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May 4, 2008 08:43 AM

St. Louis... what can't I miss? traditional food topic

I will be going to St Louis soon. I love to try traditional, homegrown local food all over the world. I don't care so much about fine restaurants, unless they really represent local cuisine. I am looking for St. Louis specialties, something that can represent St. Louis at is best.

Any recommendations?

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  1. London and Son's Wing House for gizzards and gravy over dirty rice.

    1. Ted Drewes...on route 66 for frozen custard- I like the terramizzou concrete.

      Crown Candy 1401 St. Louis Avenue in old North St. Louis for a crown newport- homemade butterscotch and homemade chewy hot fudge with salted pecans served over 2 scoops of decadent homemade vanilla ice cream and topped with real whipped cream.

      Gus' Pretzels near the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Freshly made throughout the day.

      Some chinese restaurants still serve the St. Paul sandwich. It's a local but lesser known favorite.

      A St. Louis tradition is gooey butter cake. McArthur's bakery makes a good one and there are several locations around town.

      Another St. Louis tradition is thin crust pizza served with provel cheese and cut into squares. Imo's is one of the larger local chains that serves this but you can find it at many restaurants around town as well.

      Don't miss toasted ravioli. They are deep fried and a St. Louis original treat.

      Others will likely disagree and offer suggestions for delicious foods at local restaurants...but if you want traditional local foods- you can't miss St. Louis style pizza w/ provel cheese, t-ravs and gooey butter cake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lrstl

        Thanks lrstl, your suggestions sound really great. I will go for it.

        1. re: gado_gado

          Irstl offerred up a great list, but be warned: St. Louis style pizza is a love it or hate it prospect. Generally (but not universally) speaking locals love it and non-natives well, not so much.

          Gotta second the gooey butter cake, which is as rich as it sounds. Don't inhale the powdered sugar. St. Paul sandwiches -- well, try one. Unique.

      2. Lrstl's list is a very good one. If you specify where you are staying (downtown? Clayton? out west?) and what you'll be doing (business or vacation? with or w/o kids?) you may get some more detailed suggestions.

        Ted Drewe's is a definite must. A St. Louis institution. The frozen custard only comes in a softserve vanilla, but there are a huge number of syrups and mix-ins. The thing to order is a "concrete," a milkshake so thick you can turn the cup upside down. Most of my family likes them with hot fudge, but I prefer chocolate with extra malt. Extremely busy after Cards games, but the lines move very fast. If you need to eat a meal before, two good, informal restaurants in the neighborhood are Iron Barley and The Pitted Olive.

        I love St. Louis-style pizza -- crave it, miss it, and repeatedly go for it when in town. If you are in Clayton, my favorite purveyor is Cafe Manhattan on Hanley. If you are near Forest Park or Washington University, I'd go to Talayna's (assuming it is still around). As mentioned above, Imo's is the big local chain with multiple locations all over town.

        If the team is in town, you gotta try to get to a Cards game. Wear red or you'll feel out of place. There are a couple of kiosks inside the stadium that sell toasted ravioli. A great place for a burger or excellent bar food before or after the game (if you can get in) in Anthony's Bar in an office building right across from the stadium on Broadway. Run by the same family that owns Tony's, St Louis's premier fine dining restaurant for several generations.

        Amighetti's is an Italian deli on the Hill, an old Italian neighborhood, known for its excellent sandwiches. After visiting the Zoo in Forest Park (don't miss it, perhaps the finest in the country after San Diego's and still free) a good place for burgers and beer is Blueberry Hill, filled with Chuck Berry and other rock'n'roll memorabilia.

        3 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Oh, one last thought since you are coming from L.A.: St. Louis has two burger chains that aren't around out here. If it is daytime and you'd like a quick sample, stop into Steak-n-Shake for a steakburger and a shake. If it is very late and you are very drunk, find yourself a White Castle (the Porcelain Palace) and grab yourself a bagful.

          1. re: nosh

            Thanks, Nosh.

            I will be staying at the The Parkway Hotel, on Park Avenue. I am going to a 4 day conference in the University. Because the schedule will be pretty busy, I will only have the late afternoons/nights and the whole last free day to do and see as much as I can... so basically I will be on a hunt.

            But from all i read in this topic, it will be totally worth it.

            1. re: gado_gado

              Oooh... If your visit is after June 16th, try to see a show at the Muny! To stay on topic, there's a neat little restaurant in Forest Park called the Boat House and you could grab a bite before the show.

              Be sure to stop by the zoo and/or art museum in Forest Park some afternoon. They are open until 5pm until the summer when the zoo extends their hours a little. The Art museum is open later on Fridays and is closed Monday. And to stay on topic, there's a Puck's cafe that's open for lunch t-su and dinner friday.

              I agree about catching a Cards game if possible. If you are in the stadium, order the Garlic Fries- hot fresh and LOADED with minced garlic and olive oil. Bring gum for after you eat them! Plus they are a huge order for a fairly reasonable price.

              Our city has a lot to offer in terms of dining and attractions. Hope you have a great visit!

        2. Because you are asking for "traditional food" in St. Louis, you really must try toasted ravioli. Cunetto's (on the Hill) would be a very good place to get a taste of this as the place has been there for over 35 years. It's on the appetizer menu and is available at lunch. They aren't open for lunch on the weekends, though, so maybe you could make it on your last day? It's a real "old world" style Italian place and although I like it, I'm not sure you want to "waste" a dinner there! I'd recommend getting to Cunetto's early for lunch (they open at 11:00 a.m.), have the toasted ravioli, then head over to Urzi's (across the street) for Italian goodies to bring home. Then, head over to nearby Amighetti's for the Amighetti's Special sandwich.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Anne

            thank you guys for all the information... this stuff is priceless. I can't wait. It will be around mid June, so i still have time to prepare myself for this nice tour!

            1. re: gado_gado

              You are staying in the Central West End...lots of good stuff in walking distance from you. For a fancy meal...Chez Leon. For good beer and wings..Tom's (right across the street from the hotel)...Scottish Arms is 3 blocks down from the Parkway and is amazing for pub food and great whiskey and imports.

              Have fun and good luck. Sorry to hear you will be stuck at the medical center. I feel your pain.

            2. re: Anne

              My thoughts exactly. I live in the Northeast now, and when I think of toasted ravioli at Cunetto's I get very homesick.

              1. re: Anne

                Can't forget the excellent melanzani fritti either at Cunetto's...deelish!

                1. re: DetectDave

                  I'm surprised no one has mentioned St. Louis BBQ. Yeah, you can get bbq anywhere, but it's pretty special around here. Let's here the favorite place for a pork steak, st. louis style ribs, snoots. SNOOTS for goodness' sake! Anyway, maybe bobzemuda will post about some of his favorites in that area. Over by DetectDave, there's 17th Street Bar and Grill in Fairview Heights (which would be a drive while you're in town). New to town is Pappy's, but get there early.

                  One other thing I've been digging lately is the boiled peanuts at the Soulard Farmers' Market finished off with a Blenheim Ginger Ale (careful, they sell a hot version as'll blow head off if you try to guzzle it like I did); maybe not particularly local, but it feels great to eat fresh boiled peanuts when you're homesick for the south.

              2. the thing to know about STL is that it is modest, but honest.