Historic St. Joseph, Missouri




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St. Joseph, Mo, my hometown, is an historic city along the Missouri River. It was established in 1843 and became known as a starting point for many heading west along the Oregon Trail and was the headquarters and beginning point of the famed Pony Express to Sacramento, CA.

Downtown St. Joseph is coming back after many years of decline. There are many new restaurants, bars and shops located in historic buildings.

Visiting St. Joseph is worth a visit. It is an hour north of downtown Kansas City and even closer from the Kansas City airport. Highlights should include visiting:

Frederick Avenue

Golden Glaze Donuts: At 1825 Frederick Ave., they recently re-opened after a short closure for remodeling. The glazed donuts are the best. It has been in business for over 77 years.

Pronto Cafe: At 2513 Frederick Ave., this is a recently opened coffee shop and cafe in the former Geiger mansion, serving coffee, ice cream, sandwiches and more.

Katherine’s Gift Shop: 1107 N. 27th. This is a lovely gift shop offering table top, accessories, stationery and more.

Albrecht- Kemper Museum of Art: Located in a stunning mansion at 2818 Frederick Ave., this small museum features temporary exhibitons in addition to a small permanent collection. Here you can see works by  George Bellows, William Glackens, Edward Hopper, Wayne Thiebaud, Mary Cassat, Thomas Hart Benton, William Merritt Chase. George Innis and Edward Curtis.

Downtown St. Joseph

Cafe Pony Espresso: Make sure to stop in this spot for coffee, tea and espresso drinks along with soups and sandwiches. 114 S. 8th

At 707 Edmond St. next to the Missouri Theater, is Bad Art Bistro. This is a fun, lunch and dinner spot featuring innovative cuisine, wine and cocktails. They also feature work by local artists.

Recently opened is Ostrea at 726 Felix St. Located in a sleek, contemporary space, they feature oysters, small plates, charcuterie, cheese plates, sweets and large selection of wines and cocktails.

Next door at 724 Felix, the same ownership has Komatsu Ramen which is a warm, contemporary space where I enjoyed lunch with a local friend. The menu has many great ramen options from those with brisket, shrimp and chicken. They have another location in Kansas City.  My Father used to own the building, so it was fun to see such a great use of the space.

Next time, I want to try Il Lazzarone for pizza at 1628 Frederick Ave. which is owned by the same chef.

Boudreaux’s Lousiana Seafood & Steaks. At 224 N. 4th St., this is a fun spot for seafood, Cajun specialties and steaks. I just hosted a lunch for longtime friends and had a very good crab bisque and seafood jambalaya. I will  definitely go back!

Brioche French Bakery & CafeAt  114 N. 7th, this recent addition to downtown in the former Delish Bakery & Malt Shoppe space, features French pastries, handmade chocolates, bread, cookies and more. It is an attractive space. Thanks to them I found  Mokaska Coffee Company around the corner at 1617 Felix.  They are a small batch coffee roaster that named itself after  the original local coffee roaster that opened in 1884 and closed during the Great Depression. Started as a wholesale roaster, they recently opened this new cafe.

J.C. Wyatt House: This lovely Victorian mansion from 1891 is now a wonderful private dining restaurant. Located in the home of two New York City transplants, they offer lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. Make sure to book early and give your menu choices before you arrive. The decor alone is well-worth the trip. I just hosted a group of longtime friends and loved the food, ambiance and service. Have already booked it again for next Christmas.  1309 Felix

The Tiger’s Den: 519 Felix. Bookstore and bar serving wines, craft beers and cocktails. They also have The Lucky Tiger at 718 Francis which specializes in vintage clothing, accessories and vinyl records.

Just Desserts by Mom: Recently moving to 505 Francis, this cafe is known for it pies, soups and sandwiches.

Other new restaurants that have opened recently include Aglio 614 at 614 Francis for Italian specialties and 1785 Miles for Cuban cuisine at 513 Francis. I am excited to try them on my next trip.

Mod-Podge: At 624 Francis, this is a boutique and design studio.

At 623 S. 8th is Magoon’s Famous Delicatessen. This has been one of my favorite spots since I was child. I have fond memories of Benny Magoon holding court at his restaurant. They have great sandwiches including the perfect reuben.

Patee House Museum: This National Historic Site is located in the former Patee House built in 1858 as a luxury hotel. The Patee House served as the Pony Express headquarters from 1860 to 1861. Today there are two floors of exhibitions. The former home of outlaw Jessee James, where he was killed, was moved nearby several years ago. 1202 Penn St.

Pony Express National Museum: On April 3, 1860 a lone rider left the Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, Mo. carrying saddlebags filled with mail to Sacramento California. These riders braved great danger as they united a country separated by great distances. The famed stables today is the Pony Express National Museum. Make sure to stop in for a visit while in town.

South of the Patee House and the Pony Express Museum is Betty’s Cafe at 5307 King Hill Ave. This is a fun, casual diner serving breakfast and lunch since 1989. The pie is to die for!!!

East of downtown near I-29 is:

The Walter Cronkite Memorial: Walter Cronkite was born in St. Joseph on November 4 1916. This memorial/museum located at Missouri Western State University, features displays on his life and work. It is well-worth the visit. You can see many photos and displays of his coverage of the US Presidents, the space program and more.

Where to Stay:

If you want to spend the night, one of my top recommendations is The Shakespeare Chateau, located on the historic Hall Street north of downtown and surrounded by lovely mansions. I stayed there for my recent high school reunion and loved the classic design, the stained glass, the lovely rooms, the excellent breakfasts and the attentive owner.  It was one of the best B&B experiences I have had in all of my travels.