By Trish Muyco-Tobin
Make St. Louis’ South Grand Boulevard your next destination stop, and get a sampling of what it means to have the world at your fingertips—and all within six city blocks.
The South Grand corridor, known for its diversity, independent storefronts and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, is a recipient of the Great Street Award from the state of Missouri. According to the South Grand Community Improvement District, from Utah Place North to Arsenal Street, the area represents 14 countries, making it the most diverse, as well as the most concentrated, population in the St. Louis region.
Craving the adventurous flavors of Brazil, Vietnam or the Philippines? Or perhaps you prefer the spiciness of Thai or Ethiopian cuisine? You can sample your way through this international promenade and savor authentic Moroccan Tajine, Vietnamese pho and Filipino adobo all in one afternoon.
And if your culinary trip to South Grand leaves you yearning for more international pursuits, spend a weekend soaking it all in during the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.
Now in its 17th year and hosted by the International Institute Saint Louis, the two-day event (Aug. 26 and 27) celebrates St. Louis’ immigrant population and promotes multicultural diversity. Throughout Tower Grove’s beautiful, tree-lined spaces, browse along the International Food Court for a world of tastes from the South American to the African continent and everything in-between. If shopping’s more your speed, explore the World Bazaar, where exotic—and enticing—jewelry, clothing, toys and other trinkets await.
Plus, enjoy dozens of free cultural performances from across the globe on three stages; or indulge in dance lessons (flamenco, anyone?), an interactive Global Corner, family-friendly craft demos, and world sports and games, also free of charge.
More than 140,000 festival-goers are expected to attend this year, making the Festival of Nations the largest of its kind in the St. Louis region.
FESTIVAL OF NATIONS
Tower Grove Park
Saturday, Aug. 26, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free admission, entertainment and activities
For a complete schedule of events, visit festivalofnationsstl.org
ALONG AND AROUND SOUTH GRAND
Guerrilla Street Food
Located on the edge of the South Grand corridor at Grand and Arsenal Street, this tiny eatery is big on flavor. Menu items are made fresh daily, with many ingredients sourced from local farms. Named after the Filipino resistance fighters in World War II, Guerrilla Street Food began as a food truck dishing out traditional fare such as pancit (pan-fried noodles), fried lumpia (vegetable-filled eggroll) and Wandering Pig asado, which is slow-roasted pork with native calamansi lime, hoisin sauce and garlic and a mélange of other flavors. Can’t decide? Try the 800 LB. Guerrilla, a burrito or bowl combining the pork asado with chicken adobo, a vinegar-, soy- and garlic-based stew that is popular throughout the Philippine Islands. guerrillastreetfood.com
King and I Thai Restaurant
This South Grand mainstay became the first Thai restaurant in St. Louis when it opened its doors in 1980. A popular spot for lunch and dinner, King and I’s menu is expansive. You’ll find the usual Pad Thai and assortment of curry dishes—all very tasty—but go for the delicacies such as the Four Kings of Thailand (meat, seafood and vegetables in a roasted chili sauce) or the seemingly simple but savory Duck & Rice. A word of advice: Entrees can be prepared mild, medium or hot. Trust us when we say that hot really means hot. kingandistl.com
For almost three decades, Pho Grand has delighted diners with the fresh flavors of Vietnam, from a selection of noodles and specialty soup to rice-flour crepes and campfire pots. Sip on some traditional Vietnamese iced coffee while you peruse the menu, and try a spring or summer roll (or both!) for an appetizer. phogrand.com