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St. Louis Visit

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We will be in SL next week and I need some foodie clues. Help!

1) Which "Hill" restaurant has the best combo of fried/toasted ravioli, and a decent menu? We can do without white table cloths, tuxedoed waiters, etc. We're more into deliciousness that ambiance.

2) I could find only 2 BBQ joints that do fried/crispy snoots, Smoky Al's and Smoki O's. Are there more? Again, which is the best place for snoots plus other BBQ specialties?

3) Please tell me about "St Louis Salad". I've read several references to it - is it worth tracking down a restaurant that serves it?

4) What about "Everest", the Nepalese place? We like that sort of thing - is Everest outstanding food or just somewhat exotic, with not especially well prepared, overcooked/stale ingredients, and/or pedestrian flavored dishes?

5) "Aya Sofia" and "Gbric" are two places that we are going to hit - good ideas? Any specific menu items we should order?

6) Should we look for a sit down place for Gooey Butter Cake or just eat it in the car and spill it down our fronts? What's the best GBC bakery in town?

7) Local draft beer: which one?

Any other suggestions are welcome (we already know about slingers, provel, egg foo yung sandwiches and Ted Drewes).

We will try to help when you are in San Diego; I will post a followup when we get home.

THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE!

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  1. EggJar,

    For the Hill, the best known place(old standby) that alot of people rave about is Cunnettos. By the same token, alot of people do not like it either. It seems to be to old world "Hill" for some. I have heard alot of talk about Grazzies, and Lou Baccardi's lately.
    Any of these places will have good salad. I am guessing by St. Louis salad you are speaking of the basic Pasta House or Charlie Gittos salad. All Hill restaurants have their version of it.
    The snouts, I cannot help you. I love to Q, but don't do the exotics.
    I am interested to try Grbic also but I can't help you today.
    Have you been to Crown Candy Kitchen? You should go there, maybe instead of Ted Drewes.
    I love this bakery-
    http://www.mcarthurs.com/default.asp

    I don't know if they have GBC but I would call them or email them.

    Lastly, I would go here-
    http://www.stltoday.com/forums/viewfo...

    And post this post. It is a local food board. Some folks hang here as well, but you will get more info and more concentration there.

    FOTD

    1. I have 2 suggestions for the GBC and snoots if you are willing to drive across the river to the east side in IL. Mallo's Bakery is my go to place for GBC. They have been making them for over 40 years and they are deelish...especially the ones w/ the cherry topping. I think it is a sit down taste treat due to gobs of custardy buttery smooshy filling that will undoubtedly end up in yer lap if you are driving..LOL For the snoots, I recommend Big Mamma's BBQ which just happens to be across the street from Mallo's. Nice and crispy! They have a huge pork steak too which most folks can't finish.
      http://local.yahoo.com/details?id=175...
      http://www.bigmamasbbq.com/

      Big Mama's also has a location at Clinton Hills Golf Course on the east side of Belleville but I've heard mixed reviews about that location.

      1. If I am not mistaken Mama Camisi's on the hill is the home of Toasted Raviolli.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kprange

          I think you may be mistaking. I do not believe it is the "home of toasted raviolli". I also don't belive they are as good as they used to be so I personally would NOT go there. It is also no longer owned by the Campisi family who made it what it was.
          According to this review,
          http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/ente...
          The former restaurant in that space originated Toasted Ravioli according to this-
          "Toasted Ravioli - invented in 1943 or 1944 at Oldani's on “The Hill” by chef Terry Lane and served to (or more likely by) Martin “Mickey” Garagiola (Joe's brother), though others also claim the invention.
          "
          http://stlplaces.com/stl_foods/

          Here is a recent article about TR-
          http://www.saucemagazine.com/article/...

          FOTD

          1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

            I guess I am mistaken. One of my favorite restaurants on the hill is Cunetto's. They have good food at reasonable prices,. I wouln't waste my time with Charlie Gitto's, but I also like Fafawza's - I don't know if I spelled it correctly. There is a bar on Southwest Ave. called Mr. B's. I don't know if it is technically on the hill, but I really like the atmosphere. They always remember us even though we don't get there very often since we moved to Illinois. I hope this helps.

            1. re: kprange

              Do you mean Favazza's on Southwest near S. Kingshighway?

              1. re: jlawrence01

                Yes, that is the place I was referring to. I knew I didn't spell it correctly. I used to to go there all the time when I was dating my husband. I lived very close to there and just loved all the restaurants around there.

        2. Hit my favorite BBQ joint, Ropers on West Florissant for the snoots - but the rib tips are better.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jberendzen

            I think there are two restaurants that people should go to when visiting town, one being Niche (which is more fine dining, maybe not what you're looking for) and the other is Iron Barley. (http://www.ironbarley.com). I'd describe it as creative southern cooking. The food is always spot on, and they have a good (but small) beer menu, including one local beer on cask, a few weeks ago it was O'Fallon 5-Day IPA, which is a very fine beer. Make sure to save room for dessert, they have great frozen pies.

