Tag: STL

Four St. Louis Pizzas I Want To Eat Again

Even bad pizza is good pizza. Fortunately, the pizzas I am about to tell you about are very good pizzas.

St. Louis is known for a special, cracker-thin pizza topped with Provel cheese.  St. Louis-style pizza is everywhere. Provel is everywhere, too.

Jake and I have never encountered St. Louis-style pizza or Provel anywhere else during our moves or travels. When we first visited our local grocery stores, we were surprised that about half of the frozen pizza options were St. Louis-style. And if you visit an Italian restaurant, you may find that dishes you’re used to seeing topped with mozzarella are topped with Provel. Those that dislike Provel will want to read menu descriptions carefully when ordering chicken parmesan, manicotti, and, even fish! Side salads might also arrive covered in shredded Provel, sometimes up to a 50/50 ratio of lettuce to Provel.

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100 Degrees & A St. Louis Smoothie Quest

It’s really hot here.

Like, 100° + and high humidity hot. Walking outside, breathing outside, sitting outside, it all hurts.

Of course my dog still wants to sunbathe.

The heat makes me feel hostile so I try to make jokes about it so that I don’t cry. When it’s 98°, I blast 98 Degrees from my car stereo. It’s really not that funny, but when I’m sitting in a molten hot car, there’s nothing funnier. I think the heat’s making me delirious.

Some days the weather is both hot and breezy. But instead of having a cooling effect, the wind makes you feel like you’re baking in a convection oven. Smoothies were never something that I craved. Now I think about them all of the time. They’re so cool and refreshing and not 100 degrees.

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The St. Paul Sandwich

We’re working our way through our St. Louis-specific food traditions list. This week, I took a poll to decide my next lunch. Imo’s St. Louis-style pizza in all of its Provel glory or a St. Paul Sandwich?

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The St. Paul Sandwich won.

This combination of white bread, an Egg Foo Young patty, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo supposedly originated with a man named Steven Yuen who named it after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Ironically, this isn’t popular in St. Paul, Minnesota like it is here in St. Louis, despite its name. Jennifer Lee’s Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog post goes on to explain how the St. Paul Sandwich is typically an inexpensive treat available at many local Chinese American restaurants.

Egg Foo Young isn’t one of my favorite dishes, but every once in a while I’ll get a craving. Jake has very few food aversions, but Egg Foo Young is at the top of his short list.

I headed to one of our favorite restaurants Mai Lee for my first one. There’s nothing we haven’t enjoyed here so I guessed it would be a safe bet. At Mai Lee, St. Paul Sandwiches cost around $5-7. Before choosing Mai Lee, I did a little bit of internet research and many people said theirs was a particularly delicious version. I chose the shrimp St. Paul Sandwich.

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While filming a short video, I took my first bite and enjoyed the variety of flavors and textures. The soft white bread contrasted with the crispy egg patty, and tangy mayo, pickles, and onion balanced the fried richness. I really liked the pieces of plump, springy shrimp. All of a sudden the sandwich was nearly gone and I realized I had forgotten to take more photos. Jake couldn’t get into the sandwich, which was just as well. I snatched it back from him and ate the rest.

One local reader suggested that I order extra pickles. I like this idea and so next time I will.

Do you have any thoughts on St. Paul Sandwiches? Who makes your favorite version?

OK Now I Think Taqueria El Bronco’s My Favorite

We can’t stop eating tacos.

The other night Jake and I were watching an episode of the Jim Gaffigan Show. One of the jokes was that while he and his wife were looking for a new home, she fell in love with every one they viewed stating that it was “the one.” I feel this way about good tacos. On our first STL date night, we rejoiced upon finding street tacos and spicy salsa at La Tejana in Bridgeton and on our second, we did the same over tacos at Taqueria El Bronco.

Moving to a smaller city is one thing, and moving to a large city is another. The Twin Cities is larger than St. Louis, but it’s where I grew-up and had always lived within a few hours’ radius. I just kind of understood the food scene and restaurant dynamics because I collected experiences and knowledge in bits and pieces from multitudes of sources for 30 years! We took for granted knowing the places people generally regarded as the best in their category from the tourist traps.

In St. Louis, we are just beginning to figure out where we are at any given time. Therefore, we look to blogs, message boards, and St. Louis residents for advice. One restaurant that frequently appeared in my search for favorite Mexican restaurants is Taqueria El Bronco located on Cherokee Street. There are many Mexican restaurants and bakeries located along this stretch of Cherokee Street and I keep reading about it’s hard to go wrong here.

On Saturday night, we had to drive around a bit before finding a parking spot on a side street (still adjusting to parallel parking and remembering to carry quarters for meters). Once inside we were warmly greeted and quickly seated. We dug into the complimentary chips and salsas. The red was very mild while the green was wonderfully spicy.

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We’ve never tasted a green salsa quite like this and we put it on everything. Next time, we’d ask for two dishes of green salsa. My thirst still wasn’t quenched after climbing around The City Museum so I ordered a margarita ($6.25). Jake tried a Michelada ($5.74) which reminded us of a Bloody Mary-flavored beer.

