St. Louis in early November: updated recs?

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quijote
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2011/10/02 20:25:04 (permalink)

St. Louis in early November: updated recs?

In about a month I'm spending most of a long weekend (Thu-Sun) in St. Louis. Thanks to various trip reports from 2010 and earlier, and thanks to other sources such as the Sterns' books and the Restaurants guide here on roadfood.com, I have more than enough ideas for my brief trip. I'm definitely going to try Ted Drewes (for a custard or concrete), either Gooey Louie or Park Ave. Coffee (for gooey cake), maybe Hodak's for fried chicken, and perhaps Connelly's for breakfast on Sunday. The info and pics on O'Connells look good, and I may try going there for dinner one night.
 
I'll be staying at the Cheshire, at the southwestern edge of Forest Park. All day Friday and part of the day Saturday I'll be at a convention at Union Station. I expect to have Thursday late afternoon/evening, maybe Friday evening (doubtful), Saturday afternoon/evening, and Sunday morning to explore the city and try out the local delicacies.
 
But I do have some lingering questions....
 
* Is Hodak's really worth it? I've heard mixed reviews. I've also read that Sweetie Pie's and Mama Josephina's might be good fried chicken options--so which of the three is best? Or is there another rec for fried chicken? Perhaps I should skip the chicken altogether and focus on other foods?
 
* How does Park Ave. Coffee compare to Gooey Louie? Gooey Louie is right near Ted Drewes, so that would be convenient, but if P.A.C. is really, really worth it, I'll try for that instead.
 
* I've read many good recs for toasted ravioli--Lou Buccardi's, Cunetto, Mama Campisi, Amighetti's.... I'm not sure if my conference friends will want to join me on my food travels, so I may go alone for an Italian dinner. What place (with good t-rav) on The Hill would be best for a single diner on a budget? It seems that Hodak's has t-rav--is it any good?
 
* I'll have to pass over a lot of places and foods I'd like to try--I doubt, for example, I'll get to Crown Candy Kitchen, C&K BBQ, and other places. Are there local foodstuffs to keep an eye out for at markets? Sausage? Soda? Beer (other than that world-famous stuff that begins with "B")?  Any good markets with local flavor to hit, akin to the markets in Milwaukee like Usinger's, Cheese Mart, European Sausage, Glorioso's, etc.? What's the best Italian deli or market on The Hill?
 
* I have a feeling I won't have much choice of venues during the conference (we just tend to spend the 75 minutes of lunch at some lame hotel "bistro" or such), but just in case: any good lunch places in or near Union Station? Something that's not a chain--maybe something ethnic? And I don't mind "upscale" places, either, if the food is really good and even creative; I just don't want to spend $15 for a trendy panino or garden-variety goat-cheese-with-beets salad.
 
post edited by quijote - 2011/10/02 20:32:16
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 10:29:19 (permalink)
    As you probably already know, I was just in St Louis
    O'Connell's is a must for their Roast Beef Sandwich, I understand they have a really good burger too.
    As far as toasted ravioli is concerned, I don't think you can go wrong with Cunetto's, Lou Boccardi's, Mama Campisi or Charlie Gitto's, however avoid Rigazzi's at all cost.
    I don't think Amighetti's has Toasted Ravioli- it's just a deli/sandwich shop
    The Best Toasted Ravioli I had was at Angelos, downtown in the Drury Hotel, part of the local Lombardo's family of Restaurants. Unfortunately when I went, the other restaurants were closed but there is a location near Union Station
    http://www.lombardosrestaurants.com/
    They've won local awards and I can certainly see why.
     
    I've seen miserable reviews on C & K BBQ everywhere, I didn't go for that reason.
     
    For the best beer in St Louis Schalfly is a must
    http://www.schlafly.com/
     
    For great coffee comparable to anything I enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest
    Kaldi's in nearby Clayton can't be beat
     
    http://kaldiscoffee.com/
     
     
    #2
    Extreme Glow
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 12:22:08 (permalink)
    • Is Hodak's really worth it? I've heard mixed reviews. I've also read that Sweetie Pie's and Mama Josephina's might be good fried chicken options--so which of the three is best? Or is there another rec for fried chicken? Perhaps I should skip the chicken altogether and focus on other foods?
     
    For fried chicken, I am partial to Mama Josephine’s.  It is cooked to order, so it is hot and fresh but is a bit drier than the other choices… but I like it that way.  Get the fried cabbage as one of your sides. Mama’s meatloaf and chicken and dumplings are very good as well.  The C&D are also cooked to order and arrives center-of-sun-hot.  Don’t be in a hurry here as they can be slow. 
     