            A few more things on the beer front, I'd also look for O'Fallon Pumpkin Ale (although I don't know if it is on draft anywhere) it is a great example of the pumpkin beer style. Schlafly makes some fine products too.

          2. Wow...can I come along? I'm impressed by the research you guys have done (and I'm impressed by the chowin' you plan on doing...)
            Most places in town have toasted ravioli on the app. menu. If you want the whole toasted rav experience I would favor one of the 'traditional' places on the Hill, like Lou Boccardi's or Cunnetto's...understand that these are not our most 'cutting edge' Italian restaurants...they are tomato-sauce-with-noodles kinda places, with tableclothes and waiters with white aprons tied around their midsections. You WILL find toasted ravs on the menus at more progressive places, but they are likely to be stuffed with exotica, and you should experience the genuine article. Cunetto's and Lou Boccardi's almost face one another, if you have trouble choosing you could just drive there, park, and flip a coin.
            I second the suggestion for Roper's on W. Florissant...it's way up in North County (far away for me), but I've become a fan after working up in that area...St. Louis isn't really known for our BBQ, but Roper's is good, and the real deal.
            You are going to find gooey butter cake at almost any bakery, as well as in the bakery departments of the big grocery stores (Schnucks, Dierberg's...). If you try to eat it in the car your car will draw flies for months and you will asphyxiate on airborne powdered sugar. I love the stuff (in small doses), but you really need a good cup of black coffee to go with it... I've had good gooey butter cake at Cairdeas in Dogtown, but I don't know if they offer it daily. McArthur's bakery, which does do a really nice version, has a stall at Soulard Market on Friday and Saturday, I get mine there. (My eight-year-old daughter has developed an addiction).
            I haven't been to Everest in a while, but the last time I was there the food was very good. Be sure to read the newspaper clippings about the owner's father, its an interesting story.
            I'm going to very strongly second the suggestion that you try Iron Barley. The food is what I have seen described as "haute hoosier" ('hoosier' in St. Louis denoting a certain, um, lack of cultural aspirations...think 'urban redneck'...it used to be a term of derision, but those of us who can claim St. Louis hoosier ancestry are now using the term with pride)...Iron Barley takes the kind of honest meat-and-potatoes, cast-iron-skillet cooking my grandma did and ramps up the ingredients and the technique to a lick-your-plate level. NOT fancy. And very crowded on weekend evenings. A really fun place, one of my absolute favorite places. (And you CAN get the Ballistic Elvis for dessert, trust me).
            If you get the chance, try to get to Crown Candy Kitchen. The atmosphere alone is worth the trip, but the BLT and a vanilla malt is perfection. The blt has enough bacon on it for a family of four. A dodgy neighborhood, but on the mend, and you'll be fine, the place is always packed with people from all over the area. Again, crowded. Try to get there well before or after the lunch hour or be prepared to stand in line. Do not despair, the line does move along.
            And, at the risk of being yelled at by the moderators..especially if you have kids with you, do try to fit a visit to City Museum into the week. City Museum is wonderful. Get a corndog at Beatnik Bob's while you're there...so I can claim to be guiding you in houndish directions.

            1. Like tonifi, I am ever so impressed with your research.

              Now, the places on the Hill fall into two catgories, way too expensive or are feed troughs for people looking for a great deal. Cunnetto falls into the latter. The one place I have liked is Gian-Tony's. Very uunderstated and the food is good. Try the toasted ravs there. Otherwise, any of the others will do for toasted rav but the rest of your meal might be disappointing.

              Schlafly is my favorite St. Louis brewery. they also have a couple of decent restaurants with the Tap Room being the pub grub place and the Bottleworks being the more ambitious one. Both good, but not spectacular. Morgan Street has good beers, food is uneven. Trailhead in St. Charles is the same thing. God beer, so-so food.

              I will third, or fourth Ropers. Good BBQ. I don't know if Lampert's Plush Pig does snouts but that is my favorite BBQ place. The owner is a real mensch and the BBQ is good.

              There is one place on Bermuda, it used to be awesome but when I searched for it, they have changed the name to Red the Barbeque man BBQ. If it is the same people, the cue is delicious. They were open only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. It is just a shack in an industrial area. Its pretty safe around there. They may have snoots.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Phaedrus

                I really like the idea of Iron Barley if you're after beer. As mentioned they have the O'Fallon 5 Day IPA on cask. In my opinion it is the best beer brewed in the area and especially so on cask.

                Do brace yourself, however, they serve it pretty much at room temperature (as it should be).

