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Trip to St. Louis

Trip to St. Louis
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  • Post #241 - June 4th, 2015, 10:38 am
    Post #241 - June 4th, 2015, 10:38 am Post #241 - June 4th, 2015, 10:38 am
    Da Beef wrote:
    jimswside wrote:I hit about 2/3 of the places my list, biggest miss for me looking back is not getting to Fort Taco (des moines style puffy tacos).


    I got you covered.

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    In the suburb of Brentwood

    I just couldn't resist. Upon arrival these looked more like the odd offering at Obie's in Maquoketa than Tasty Tacos in Des Moines. Though Fort Taco was probably the best of the bunch. First because of the crunch and second because they offered your choice of hot (Salsa Verde) or Mild (Red Sauce) and the verde packed a little punch. It's just a drive thru in an old Rally's space and the line was pretty long by the time I was pulling out so I wouldn't be surprised to see them expand in the area. Just don't expect a real deal San Antonio style Puffy Taco going in. As Jim said these are Des Moines style puffy tacos, a kind all their own.

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    Des Moines Style Puffy Taco



    What makes this place popular is the fact it's what Arby's used to be. It's not mystery meat and you can have as much au jus as you seem fit. Have a cup in place of some coffee if you want.

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    Au Jus for all



    diggin the AuJus dispenser - :lol:

    Fort Taco looks good - definitely bummed I didnt fit it in.
  • Post #242 - August 12th, 2016, 5:32 pm
    Post #242 - August 12th, 2016, 5:32 pm Post #242 - August 12th, 2016, 5:32 pm
    Thanks Josephine for your hospitality a couple of weeks ago. Joy Luck Buffet (without the buffet of course) is a terrific Szechuan option for anyone who enjoys Szechuan food. What we had:

    Complimentary and delicious seaweed to begin:

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    Josephine recommended the peppercorn chicken - marinated chicken with scallions and a Szechuan peppercorn sauce. I don't think she was as enamored as I was (unfortunately due to the slicing of the chicken and the resulting small bone fragments) but damn this chicken was delicious. The sauce had magnificent herbal flavors with just the right dose of Szechuan peppercorn spice.

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    Szechuan wontons were a very typical presentation and delicious:

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    Chongqing chicken beautifully prepared - fresh, herby, spicy, delicious.

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    Even better than the Chongqing chicken was the cumin lamb, perhaps the very best version of this dish I've had. The preparation was nothing unusual, but the lamb was remarkably good.

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    A server in Chengdu took me under his wing and explained ordering in your typical Szechuan restaurant. He pointed around and showed me everyone eating fiery food accompanied by milder vegetables (pea tips, bok choy, etc.) It all made sense to me. I think I tend to do this anyway, but I also like to fit in a bit. And garlic bok choy at Joy Luck fit the bill - delicious and just crisp enough.

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    There's little I like more than Dan Dan noodles. Unfortunately, these were a bit of a letdown. At first, not enough sauce. We let the waitress know and she added more. But it still seemed a bit lacking, including the noodles. They weren't bad by any means, but they weren't up to the quality of what's pictured above.

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    I often like to finish a meal with something sweet, and Joy Luck offered my favorite sesame balls with red bean paste. Of course, this is not your ordinary Szechuan food item so perhaps I was getting dangerously close to Joy Luck's buffet food. In any event, they were fine but not among the better ones I've had.

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    Add me to the Joy Luck (fan) Club . . . and when you visit St. Louis, join the club. You won't be sorry.


    I wasn't scheduled to have any real meals in St. Louis the next day, but with weather between St. Louis and Chicago, my flight home was cancelled and I added Pappy's to the mix. I hadn't been there in a long time. I had the ribs and they were adequate, though a little too fall-off-the-bone for my liking and not particularly remarkable. Oh well.
  • Post #243 - November 19th, 2019, 1:17 pm
    Post #243 - November 19th, 2019, 1:17 pm Post #243 - November 19th, 2019, 1:17 pm
    A buddy and I had never been to St Louis, so we decided to take the Amtrak down a couple weeks ago to check out what the city was about. First order of business was Saturday morning breakfast at the 60+ year old Eat Rite diner. This place is about a mile from downtown and the walk was strangely deserted, almost in an eerie way. Turns out downtown STL can be pretty desolate most of the time, and as we were to find out, most of the fun happens in the neighborhoods. However the reception at Eat Rite was the complete opposite: total strangers welcomed us to the counter in a very friendly way and we had a great chat with both cooks and customers. This is the best kind of old school diner that's a treasure to have in your neighborhood.
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    The St Louis local specialty is called a slinger and it's coney-style chili over eggs, sausage patty and hash browns. Kind of a mess but it tastes great in a non fancy soul satisfying kind of way. I will point out that the hash brown component was superb - crispy crust around a creamy center.

