HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >


St.Louis to K.C. weekend

  • d

my wife and i will be taking our son to wash u. in st.louis in a few weeks for his freshman year. we will be flying in from N.J. and we decided to make a long weekend out of it and plan to drive to K.C. for some BBQ. How does this sound- in KC, arthur bryants and/or LCs, Oklahoma Joes, Jack steak, gates for Q. Room 39 for breakfast/brunch, and maybe spin pizza for lunch. comments? suggestions? in St.L its much harder. I want a true taste of these cities but i am afraid of a true taste of st.louis! does everything have chili poured over it? not that theres anything wrong with that. if i have a slinger, will i be able to eat anything for the rest of the weekend? besides ted drewes for a concrete and toasted ravioli somewhere, im open for suggestions. also, anyplace on the drive betwwen st.l and kc? thanks in advance

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In my opinion, you should save the Kansas City drive for another time, and hang out in St. Louis. There is some great eating here (not sure why you think it might be hard to find good food). True, BBQ tends to be lackluster and saucy, and there aren't as many legendary joints here compared to KC. I'll stay away from that topic and steer you toward other great STL spots.
    At O'Connell's Pub pub on Shaw, you'll find a fabulous old bar and the best burgers in the Midwest.
    In Soo on Olive Blvd. has an addictive style of Korean-Chinese food that is out of this world - try the Hot and Sour Soup and the made-from-scratch moo-shu.
    Nachomama's on Manchester is a down-home Tex-Mex place that serves woodroasted chicken and homemade tortillas. Great margaritas, too.
    My favorite pizza is at Pizza-A-Go-Go on Scanlan. It's the real deal - thin crust and no Provel. But, of course, in St. Louis the whole Provel cheese issue is contentious. I think it's gross, but you'll have to try a pizza at Imo's and see what you think.
    For a more "grown-up" meal try Niche on Sydney Street: http://nichestlouis.com/
    Have fun...

    2 Replies
    1. re: alicehat

      thanks alice. just the reply i was hoping for. coming from NYC area, $30 for a 3 course meal is less than an entree alone. and i have to try a pizza with provel. i thought everyone was just shortening provelone. ha!

      1. re: dock

        Hi - I went to Wash U. I highly recommend Harvest, which is literally just a few blocks from the South 40. A great great locally-grown produce influenced meal is sure to be had. Make sure you try the bread pudding for dessert.

        Other options abound on the Loop, which is a 10 minute walk from campus, including Brandt's (a nice evening place to go, great wine list) to Blueberry Hill (totally college bar, great burgers, super cheap and good beer - $9/pitcher of Blue Moon!)

        If you want to head more downtown, I suggest King Louie's or 1111 Mississippi.

        And of course, Ted Drewes for frozen custard is a must. They'll serve it at Wash U for orientation, but it's not even close to going to the actual road stand and getting it fresh there. My favorite is the Cardinal Sin sundae - vanilla custard, hot fudge, and sour cherries. Yum!

    2. I have to second the "Stay in STL" suggestion. Not so much because of the cuisine as because of the congestion. Save yourself the agita of driving 4.5 to 5 hours each way on I-70 -- not well maintained, lots of traffic. Especially if you're only going to be around for the long weekend.

      If you want a shorter drive, I'd recommend a quick trip to Columbia or Rocheport. Very pretty right along the Mighty Mo.

      1. Chili all over everything? Are you sure you're not thinking of Cincinnati?? I strongly second the Ted Drewes suggestion and encourage you to try an Imo's deluxe. Olive Street is full of great Chinese places - and the prices will knock your sox off, seeing as how you're from the East Coast. We like LuLu's Seafood for dim sum.

        1 Reply
        1. re: k_d

          As k_d accurately said, St. Louis is definitely not known for its chili. On the other hand, I have to agree with Pylon that Imo's pizza will be a gross disappointment and a waste of time, money, and appetite, particularly from someone who has real pizza with real cheese available on a regular basis. Try Riddles Penultimate for well-made food using lots of locally grown and produced ingredients, not to mention an extensive wine list. Also, the section of Olive Street k_d refers to is in University City (Olive is a very long street). You will also get other good ideas on the excellent Sauce Magazine website: http://www.saucemagazine.com/

        2. I had the same thought about cincy...

          Get the Ted's, skip the Imo's. They have real pizza where you live, you will not be pleased, IMO.

          If you must go to KC, Bryant's is the place for BBQ. If you do want pizza, hit Shakespear's in Columbia. Now that's good pizza.

          But staying in the Loo is not a bad play either. 1111 Mississippi is always popular, as is Jacksons on Manchester.