                I'd go Schlafly Tap Room over Bottleworks if you're after food, but that's just me.

                I know Park Avenue Coffee has a ton of gooey butter cake, but I don't know how it tastes. I'm side with your maybe wanting to just go grab a Haus one at the grocery store, because that is the original as I understand it.

                Everything else you mention has been pretty well covered, so the one addition I'll make, as always, is that you should go to Rooster. It's a daily breakfast/brunch/lunch spot in the city that is pretty unique.

                http://www.roosterstl.com/

                -----
                Rooster
                1104 Locust St, St Louis, MO 63101

                Iron Barley
                5510 Virginia Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63111

                1. re: bobzemuda

                  I'm headed to Rooster for the first time tomorrow for lunch, I am very excited. Pork products will certainly be involved.

              2. Everest Cafe: it has been a while since I have been there, but it is a mom-and-pop place and everyone I have taken there has enjoyed it. I suggest lunch because they have a buffet and you get to try a wide variety of Nepalese dishes.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Doug

                  They haven't moved yet have they?

                  1. re: bobzemuda

                    I asked them at Taste of St. Louis, they said they would be moving towards the end of October.

                2. Original Poster here: Are there any culinary remnants of the German immigrant population still around in Saint Louis? Sausage makers? Restaurants? (I forgot to ask in the original post.)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: EggJar

                    I don't know much about the leftover German influences (although Iron Barley often has schnitzel and spaetzle on the menu), but to reference your original post, St. Louis salad isn't worth finding. It's iceberg and romaine, with artichoke hearts, red onion, pimentos, provel (or parmesan) and a red wine vinaigrette.

                    1. re: EggJar

                      Both Al Smith's Feasting Fox and the Bevo Mill date back (architecturally and historically) to the glory days of St. Louis German immigrant ancestors...but lots of water has passed under the bridge since then. I went to the Feasting Fox when it opened years ago, I thought it was terrible. Bevo Mill is very cool to look at...you don't see a lot of full-size windmills in this area...but the food is not, not, not good. I've gone for their Sunday breakfasts a few times (the kids are amused by the place), but really, I wouldn't bother.
                      On the other hand, G & W Sausages make some kickin' Bavarian-style sausages. Its just a little butcher shop on Parker just east of Kingshighway (and they keep kind of odd hours, so you'd best call first), but their sausages are very, very good. I was never a fan of any kind of sausage until I tried theirs. They are a butcher shop, so nothing is sold cooked...you will spot their products on lots of menus, though.
                      You could go to Gus's pretzels (a fine German institution on Arsenal just west of the Brewery (AB, that is)), and get one of their pretzel-wrapped bratwurst for lunch. Or two. With lots of mustard.

                      1. re: EggJar

                        There is a great German restaraunt if you are willing to drive to St. Charles. It is called the Vintage House Restaraunt and Wine Garden and it is at 1219 South Main Street. http://www.stcharlesvintagehouse.com/ It's probably a 30 minute drive from downtown, but if you are looking for good German food, I think it is worth it. We have only been once, and it was on a weeknight, so it wasn't very crowded. We walked in and they immediately asked us if we would like to taste any wine. It was a very quaint restaraunt inside an old home, with outdoor seating available. A man who I could only assume to be the owner came walking around and was very friendly. He even pulled out his harmonica for a while.

                        In response to your original post... I have never eaten at Cunnetos, but I am quite partial to Rigazzis. It is not fancy by any means (think red checkered table cloths), but the food is good, and you can get yourself a fishbowl of your favorite beer. Personally, that is my favorite spot for toasted ravioli because it's not like the frozen stuff you will find at the grocery store. As far as salad, I love the salad at Pasta House (a local Itallian chain), but like somebody else mentioned, I think pretty much any place on the hill will have their own version.

                        To those of you who mentioned Iron Barley... thanks for the tip, I will definitely have to check it out!

                      2. I'll add my vote for Cunetto's for toasted ravioli and solid Old-World Italian food. A few things you should know about Cunetto's, though:
                        1. Order pasta. The place is more "spaghetti & meatballs" than "oso bucco". I like the canelloni with the "creamy meat sauce".
                        2. Portions are VERY large. Be prepared!
                        3. They don't take reservations, so expect to wait in a LONG line. They open for dinner at 5:00. By that time, the line will be 3/4's around the block.
                        4. Consider going for LUNCH. It's cheaper, there's usually less of a wait, and you've got the rest of the day to walk off the HUGE meal. But they are only open for lunch Mon-Fri.
                        5. Here's their website: http://www.cunetto.com/
                        Finally, make sure you spend some time walking around The Hill. Lots of other treats to be had for a Chowhound. The Italian markets (DiGregorio's, Urzi's, etc.) have some wonderful foods and wines. And you really should go to Amighetti's or Missouri Baking Co. for delicious cannoli for dessert.
                        Enjoy your visit!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Anne

                          You hit it with Cunetto's. The markets are great as well. I go to Urzi's, DiGregorio's, Volpi's and Viviano's every couple of months to stock up on my italian provisions. Their prices are comprable to other markets as well.

