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An Insider's Food Guide
To La Calle Cherokee

Well known for its authentic restaurants, Cinco De Mayo celebration and other street festivals throughout the year, La Calle Cherokee district is the heart of St. Louis’s Latinx food and culture. For decades now, Latinx entrepreneurs and families have been moving to the strip of Cherokee Street between Gravois and Jefferson to open businesses, and build their dreams.

Take it from an insider, it’s a mistake to miss out on the wide variety of food throughout La Calle Cherokee. Here’s your guide to the best in the neighborhood.

La Manganita

The Vegetarian Tacos at La Manganita  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Cherokee Street

Latino Americana Grocery Store  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Latino Americana 2800 Cherokee

Latino Americana — 2800 Cherokee

Latino Americana — 2800 Cherokee

Go for: Supplies for your at-home taco party; Chicharon cravings

Let’s start with Latino Americana, a carniceria (butcher shop) and grocery store on the corner of California Ave & Cherokee St.. Here you can pick up a variety of Mexican snacks, sweets, and other imported products, as well as authentically seasoned and marinated meats from the butcher. Having a taco night at home? Latino Americana has the ingredients.

Cherokee Street

Minerva Lopez outside Latino Americana grocery store & Mariscos El Gato  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

You may run into Minerva Lopez while you’re there. She handles the bookkeeping for Latino Americana. Lopez moved to La Calle Cherokee from San Diego in 2005. Through the years, she has held many positions in the neighborhood, including head of the Cherokee Street Latino Business Owners Association. At her core, she’s a community builder.

“People who come to Calle Cherokee with the intent of opening businesses sometimes don’t always have the knowledge or a business degree to tell them how to run a business, but they are here putting in the effort and all their heart,” says Lopez. “They have intent and work their a%$es off.”

Lopez recommends a bag of the store's homemade chicharrónes (pork rinds) with hot sauce on the side. While no one has held an official competition, these chicharrónes have to be some of the best in the state.

Chicharrones

The Chicharrónes at Latino Americana  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Mariscos El Gato

The exterior of Mariscos El Gato at the intersection of California Ave. and Cherokee St. |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Mariscos El Gato 2800 Cherokee

Mariscos El Gato — 2800 Cherokee

Mariscos el Gato — 2800 Cherokee

Go for: Mexican-inspired seafoods

Adjoined to Latino Americana is Mariscos El Gato. The restaurant gets its name Head Chef Pedro Diaz, whose nickname is The Cat. While “Mariscos” in Spanish means Seafood, “El Gato” means The Cat.

Mariscos El Gato specializes in Nayarit-style seafood from the North Pacific coast of Mexico. Here you can find large seafood plates for sharing, over-the-top seafood cocktails, and a number of delicious ceviches and cold appetizers.

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Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas |  Photo by Emily Thenhaus

Go for the Shrimp Ceviche Tostada or the Costalito, which translates to “little sack.” A Mexican take on a seafood boil, the Costalito features a mix of shelled and shell-on shrimp, langostinos, mussels, crab legs, potatoes, and corn on the cob, seasoned with paprika and guajillo pepper, all steamed and served at the table in its own little bag.

Located on the corner of California and Cherokee, Mariscos El Gato is open every day of the week, except Tuesdays, from roughly 10am to 9pm. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the latest. 

Taqueria El Bronco

The exterior of Taqueria El Bronco | Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Taqueria El Bronco — 2817 Cherokee

Taqueria El Bronco — 2817 Cheorkee

Taqueria El Bronco —2817 Cherokee

Go for: Mexican breakfast; classics done well

Named winner of the “Taco de Oro,” Calle Cherokee’s inaugural taco competition, Taqueria El Bronco serves authentic Mexican eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a no-frills Mexican restaurant with a focus on quality ingredients and the classics done well – from nachos and tacos to tortas and burritos. 

It should be noted, Bronco opens at 10am and is one of the few places on the street where you can get a Mexican-style breakfast. This writer recommends the El Bronco Lunch Special, featuring carne asada, two eggs (scrambled), rice and beans, with guacamole and pico de gayo.


Cherokee Street

The El Bronco Lunch Special at Taqueria el Bronco featuring steak and eggs |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Located at 2817 Cherokee, Taqueria El Bronco’s hours are Monday through Thursday, 10am to 9:30pm, and Friday and Saturday, 9am to 10:30pm. Visit www.taqueriaelbronco.com for the menu and more information.


La Manganita

Manny Garcia mans the Trompo (vertical rotisserie) used for cooking Tacos Al Pastor outside La Manganita  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

La Manganita — 2812 Cherokee

La Manganita — 2812 Cherokee

La Manganita — 2812 Cherokee

Go for: The vegetarian tacos; Tortillas made to order

For made-to-order, handmade tortillas, some of the best vegetarian tacos on the street, and Mexican-inspired pasta dishes, visit Manny Garcia and team at La Manganita.

For years, Garcia was a cook at several restaurants in town before he decided to open La Manganita. With a culinary background at Italian restaurants, Garcia has introduced a variety of innovative pasta dishes and large plates to his menu. His favorite thing about the job is treating new customers and bringing them back.

