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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.

    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.

    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.

    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:


    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.


    Szechuan wontons were a very typical presentation and delicious:


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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    St Louis City Museum
    750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103