St. Louis is a delicious city, that’s for sure. When I haven’t been drinking ranch dressing-flavored soda or making pizza hot dish in the crock pot, I’m doing one of many things: Trying to stay cool (It’s so hot here!), job searching, completing Microsoft Excel tutorials, learning about coding on CodeCademy, walking the dog, or eating things.
You can find most any type of food you could possibly wish for in St. Louis. While I used to write posts on most of our restaurant experiences, I share more of these snapshots on my Instagram feed. Here are some of my favorite and most interesting tastes from the past month.
Guerilla Street Food at #FoodTruckFridaySTL
I attended my first Food Truck Friday, a recurring event sponsored by Sauce Magazine. On Friday, the food trucks convened at Tower Grove Park. I’ve seen a lot of posts about and from Food Trucks in my social media feeds and look forward to visiting my first one. In an attempt to avoid long lines, I arrived at the park around 4 p.m.
Guerilla Street Food was the truck I was most curious about trying and it was surrounded by the most people. It serves Filipino-inspired food and just opened a brick and mortar store. I placed my order and didn’t have to wait more than seven minutes for my name to be called.
I didn’t read the menu descriptions too closely and found the Fresh Lumpia a surprising take on the Filipino egg roll. It was a crepe wrapped around cabbage-veggie filling, a lettuce leaf, and served with sweet chili sauce. What we enjoyed the most was the Wandering Pig Bowl (also available inburrito). The pulled pork was tender and succulent and the combination of hoisin, Filipino lime, sriracha, scallions and fried garlic made for a very flavorful and umumai-filled combination. It was a hefty portion for only $6. I’ve always wanted to try Filipino food and want to return to try some more dishes.
I read that attendees can purchase a Food Truck Friday speed pass for $10 (or 3 for $25), which can be redeemed to bypass the line at one food truck. These passes seem like an expensive way to enjoy the event. If you can go when the lines aren’t too long, it’s a lovely way to spend a Friday evening. There were many other food trucks serving everything from gyros to beer to cupcakes. People sat together on park picnic tables and picnic blankets with their families and their dogs.
One friendly tip from me to you is to wear closed toed shoes walking through Tower Grove Park, or follow the paved path. To take a short cut back to my car, I tromped through the grassy field covered in lawn mowing clippings and stepped on a bee.
House of India
One weekend we ordered take-out from House of India, as recommended by several people. It was exactly what we were looking for. The sauces were wonderfully complex and addicting and totally “hot” as requested. House of India distinguishes the terms spicy from hot and the person who took my order politely corrected me over the phone when I asked for “extra spicy.”
The vindaloo wasn’t our favorite of the three entrees, but the bhindi masala and paneer makhni (reminded us of paneer tikka masala) were some of the best we’ve ever tried from anywhere. When we lived in the Twin Cities, we loved ordering bhindi masala from Surabhi who made it in a similar style. Some restaurants make a saucier version that includes other vegetables like tomato or green pepper. We prefer the dryer, more okra-centric version like this.
Chai Tea & Ham and Raspberry Jam Biscuit at Half and Half.
Half & Half is an often-mentioned breakfast/brunch/lunch cafe located nearby.The restaurant includes some communal tables, an open kitchen, and more mason jars than I could count. On two visits, what stood out is that the food is cooked with a lot of care. My family member’s fruit bowl side was not some wintermelon-filled afterthought and the crispy breakfast potatoes were lovingly sprinkled with finishing salt. I’m especially fond of their little biscuit filled with ham & raspberry jam. It’s the perfect, compact breakfast.
Blueberry Cake Donut at Vincent Van Doughnut
When we first moved here, I spun into a donut frenzy. There weren’t many places that sold donuts that didn’t arrive at the store pre-packaged. And the one time I bought a package of donuts from the farmers market, they were so soaked in fishy-tasting grease that I threw them away.
There are many donut shops here! One of my favorite local bloggers Whiskey & Soba recommended Vincent Van Doughnut. When I had arrived on a weekday by 10 a.m., they had sold out of most of their donuts. Fortunately, I’m the most un-picky donut fan. This blueberry donut was my jam. The texture was similar to the cake donuts I’ve tried in the past, but with more bite and a crisp crust. The glaze was tart and naturally fruity, and its spicing almost reminded me of Chef Shack’s Indian-spiced mini donuts. I loved the donut’s delightful, state fair fried food essence.
Jake said the flavor reminded him of his Norwegian grandmother’s donuts. He preferred their other style of raised donut that remind me of a beignet just as Whiskey & Soba described.
Fortune Teller Manhattan, Fortune Teller Bar
The Fortune Teller Bar caught my eye for several reasons: Recommendations from friends, tales of a roaming palm reader & mention that it served Lunchables. When we visited, we had just eaten dinner but noticed the bar has a full kitchen. I did not see a fortune-teller and wonder if he or she is present on certain nights or later at night than 7:30-8 p.m. Getting my palm read seemed like an amusing thing to do, but after reading about a blogger friend’s terrible palm reading experience I’m a little relieved & $20 richer.
Unless I’m dining at a Mexican restaurant or chain, I go for less sweet cocktails. This Fortune Teller Manhattan ($8) made with J.J. Neukomn whiskey, Byrrh Grand Quinquina, Angostura bitters and dark cherry was strong & delicious with the tiniest hint of sweetness.
Sugarfire Pie Gooey Butter Cake. I’ve tried baking gooey butter cake twice with varying degrees of success. One was too dry and the other, too gooey. “My gooey butter cake is too gooey, ” is a St. Louis problem. Until I master the art of baking gooey butter cake, I’ll let someone else do the honors. We have many versions to try, but so far, our favorite is from Sugarfire Pie. I hear we need to try Russell’s on Macklind.
Seafood City Supermarket, Fish Cake: There are many Asian restaurants and grocery stores along a street called Olive Blvd. Seafood City is probably the largest. I can’t tell if it’s part of the Seafood City Supermarket chain since its website does not list a St. Louis location. Seafood City is similar in size to United Noodle in Minneapolis. However, it has a large selection of fresh seafood, smaller produce section and no in-house deli or restaurant.
When I was paying for my purchase, I noticed plates of some type of still-warm food sealed in ziplock bags at the end of the register. I asked what was inside the packages, and an employee who described it as fish cake started offering samples to customers and employees, alike. It had a golden brown crust and savory flavor that wasn’t at all fishy. I did pass on purchasing the plate since it contained too much food for Jake and I, but would consider getting it again if we could serve it fresh to a small group.
At the end of this week, we’re hosting more family members who are coming to visit St. Louis for the first time. Our Missouri adventure continues. . .