THE FLYING NUNN
Meet Me in St. Louis for a Sandwich
Sat. September 26, 2020 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
St. Louis has a time-honored and diverse culinary scene that may surprise visitors who think Missouri is only about barbecue. Long-standing chefs continue to push restaurants forward in Downtown St. Louis and it is certainly paying off. This settlement state has a well established history of people bringing their goods and services from all over the world. Immigrants have added tasty dishes to the mix such as toasted ravioli and goey butter cake, that has satisfied hungry diners ever since the early days of this eclectic city.
While there are too many establishments to possibly take in with a just a few days time, I was able to get an overall sample and color me impressed.
Start off the day of sightseeing with breakfast at Rooster on Locust St or egg on Gravois Ave. While mainly known for burgers, Hi-Pointe Drive-In at 1033 McCausland had some hearty breakfast selections. It's hard to top the cleverly named Rye Felicia, a swiss double burger with grilled onions.
I have been raving about the safety protocols that MoKaBe's Coffeehouse at 3606 Arsenal St. has instilled in the South City area. At the time of writing this article, there are no hosts and no entrance into the venue. Guests seat themselves in whatever table is open with plastic sheets particioning them and safely spaced apart. A simple scan with a cellular phone leads patrons to a self order and pay menu. After the order is prepared, it is dropped off at the group table and the guest's name is announced to pick it up.
This hospitable place is queer, vegan and wheelchair friendly. The sandwiches range from a French dip to a buffalo chicken breast. There is about every coffee drink imaginable on the massive drink menu to wash it all down.
Another lunch option that I was impressed with was the Sugarfire Smokehouse at 9200 Olive Blvd. This award-winning barbecue joint can be overwhelming to the senses and has a fast paced cafeteria style feel to it. The brisket sandwich will fill up your belly fast, not leaving much room for the house french fries that can be ordered by the gallon!
A mural of Mister Rogers and retro booths are all part of the decor in this establishment that boasts having "the best Cuban reuben in the entire world."
Nearby is Hamburger Mary's St. Louis that many may be familiar with from the various locations around the world. Weekly entertainment from the drag world keeps people coming back for more.
For dinner, try the modern gastropub Yellowbelly, 4659 Lindell Blvd. Begin with creative specialty drinks like the snap pea daiquiri or a grapefruit sherbert, bourbon drink called Shakey Town. Both small and large plates are available with an emphasis on seafood. The chili glazed pork belly really satisfied my cravings and the charred carrots were frankly a piece of edible art.
For a fresh taste of Italy, visit Pastaria at 7734 Forsyth Blvd. There are several chain restaurants surrounding this local offering in the Clayton neighborhood, so skip those to see what Chef Gerard Craft brings to the table. The staff is welcoming and the open kitchen just shows what these talented pasta makers serve up daily. It was a tough decision, but the tagliatelle in a bolognese sauce was perfecto the night I was there.
For dessert, drive over to the Lafayette Square neighborhood for Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery at 1637 S. 18th St. This small batch microcreamery was a pleasant surprise in terms of taste and variety. The chunky and gooey butter cake ice cream was unique and rich. Be sure and work off those absorbed calories while viewing the historic architecture in this quaint area of St. Louis.
While Sugarfire Smokehouse was good, Salt + Smoke in the Delmar Loop had a more relaxed vibe to it. The yellow awnings are hard to miss and the place is just now finally opening up for dine in service. The deviled eggs with bacon called my name and the burnt end brisket sandwich with tobacco onions was smoking good!
By combining all types of cuisine with must-see, unforgettable and vibrant neighborhoods, the Gateway City has created an atmosphere that will leave a lasting impression for both visitors and locals alike.
For more information planning a trip, go to ExploreStLouis.com.