The 5 Spot series of articles seek to highlight a journey, an experience, a flight pattern if you will through a particular geography in a particular city.
Cherokee Street was built up in the late 1800s—benefitted by electric streetcar lines the connected it to downtown St. Louis. The district has seen it’s share of ups and downs. That said, today it’s a hotbed of antiquities dealers, artists and entrepeneurs.
For me there are two sides of Cherokee with Jefferson Street dividing the two. Veering East off Jefferson are 1880s row homes and storefronts leading down to the old Lemp Brewery (think Wonka factory in the original movie). And then you have the West commercial channel—with it’s storefronts constantly changing and the buildings being renewed courtesy not of banks—but those willing to invest plenty of sweat equity.
We begin on the East corridor with a stop at 2101 Cherokee Street, The Mud House [http://themudhousestl.com]. I like the vibe here whether alone, with a friend, or with my family. Always great coffee. Always great food. Always a great soundtrack while we converse. I’ve known many of the artists who have had their work on the walls here. And don’t feel ashamed if you get absorbed in their bathroom (aka The Board Game Museum).
Next we wander a bit further eastward to Dead Wax Records which is at 1959 Cherokee Street. The store was opened by Tim Hendrickson and Jeremy Miller (one of the co-owners of The Mud House. Looking to rebuild the vinyl collection you sold 10 years ago? This is a good place to start. Last time we stopped by the albums were not sorted by genre and thus Cat Power and Coltrane would be potential neighbors in the “C” bin. Plenty of records to comb through. Expect to get lost for a while.
One more East end stop on this Cherokee excursion, Hammond Antiques & Books, just a few doors down at 1939 Cherokee Street [http://www.hammondsbooks.net]. This is one of “those” bookstores. Floor to ceiling books that this shop has been accumulating for 35 years. The folks running this place are characters. Expect to be overwhelmed as you peruse two floors featuring an eclectic mix of books, music, posters, prints, and jewelry.
There are many more restaurants and stores on the East end of Cherokee which I will bring to the surface in a future article. For the sake of this entry I want to head to the West side of Cherokee to hit a couple fantastic “hop” spots.
First stop on “the other side” Earthbound Beer [http://www.earthboundbeer.com] located at 2710 Cherokee Street. No pretentiousness served here…just really, really good beer. Select from 8 always rotating brews. Build yourself a flight of tasters. Or sample a few half pours. Or knock yourself out with one beautiful pint. (Heck, take home a growler of greatness.) The place offer several alcoves in which to congregate. And a hodge podge of planet earth themed décor. If you are looking for a polished brewery with branded six packs and t-shirts you might have to go a few blocks to the East. But if you’re looking for passionate pints this is the place.
Passion for hops is not in short supply. Just venture a couple blocks in to 2606 Cherokee and wander into the Saint Louis HOP SHOP [http://www.saintlouishopshop.com]. Plenty of great local, regional and national crafts to go around. Prices are very fair (in fact, less than Schnucks or Dierbergs in most cases). Plus, these guys know beer. Just kick up a conversation with Justin Harris or Ryan Griffin (owners of the place) and they’ll quickly put your knowledge of crafts to the test. Be sure to sample some of the unique brews available in their tasting room. And make sure you leave with a 6 pack of something good…well it’s all good. We want to keep these guys around for a long time to come.
So these five places provide a dot-to-dot guide to Cherokee. There are many other places in the neighborhood to fill the lines with: restaurants, antique stores, art galleries, music venues, breweries, coffee houses, instrument shops and much more.
Get out in the city.