Budget-Friendly Family Dining in St. Louis

If you’re visiting St. Louis on a budget, you’re in luck. The city is chock-full of free family-friendly activities and attractions that you could expect to pay a pretty penny for in most other places.

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If you’re visiting St. Louis on a budget, you’re in luck. The city is chock-full of free family-friendly activities and attractions that you could expect to pay a pretty penny for in most other places. Take the St. Louis Zoo, for example — widely considered one of the best zoos in the country—and totally free. The St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum, Forest Park, Missouri History Museum, and a host of other attractions are also free all year long.

Of course, seeing amazing sights works up an appetite, and you want to keep the low-budget momentum going, right? Refuel at a few of the top budget-friendly restaurants to make sure you leave satisfied — and with money left over for plenty of souvenirs.

Breakfast: Goody Goody Diner

Start the day off on the right foot with a yummy breakfast at Goody Goody Diner. Since 1948, this St. Louis staple has served up customer favorites like chicken and waffles and its famous “Slinger,” a generous combo of hamburger patties, eggs, hash browns, chili, and cheese. The food is excellent, the prices are affordable, and the décor is the cherry on top. The whole place has a classic 1940s vibe, with plenty of memorabilia and photos to make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

Lunch: Blues City Deli

Blues City Deli serves up top-notch sandwiches and then throws in a bonus: entertainment. If you’re lucky, you get to listen to live blues music while eating. Customer menu favorites include the Memphis Stax, a sandwich piled high with pulled pork and spicy coleslaw.

A close-up of a man in a white shirt with black and white striped suspenders playing the saxophone during a live performance at Blues City Deli in St. Louis, Missouri on a busy evening.

The Blues atmosphere isn’t limited to the music. Even if you don’t catch a live show, you can check out the artifacts and artwork, like concert posters and album covers, plastered on the walls. The food is excellent, the music is free, and almost everything on the menu costs well under $10. No reason to sing the blues when you pay your check here.

Dinner: Hodak’s Restaurant & Bar

If you like fried chicken without high prices, you can’t miss a stop at Hodak’s Restaurant & Bar. The restaurant’s slogan is “A St. Louis Tradition,” and it’s easy to see why when you dig in. Hodak’s has been serving customers since 1962, and it consistently takes home “Best Fried Chicken” in the city honors. Beyond the famous fried chicken, you can order sandwiches, burgers, and even seafood, all for affordable prices. But seriously, you’re going to want to try the chicken.

Dessert: Ted Drewes

If you want a tasty treat to wrap up your busy day, you can’t go wrong at Ted Drewes. This family-owned business has dished up signature classic custard since 1929 — and it’s still a St. Louis favorite today. The modern menu includes a variety of frozen treats. If you want the most popular treat, ask for the “concrete,” a shake so thick it’s served upside down.

The exterior of Ted Drewes, a white house near the road, is pictured with people lined up for delicious and affordable desserts in St. Louis, Missouri at lunchtime on a summer day.

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