“La Manganita is like a little house,” Garcia says. “When you come here, if you don’t like something on the menu, we’ll make something different for you, as long as we have the items in the restaurant.”

A recommendation? La Manganita’s vegetarian taco, a deconstructed chile relleno with poblano peppers, onions, squash blossoms and melted cheese on a house-made tortilla. *Chef’s kiss*

La Manganita is located at 2812 Cherokee, across from Taqueria El Bronco. The restaurant is open everyday except Wednesday from 11am to 7pm. Follow La Manganita’s Facebook page for updates.


Cherokee Street

The lunchtime crowd on the patio at El Torito  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

El Torito Taqueria & Supermercado — 2753 Cherokee

El Torito Taqueria & SUpermercado — 2753 CHerokee

El Torito Taqueria & Supermercado — 2753 Cherokee

Go for: Mouthwatering street tacos on-the-go; Grocery essentials

El Torito is an authentic Mexican restaurant and supermercado (grocery) under one roof. The supermercado is the largest on the street and the place to go for all your specialty Mexican ingredients and snacks.

Around lunch time, a crowd starts to form outside El Torito, and for good reason: El Torito’s taco stand offers some of the best tacos in the city. Choose from barbacoa, carnitas, tripa, pollo or al pastor. Ask for all the toppings (radish, cucumber, onion, lime), plus the verde and roja salsas. 

Everyone has their own favorite taco at El Torito. Ask the owner, Hector Medina, and he'll recommend the carne asada (grilled steak). For Luis behind the counter, the barbacoa (slow-cooked beef) wins every time. 

Cherokee Street

Barbacoa, Pollo and Al Pastor Tacos with all the toppings from the El Torito taco stand |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Cherokee Street

La Vallesana Exterior  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

La Vallesana — 2801 Cherokee

La Vallesana — 2801 Cherokee

La Vallesana — 2801 Cherokee

Go for: Patio drinks & dining; Quesadillas + Tortas

The locals rave about La Vallesana’s quesadillas, tortas, tacos, and ice cream. 

The restaurant started as a hole in the wall compared to the fortress it is today. Over the years, La Vallesana has grown from a small ice cream shop into one of Calle Cherokee’s largest and most bustling restaurants, with a large outdoor patio.

La Vallesana’s patio is one of the best spots on Cherokee for drinks and people watching on a warm afternoon. Go ahead and get the margarita served in a big pineapple. It comes with two straws but there’s no need to share.

La Vallesana is located at 2801 Cherokee on the corner of California Ave and Cherokee St. Visit the restaurant’s website for the menu and more information.


Cherokee Street

 Drinks with chips and salsa on the patio at La Vallesana  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Cherokee Street

The Taco & Ice Cream Joint Exterior |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Taco & ICe Cream Joint — 2738 Cherokee

Taco & ICe Cream Joint — 2738 Cherokee

Tacos & ICe Cream Joint — 2738 Cherokee

Go for: Birria tacos; Carne asada fries; Sweet & savory creations

If El Torito, Taqueria El Bronco, and La Vallesana are the classic O.G. restaurants on the block, then The Taco & Ice Cream Joint is the new kid with crazy, delicious ideas. 

Originally from Bridgeton, MO, owner Salvador Rico Jr. chose Calle Cherokee for the location of Taco & Ice Cream Joint due to its strong Latino community and the upward trajectory of the neighborhood. The restaurant opened in 2017. 

Cherokee Street

Salvador Rico Jr. of The Taco & Ice Cream Joint  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Cherokee Street

Birria Taco at The Taco & Ice Cream Joint  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Because Rico Jr. just turned 21-years-old in the past year, Tacos & Ice Cream Joint was only recently able to obtain a liquor license for the restaurant — and now offers frozen margaritas and spiked cocktail creations. His father, Rico Sr., helms the kitchen. Together, the two have built an impressive business and following, especially for dollar tacos on Taco Tuesday.

Try the Tripe Tacos (Rico’s favorite on the menu). You also can’t go wrong with the Birria Tacos or Carne Asada Fries. 

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Pollo con tajadas (chicken with plantain chips) from Sueño Latino   |  Photo By Emily Thenhaus

Sueño Latino Restaurant — 2818 Cherokee

Sueño Latino Restaurant — 2818 Cherokee

Sueño Latino Restaurant — 2818 Cherokee

Go for: Pollo con tajadas; Honduran sodas & imports

Sueño Latino is the dream of three brothers and their mother. Jolman Nunez and brothers moved St. Louis all the way from Honduras and opened their restaurant in February of 2020. Sueño Latino literally translates to “Latin Dream.”

As one of the few restaurants in Saint Louis specializing in authentic Honduran food, Sueño Latino has visitors from all over the region coming to La Calle Cherokee to try its food. The brothers credit much of their success to their mother, or as they describe her, “the one with the magic hands who created all of our recipes.”

The most popular dish on Sueño Latino’s menu is the Pollo con Tajadas — chicken served with plantain chips topped with a specialty sauce. But that’s not to speak less of the other menu items, including such delicious plates as the Chuleta Asada (a Honduran grilled pork chop dish) and Tamales Hondureños (Honduran style tamales).