    Next up was the Soulard Market. This is one of those permanent semi-outdoor markets which a lot of mid sized cities seem to have (like Findlay in Cincy and Granville in Vancouver), and of which I am pretty jealous as a Chicagoan. I guess we have the French Market but it doesn't feel the same somehow. Soulard has four big pavilions surrounding a central hall with vendors selling affordable produce, prepared foods - and somewhat surprisingly to me, really fresh-looking and smelling Gulf seafood like prawns and red snapper. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because Louisiana is just down the river, but I got a real New Orleans vibe from Soulard. My buddy got some excellent smoked sausage gumbo, and I had a tasty empanada.
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    Now it's time for the main event which I had been anticipating/dreading for years. Before we commenced the night of boozing at Molly's (which is like a college bar on steroids) we got dinner at the infamous Imo's Pizza. I had been hearing terrible things about St Louis style pizza for years. My buddy who is a fellow LTH-style kindred spirit told me he considered it "literally inedible", because of the weird processed Provel brand cheese they put on it, so I was fully prepared to bail and get second dinner somewhere else. Well to be honest, it wasn't bad at all, it was okay-to-good! Everything on the pizza was excellent - crisp crust, quality toppings - but the cheese was more strange than bad per se. If you imagine mac and cheese sauce on a tavern-style thin pizza, that's what it is like. Not terrible and something I could get in the mood for.
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    Finally we come to BBQ for Sunday lunch. I think I was operating under an incorrect assumption that St Louis is a great bbq town, probably because of "St Louis Style Spareribs" or some other mental association like that. But most of the locals we talked to seemed to struggle to come up with a great local BBQ joint until a cabbie tipped us off to Sugarfire downtown. It was decent, but no destination spot. The brisket was a little dry and lacked much smoke flavor. I can say the seafood chowder is excellent, which is not a great sign for a BBQ joint but again reinforced the NOLA-STL connection in my mind.
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    So long St Louis, thanks for some great times and good eats.

    Eat Rite Diner
    1028, 622 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102

    Soulard Market
    730 Carroll St, St. Louis, MO 63104

    Imo's Pizza
    904 S 4th St, St. Louis, MO 63102

    SugarFire Smoke House
    605 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63101
  • Post #244 - November 19th, 2019, 1:27 pm
    Post #244 - November 19th, 2019, 1:27 pm Post #244 - November 19th, 2019, 1:27 pm
    As well, there is one non-food attraction I can't neglect to mention: the St Louis City Museum. It's safe to say I have never seen anything like this place. It's not really a museum, it's more like a crazy Tim Burton-esque surrealist fun house. It's located in an old factory building and there are tons of hidden passageways, slides that go from floor to floor, halls of mirrors-style visual illusions, and welded metal structures to climb around on. I think if I had kids they would go ape shit for this place.

    If exploration's not your thing, there are at least a couple taverns scattered throughout the maze where you can wet your whistle; the challenge is finding them. This place is not to be missed.
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    St Louis City Museum
    750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103
  • Post #245 - January 28th, 2024, 8:59 pm
    Post #245 - January 28th, 2024, 8:59 pm Post #245 - January 28th, 2024, 8:59 pm
    So, because I'll be speaking in June at a spot in Illinois that is not far from St. Louis, I thought I'd take the opportunity to dash across the state line and look for a St. Paul sandwich. Also, would like to find some Provel cheese. Any current recommendations? I'm thinking I might also try to visit St. Charles, as it shows up in every issue of Midwest Living magazine -- so places closer to St. Charles rather than further would be the ideal.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #246 - January 28th, 2024, 11:43 pm
    Post #246 - January 28th, 2024, 11:43 pm Post #246 - January 28th, 2024, 11:43 pm
    I've got a solid St. Paul Sandwich place for you, but not without a story.

    I led a Roadfood tour of StL back in 2022. The St. Paul Sandwich was a point of contention for many of the folks on the trip. I practically had to shame some of them into trying one; calling into question their sense of adventure and Roadfood cred. Apparently, egg foo young on white bread, slathered with mayonnaise and topped with iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato is not everyone's cup of green tea. Also, it has a bit of an unfair reputation for only being sold at low end Chinese joints, and usually ordered after a night of aggressive alcohol consumption.

    Fortunately, during the planning stages of the trip, I was lucky enough to connect with George Mahe, the dining editor of St. Louis Magazine. I sent him an email requesting his help, not expecting to get an answer, but hoping he might steer me towards another source. To my surprise, not five minutes after I hit "send", the phone rang, with George on the other end, more than happy, and a little excited, to help narrow down St. Louis' best Roadfood eats.

    When I explained the hesitance of some of the attendees toward trying a St. Paul Sandwich, George's solution was to send us to Mai Lee, a lovely, well known Chinese/Vietnamese place located in the western suburbs of St. Louis. Not quite upscale, but not a dive either, Mai Lee has an extensive menu that goes far beyond the St. Paul Sandwich. In fact, you need to go all the way to page 13 of the menu to find one.