          1. Should I still offer input on KC or have you completely decided against KC this trip?

            1. flights have already been booked so KC imput is greatly appreciated. will be flying into St. L and flying out of KC. these suggestions are terrific and many thanks to all. and i think i will skip the midwest pizza, but if antone needs advice about pizza around here... and what about those slingers?

              1 Reply
              1. re: dock

                Have your slinger at Goody Goody. It's an easy ride from the airport, and it's a great joint. Here's what the Sterns had to say: http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...

              2. A one-way trip is definitely more feasible. Where in KC will you be staying? I would say LC's over Bryant's. Wear no-slip shoes, because the entire interior of LC's is coated with a fine layer of BBQ history. I've never had a bad meal at OK Joe's (certainly the best gas station food I've ever had), and their sides are as good as their BBQ. Try the red beans and fries.

                For breakfast, Room 39 is very good, but I prefer the Bluebird Cafe. It's in a funky little restaurant with one of the bar-none best views of KC right around the corner. They specialize in local and organic, with an excellent bakery next door. Succotash in the river market is usually good -- sometimes a little hit-or-miss and valuing quirky over quality sometimes -- but it's worth a trip to the River Market.

                Speaking of River Market, if you want a gen-u-ine KC experience, check out Harry's Country Club. Country Club as in Hank and Patsy, rather than silver spoon. Good food, fantastic bar (including the physical bar, the quality of the bottles behind the bar, and the helpful bartenders), awesome view of downtown, big patio with live music, and the only fried bologna sandwich happy hour special I've ever seen.


                ETA -- I hope that doesn't make Harry's sound too much like the Cracker Barrel -- it really is a very cool bar!

                2 Replies
                1. re: heatherkay

                  I would agree with LC's, having never been to Bryants (a situation that will be remedied a week from today). I would mention that LC's is a small, order at the counter kinda place usually full of people waiting for take out. I get mine to go (burnt ends, no sauce) and take it back to the hotel. But hey, if you can get a table, it's a fun people watch.

                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                    Bryant's is good, too, just a little inconsistent. Count me as one who likes the gritty sauce -- it's almost like a spice rub crossed with a sauce.

                2. St. Louis to KC along I-70 is pretty much a gastronomic wasteland with the notable exception of Columbia, a fairly laid-back college town, smack dab in the middle of the state. Try Shakespeares Pizza or Ernies or Booches or the Sub Shop. You won't be disappointed. If possible, try all four.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: steveb

                    I agree that a stop in Columbia is worthwhile. I think that while Sub Shop and Ernies are great, they're not worth the stop. Shake's pizza definitely is, and Booche's is on the worth it to stop list as well. I might add CJ's and Murry's.

                    The bistro at Les Bourgeouis, just west of Columbia by 10 miles is good food (they try to be pretty stellar and fall just a bit shy of that mark) and the views are very nice. Best in the evening, but mid day is good, too.

                  2. Are you going to hit all of those bbq places or just some? That's a lot... they're going to have to roll you guys on the plane afterwards!! ;-) In my opinion, I think people like either one kind of bbq or the other... some people are in it for the competition type bbq where it's all about the smoke ring or the smoke flavor (purists) rather than the falling off the bone, saucey, tender kind of bbq. You've named both types... Arthur Bryant's, Gates, and although I haven't been, I think L.C.'s qualifies too, as the first type I mention. Oklahoma Joe's and Jack Stack's are the second type. The first type, the places are going to be a little rough around the edges and possibly dirty "hole in the wall" type places. The second type, is going to be suburban-ized or as some people would refer to it as here, Johnson County-ized!! So, it's all about what you are looking for. I personally prefer the suburban type, Jack Stack's is my favorite... I'm all about the cheesy corn and the smoked sausage (now you're making me hungry!) I also enjoy Oklahoma Joe's... they have my favorite french fries in KC and I really like their pulled pork. I don't care for Arthur Bryant's or Gates, but I know a lot of people do like them. I have found the meats to be not very good quality, to me, but I am squeamish when it comes to fat and gristle! Anyway, that's my opinion on the bbq scene and I'm sure some people will disagree with me, but there it is anyway! :-)

                    I have not been to Room 39, but have heard really excellent things, so do report back if you go!

