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Must EATS in KC & St. Louis

hey all,
my gf and i are trekking across the country searching for the best food. we plan on stopping in Kansas City and St. Louis for 2-3 meals each. we could go the usual route and look for food&wine mag recs, yelp, zagat, but really, we are after "just the food". and there is no better place then CH.

we already have ok. joes on the list (what to order though? burnt ends?) im a bit passionate about bbq, so i wouldnt mind 2 or 3 more BBQ joints, but really, we just want the list of MUST EATS in KC and St. Louis. We are willing to drive way off the beaten track for a meal (we are driving across the country for it!), so feel free to go wild with the recommendations!

if you had 1 meal in KC or St Louis, what would it be? not just the restaurant, but the specific dish we need to order.

price is not the driving factor, but we are not looking for a fancy dining experience (just got back from napa), we are simply looking for the greatest FOOD. it could be in a gas station. or a strip mall....i guess we are looking for everyones "death row / final meal". (sorry to make it morbid)

we are going to post a similar thread in each of the other cities we are going to, and will make a google map with the results (and share it with everyone)....and then come back to write about the experiences.

fyi, here are the other cities: phoenix, denver, albuquerque, louisville, columbus, philadelphia, nyc.

thanks so much for all the help!

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  1. I think you must have to go to the original gas station location of OJs. We've been to the Olathe one three times and I not crazy about that.
    I love Brobeck's for ribs.
    Here is another thread that may help.

    When we travel we may eat a couple chefy places but we like to find the regional specialties the most. Is that what you are looking for?

    4 Replies
    1. re: wekick

      ya. thats exactly what we are looking for. im also a super food geek, so i always love seeing people with crazy creative contraptions for cooking (converting a shed into a smoke house, propane tank into a smoker, etc). i build computer controlled cooking equipment for fun, so i always love finding the other crazies out there!

      1. re: avidan

        "i build computer controlled cooking equipment for fun"

        would you care to expand on that topic on the general board and provide a link? please?

      2. re: wekick

        I wrote a list like this a few years ago but this has a few updates. These are fairly unique to St. Louis or at least we think we had something to do with the origination.

        Gooey Butter Cake--Missouri Baking Company on the Hill or Park Avenue Coffee

        Toasted Ravioli homemade, Trattoria Marcella or Lombardo's I would try a little St. Louis pizza. You can at least say you have had it. Everyone has their favorite, mine is Fratelli's, in a strip mall. They make their own dough, sauce and sausage. You can get a small pizza for lunch if you didn't want to invest in a big pizza. Pizza is like BBQ and many people have the idea there is only one way to do it which I find to be very odd for people interested in food.

        BBQ Pork steaks-A few years ago you could hardly find BBQ pork steaks outside of St. Louis back yards but they are found a little more now days. High end, Berkshire pork steaks are on the menu right now at Harvest Restaurant on Big Bend and they are delicious.
        A recent discussion. I like Picadilly's but they don't always have them, so call.

        St Paul Sandwich-often found in chop suey joints and other low end Chinese restaurants- Wongs Inn on Big Bend or Mail Lee, which is a nice place and known more for their Vietnamese food

        Brain sandwich-never had one so can't recommend.

        Here is a blog about them

        St Louis has the biggest group of Bosnian immigrants so all kinds of restaurants and groceries.

        We also have a restaurant that is Chao Zhou cusisine.

        I'll try to think of something else.

        1. re: wekick

          in STL I believe only Ferguson's Pub on the near South Side still sells fried calf brain sandwiches, but you have to call a day or two ahead (gotta thaw so not a regular menu item) 314-351-1466

          then there's also fried pig ear sandwiches up on the North Side...

          statins and spinach before and after your trip.

          if you have cooking facilities, Piekutowski's on the North and G+W on the South are destinations for sausage. (even Pope JP II visited P's when in town) but they have cryo-vac-ed products in the major supermarkets.

