St. Louis’ Neighborhoods Of Character: The Central West End

The Central West End, or the CWE in St. Louis is a hub of eclectic, upscale arts, culture, dining and shopping in St. Louis. Don’t shortchange your visit to St. Louis by missing this neighborhood.

Guided CWE Cover image

Our map of the CWE catalogs a curated selection of the best this neighborhood has to offer, plus a closer look at a few of our favorite locales: Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, Brennan’s, Projects+Gallery, Centro and Retreat Gastropub.

CWE_Map

East + West
387 N Euclid Ave
314.553.9288

East + West owners Brian and Lauren Simpson have cultivated a unique aesthetic in their menswear shop, drawing inspiration from their travels. The boutique focuses on straightforward styling and sophisticated designers, plus a curated lineup of brands alongside their signature collection. These include Baldwin, Norse Projects, 3sixteen, Wings + Horns, Engineered Garments, Reigning Champ, Rogue Territory and Carhartt WIP.

Pop into the store on any given day and you’ll usually find the Simpsons behind the counter, surveying the shop or passing along a local restaurant recommendation, with genuine dedication to their surrounding neighborhood. Shoppers are also likely to drop by when East + West is hosting an event, as the Simpsons take pride in supporting local artists and frequently partner with them on in-store pop-ups.

East + West celebrates their five-year anniversary this year, proving that a dedication to authentic design and quality goods are a winning combination in St. Louis.

 

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While you’re in the neighborhood, visit:

10denza, 44 Maryland, 314.361.1010
At this self-described “retail lounge,” pop culture, fashion and music converge in a shopping experience that’s both curated and accessible.

Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, 314.367.6731
When this shop opened in 1969, no one could have imagined today’s digitized world—but Left Bank proves print still has a place.

Bowood Farms, 4605 Olive, 314.454.6868
A fourth-generation family farm supplies this urban outpost with elegant flowers and even some of the food served at its restaurant, Café Osage.

Centro Modern Furnishings
4727 McPherson Ave
314.454.0111

Support designers from all over the world and craft an international interior with the offerings at this modern furniture emporium. There are literally hundreds of choices in sofas alone, once you select a designer. Then there’s your preferences in style, color and size. Even though the word “furnishings” is in the name, the products at Centro go well beyond furniture. You’ll find pillows, light fixtures, custom area carpets, cheese graters, vases and much more.

Be sure to ask co-owners Ginny Stewart and Todd Lannom for the scoop about the chair you’re sitting in. They’ll happily fill you in on the technology and skill required to produce each piece, along with helpful insights about design authenticity, fabrics, trends and upcoming sales.

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projects+gallery
4733 McPherson Ave
314.696.8678

This intimate gallery space responds to the thriving demand for innovative art in St. Louis with engaging works, created by unique contemporary artists from all over the world who challenge accepted norms. These renowned artists and designers who exhibit at projects + gallery explore complex themes through unconventional artistic disciplines.

Owner Susan Barrett and Senior director Bridget Melloy work closely with Barrett Barrera Projects to both craft exhibitions that transcend traditional commercial gallery practices and to introduce both fresh and established talent to St. Louis. The two-year-old gallery’s latest winter exhibit, “Object As Mirror,” explored questions about the art of fashion, prompting a discussion around identity and self-expression with designers such as Alexander McQueen and Gucci. Other exhibits have included “Haute Hip-Hop,” which highlighted the cultural influence of hip-hop; a show by Paris-based ceramicist Stéphane Margolis; and a group show entitled “People and Other Creatures,” which included artists’ physical representations of identity.

Don’t miss out on this gallery’s avant-garde programming, as it has found its niche with unexpected mixed-media works crafted by multidisciplinary creatives.

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While you’re in the neighborhood, visit:

Philip Slein Gallery, 4735 McPherson
Established painters are the bread and butter of this gallery, but the owners’ enthusiasm for talented emerging artists has helped many gain footholds.

Duane Reed Gallery, 4729 McPherson
This 4,400-foot space is a favorite for collectors looking to mingle with the contemporary artists who exhibit their work here.

World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland
Even if all you know about chess is the word “checkmate,” these fascinating exhibits and displays will engage your curiosity.

Retreat Gastropub
6 N Sarah St.
314.261.4497

If the allure of nature sounds better on paper than in real life—or if it sounds fabulous but real life keeps getting in your way—this outdoor-themed restaurant will be a balm to your weathered soul. Retreat’s interior is designed for coziness without kitsch, from light bulbs suspended like fireflies to the polished glow of its cedar tabletops.