                    And I think I should warn you... I adore Spin Pizza, but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a "going out of your way" kind of a place. For me, it's more of an everyday eating place. It's very casual, order at the counter, but they do use very fresh ingredients and inventive toppings. They also have wine and beer, which is nice for a not so fancy but not bar kind of a place. Also, if you know much about the KC restaurant scene, the chefs at 40 Sardines helped to develop the recipes at Spin. Here is the website so you can take a look at the menu: http://www.spinpizza.com/#

                    Another idea to get a good survey of the Kansas City restaurant scene would be to try one of our many Mexican places. One of our favorites is La Cocina del Puerco... get the carnitas if you go! They've been voted the best margarita in town, and I can honestly say, that I whole-heartedly agree!! http://www.lacocinadelpuerco.com/inde...

                    Have fun and report back! And tell your son... don't forget the shower shoes!! ;-)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      P.S. I forgot the spicy cole slaw at Oklahoma Joe's!! Love the spicy slaw!

                    2. One thing I just remembered - make sure to get some Boulevard beer in KC if you like beer. The pale ale is great, and if they still make the tenpenny it's even better. You can get unfiltered wheat on tap at bars, but filtered in bottle.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Dennis S

                        MMMM, Dennis S. You are right. My favorite is Bully Porter, if your tastes go to the dark. I can't second the Les Bourgeois endorsement, though. And if you do go there, forego the wine altogether, even though they claim to be a winery. It's not worth it.

                        1. re: k_d

                          In full agreement about the wine. It's first about the view and the activity (which is mainly for those living in the area), second for the food at the bistro, but not about the wine.

                        2. re: Dennis S

                          Boulevard Brewing Company has free tours on Saturday's with beer tastings: http://boulevard.com/index.cfm

                        3. hopefully they have bully on tap at phoenix. good local beer and jazz after a pig out on pig. now you're talkin! will we be able sit at phoenix on a saturday nite?

                          1. just got back yesterday and thank you to all who replied to my post. landed thursday and spent most of the next 2 days doing move in stuff with my son. not much time for food. thurs. night after convocation, at 10 pm, we went to Imo's. had toasted ravioli and a pie with bacon and sausage. so I now understand about provel. I didn't hate it by my wife and kid thought it was awful. definately an unusual taste, very artificial. The toasted ravioli is a great idea, great party food. The next day we had sushi in the loop. wasnt expecting much and it was ok. nice area though. never got a chance to get to central west end, next time. went to the hill for dinner at Gian Tony. Pretty good food, reasonable prices and terrific atmosphere. waiter was friendly and we struck up conversations with the locals as we were the only tourists. then on to Ted Drews at 9 pm. there were 140 people on line! what a scene. only took 10 minutes and we had a cardinal sin concrete and the one with fudge and macadamias. Memorable experience and much better than DQ!
                            landed the next day in KC and went directly to Gates. Had a short end with beans and coleslaw. didnt care for the sauce but the ribs were great. tasty sides also. then went to the 4pm tour at boulevard beer. loved all the beers and enjoyed talking to the beermeister who was there. i enjoyed the dry wheat best followed by the seasonal ale, wheat, porter and IPA. we then went to Bryant's for a beef sandwich, just a snack befeore dinner. but noone told us there was a Chiefs game and the line was out the door. i had fun talking to the locals, all wearing chiefs jerseys. i am from NJ so we talked about Herm Edwards. the beef was absolutly delicious! not fatty and very tender. ive heard AB is hit or miss and we got lucky. we tried all the sauces and i must say i enjoyed the original the best. the sweet and bold was tasty too. we then walked around a while amd at 9pm went to Oklahoma Joes. when you say the best food in a gas station i thought it used to be a gas station, not currently. pretty weird. had the combo of pulled pork, ribs and sausage and another with the beef. the pulled pork was the best BBQ of the trip, just outstanding. the ribs were also delicious but the sausage was a pass. none of the sauces were great but the house sweet was ok. i usually enjoy the spicy sauces but on this trip the sweet ones were better. the spicy slaw was good but not as good as Gates but the beans here were better. and once again, everyone was very friendly and helpful. too tired to go out so we bagged the jazz club or bars. next day, no breakfast(no surprise) and we drove around. ended up at the farmers market and then Jacls Stacks for lunch. had the combo beef and pork burnt ends with beans and creamy corn. nice place but i prefer the atmosphere of the others. the Q was very good but the sides were great. the beans were the winner of the trip, just delicious and the creamy corn will be served at my house. its macaroni and cheese with corn instead of macaroni. Brilliant! then on to negro baseball and jazz halls of fame and before the airport, an AB burnt end sandwich for the flight. thanks again to all and i felt like i had a little taste of the heartland. now i need something green to eat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dock

                              Whew! I'm worn out just reading your barbeque extravaganza! Thanks for reporting back... looks like you did pretty good over all!

                            2. I'm going to post my st. louis thoughts in a newer post...