the weekend. The architecture is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and the coffee scene is slowly but surely expanding.
Below are a few of my recommendations for Shaw. They lean pretty heavily toward bakeries and ice cream shops (surprise), but I think you’d enjoy them.
I discovered SweetArt a while ago when I was living in St. Louis before grad school. I actually interviewed the owner, Reine Bayoc, for an article I wrote for a local magazine.
I keep coming back to SweetArt because the food is delicious and the service is warm and welcoming. The bakery specializes in vegan dessert, so you can find lots of vegan cupcakes and cookies. It also offers non-vegan options though if that’s not your thing.
Still, you might want to make it your thing for at least a few hours because their vegan salted chocolate chip cookie, the “Maine Event,” is better than the regular. I don’t say these things lightly. I could eat three in a row but I usually limit myself to one.
SweetArt is also known for its healthier takes on soul food. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu but one of my favorite things is the “Make It Funky” burger. It’s a vegan burger that has vegan cheese, vegan bacon strips, fresh tomato, lettuce, and a housemade vegan BBQ sauce. It’s so good that I always eat it very, very slowly. I don’t want the experience to end.
Ices Plain & Fancy
Tucked away on the corner of Shenandoah and 39th St. is Ices Plain & Fancy, one of St. Louis’ best ice cream shops. I discovered it after I moved back to St. Louis last year and decided to grab lunch at SweetArt. Ices is right down the street.
Ices specializes in nitrogen ice cream. It’s made in big blenders behind a see-through plastic panel, so you can watch the process.
I’m a big fan of the mint chocolate chip but last time I got a seasonal flavor, blueberry Nutella. I almost blacked out. What is this? I asked myself. How can anything be this good?
Fiddlehead Fern Café
Fiddlehead Fern Café is a new addition to the Shaw neighborhood. The coffee shop opened last week.
I’d read about the opening a few months ago and forgot about it. Then I saw someone posted a picture on Instagram last weekend and it reminded me. I stopped by for coffee on Sunday.
Fiddlehead Fern Café epitomizes everything good about Shaw, and, I think, points to the direction it’s moving in. The café is located on the corner of a residential street and is surrounded by old brick houses. The atmosphere outside is very quiet and peaceful, as Shaw usually is.
But the inside of the café is modern, sleek, and upscale, with white walls and an exposed ceiling. There are vintage pieces decorating the walls and pretty wooden tables topped with glass vases full of flowers. It feels like the kind of place you might find in a bigger city, like, say, L.A. or Chicago. But the best part is, it’s in St. Louis.
I got a lavender rose cappuccino and it was delicious. The baristas know what they’re doing. Next time I want to try a latte with another one of their flavored syrups, and I want to check out the food menu.
ANYWAY. Those are my recommendations for Shaw. There are lots of other places to check out in and around the neighborhood, but these places are all within walking distance, so you could hit them up in one day.
Here’s a song I listened to as I walked around Shaw last weekend. Joni Mitchell is a genius.