La Folle Foodie: ⚜ St Louis ⚜

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The time I spent in St Louis coincided with a time of great upheaval for the city. St Louis’s police, judicial system, and tradition created and nurtured the injustice martyred by Mike Brown’s death, trial, and endurance. While this atrocity does NOT speak for the greater St Louisan population, individuals most of whom I found to be good people, the city must rebuild itself. One facet of the city I am pleased to highlight that transcends politics, race, gender, and (some may argue this against me) income, is FOOD. Hear me out: food is one of the fundamental necessities of humanity. Sure, the way we consume and conceptualize food today makes it feel like less of a necessity and more of a luxury, which may be the case, but we all need food to live.

This will kick off a new series of Russian Dressing called La Folle Foodie featuring reviews of cities' food scenes. “Folle” en francais means “crazy”; I’ll say it before you do-I am crazy about food! I like to think I'm "crazy in a good way", but I love love love food. I guess you could say I view it beyond its function-like all foodies, I truly appreciate it as an art form, a cultural symbol, and in its essence-its taste, flavor, even its nutritional “anatomy.” Food is pretty awesome, and guess what? So is the restaurant scene in St Louis.

Check out some of my highlights:

***Keep in mind: I am LOW-CARB, so most of my choices reflect restaurants that are appropriate for a low-carb lifestyle.***
1-Clayton's 5 Star Burgers-Go for Happy Hour!
2-Spare No Rib in Benton Park (below Alive's offices)
3-PAPPY's Smokehouse ribs-no competition
4-A St Louis classic- Blues City Deli in Benton Park If there is one thing the St Louis food scene does unquestionably well, it's meat. I myself happen to be a bit of a carnivore, so let's just say I've been spoilt these past 8 months. 
  • If you are a fan of BBQ, St Louis has got you covered. Pappy's might be the most well-known to out-of-towners, and I will say I like their ribs the best. Bogart's is also pretty renowned, as is Sugarfire Smoke House. I recommend Bogart's for choice cuts of meat like pastrami and pulled pork. I recomend Sugarfire (Facebook link) for their daily specials and sides. Sugarfire also has a horseradish-based "White Sauce" that I am obsessed with. You can't go wrong with 'cue in the Lou.
  • I am also a big fan of burgers, another concept St Louis excels at. 
FUN FACT: The creator of Shake Shack hails from STL.
Fast food-wise I recommend Steak n' Shake (they're good, I promise!) and Culver's (Wisconsin-based).
Also on the cheap side but HIGH in quality is 5 Star Burgers' Happy Hour. Sliders, fried pickles (a family favorite), onion rings, etc come in at $1.50 each. Wines and draft beers are $3.50. 
For some choice meats, The Block is absolutely exceptional. All meats are house-butchered. 

  • BENTON PARK has some amazing food in the meat department. Spare No Rib serves up some darn good chorizo, Athlete Eats on Cherokee Street is a PALEO restaurant (amazing, right?) and Blues City Deli is a St Louis classic if you're into subs. 

The top two photos are from Hiro Asian Kitchen BRUNCH (Sundays only) downtown.
The bottom two are from Mai Lee in Brentwood.
I didn't expect St Louis to have much to offer on the Asian food scene. Boy, was I wrong. There is a substantial Vietnamese population here, and there are pockets of St Louis that put my limited experiences with Asian cuisine in LA to shame.  
  • Hiro Asian Kitchen has a phenomenal Sunday-only brunch featuring interesting yet salivating takes on St Louis classics like the Slinger-the Hiro Slinger uses bulgogi beef, cheesy sweet potato tater tots, and Sriracha in lieu of the boring STL classic slinger. The cocktails are also great.
  • Mai Lee is also noteworthy for their pho. It was actually my first time trying pho, and while I skipped the noodles, the broth was fragrant and seasoned and the meat tender. 
  • Also notable (but not photographically documented) are Korean-Mexican fusion hotspots:  KIMCHEESE (try the Bulgogi beef KimCheese burger and tell me it isn't Heaven on earth) and Seoul Taco (the pork tacos are my favorite!).
  • Last but not least, for a great and affordable sit-down meal, check out Fork & Stix in University City for some nom-worthy Thai food (you can find LOTS for under $10!). 
Provincial Chic
1-the beer-battered Al'Key Burger at The Kitchen Sink
2-Pork belly at Juniper
3-Quiche at Winslow's Home
4-omelette swap from Rooster (their bestsellers are crepes but for $1 more you can turn them into an omelette) 
St Louis is smack-dab in the middle of the country, where the Midwest meets the South. Considering its French heritage, you can bet you'll find a lot of French street names, fleur de lis, and the like. At the same time, St Louis is indeed the Midwest...enter: cornfields, farmers, the archaic term "provincial life." Luckily this is translated today into GREAT homegrown cuisine with some French-y flair:
  • The Central West End hosts perhaps the largest concentration of French-y restaurants in the Lou. For some good ol' fashioned southern fare, try Juniper: with amazing handcrafted cocktails (try the Presbyterian) and an ever-changing menu, just do it. The Kitchen Sink offers lots of Creole cuisine and has an extensive burger menu...this deep-fried bacon burger was insane...and unforgettable.
  • For "provincial" brunch you can really do no wrong. Rooster is the hotspot in town for crepes, and with a menu that uses farm-fresh everything, you can see why. Winslow's Home in U City is also homey-great for lunch and screams "farm-to-table."
  • While I never had the pleasure to try Farmhaus, I hear amazing things about it. I'll even let you in on one of the best secrets in town: there's even a $10 blue plate lunch special Monday-Thursday. 
Unexpectedly Exquisite
1-prime rib at the Restaurant at the Cheshire in Clayton
2-Herbie's in CWE 
3-Peacemaker Maine-style lobster roll
4-Osso Bucco at Trattoria Marcella on The Hill
It seems St Louis's unique food scene is catching on to other parts of the country. I've been hearing more and more frequently that people are trekking out to St Louis for "foodie weekends" and the like. Any cosmopolitan city is likely to be a "foodie city" but the interesting thing about St Louis is...well, it's not quite cosmopolitan. Not that it doesn't have beautiful architecture, great universities, modern luxuries, etc...but it's not a BIG city. Nonetheless, it's BIG on food, and you can expect to find some big-time eaters, chefs, and a thriving culinary culture.
St Louis celebrated its 250 year anniversary in 2014, and with that kind of legacy, there's definitely a "blue-blood" thing going on. This translates into what Squilliam FancySon might call "fine dining" (and breathing). 
The Central West End has a fancy ambience to it, and with restaurants like Herbie's Vintage 72 and Niche, it lives up to its fanciness.
  • The Hill is St Louis's own Little Italy (also mentioned here) and the restaurant scene is top-notch. Giovanni's on the Hill draws in celebrities, and there is never a shortage of amazing pastas, pizzas, and meats at these Italian eateries. Trattoria Marcella's Osso Bucco was divine.
  • Benton Park also offers some fine dining...I have heard great things about Sidney Street Cafe; Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co is EXCELLENT seafood, considering STL is nowhere near an ocean; and Olio (which caught the attention of Conde Nast Traveller!) is also delicious. If you have a sweet tooth, another place you don't want to miss in Benton Park is La Patisserie Chouquette
The next time you find yourself in St Louis, have no fear-your foodie inclinations will fit in perfectly with the city that always eats. 
xo  SFB

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