    I have to admit, I was once a St. Paul Sandwich naysayer, but after bullying everyone else into trying one, I was forced to partake or suffer their scorn.

    I'm glad I did.

    Mai Lee's version is superb. I opted for the Shrimp St. Paul, and it was fabulous. The egg foo young was loaded with juicy, flavorful, finger sized shrimp, and somehow the absurd merging of egg foo young with American school lunch ingredients all made sense, and left me wanting more.

    Finally, for what it's worth, I've got the full three day itinerary from that trip if you'd like to use it as a guide. It's got everything on it, from the best StL style Pizzas to great smashburgers, outstanding choices on The Hill, fantastic Gooey Butter Cake (NOT Park Avenue Coffee), and so much more.

    Send me a PM with your email address, and I'll send it as a Word attachment.

    Have a great trip,
    Buddy

    Mai Lee
    8396 Musick Memorial Dr.
    Brentwood, MO
    (314) 645-2835
    maileestl.com
  • Post #247 - January 29th, 2024, 6:39 am
    Post #247 - January 29th, 2024, 6:39 am Post #247 - January 29th, 2024, 6:39 am
    Just be aware that depending on the time of day and traffic, it can take a good hour or so to get from Illinois to St. Charles.
  • Post #248 - January 29th, 2024, 10:11 am
    Post #248 - January 29th, 2024, 10:11 am Post #248 - January 29th, 2024, 10:11 am
    BuddyRoadhouse wrote:...outstanding choices on The Hill...
    I'm interested in your thoughts on that, especially grocers, bakers and delis. Went several times about 15 years ago; I imagine it's changed since. We are tentatively planning a spring break combo of St. Louis and Branson.
    Cynthia wrote:Also, would like to find some Provel cheese.
    That should be pretty easy even if you don't get to a real Italian place - looks like St. Louis area Walmarts and Schnuck's groceries carry it.
    ,
  • Post #249 - January 29th, 2024, 10:34 am
    Post #249 - January 29th, 2024, 10:34 am Post #249 - January 29th, 2024, 10:34 am
    I bought Provel in the deli department, then found it on the shelves for a lot less.

    I do like a Lion's Choice roast beef sandwich with Provel. I got quite excited when that was an option, which absolutely mystified the order taker.

    Provel is perhaps akin to brick cheese, you leave the area to find nobody knows what you are talking about.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways,
  • Post #250 - January 29th, 2024, 11:30 am
    Post #250 - January 29th, 2024, 11:30 am Post #250 - January 29th, 2024, 11:30 am
    lougord99 wrote:Just be aware that depending on the time of day and traffic, it can take a good hour or so to get from Illinois to St. Charles.


    Thanks. Always good to know what awaits. Last time I drove to St. Charles, I was coming from Carbondale, with a stop at Fort de Chartres -- so no sense of how much of that was just getting to St. Charles. This time, I'll be driving from Edwardsville, so definitely a different trip.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #251 - January 29th, 2024, 11:32 am
    Post #251 - January 29th, 2024, 11:32 am Post #251 - January 29th, 2024, 11:32 am
    Cathy2 wrote:I bought Provel in the deli department, then found it on the shelves for a lot less.
    Provel is perhaps akin to brick cheese, you leave the area to find nobody knows what you are talking about.

    Regards,
    Cathy2


    Thanks. Good to know. Also, have you ever visited Volpi, that sausage maker? I believe they're in St. Louis.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #252 - January 29th, 2024, 2:16 pm
    Post #252 - January 29th, 2024, 2:16 pm Post #252 - January 29th, 2024, 2:16 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Thanks. Good to know. Also, have you ever visited Volpi, that sausage maker? I believe they're in St. Louis.

    Yes, their location on The Hill. It was very sleekly presented, it did not have a comfortably worn feel.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways,
  • Post #253 - January 30th, 2024, 7:07 pm
    Post #253 - January 30th, 2024, 7:07 pm Post #253 - January 30th, 2024, 7:07 pm
    Kim Van and Park Chop Suey are a couple of the classic spots for a St. Paul sandwich, and I like both of them. Neither is terribly far from the Mississippi so they should be easy to get to from Illinois.

