When I saw the busy restaurant with KISS Pez dispensers in the windows, I knew this was a cool neighborhood.
The Delmar Loop, or just “The Loop,” is the trendy, walkable neighborhood in St. Louis. Most cities have at least one such hipster area, with shopping, restaurants and nightlife, from Wicker Park in Chicago to Little Five Points in Atlanta to Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
Technically, the Loop isn’t in St. Louis proper. It’s in University City, a suburb. But it’s barely outside the city limit.
It’s only 8 miles from the Gateway Arch downtown, and only two miles from the St. Louis Zoo. Everyone essentially considers it part of St. Louis.
The American Planning Association named the Delmar Loop one of the ten “Great Streets in America” several years back. During multiple visits there, I discovered what makes the Loop such a cool neighborhood.
St. Louis Delmar Loop Info
Before my first visit to the city, I had read that St. Louis has the most crime per capita of any city in the U.S. That didn’t seem right.
When I asked my St. Louis friend about it, he said it was because the city itself is a small area that doesn’t include many of the nicer neighborhoods and suburbs, which are often included as part of other city boundaries.
The Loop is a perfect example of that. Though considered one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, it’s actually located in University City. The Loop provides easy access to downtown via train and bus, which isn’t true of all St. Louis neighborhoods.
My favorite site to check out the walkability of a neighborhood is walkscore.com, which assigns a score of 1 to 100 based on how walkable a region is. The heart of the Loop, Kingsland Ave. & Delmar Blvd., earned a score of 89, an excellent number.
The six-block stretch of Delmar Boulevard offers something for everyone, from eclectic nightlife to unique shopping experiences. The Loop has been home to many noteworthy businesses since its founding in 1910, making it one of the oldest entertainment districts in the U.S.
With its rich history and diverse array of attractions, the Delmar Loop has become a beloved part of St. Louis culture. Here are some of my favorite spots in the neighborhood!
Loop Attraction: Blueberry Hill Restaurant
Perhaps the most well-known establishment in the Loop is Blueberry Hill. Known for its eye-catching décor, the restaurant opened in 1972.
We strolled through each room to look at the memorabilia. The main dining room had display cases with random toys.
One of my favorites was the WWF display, which featured a couple dozen ‘80s wrestling action figures. I had nearly every one of these as a kid… Kamala! Jake The Snake! The Honky Tonk Man!
Of course, there were plenty of music items, like Kiss figurines and Beatles dolls from both the Ed Sullivan days and the Sgt. Pepper era.
The halls leading to the bathrooms had hundreds of photos of famous people visiting the restaurant. Pretty much every famous actor and politician from the last few decades was on display.
There was yet another room that featured several dart boards. I never got to try the food at Blueberry Hill, but I recommend stopping by any time you’re in St. Louis. The sights alone are worth it.
Loop Attraction: The St. Louis Walk of Fame
Everyone knows about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but did you know St. Louis has one as well? It’s on Delmar Blvd., and it features stars of more than 150 celebrities born in the area.
One of the main thoughts I had as I perused the names on the Walk of Fame was how odd it was that pretty much every baseball broadcaster in America was born in St. Louis.
No fewer than four legendary announcers appear on the Walk: Harry Caray, Bob Costas, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck.
I always wonder why more cities don’t do something like this. It’s a great way to build community pride and to encourage famous folks from the region to honor their roots.
There are so many huge names on this walk of fame! Iconic figures like the poet Maya Angelou. Musicians like Chuck Berry, Sheryl Crow, Tina Turner, Miles Davis, and Nelly.
Actors like Phyllis Diller, John Goodman, Redd Foxx, Betty Grable, and Vincent Price are honored here.
President Ulysses S. Grant has a star. Charles Lindbergh, the aviation pioneer, has a star. Joseph Pulitzer, the dude for whom the Pulitzer Prize is named, has a star.
I was surprised how many famous folks have a St. Louis connection.
The Chuck Berry Statue
Rock & roll pioneer Chuck Berry has a star on the Walk of Fame, of course. But he has much more than that.
Berry was given his own statue right in the heart of the Loop neighborhood. The lifesize statue stands just across the street from Blueberry Hill.
Harry Weber was the sculptor. Chuck Berry fans should stop in to Blueberry Hill as well, since the restaurant has an extensive memorabilia collection.
Delmar Loop Shops
Another neighborhood hot spot is Vintage Vinyl, a massive record and CD store. I was excited to find the record by Evelyn Evelyn, a freaky vaudeville-esque act created by singer Amanda Palmer.
Vintage Vinyl survived the vinyl collapse, and is now in position to thrive again now that vinyl records have started selling in big numbers again.
Another interesting shop is Artisans in the Loop, an art gallery. Subterranean Books is a quality bookstore with a wide selection.
And there’s Avalon Exchange, my favorite thrift store. Found Vintage is another good option. You know you’re in a cool area when they have two top-notch thrift shops!
The Tivoli Cinema is a famous, century-old theater. It’s currently closed, but there’s a chance it could reopen someday, as the property was sold last year.
Another Loop spot of interest is Pin-Up Bowl, a funky bar and bowling alley. Meanwhile, The Pageant is a well-known music venue that hosted recent concerts by 100 Gecs, Feist, Gary Clark, Jr., Tegan and Sara, and the Struts.
Delmar Loop Restaurants
The Loop has so many great food options! Most of them aren’t super fancy, but that’s fine, since the university students who live here aren’t looking for a four-star restaurant anyway.
Fitz’s is a basic American restaurant which is always busy. Mission is a popular taco joint. El Maguey has basic Mexican food, while Seoul Taco offers Asian fusion.
Salt + Smoke is a highly-rated barbecue restaurant. I didn’t have a chance to eat here, but I did walk by at 8 am and they were already preparing their meats for the day, and the smell was incredible.
Other options right on the main street include the Peacock Diner, Three Kings Public House, International Tap House, Pokedoke (the name alone is reason to visit!), Blueprint Coffee, and Thai Country Cafe.
One restaurant I miss in the Delmar Loop is Cheese-O-Logy, a restaurant which served nothing but mac & cheese. Great concept, but it went out of business after five years. I used to love the bowl of Chicken Scampi mac & cheese.
Loop Info: Safety, Parking
How far is Uranus from Neptune? You’ll have to walk it to find out!
Is the Delmar Loop safe? Sure, it’s among the safer neighborhoods in the area. Of course, crime happens everywhere in big cities. But generally speaking, the Loop is not a dangerous area.
One of the best things about the Loop is the large, free parking lot just off Delmar Blvd. Busy hipster neighborhoods like this almost never have plentiful parking, and it’s rarely free. Score!
Public transit here is easy too. The Delmar Loop light rail station goes straight downtown or to the airport. There’s also a Loop Trolley that runs in the neighborhood.
The verdict? It’s a cool place. If I moved to St. Louis, I’d consider living there. The Delmar Loop is a fun and exciting area to live, work, and play.
What’s your favorite place to visit in the Loop?