Meet Me in…Clayton

By Trish Muyco-Tobin

photo by Anne Warfield Photography

We have farmers Ralph Clayton and Martin Hanley to thank for bequeathing a combined 104 acres of land to establish the St. Louis County seat, better known as the City of Clayton. Both native Virginians, Clayton and Hanley settled in the area in the 1830s. When the City of St. Louis split from the county in 1876, the county was forced to find a new location for its courts.

Clayton offered up the majority of the land to be used, and he only required that the area around the new county seat be named after him. Hanley contributed a smaller acreage to the east of Clayton’s land; and together, the expanse extends across Clayton’s Central Business District.

Clayton City Hall  photo by Anne Warfield Photography

Adopted as the new county seat in 1877, Clayton was formally incorporated in 1913. The city began to experience steady growth soon after; and by the 1920s, it had become the preferred neighborhood for a few elite St. Louisans who wanted to get away from the city. Clayton’s population steadily increased, as well as the value of its real estate.

Clayton’s identity as the hub of St. Louis’ metropolitan area became established by mid-century, following an expansion of its commercial district. More buildings were built, allowing more businesses to develop within its boundaries.

Today, the City of Clayton stands proud as an ideal St. Louis community, with highly desirable residential hamlets, walkable streets and a bustling downtown district where some of the area’s top dining destinations and crowd-pleasing gatherings and public spaces—like Shaw Park—can  can be found.

Speaking of public spaces, much of Clayton’s downtown area transforms into one big gathering spot for the Saint Louis Art Fair. This month, the fair—touted as one of the best in the nation—will be held from Sept. 8 to 10. In addition to showcasing some of the best handcrafted art in St. Louis and across the country, live entertainment on three stages, a children’s area and food booths from local establishments will be available.

photo by Anne Warfield Photography

SAINT LOUIS ART FAIR
5 to 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 8
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 10
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit saintlouisartfair.com

IN AND AROUND CLAYTON

Vincent Van Doughnut
Aside from having one of the more endearing names for a doughnut shop (yes, there is an actual Vincent at the helm of this operation), the fantastic display of sweet, doughy pastry that greets customers is not just for show. It’s impossible to play favorites, but the Chocolate Salted Caramel, Lemon Lavender and Maple Bacon doughnuts truly stand out. vincentvandoughnut.com

5 Star Burgers
Craving an honest-to-goodness burger with all the proper sides and fixings – and then some? You can’t go wrong with the classic 5 Star Burger, or try the Blue Ribbon Burger with bacon, port-braised onions and gorgonzola to wow your palate. Don’t forget the fries, be it russet, sweet potato or chili cheese. And floats, ice cream shooters, boozy shakes, and an array of Maine Root Fountain Soda flavors should keep things exciting at your table. 5starburgersstl.com

Sardella
This Gerard Craft Italian café-inspired eatery is Clayton’s new lunch hot spot. Try the Spicy Beef Tartare for an amuse-bouche, followed by the soup of the day (any day is a good soup day here) and the Little Gem Salad with green goddess dressing. Small and large plates – and of course, pasta – dominate the dinner menu, and on weekends, don’t miss brunch. sardellastl.com

Clementine’s                                                                                                                       Just like its original Lafayette Square location, this new “naughty & nice” creamery on Demun is all about decadence. The ice-cream is made by hand in small batches using all-natural ingredients (many of them locally sourced) and high butterfat content for a rich, velvety mouthfeel. A naughty (boozy) fave is Maple Bourbon with Salted Candied Pecans. A few nice (non-boozy) flavors topping our list: Manchego with Truffles & Honey, Lemon Buttermilk Chess Pie, Coconut Chocolate Fudge and Salted Crack Caramel. clementinescreamery.com