    St. Paul sandwich from Kim Van:
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    St. Paul sandwich from Park:
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    While you are there though, be sure to try "Hot Braised" chicken. They will ask if you want it with or without the bones in. If you ask for without bones, you'll get something like General Tso's chicken with a less sweet/more savory, spicy, garlicky sauce. If you ask for it bone-in you'll get fried chicken wings doused in that same sauce. I prefer the latter.
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    Kim Van
    2649 Gravois Ave
    St. Louis, MO 63118
    (314) 865-1321

    Park Chop Suey
    1321 Chouteau Ave
    St. Louis, MO 63103
    (314) 436-2248
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #254 - January 30th, 2024, 8:23 pm
    Post #254 - January 30th, 2024, 8:23 pm Post #254 - January 30th, 2024, 8:23 pm
    JimTheBeerGuy wrote:Kim Van and Park Chop Suey are a couple of the classic spots for a St. Paul sandwich, and I like both of them.
    I checked whether either of these were the place cited on Cook's Country when they did the St. Paul sandwich, and no. They went to Fortune Express.

    Fortune Express
    6738 Chippewa St
    St. Louis, MO 63109
    (314) 351-9988
  • Post #255 - January 30th, 2024, 9:45 pm
    Post #255 - January 30th, 2024, 9:45 pm Post #255 - January 30th, 2024, 9:45 pm
    bweiny wrote:
    JimTheBeerGuy wrote:Kim Van and Park Chop Suey are a couple of the classic spots for a St. Paul sandwich, and I like both of them.
    I checked whether either of these were the place cited on Cook's Country when they did the St. Paul sandwich, and no. They went to Fortune Express.

    Fortune Express
    6738 Chippewa St
    St. Louis, MO 63109
    (314) 351-9988


    Kim Van was featured in the 2003 Rick Sebak documentary "Sandwiches That You Will Like" that aired on PBS (it's available on YouTube now). Park Chop Suey is often cited as the birthplace of the St. Paul sandwich.
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #256 - January 31st, 2024, 10:51 am
    Post #256 - January 31st, 2024, 10:51 am Post #256 - January 31st, 2024, 10:51 am
    JimTheBeerGuy wrote:
    Kim Van was featured in the 2003 Rick Sebak documentary "Sandwiches That You Will Like" that aired on PBS (it's available on YouTube now). Park Chop Suey is often cited as the birthplace of the St. Paul sandwich.


    Very cool. Thank you. I feel well equipped now. (And I've added LTHForum to the acknowledgements page of what I hope will become my next book!)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #257 - March 2nd, 2024, 4:13 pm
    Post #257 - March 2nd, 2024, 4:13 pm Post #257 - March 2nd, 2024, 4:13 pm
    On my first trip to St. Louis in several years, I hit some old favorites and found some new favorites, including a new favorite that's in the same spot as an old favorite.

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    Ted Drewes no longer turns their concretes upside down when serving them. I suspect this one would have fallen out if they had. Not quite as thick as I remember but still delicious. This is the Brennan Blend: Abaco mocha and hazelnuts blended and topped with caramel.

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    I'm generally a raised donut guy, but if more cake donuts were as good as the red velvet from Donut Drive-In, I might change my tune.

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    The salted caramel croissant from Pint Size Bakery was the single best bite of food I had over the weekend. Textural triple threat with crispness, tenderness, and a little caramel gooiness in the middle.

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    Somehow in my many St. Louis adventures, I'd never been to Gioia's Deli. The hot salami lives up to its reputation. Will get it again for sure, but might upgrade to the Spicy Daggett (adds coppa and capicolla) next time for some textural contrast. The salami itself is really soft.

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    The soup dumplings at Soup Dumplings STL weren't showstoppers, but they were better than any I've had in Chicago (although to be fair to Chicago, I stopped looking several years ago so maybe things have improved). The wrappers were a smidge thick, but the pork and the pork and crap dumplings were winners. The chicken and beef were both good, but a decent step behind. This stop was our backup. We planned to go to Menya Rui, a highly touted ramen restaurant, but we got there just before the 5:30 opening and there were more than 50 people in line.

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    There is one world class culinary spot in St. Louis and it's Perennial Artisan Ales. Abraxas is my favorite easy to get stout. The hard to find and stupidly expensive Barrel Aged Sump ($55 for a 750ml bottle) I had at the brewery was even better.

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    The St. Paul Sandwich at Bo Fung Chinese Kitchen was a well-executed version of a sandwich that should probably have never been invented. It did hit the spot post Perennial, especially after I added the hot sauce the sandwich so desperately craves.

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    I gave up on gooey butter cake a long time ago but it had been so long since I'd had it, I wanted to give it another shot. And thanks to Buddy Roadhouse, I found a winner at Russell's Cafe. The plain and lemon were both excellent. The chocolate chip was not. Those were the three they had available in slices when I stopped by. They had a lot more options for people looking for whole cakes (4 slices to a cake).

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    I absolutely loved the Eat Rite Diner. But the last time I went, the cook took a smoke break, came back in, did not wash his hands, and then cooked my burgers. Those were not delicious.

    The Eat Rite Diner is no more. It's been replaced by Fleur (read its story here), a brunch only place that serves elevated diner food, including what was, hands down the best Slinger I've ever had.

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