First Week In STL Observations: There Are Hills Here & I Want To Eat Everything

Today marks our first week and a half in St. Louis!

There are hills here. I just parked on an incline and had to use my emergency brake. Living in Fargo-Moorhead and North Iowa, I forgot our cars even had emergency brakes.

Goodbye garage and hello street parking. I feel celebratory, though, because I found I can still parallel park. The other day, I had a conversation with a neighbor who expressed concern about leaving her car outside during the winter and all I could think was, “I’m from Minnesota. . .”

Gooey Butter Cake is a big deal. Every restaurant, grocery store, and cafe offers slices or whole cakes. We grabbed one from the grocery store on a whim on the Fourth of July. Since it was a holiday evening, there weren’t many varieties left. We made sure this brand contained real butter and passed on the mango-flavored cake.

Gooey butter

We recently learned gooey butter cake originated in St. Louis. According to legend, this cake resulted from a mistake when a baker accidentally mixed up his or her ingredient proportions. We received many suggestions from residents for their favorite gooey butter cakes in St. Louis and have a long journey ahead of us. This one had a crumblier texture, but it did taste like butter.

It’s hot in St. Louis. In North Iowa and Fargo, the wind blew fiercely 90% of the time. When we moved to Fargo, we quickly realized why there were less sidewalk and rooftop patios than Minneapolis. I found the wind so irritating that I called it Prairie Madness (a Chrisism). This first week in St. Louis has been hot and muggy and now we wish for a prairie breeze. When I walk outside, it feels like someone’s tenderly smothering my face with a warm, damp, slightly stinky towel. The humidity will make me stronger!

The people we’ve met so far have given us a warm welcome and take pride in their city. Something unique about St. Louis is that it offers so many high quality, free attractions such as the zoo, science center, and art museum. People are happy to chat and tell us about their favorite places. The next door neighbor to a house we had viewed during our first visit even invited us over for a beer and we made a new friend.

The St. Louis dining scene is overwhelmingly amazing. We can find nearly any type of restaurant and grocery imaginable. The choices are exhilarating but they are also overwhelming. I want to try everyone’s favorite restaurants and bakeries now, but am trying to pace myself.

We live near a deli that cooks corned beef daily and serves matzoh ball soup and chopped liver.

Protzil's sandwich

A Reuben sandwich from Protzel’s Deli.

St. Louis has many Asian grocery stores, restaurants that serve dim sum, and even a Korean bakery!

korean bun

A curry chicken koroke from Kim’s Bakery in Chesterfield, MO. They are like the fluffiest donut rolled in crispy breadcrumbs.

We had our first STL date night on the Fourth of July at Everest Cafe. A couple STL bloggers had recommended it as a favoriteOne of the cuisines we missed the most while living in North Iowa was Indian food.

indian food

Everest Cafe is owned and operated by a Chef/Owner owner with an incredible story. You can order Nepalese, Indian, and Korean dishes here. We chose three of our favorite comfort dishes, vegetable korma, saag paneer, and beef bulgogi with garlic naan. The curries had a complex, beautifully round flavor and the bulgogi tasted as good as any Korean restaurant we’ve visited. One of Jake’s favorite foods in the whole world is garlic naan and Everest’s was nicely blistered and coated in minced garlic. The next time we return, I’d like to try the momos and Nepalese meals served on big, metal tray.

I accidentally ran into the newly opened Tim Hortons when I got lost, so I bought a tiny box of ten Timbits for $2. They’re sticky and glazed and terribly addicting. It seems ironic that I had my first Tim Hortons encounter in Missouri, even though I lived in Canadian-bordering states for 29 years.


I miss our friends and family in the upper half of the Midwest, but am excited to be a new St. Louis resident. Our bucket list of STL restaurants and attractions grows each day. Thanks for all of your suggestions and feel free to keep sending them our way. 


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Mr. Diamond will be pleased with the shout out for Prairie Madness. It does exist. I am so glad you are finding so many fabulous places to discover—I knew you would. Sounds like people are welcoming and that makes me happy as well. I still miss having you a few streets away—but so happy you are finding your groove in STL.

    • Jeni

      I looked at your post and realized I had called it Prairie Fever. Prairie Madness is funnier.

  2. Jeremy

    After living in Sioux City with its hills, I have grown to love the relative flatness of Cedar Rapids. I suspect you may miss the flatness when the first snow flies and they don’t salt & sand the roads into oblivion like they do up north.

    • Jeni

      You’ve made a good point about the hills vs. flatness. It may snow a lot in MN, ND and Iowa, but our cities handle it pretty well like you said.

  3. Feisty Eats

    Sounds like you’re off to a great start in your new city. Fun adventures already!

    • Jeni

      Thanks for your encouragement! I need to start cooking more now-will look at your blog for inspiration.

  4. Tracie B.

    I’m so happy to hear you’re in a foodie happy place. Can’t wait to read about all you find.

    • Jeni

      Thanks Tracie! Trying to pace myself.

  5. Jeffrey

    Jeni, I’m originally from Dyersville, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Although I no longer live in the Midwest, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years now because I get to see places and the types of people from a part of the US I really miss. Thanks.

    The last few years I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I thought you might like to see some of the photos I’ve taken for Silvertone, my photoblog.:


    I have a brother and sister-in-law in St. Louis, so I’ll pass on your blog and restaurant recommendations to them, and I look forward to reading about your culinary adventures there.

    • Jeni

      Dyersville was on my Iowa bucket list. I still want to visit to see the movie set. Thanks for following along. I’ll check out your photography:)

      • Jeffrey

        Many years ago, one of my aunts was a teacher at a one-room schoolhouse not far from the farm where they filmed Field of Dreams. On heavy snow days, she used to spend the night in that very farmhouse from the movie. True story.

        When I was a boy, in the summer my friends and I used to swim in a creek (or crick, as we would pronounce it) just on the other side of that cornfield by the baseball field. Also a true story. When I watch the movie, I always think of that crick — I mean, creek.

        • Jeni


  6. Donna Hup

    I’m so excited for you! I love seeing all the food posts too. I do miss that living in a small town. I can’t wait to experience some of these places with you! 🙂

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