    • How does Park Ave. Coffee compare to Gooey Louie? Gooey Louie is right near Ted Drewes, so that would be convenient, but if P.A.C. is really, really worth it, I'll try for that instead.
     
    Gooey Louie is close by my place and they make a great product, however they are geared toward shipping their product.  On a walk-in basis, you can only buy a GBC in a box and take it with you.  At Park Ave, you can buy a slice, sit down, and eat it with a beverage.
     
    • I've read many good recs for toasted ravioli--Lou Buccardi's, Cunetto, Mama Campisi, Amighetti's.... I'm not sure if my conference friends will want to join me on my food travels, so I may go alone for an Italian dinner. What place (with good t-rav) on The Hill would be best for a single diner on a budget? It seems that Hodak's has t-rav--is it any good?
     
    All those places (except Amighetti’s) will get your some toasted ravs.  You can also get them at Lombardo’s Trattoria in the Drury Inn at Union Station.
     
    • I'll have to pass over a lot of places and foods I'd like to try--I doubt, for example, I'll get to Crown Candy Kitchen, C&K BBQ, and other places. Are there local foodstuffs to keep an eye out for at markets? Sausage? Soda? Beer (other than that world-famous stuff that begins with "B")?  Any good markets with local flavor to hit, akin to the markets in Milwaukee like Usinger's, Cheese Mart, European Sausage, Glorioso's, etc.? What's the best Italian deli or market on The Hill?
     
    For local sodas, try Fitz’s.  Their bottling facility and restaurant is on The Loop in University City but you can buy it at many local supermarkets including Culinaria downtown.  For Hill markets, I would suggest Di Gregorio’s or Viviano’s.  For some meats, Volpi or Oldani on The Hill, Salume Beddu on Hampton, or Piekutowski up near Crown Candy.  Volpi is the most commercial facility and you can probably buy their product cheaper at one of the markets as opposed to their store.  I really like Oldani’s Hot Sopressata.  Salume Beddu is pricier but they will cut you a slice to taste and since they slice it to order, you can buy any quantity.  Pope John Paul II stopped by Piekutowski’s for some nice Krakow (iffy neighborhood though).
     
    • I have a feeling I won't have much choice of venues during the conference (we just tend to spend the 75 minutes of lunch at some lame hotel "bistro" or such), but just in case: any good lunch places in or near Union Station? Something that's not a chain--maybe something ethnic? And I don't mind "upscale" places, either, if the food is really good and even creative; I just don't want to spend $15 for a trendy panino or garden-variety goat-cheese-with-beets salad.
     
    Just north and west of Union Station you can find Schlafly's The Tap Room, Pappy’s barbecue, The Good Pie Neapolitan pizza, The Fountain on Locust sandwiches and ice cream, and to the east Everest Nepalese.  Just south of the station in Lafayette Park, you can find PW Pizza and Vin de Set (same building) and 1111 Mississippi.
     
     
    #3
    rumaki
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 13:46:46 (permalink)
    I'm basically just confirming what many have already posted, but for what it is worth:
     
    I was in St. Louis in August, and I can't say enough positives about the Goody Good diner. We loved it.  Had breakfast there about 9:30 a.m. -- fried chicken and waffles were superb. (I think they start serving fried chicken at 8 a.m.)   Excellent service.  Delightful in every respect.  Well worth the trip.http://www.goodygoodydiner.com/
     
    Hodak's is fun, but very crowded and chaotic, virtually any time you go. The line moves fairly quickly, but a wait is almost certain at any time of day that would be normal for eating out.   I thought the chicken was OK, but not spectacular; the french fries were not memorable at all. The toasted ravioli were the least distinctive I had anywhere in St. Louis.  Not bad, exactly, but certainly not outstanding.  I sense they have them on the menu just because they are in St. Louis and they have to.  For fried chicken, I'd go to Goody Goody or maybe Sweetie Pies; I haven't been to Mama Josephine's.
     
    I had a very good lunch at Everest downtown -- I would recommend you go for the buffet if you go at lunchtime so you can try a variety of their Nepalese and Indian dishes.   (I don't usually choose buffets, myself, but this is an exception.)
     
    Culinaria is a great place to get a sandwich or hot food to go.  Be warned:  the sandwiches are ENORMOUS.
     