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Jake ordered five different tacos while I chose two. They’re smaller and less stuffed than the tacos at La Tejana, but also cost less at about $2 each. Seafood tacos cost a little bit more. Our order arrived surprisingly quickly.

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Sliced radishes in my tacos make me happy!

Jake’s favorite taco was filled with finely crumbled chorizo. The meat wasn’t greasy at all and had a flavor we kept wanting more of. Jake said he liked it so much he’d just order chorizo tacos on a future visit.

I ordered one shrimp and one al pastor taco. The shrimp taco tasted light. The shrimp tasted fresh and weren’t strongly seasoned. I especially liked the al pastor meat. It had a wonderful griddle char. Some people hate the sight of fat on meat, but I loved that some of the pork pieces had a thin layer of caramelized fat.

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We left El Bronco glowing with green salsa-induced endorphins. The person who managed the griddle Saturday night was totally on point. There’s clearly many good tacos to be had in St. Louis and we’ve hardly scratched the surface. El Bronco’s were as delicious as any we’ve tried from our favorite Twin Cities restaurants like Pineda and Taqueria Los Ocampo.

You’re Supposed To Get Lost At The City Museum In St. Louis, Missouri

It’s easy to be a tourist in your our own town, especially since you just got there!

This weekend, I planned our Saturday outing at the City Museum located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The City Museum isn’t your typical museum; It’s more like an art gallery, fun house and obstacle course wrapped into one crazy experience.

The late artist Bob Cassilly and his wife Gail founded the The City Museum in the old International Shoe Company building. The interior exhibits span four stories, and, as the City Museum website states, the artists are “always building.” Visitors can explore the outdoor exhibits, too, including a 10-story slide and elevated obstacle course.

Museum admission costs $10-12 dollars per adult (2 & under free), plus extra for access to the rooftop and aquarium. Visitors can park in the museum’s parking lot for $5 or find plenty of metered parking around the museum (though I’m unsure if there are time limits). The museum website mentions that there are usually lines in the mornings and recommends visiting after five p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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A view of the building next door.

When we arrived at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday, the museum was packed, but the lines to purchase wristbands were very short. We had heard that although many of the museum exhibits are geared towards children, it’s intended for adults, too. On this visit, we didn’t notice many other adults who attended without children.

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There are signs at each admission window informing guests that the museum does not offer maps. Getting lost is highly encouraged.

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We tried to escape the crowd in the lobby by exploring the second floor. I loved that we had no idea where we were going or what to expect. The first exhibit we saw featured examples of local architecture.

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There were examples of tiles and doorknobs and keys. We were especially fascinated by the sneering gargoyles.

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This same floor featured a St. Louis resident’s extensive insect collection. Jake studied a frame of pinned cicadas and I curiously poked a wasp’s nest. On the next floor (or at least I think it was. Who knows where we were?) a confident, gold hotdog man greeted us.

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This stance, though.

The art piece below features little figurines of people holding up a plane of glass. We took turns standing on it since it could support five people at a time.

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Another part of the museum took us into a cavern maze complete with secret doorways, crawl spaces and spiral staircases. The cavern entrances are located all over the museum. You never know where you’ll see legs dangling from the ceilings. For tall men like Jake, crawl spaces and tunnels might not be options.

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I nervously walked across this wire-covered board walk suspended high in the air.

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And you never know what will greet you around each corner. It could be this weird devil head or stone torso lady.

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Or this spinning wheel.

Spinning Wheel at the City Museum, St. Louis, Missouri from JeniEats on Vimeo.

The most mind-blowing part of the museum is an outdoor obstacle course that’s suspended stories-up in the air. Temperatures reached past 95 degrees so we were more than content to watch the brave obstacle-course goers. I might also be afraid of heights. . .

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After an hour and a half, we were hot and sweaty and ready to head somewhere cooler. Between all of the people and the 90 degree weather, the museum felt toasty and we were too hot to visit the outdoor features. We grabbed a beer at the Alpha Brewing Company across the street.

Overall, we’ll always remember our date at City Museum as one of our most unique experiences. The 30-year old me was hesitant to crawl into dark holes and mid-air wire tunnels, but I smile as I imagine the 10-year old me zipping through them with wild abandon. Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred at a giant Twin Cities park called Shoots and Ladders. This reminded me of Shoots and Ladders on Surge.

The museum did seem mostly geared for children who could easily be entertained for a whole day here. There’s also a special children’s ball pit and crafting area where we saw supervised paper snowflake, cardboard sculpture, and painting stations. Parents will find plenty of entertainment, too, but may have to work to keep up with their kids who will want to zip in and out of the passageways.

Finally, guests can not bring food and beverages into the museum. There are several concession stands and cafes sprinkled the museum, including the Roof Top Cantina. I never had trouble finding a bathroom or drinking fountain when I needed one. Keep in mind that rooftop access costs an extra $5 per person with general admission, only.

When our family and friends with kids visit, we’ll highly recommend they check out the museum. At some point, we really do need to visit on a cooler day so we can experience the outdoor features. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to slide down the 10 story slide by then.

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