The menu offers plenty of comfort food—like macaroni and cheese, pork chops and potato soup—as well as elevated versions of simple, hearty dishes. And then there are the unexpected touches from chef Michael Friedman, like feta mousse topped with delicious fig marmalade, prepared to be spread on crostini served by the bottomless basket.

Owner Travis Howard began working in restaurants at age 16. Clearly, he paid attention while working his way up through nearly every position in the front and back of the house. By running a tight ship, he frees up his staff’s energy for creation and fun, especially behind the bar. Try the Oaxaca Flocka Flame, a spicy combo of mezcal, tequila and ancho chile liqueur, which definitely lives up to its name.

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While you’re in the neighborhood, visit:

Brasserie by Niche, 4580 Laclede, 314.454.0600
Enjoy weekend brunch serving beignets to burgers, or a dinnertime three-course menu offering an authentic French culinary experience.

Mission Taco, 398 N. EUCLID, 314.930.2955
The house-made tortillas, salsas and next-level taco fillings elevate this Mexican fare above the ordinary.

Pi Pizzeria, 400 N. Euclid, 314.367.4300
Pi’s pies are anything but formulaic— the trademark cornmeal crust comes thick or thin, vegan or gluten-free, with dozens of topping options.

Handcrafted by Bissinger’s
32 Maryland Plaza
314.367.7750

Bissinger’s legacy in St. Louis is almost as rich as their handcrafted chocolate. However, this brand’s dedication to tradition doesn’t negate their interest in innovation. In June they’ll introduce a new café concept to the Central West End, aptly named Handcrafted by Bissinger’s.

The current location will be completely renovated and transformed into a buzzing culinary hub, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 23 City Blocks Catering—the same team that owns and operates The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s and Lumen Private Event Space—will add Executive Chef Nicholas Miller to the mix. Miller has crafted a menu offering a variety of dishes, from quiches in the morning to cheese and chocolate fondue at night. Better yet, if you can’t make it in for lunch, Handcrafted will offer lunch delivery throughout the CWE and beyond.

The most intriguing addition to the new restaurant is the awe-inspiring wine wall, where guests will be able to self-dispense different types of wine with the swipe of a card. Choose a two-ounce pour for a taste or a five-to-eight-ounce pour for a glass with dinner, all in an inviting, cozy atmosphere.

Though innovation is on the way, die-hard Bissinger’s traditionalists need not worry. Your favorite Bissinger’s chocolate and a delicious dessert menu will still be available. As Wonka would say, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”

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Brennan’s
4659 Maryland Ave
314.497.4449

The experience of this three-story powerhouse eludes easy descriptions. It’s part bar, part restaurant, part cigar club, part co-working space, part event venue, part lounge, part bottle shop and part ping pong oasis. Owner Kevin Brennan has an impressive ability to envision what his customers want before they know it themselves, which has helped the business stay vibrant since its inception in 2003.

Spirits are central to an experience at Brennan’s, whether it’s a cocktail with seasonal small plates in the bar and bottle shop, or an after-dinner cognac with a San Cristobal Robusto cigar, aged in French oak with Maker’s Mark in the Durango Cigar Lounge. (If you’d like to try the latter, be aware that the second-floor cigar club is members-only).

The bottle shop, with its majestic glass showcases, dates back to Brennan’s earliest days. The smartly contemporary new addition, BHIVE, serves as a daily workspace which can also accommodate meetings and luncheons. After office hours, the venue transforms into a hub for guest chefs and innovative speakers.

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While you’re in the neighborhood, visit:

Taste, 4584 Laclede, 314.361.1200
Cocktails here are masterpieces of flavors, aromas and colors, accented by a locally-sourced menu of meats, cheeses and breads.

Scarlett’s Wine Bar, 4253 Laclede, 314.797.8223
This wine bar has a far-ranging selection, and its laid-back vibe fits perfectly into the neighborhood tech scene.

Gamlin Whiskey House, 236 N. Euclid, 314.875.9500
The Gamlin brothers elevate the appreciation of whiskey, bourbon and Scotch through their steakhouse’s impressive international list of blends and single-batch spirits.

To learn more about St. Louis’ Central West End and other great neighborhoods, visit our friends at Explore St. Louis.

Photography by Attilio D’Agostino.

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