While Kevin & I are in Alaska, we've asked some friends and
colleagues to post on their wine loves, wine experiences and more. For
this post we welcome Kara Christopher, who has been a close friend for countless years. Like me, Kara started blogging around the turn of the century. It's been a while! Kara lives in St. Louis and is, without a doubt, a foodie. She's also a foodie on a mission to get healthy, although you wouldn't know it from the culinary tour on which she's about to take you. St. Louis is a fun weekend trip – I've done it – and I highly recommend eating where the locals eat. Thanks Kara!
While Shel is away in the wilds of Alaska, allow me to take you on a brief culinary tour of St. Louis. These are some of my favorite places, not necessarily the ones you'd be told to visit if you were in town for a weekend. Until now, at least.
I should probably tell you who I am, though. I'm Kara & I've been blogging about life, knitting, and everything else for a little over 5 years at StarMonkeybrass.com. The name is a play on the Beastie Boys Brass Monkey & came about because I like monkeys. I am a knitter, music geek, graduate student in biostatistics, and I like to eat. When I travel, I don't want to eat at chains, at least not ones that I can also eat at in St. Louis.
So let's say you find yourself in St. Louis for a weekend and you'd like a little guidance on where to eat. If you happen to be driving up from the south, I'd recommend a stop at Dexter BBQ for lunch. There are several locations, but the one in Cape Girardeau is about a mile off the highway and probably the easiest to find. I heartily recommend the sammich with slaw on it. *Drool*
Once you get into town and settle in on Friday night, you're gonna be hungry. I'm sending you to the Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen in Webster Groves. Let's be completely honest: you're here for the fries. The Roadhouse Fries. They are a masterpiece in the world of potato products: waffle fries covered in pulled pork, a creamy cheese sauce, applewood smoked bacon, and scallions. And this is just the appetizer. I can recommend the burgers & pulled pork as entrees if you're feeling traditional. I love a good burger & the folks in the kitchen definitely know how to make one. I'd also recommend going with a side other than the fries since you just gorged on the ones in the appetizer. For a side, I'm a fan of the sweet potato pie. As tempting as it is to order the banana pudding for dessert, don't do it. You'll get dessert in about 20 minutes.
Once you've recovered from the pork-tastic goodness at Roadhouse, head back to Southwest City and stop off at Ted Drewes. There are two locations, but the original is on Chippewa. It's legendary around here and a Friday night is going to be busy. But it's so worth it – I swear they have the best banana split in St. Louis, although the concretes are what most people go for. My favorites are the Hawaiian & the All Shook Up (peanut butter cups & bananas).
Saturday morning will come eventually, and you'll probably want to grab a little something before you head out to do whatever you have planned for the day. Breakfast in St. Louis is not my strong suit, but I know a couple decent places for pancakes (like Chris' Pancake & Dining), but usually I'm not moving early enough to do more than grab a Odwalla bar or bowl of cereal.
If I am moving around early enough to grab breakfast, though, I love a good old school doughnut. I'm not talking about Krispy Kremes or the ones out of a case at the grocery store. I'm talking the ones where they start making them when it is still yesterday & you can find just about any doughnut you're heart desires. These places do still exist, and one of them exists in Southwest City not far from Ted Drewes – it's the Donut Drive-In & they have a mean sugar doughnut as well as a great cake doughnut (my favorite is the one topped with caramel icing & nuts. YUM.) It's a small place – there's sometimes barely enough room for people to stand and wait their turn – but it's great to grab a few (dozen) and head off to see the sights.
One of those sights you may be interested in seeing is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. They offer tours with free beer at the end. If you find yourself a little peckish after that, you can drive over a bridge to Gus' Pretzel's – it's just on the other side of the highway. Like Ted Drewes, Gus' is an institution. But be sure you have cash – they don't take credit or checks. Not that you'd need them, a twist will run you 50¢ unless you want something a little fancier – cinnamon sugar or garlic butter will run you $1/pretzel.
Still hungry? How about visiting Schlafly's Tap Room for lunch. Schlafly is a local brewery with a lot of different flavors of beer to choose from. You can even get a sampler and try several out. I'm personally fond of the burger, fries, sticky toffee pudding, and pretty much ANYTHING else on the menu. I don't think I've had anything there I didn't like. If you get there at the right time, you might even get to see some beer being brewed. Their sister location – Bottleworks – has a completely different menu that is also quite good. I know they also offer tours of their brewery at Bottleworks as well.
You may want something a little lighter for dinner since I've stuffed you with doughnuts, pretzels, and fries all day. Talk about your carb-tastic overload! Pho Grand is just the thing. It's Vietnamese cuisine and yet another place where I've loved everything I've tried on the menu. Do not be frightened by the menu items that use the words "assortment of meat" in their description. They are delicious. The soups are fantastic and usually chock full of veggies, which your body may be craving by dinner.
If you're ready for a little after-dinner drink, walk across the street to Absolutli Goosed, which is my favorite drinking establishment in the city (ed. note: Kara has taken me here. I love the place!). If you have a high tolerance or a few extra days, you can try to work your way through a section of the menu. I'm still trying to work my way through all the coffee-related martinis, which isn't helped by not being able to remember which ones I've had. I also always start with the Coffee & Donuts martini – it's delicious and my favorite drink on the menu. If coffee isn't you're thing, they have a great Bloody Mary menu as well as several tasty Cosmopolitans (I like the Razzmopolitan myself).
With your weekend almost over, it's time to head home. But before you do, how about brunch? There are many places in St. Louis to get a decent brunch on a Sunday morning/early afternoon, but my pick is Bristol's. It's a little out of the city in Creve Couer, but last time I was there they had a chocolate fountain. Those who know me know that I love the chocolate fountain. In fact, I always threaten to stick my head directly into the fountain and eliminate the middleman – who needs fruit stuck on a toothpick? Besides the chocolatey goodness, they have a huge buffet-style brunch with just about everything you can think of – it's so big that the omelette station is in a different room. You will come out of there so full that you won't need to eat again until Monday, or at least not until you get home.
If you do happen to find yourself in St. Louis for a weekend, you'll be able to find good food. I didn't even get into the number of Mexican restaurants or the Bosnian eateries. The places I mentioned are some of my personal favorites, so your mileage may vary.
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