 

Cherokee Street

The exterior of Lilly’s Panaderia  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Lilly's Panaderia — 2752 Cherokee

Lilly's Panaderia — 2752 CHerokee

Lilly's Panaderia — 2752 Cherokee

Go for: Mouthwatering window shopping; Pan de Muerto

Directly across the street from El Torito is Lilly’s Panaderia, one of three Mexican bakeries in the neighborhood. It’s hard to walk past this bakery and not be lured inside. Owners Luis & Lilly have their delicious pan dulce, donuts and cookies displayed in the window, tempting even the most disciplined of keto dieters. 

Tip: Grab the tongs by the door and stock up on a variety of Mexican sweets. Lilly's is also known for their delicious pan de muerto, traditionally made around Dia de los Muertos in early November, and customers rave about their tres leches cake.

Located at 2752 Cherokee Street, Lilly’s is open daily from 7am to 9pm. Follow the bakery’s Facebook page for the latest updates.

 

Cherokee Street

Conchas in the window at Lilly’s Panaderia  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Cherokee Street

Diana’s Bakery Cases  |  Photo By R.J. Hartbeck

Diana's Bakery — 2843 Cherokee

DIana's Bakery — 2843 Cherokee

Diana's Bakery — 2843 CHerokee

Go for: Cakes for any celebration; Warm churros

Diana’s is a classic panaderia. The bakery brings visitors from all over the region, including the occasional Cardinals baseball star. Conchas, Churros, Tres Leches Cake and Milhojas — Diana’s has more than 100 sweets within its shiny, alluring dessert cases. 

The bakery is also known for it’s beautiful Dia De Los Muertos Altar, which is on display each November.

Diana’s is farther west up the street at 2843 Cherokee. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 6am to 8pm, and Sunday, 6am to 7pm. Follow Diana’s on Instagram for the latest.

 

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The Dia de los Muertos altar outside of Diana's Bakery | Photo By Emily Thenhaus

El Chico Bakery

El Chico Bakery Exterior  |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

El Chico Bakery — 2634 Cherokee

El Chico Bakery — 2634 Cherokee

El Chico Bakery — 2643 Cherokee

Go for: Fruit-filled empanandas (or catch them at a local farmers market)

A family-owned and operated Mexican bakery, El Chico opened in La Calle Cherokee in 1998. Locals love El Chico for its watermelon cookies, pan dulce, conchas, hot lemon empanadas, and the low prices.

You also might find El Chico Bakery’s bread and sweets at one of several farmer’s markets in the Saint Louis region.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8:30am to 7:30pm, and Sunday, 8:30am to 3:30pm. For more info, check out El Chico Bakery on Instagram. 

El Chico

El Chico Bakery Case |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

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Wall of Candy and Snacks Inside Botanas La Michoacana  |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

Botanas la Michoacana — 3410 California

Botanas La Michoacana — 3410 California

BOtanas La Michoacana — 3410 California

Go for: Elote (mexican street corn); Fresh mango with Tajin

Opened in 2020, Botanas La Michoacana is a Mexican snack shop, specializing in fresh fruit, street corn, juices and other grab & go snacks. Don't miss the turn; the shop is just south of Cherokee next to Lilly's Panaderia.

You can’t go wrong with the Elotes, which is street corn in the form of corn on the cob, charred on the grill, then slathered in chili, garlic, and Cotija cheese. 

Botanas La Michoacana is open every day except Tuesday, 10am to 7:30pm.

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Elotes at Botanas La Michoacana  |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

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Dulceria Medina Exterior  |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

Dulceria Medina — 2734 Cherokee

Ducleria Medina — 2734 Cherokee

Dulceria MEdina — 2734 Cherokee

Go for: Hard-to-find Mexican candies

Last on the list (but not least!) is Dulceria Medina, a Mexican candy shop. Before you question the writer, yes, candy is food. 

Dulceria Medina offers a large selection of imported Mexican sweets, plus piñatas and other party supplies.  Here’s where you get that piñata for your next party, and the candy to go inside it. Ever try a Ricaleta lollipop? How about Vero Mango? There’s never been a better time than now. 

Dulceria Medina is open every day except Thursday, 10am - 8pm. Follow the shop’s Facebook page for more info. 

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Shopper inside Dulceria Medina  |  Photo By Tiffany Melecio

 

Got a question, want to get involved or just want to reach out?

Cherokee_primary-logo_BLK

Cherokee Street
Community Improvement District

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

3407 S. Jefferson, Suite 515
St. Louis, MO 63118

Cherokee Street
Community Improvement District

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

3407 S. Jefferson, Suite 515
St. Louis, MO 63118

Cherokee Street
Community Improvement District

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

3407 S. Jefferson, Suite 515
St. Louis, MO 63118

Cherokee Street
Community Improvement District

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

3407 S. Jefferson, Suite 515
St. Louis, MO 63118

Cherokee Street
Community Improvement District

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

3407 S. Jefferson, Suite 515
St. Louis, MO 63118

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