    We thoroughly enjoyed Gian-Tony's on the Hill.  You'd be comforable as a single diner if you went early,and perhaps at other times, at least on weeknights. They take reservations, too.  Just watch their tendency to put too much tomato sauce on some dishes -- it nearly drowned out the flavor of the seafood in the stuffed mushroom appetizer.  It's fine tomato sauce; there was just too much of it.  Good toasted ravioli, too.  http://gian-tonys.com/ 
     
    This place has fabulous gelato:  http://www.gelatodiriso.com/main.html 
     
    And DiGregorio's is a wonderful market and well worth a visit.
    Have fun!  I'm envious. 
     
     
     
    #4
    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 15:16:45 (permalink)
    The Smokehouse Market/Annie Gunn's came highly recommended.
    http://www.anniegunns.com/index.html
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    quijote
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 16:12:47 (permalink)
    Thanks for the info, y'all. I should be able to swing quick breakfast stops on Fri and Sat before the conference, so a trip to Kaldi's one day and Park Ave. Coffee another might work. 
     
    The Goody Goody looks like a promising spot for Sunday breakfast, but I don't find the Slinger (or Wilbur) to be especially appealing. How's the other food? Hash browns, biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak, corned beef hash--that's what I really seek for a hearty breakfast. I could definitely eat chicken and waffles for breakfast, too!
     
    I'd really like to try the Nepalese place for lunch, but will keep the other recs handy in case my cohorts want something else to eat for lunch. Lombardo's at Union and maybe Pappy's (without knowing how good it is) would be my next choices, perhaps. At least there will be options aside from Panda Express and Landry's and such. (The Union Station web info is pretty terrible, and Google Maps didn't help much, either.)
     
    Thanks to all for the Hill recs. It looks like Di Gregorio's is on the list for sure, but I'm hoping the Hill is walkable enough to lead me to some of the others. WJ, do you prefer any of the t-rav places mentioned? Which of those places has the best overall food? Did you also try Gian-Tony's?
     
    For fried chicken (dinner), it looks like Mama J's is leading here. My internet searches have led me to the Delmonico Diner near Forest Park, and it seems to be a local favorite for fried chicken. Anyone know about it?
     
    Great info on stuff to look for--sausages, coffee, beer, soda. Excellent recs--I can bring some of the city home with me and continue eating it throughout the month. I guess Bissinger's is the main candy maker in town, so if I see one of their places I'll hit it up.
     
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    rumaki
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 16:29:24 (permalink)
    I ordered a biscuit at Goody Goody (didn't order gravy) to go with my delicious chicken and waffles.   The waitress suggested that I have it "grilled," and I did.  It was fantastic.  Highly recommended. We also "carried out" a double cheeseburger to take to my brother, who was meeting us at the Transportation Museum (which is wonderful if you have any interest in vintage trains/trolleys/cars -- not models, the real thing), and he loved it -- even though it was more than an hour from the time we got it to the time we met him, it was meticulously packed and still good.  I can't speak for all the food, of course, but everything we had at Goody Goody (my husband had the Wilbur), we loved.
     
    However, Goody Goody is CLOSED ON SUNDAYS.
     
    Bissinger's is very good, but you can readily get their chocolates by mail order or at one of their  stores outside of St. Louis. The chocolates at the Crown Candy Kitchen are excellent -- as is the black walnut ice cream.   And the place itself is a real throwback to another era.
    post edited by rumaki - 2011/10/03 16:31:06
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    quijote
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 16:58:35 (permalink)
    Closed on Sundays?!?  Gee... TTM'ed even before I get there.
     
    That does kind of complicate things.... Maybe I can have lunch at Goody Goody on Saturday, then. If the CCK is open on Sunday mornings, maybe I'll have candy and ice cream for breakfast.
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    rumaki
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 17:04:08 (permalink)
    Goody Goody closes at 2 p.m.
     
    CCK opens at 11 a.m. on Sunday. They have many things on the menu apart from ice cream and candy, but I've only had ice cream and candy there.
     
    http://crowncandykitchen.net/menu/lunch-and-dinner/
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 18:27:55 (permalink)
    Quijote
     
    For what its worth the last time I visited Lou Boccardi's was back in 1996 and for Mama Campisi it was 2000.   I went to Cunetto's in 2006 and to the downtown location of Charlie Gitto's last month. Although I've never been, I'm sure Gian-Tony's would probably be similar  I heard that a local vendor on the hill prepares the Toasted Rav's for many of the restaurants on thill which may explain why one restaurant doesn't jump out at me.  I never realy ate anything else at any of these places other than perhaps a salad although I do recall Mama Campisi's having a good salad.  Again, out of all the choices I thought the Toasted Rav's at the Lombardo's family of restaurants stood out from the rest but I don't think they have a location on the hill
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    Extreme Glow
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 22:06:21 (permalink)
    If you go to Crown Candy, get the BLT.  You will be both delighted and aghast at the amount of bacon on it.
     
