Monday, August 15, 2016

Eating BIG in St. Louis Pt. 2

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- More exploring of The Gateway City

Was back down in Da Lou and also did some eating in the metro proper. Seeing as how it's baseball season right now this report might come in handy. St. Louis doesn't get lots of mentions as a great dining city but it's better than most people perceive it to be. Aside from the Cardinal fans its fun.

Falstaff, the Original Sam Adams

Upon getting into town and enjoying a few brews on a golf cart ride thru the neighborhood, yes this is a thing in Soulard, we headed over to 'Food Truck Friday's' at Tower Grove Park. On the second Friday of each month more than 20 trucks park around the circular park and the locals flood it for food and drink. So much so that literally every truck, despite there being at least 25, had a line no less than 20 deep. I wanted to watch the Bulls game so we had to take a pass but I will get back to try the Jambalaya Truck that was calling my name, mine and 50 others.

Food Truck Friday's

Quick snack before going over to my buddies watering hole for some bball. Spare No Rib is taking the three most trendy things in food over the last five years and putting them all under one roof.

Benton Park Neighborhood

This place is pushing BBQ, Beer, and Tacos. My friend had yet to stop in but he heard good things and we both smelled good things outside so a quick pour and a bite to eat were to be had. I forget what I drank but St. Louis has a helluva craft beer scene going on right now. Not sure how Budweiser feels about this but I imagine they'll just buy them all up at some time. Corn fritters to start were on point. These were fritters that can make a man a fiend.

Corn Fritters

The owner is from some Latin American country escaping me right now so the food has some flair in that regard. You can expect to find items like smoked chicken sopes and rib tacos on offer. Both of which we snacked on. The actual sope was a little too chewy but the smoked chicken meat was liked. The Rib Taco was worthy of another round. It just consisted of rib meat chopped down into pieces that came with a very nice smoke flavor to it. Topped with onion and cilantro it's hard to go wrong putting good BBQ in a tortilla.

Smoked Chicken Sope / The Rib Taco

Many people might be unaware but St. Louis shares a deep connection with New Orleans. I touched on this a little bit in a Missouri Roadfood post and in short summary St. Louis was founded by two guys from New Orleans and to this day the cities consider each other cousins. So much so that St. Louis has the second largest Mardi Gras Party in the country. Neither city is shy about their drinking.

Richmond Heights Neighborhood

Riverbend is one of my friends favorite stops. They used to be in a small hidden spot in the Soulard neighborhood but moved to larger digs early this year. I'm just realizing now that it was indeed a Friday when we were there but it was close to closing so I just told my friend to do the ordering so I forgot about the gumbo.

Crab Meat Stuffed Shrimp

If you saw my guy you'd know he knows the drill. Crabmeat stuffed shrimp brought me to New Orleans and thats what the owners expect, they're from there originally. Then there's the namesake Po Boy where they take their Roast Beef which is more debris than sliced and mix it with some hot ham, Swiss Cheese, and gravy from the beef. It gets dressed with the traditional po boy toppings and if not for the bread would have also took me straight to New Orleans. Not to knock it, this was an awesome sandwich is was just missing that sesame seeded crunch my favorite spots in NOLA have.

Riverbend Po Boy - Hot Ham, Roast Beef, Gravy, Swiss Cheese

As has been touched on donuts were trendy in St. Louis before trendy was a thing. The donut culture here goes deep. I don't eat donuts in the morning but I will scarf some down as a craving for my late night sweets need. So even better is the fact that most of the city's donut shops are open all day or in some cases they don't even open until the evening. Donut Drive-In has an all time classic as far as neon signs go and they also make tasty donuts that will cost you less than a buck. I wanna slap myself every time I stop into Stan's after payment. Go for the cake donuts.

Found in Lindenwood Park along Route 66

John's Donut Co. has become very popular since my last stop in. They've been around since the early 80's and have won awards before but have recently become a major hit with the drinking crowd which comes as young people move into the area.

Kosciusko Neighborhood

The reason it's so popular with the after hours crowd are the actual hours. They don't open until 11p so if you get there around Midnight you're getting fresh baked donuts still hot from the fryer. All that said you don't need to be sky high or shitfaced wasted to enjoy these. They're the real deal and the best donuts I've had in a city serious about them. I'm all about the blueberry cake kind found all over town and John's hits a home run with their rendition.

The Evenings Bounty

As regular readers know I like to explore regional offerings wherever it is that I am. Especially when it comes to burgers and tacos. I'd heard about this popular taco shop selling Iowa style tacos.

In the suburb of Brentwood

I just couldn't resist. Upon arrival these looked more like the odd offering at Obie's in Maquoketa than Tasty Tacos in Des Moines. Though Fort Taco was probably the best of the bunch. First because of the crunch and second because they offered your choice of hot (Salsa Verde) or Mild (Red Sauce) and the verde packed a little punch. It's just a drive thru in an old Rally's space and the line was pretty long by the time I was pulling out so I wouldn't be surprised to see them expand in the area. Just don't expect a real deal San Antonio style Puffy Taco going in. As Jim said these are Des Moines style puffy tacos, a kind all their own.

Des Moines Style Puffy Taco

A spot I like to go to in town is Lion's Choice. They're a local chain specializing in fresh baked roast beef sandwiches and they always hit the spot for a quick cheap snack. I don't seek them out but we were driving by and again, I just couldn't resist.

Locations found around town

What makes this place popular is the fact it's what Arby's used to be. It's not mystery meat and you can have as much au jus as you seem fit. Have a cup in place of some coffee if you want.

Au Jus for all

There's nothing special about these sandwiches like those found at Charlie's in Buffalo, but they're so much better than anything from any of the other fast food joints. This sandwich with some rare thinly sliced roast beef and cheese mixed with banana peppers and au jus was worth the pricetag. I'm sure they used to be better but they're still much better than their competition.

Roast Beef and Cheddar

Last couple of spots the night before I left, I was pretty much in a food coma at this point, trying to avoid those but STL sucked me in. My buddies female friend wanted to go to this popular Vietnamese Bistro called Little Saigon and with him flipping the bills I can oblige. I wasn't hungry anyway but ended up eating a good portion of that which was ordered. The lightly battered egg rolls were enjoyed as was a plate of Bò Lúc Lac. The latter being a tender cubed beef stir fried with onion and peppers with typical Vietnamese flavor profiles. Not bad at all.

Central West End

Viet Appetizers

Bò Lúc Lac

After dinner we hopped across the street to a place called Hot Box Cookies thats specializing in after hours hot cookies. I think he said they're from Columbia, MO. Fresh made hot cookies late at night will pretty much always be good by me as will St. Louis . . . as long as I'm not wearing a Cubs hat. Check out Part One of this series by clicking HERE.

Central West End

Spare No Rib
2200 Gravois Ave #101
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 202-8244

Riverbend Restaurant and Bar
1059 S Big Bend Blvd
St Louis, MO 63117
(314) 664-8443

Donut Drive-In
6525 Chippewa St
St. Louis, MO 63109
(314) 645-7714

John's Donut Co
1618 S Broadway
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 241-3360

Fort Taco
8106 Manchester Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63144
(314) 647-2391

Lion's Choice

Little Saigon
10 N Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
(314) 361-8881

Hot Box Cookies
3 N Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
(314) 899-0909

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