      3. Well - there's Lamar's donuts in KC - they have a few locations and they look like dumpy gas stations.

        1. Spare Ribs at Smoking Guns in N. KC

          Pappy's Smokehouse for the turkey and sweet potato fries in St. Louis

          Don't waste your time with St. Louis style pizza

          Have a great trip.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lookslikeiloveit

            ya, we are going to reserve our pizza eating for phoenix (bianco) and new york (de fara / robertas / grimaldis)

            1. re: avidan

              If you skip Lucali you are doing yourself a horrible disservice.


          2. Here is a recent thread about interesting places in St. Louis.

            I can't remember if it mentions Ted Drewes or not, but that is definitely a St. Louis must-do, IMHO. I did not really know much about frozen custard before I moved here and it is definitely delicious.

            1. KC:
              LC's for burnt ends. Woodyard for a unique bbq experience. Christie's for a pork tenderloin
              to die for. Town topic for a burger/cultural experience.
              LocalPig and Bichelmeyer's for meat markets.

              .Bluestem and/or Justus Drugstore for your fine dining.

              1. In St. Louis, Pappy's Smokehouse is the best bbq. Long lines but you can call ahead for carry out. No liquor.

                Great meal; arugula salad w/pine nuts dressed lightly in really good olive oil; bread with pistachio butter, home-made mushroom ravioli or their lasagne special at I Fratellini on Wydown.

                Frazer's Good Eats - salmon Frazer over red beans and rice. Mushroom strudel-unbelievable.

                Piccadilly at Manhattan - best grouper sandwich in St. Louis.

                Great burger at Seamus McDaniel's in Dogtown.

                Great burger at Brasserie by Niche on Laclede - pastry chef makes the buns. Really good mussels and pomme frites. Chef Craft is a James Beard award winner as is his barkeep - fabulous cocktails and service. Ask for Elizabeth to be your server.

                Pizza at Bartolino's Osteria on Hampton.

                Tagliatelle Bolognese at Space on Maryland Plaza.

                New York strip steak at Citizen Kane's in Kirkwood.

                Happy Eating

                4 Replies
                1. re: Maggie V.

                  You can usually avoid the lines at Pappy's by going to Bogarts. A little different, run by the same people.
                  1+ on the grouper sandwich.

                  1. re: wekick

                    Bogart's is owned by different people, and their menu differs in a few ways -- not the least of which is pastrami at Bogart's. Holy god, is that stuff a revelation. Also, their meaty beans are reason enough to go. All the meats, however, are treated with care and reverence, and you might try locally-made Billy Goat chips alongside (or find some to take on the road). They're addictive, if a little greasier than the usual.

                    Avoid STL style pizza. It's a J O K E.

                    Toasted ravioli is leathery and filled with questionable meat. Don't do it.

                    1. re: RosemaryBread

                      These links explain the relationship.

                      On Bogarts website-



                      Questionable meat??? All the good stuff is made of questionable meat. I would have to give up the charcuterie plates. ;-)

                  2. re: Maggie V.

                    Not to parse too finely, but Chef Craft is a JB nominee, but not a winner. I do like his restaurants, but am not happy about niche moving to Clayton. Picadilly has a great patty melt as well, prob. the best I've had.

                  3. In Kansas City you could do BBQ three meals a day and not run out for months. So I will recommend non-barbecue

                    Strouds for fried chicken
                    JULIAN is the restaurant of Top Chef Master Celina Tio
                    James Beard nominee Michael Smith's restaurants Extra Virgin (tapas) and Michael Smith (full service)
                    Bluestem and Justus Drugstore have already been mentioned

                    1. RE Midwest Roadfood: I don't know your entire route but if you happen to be on 55 about an hour north of St Louis come off on 16 at Litchfield heading east and go to Jubelt's. This Germany-descended family has been running bakeries in Southern Illinois for nearly a century. Their lunch-counter food is fine but their coffee cakes and Danishes are excellent, yeast cake with a thick layer of fruit or nuts. Worth the stop.