St. Louis’ Neighborhoods of Character: Cherokee Street

Wednesday April 5, 2017

By Mark

Cherokee Street is an impromptu arts district that houses innumerable entrepreneurs, artists, writers, creators, small business owners, entrepreneurs and visionaries. Their stunning architectural beauty and history is the stuff of legend. Their diversity will surprise you, their corner shops will charm you, and their stories will amaze you.

Reclaimed by these artists, Cherokee Street is home to restaurants, bars, bakeries, vintage shops, cafes, art galleries, record stores, business incubators, performance spaces and more. Its burnt red brick buildings and eclectic vibe are modernized by the innovation of its residents and grounded in history.

Have a look at the map of Cherokee Street for a curated guide of our favorite places, plus a closer look at Mesa Home, Vista Ramen and The Luminary.

The Luminary
2701 Cherokee

Through exhibitions, dialogues, subsidized studio spaces and live performances, this decade-old arts incubator brings a mix of energy and passion to genres ranging from visual arts to music. With a dual focus on the beauty and business of the arts, The Luminary strengthens the entire community, both spiritually and economically. Co-founders and husband-wife team James and Brea McAnally started 2017 by launching a six-month series of interconnected exhibits with “Off Modern: In What Time Do We Live?” and offering a continuation of the musician-led visual and audio-arts series “LAB.”

Their nonprofit was also recently awarded a prestigious $25, 000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, in support of its international residency program. The Luminary’s home on Cherokee was built in 1909 as an odeon (a theater for musical performances) before being converted into retail space. The McAnally’s completely rehabbed the building and relocated there in 2014, attracted to the neighborhood by its vibrant, diverse residents and entrepreneurs. The community in turn has embraced their quest to create unlikely, groundbreaking connections through the arts.

Mesa Home
2619 Cherokee

This little clothing and decor retailer finds the sweet spot between wall-to-wall cuteness and sensory overload. The shop regularly hosts bustling pop-ups with local jewelers and designers, with a space small enough for attendees to reach out from anywhere on the floor and touch an array of quirky objects in stock, from fabrics, necklaces, cat toys and ceramic mugs to baby-sized harem pants.

The inventory is a mix of locally handcrafted items and fair-trade or tribal merchandise from around the world, interwoven with vintage furniture and accessories. Along the back walls, racks of unique, gently used clothing highlight owner Anni Stone’s dedication to renewal and creativity. The staff is quick to strike up a conversation or hold a baby while a customer browses, making Stone’s two-year-old shop feel all the more home-like.

Vista Ramen
2609 Cherokee

In 2016, this inventive restaurant went from one of the year’s most anticipated to one of the most highly praised. Consequently, getting a seat is not always easy–especially on weekends. But it’s worth it for the chance to explore chef and co-owner Chris Bork’s take on the ubiquitous Asian noodle dish.

At a price point that tops out at $13 for the signature dish, Vista Ramen is a great deal for excellent eats. Bork’s fellow co-owners Jeremy and Casey Miller also own The Mud House, a coffee shop a few blocks east that’s as comfy and cozy as Vista is modern and edgy. Their synergistic partnership elevates the trio to new culinary heights. Although Bork’s menu changes seasonally, it’s always worth sampling the surprisingly rich veggie ramen, the smoked scallops, the pork ribs with crab caramel and the sticky toffee pudding with miso ice cream.

 Written by guest blogger Jorie Jacobi at Alive Magazine

Photography by Attilio D’Agostino unless otherwise noted.