Gilstrap’s Guide to St. Louis

By John Gilstrap
I’m really looking forward to Bouchercon this year, as I look forward to it every year. Last year, San Francisco provided a terrific backdrop for the conference, but I have to say that in my experience, Midwest conferences somehow work out better. Perhaps it’s because there are fewer distractions, and therefore more people hanging around the conference hotel.

My Big Boy Job takes me to St. Louis a lot—at least twice per year. I don’t pretend to know the city well, but as a creature of habit, there are certain haunts that are particularly worthy of note:

JF SanFilippo’s Restaurant. If you like down home Italian food, complete with a full bar and a great wine list, this is a place you’ve got to visit. Located at 705 North Broadway, it’s just a few blocks from the conference hotel, an easy walk. The food is reasonably priced, and the owner, Joe, is a terrific guy. It’s a good-size place, but reservations are a good idea. (314) 621-7213.

Carmine’s Steak House is a terrific high-end beef restaurant, though compared to New York or DC, the menus is very reasonably priced. They’ve got an impressive wine list, too. Attached to the Drury Plaza Hotel at 20 South Fourth Street—virtually across the street from Busch Stadium—it has a warm ambience and a terrific menu. Be sure to try their toasted ravioli appetizer. The restaurant is walkable from the conference hotel, but allow fifteen minutes to get there on foot. While on the small side, it never feels cramped, so you’d be wise to make reservations here, too. (314) 241-1631.

If you’re a scotch drinker, the bar that’s attached to Carmine’s Steak House has one of the best selections of single malts I’ve ever found anywhere.

If you’ve never visited the Gateway Arch, you really ought to, if only to experience one of the weirdest elevator rides ever. The underground museum there is okay, but it used to be better.

Bouchercon.  If you find yourself truly with nothing better to do, you might even consider coming to one of my panels. Thursday morning at 10:00, Kathryn Kennison will be wrangling—er, moderating—Val McDermid, Parnell Hall, Charles and Caroline Todd and me on a panel called, “The Mermaids Singing.” I think it’s loosely about Magna Cum Murder, but given the players, lord knows where it’s going to go.

On Saturday afternoon at 1:00, I’ll be moderating a panel called “Beyond Here Lies Nothing: The Challenges of Writing Your Next Book” which will feature authors John Billheimer, Jonathon King, David Levien, Lawrence Light and Jonathan Santlofer. I intend to lead the discussion in the direction of much of the stuff we talk about here in The Killzone: the future of the industry, eBooks, and lots of other stuff.

If you can’t make it to one of my panels, I’m pretty much a sure thing in the bar in the evenings. Y’all come and have a great time!