The Fountain on Locust: A Retro Fantasy

Photo Courtesy of Trover.

Photo Courtesy of Trover.

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When I went to the Fountain on Locust, I was thrown into an adventure full of contradictions—but I wasn’t complaining. With strange flavor combinations and an aura that seemed to be from another point in history, I leaned into the uniquely St. Louisan experience.

The Fountain on Locust is open every day except Monday: 12 p.m.–9 p.m. on Sundays; 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 11 a.m.–12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is located on 3037 Locust Street, just a few blocks from SLU’s campus. 

On first glance at the menu, we see food inspired by the city and the history of its inhabitants—but with a flair. Cuisines from Italy, Mexico, eastern Europe and others are all represented. Those cuisines are represented, I’m sure, in other major U.S. cities as well. The Fountain on Locust gives all its menu choices a spoonful of St. Louis uniqueness, though. 

My favorite dish is the Royale Grille,an adult grilled cheese. This sandwich has slices of crisp apple mixed with the cheese. It may be strange at first, especially if you aren’t expecting to find a crunch in the white-cheddar and mozzarella blend. Upon further inspection, those contradicting flavors build on each other and provide a well-rounded taste that caused me to put the apple slices back on the sandwich after I had originally picked them off.

But don’t cut yourself short and leave after your first course! The main event at The Fountain on Locust is dessert,or, more specifically,the creative ice cream dishes. They specialize in ice cream cocktails but also have non-alcoholic ice cream creations like the Nutty Americano or Black Cadillac. My go-to, though, is always the Sundae Gambler. Every time you order it, it’s a complete surprise with different flavor combinations. The first time I ordered it, I got a fancy sundae with Zanzibar chocolate, black cherry, and butter pecan ice creams—flavors that I would think contradict each other, but they worked together harmoniously. 

What I love about The Fountain on Locust, though, is that it puts every customer into the shoes of the 1920s flapper, onto the pages of the “Great Gatsby” and into a point in American history where things were easier and the music was louder. Part of that can be attributed to the design of the restaurant. The building that houses The Fountain on Locust was originally a car showroom in the early 20th century. You can still see this in the architecture: the high ceiling, the black and white tiled floor, the aura that this building has a story both as private and flamboyant as the city of St. Louis itself. But the current owners of the building have put in plenty of work to enhance this aura. All walls in the restaurant have art-deco murals, and each booth has a sense of intimacy, as if you are the one who is in a speakeasy of the ‘20s.

How can this happen? It feels like a crime to even pull your phone out at The Fountain on Locust, to impede on that retro fantasy crafted for your enjoyment. St. Louis is a city currently going through a phase of change: a new MLS team, numerous developments going on in historical areas and constant construction that tells us to hope for the future. But The Fountain on Locust instead tells us to sit, enjoy some ice cream and think about the experiences of the inhabitants of the city founded in 1764 on the Mississippi.