                          Another restaurant I really like is Fafawza's on Southwest. I really enjoy their linguini with clams and their calamari is great. I don't know about the toasted ravs, but I am sure they are good.

                          About german food, I am not so sure. Does anyone know anything about Bevo Mill? Is it still good food?

                          http://www.bevomillstl.com/

                          1. re: kprange

                            Another choice would be the Al Smith's Feasting Fox on the corner of Grand and Arsenal (next to Ted Drewes' Grand location). Good German food in a historical German setting.

                            Al Smith's Feasting Fox
                            4200 S. Grand Ave
                            St. Louis, MO 63111
                            (314) 352-3500

                        2. EggJar, Just a couple of thoughts from a St. Louis native who lives in SoCal:

                          Where are you staying? If it is downtown, you may want to consider having your toasted ravioli fix at Kemoll's, mentioned in the Sauce article linked above. The food and service there is several notches above Cunnetto's, though it is more formal. You expressed an interest in beer, and while Anheiser Busch products are ubiquitous, the brewery tour is fun. It also puts you right near the historic Soulard Market. The biggest deal restaurant in town, and seriously one where the food and service is as good as anywhere (think old school) is Tony's, though I don't think you are looking for a coat and tie place. (By the way, my dad's just about favorite place in No. County is Pamplemousse, which I've enjoyed several times.) For lunch, Tony's has an adjacent bar/restaurant Anthony's which serves an excellent burger or sandwich. Very close-by if you are doing the Arch or walking by the baseball stadium.

                          If you are staying in Clayton (just west of St. Louis city proper) I'd give a big thumbs-up to Cafe Manhattan on Hanley. They serve a good toasted ravioli, a tasty salad, and while it usually gets dissed by anyone not a native, you can try St. Louis pizza (yes, the thin crust, square pieces, and provel cheese kind). Personally, I love the stuff, and used to freeze it and pack it in foil to take home in the days before increased airport security. For an excellent flame-grilled thick burger, have lunch at the Fatted Calf. Be sure to at least drive through Forest Park -- a superior zoo with free admission, a fine art museum (but you have those in SD) but the Jewel Box is pretty and unique.

                          One warning -- smoking is still lawful in St. Louis restaurants and many places allow it. For instance, many people say O'Connell's is the best burger in town, but after years in California, I just can't tolerate it there. Many of the higher-end places restrict it to their bars, but if you or any travelmates are sensitive, you may want to ask about it, particularly in some of the places recommended for beers.

                          Looking forward to your reporting back.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: nosh

                            I like some of your choices, Tony's is one of my favorite restaurants. The last time I was there, the service was extrodinary and the food was wnderful.. Never have I had a spinach salad that was so good. It is expensive, but the service and the food is worth it.

                            One of my favorite St. Louis pizzas is Elicia's pizza, on Hampton I think. That pizza is St, Louis to me.

                            1. re: nosh

                              Pamplemousse? Address? Details? I'm not familiar with any St. Louis restaurant by that name.

                              1. re: bonwich

                                Pamplemousse is in Las Vegas. Having just visited there and researched it, I saw that name plenty.

                                FOTD

                                1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                  Perhaps, but nosh appeared to have located it in North St. Louis County.

                                  1. re: bonwich

                                    Yes I see that. I googled around and could not find it...

                                    FOTD

                                    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                      So sorry for the misdirection, bonwich and FOTD [email me -- i love your screenname]. The OP is from the Del Mar area in North County SAN DIEGO. ;-) Pamplemousse is a very good high-quality restaurant there that has prices close to Tony's. She mentioned it, if not in this post, in another I read from her Chowhound history.

                            2. Eggjar,
                              When I originally responded and suggested McCarthur's bakery, I did not know if they did GBC.
                              However, I saw this in another topic-
                              <I like homemade the best because I can get more gooey and less cake. But if I need to buy it, I'll go with http://www.mcarthurs.com/ because they use a square pan and the edges get perfectly chewy. Don't bother with a grocery store version of the cake. Just grab some gooey butter cookies at a grocery store if that's the only option you have.>

                              Also on a couple of other points. At Cunnetto's I don't agree with Anne's comment- " Order pasta. The place is more "spaghetti & meatballs" than "oso bucco". I like the canelloni with the "creamy meat sauce".
                              "

                              I LOVE their Sicilian Steak with a side of Pasta. Awesome stuff.

                              Also, The sugggestion for Fatted Calf is a great one. I love their burgers with the creamy onion cheese...

                              FOTD