    Bissinger's is excellent but you can get some good things at Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate next to Ted Drewes.  Another high end chocolatier is Kakao on Jefferson Avenue.  I just had some of their Autumn Bark and it is excellent.
     
    Since you are at the Cheshire, be sure to catch a movie at the Hi-Pointe; the last single screen theatre in the city.  $5 on weeknights and cheap concessions!  You are also fairly close to Hank's Cheesecakes.
     
    Check websites as many independent restaurants are closed on Sunday or Monday. Most places on The Hill are closed on Sunday with some restaurants opening Sunday evening.
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 22:19:51 (permalink)
    Thanks so much to Extreme Glow, rumaki and WJ for all the great information.  I will be in St. Louis this weekend and if I have anything to add, I will report back.
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    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 22:35:22 (permalink)
    Extreme Glow

    If you go to Crown Candy, get the BLT.  You will be both delighted and aghast at the amount of bacon on it.
    .....................

    I came across this on the webs.


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    quijote
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/03 23:56:42 (permalink)
    It looks like Crown Candy Kitchen on Sunday is getting more and more likely: that BLT sounds outstanding. A cute place, too, from the pics on the web.
     
    And after seeing the menu online for the Goody Goody, I'm wondering how I can make it over there twice. Saturday for sure.... Would it be absurd for me to order the half fried chicken and waffles, as well as country fried steak with hash browns, biscuits and gravy? WWbbD?
     
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/04 08:20:49 (permalink)
    Park Avenue has many daily choices of GBC...more than most everyone else.  Usually, there are at least 20 flavors every day.
     
    CCK - a MUST!  I always get the BLT...it is one of the best.
     
    Bissingers in the Central West End is a cool walking area.  If you have non-Roadfood friends, this area can satisfy many.  This area is close to where you are staying.
     
    The hip area, Delmar Loop, has lots of sub par stops, but just west by about 1.5 miles is Winslows Home, a variety store, restaurant, local meeting place, bakery, etc.  I LOVE the pies and baked goods.  Open for all three meals, it is quite unique.
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/04 08:29:00 (permalink)
    And although I know it wasn't requested
     
    A stop at Mai Lee located in the Brentwood Light Rail Parking Garage is a must for the local St Paul Sandwich- although I've never tried one elsewhere I'd be surprised if you can find any better.
     

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    quijote
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/04 20:57:35 (permalink)
    Okay, I'm gonna do it--I'm gonna make time for CCK. It sounds like a classic.  The Delmar Loop, Winslow Home--will look those up. CTD, do they make their own baked goods, or get them from somewhere else?
     
    And WJ, I've been seeing quite a few pictures of the St. Paul lately, and I must confess they pretty much look revolting, but that one actually looks tasty. A place called "Brentwood Light Rail Garage" sounds suburban, so I don't know if I can get out that way (but I'll look it up).
     
    It's interesting that so far (based on 'net research) people don't really seem to know the origins of the St. Paul (its name and the item itself), but it seems to me a variation of a "western" or "Denver" sandwich (attributed to Chinese railroad workers during the Industrial Era).
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/05 07:26:37 (permalink)
    quijote

    Okay, I'm gonna do it--I'm gonna make time for CCK. It sounds like a classic.  The Delmar Loop, Winslow Home--will look those up. CTD, do they make their own baked goods, or get them from somewhere else?

    And WJ, I've been seeing quite a few pictures of the St. Paul lately, and I must confess they pretty much look revolting, but that one actually looks tasty. A place called "Brentwood Light Rail Garage" sounds suburban, so I don't know if I can get out that way (but I'll look it up).

    It's interesting that so far (based on 'net research) people don't really seem to know the origins of the St. Paul (its name and the item itself), but it seems to me a variation of a "western" or "Denver" sandwich (attributed to Chinese railroad workers during the Industrial Era).

    They definately make their own...I've even taken pies home after ordering the previous day and they are fantastic.  It is such a roadfood type place.  You ete among the aisles of games, candy and housewares.
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:St. Louis in early November: updated recs? 2011/10/05 08:05:35 (permalink)
    quijote

    And WJ, I've been seeing quite a few pictures of the St. Paul lately, and I must confess they pretty much look revolting, but that one actually looks tasty. A place called "Brentwood Light Rail Garage" sounds suburban, so I don't know if I can get out that way (but I'll look it up).


    Quijote
     
    I believe you can take the light rail directly from Union Station and it will drop you off right there in Brentwood - the station is right next to the parking garage which is where Mai Lee is located. 
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