Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant’

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Food Truck Row and Street Vendors in St. Louis

February 22, 2013

Over the past couple of years an impressive roster of food trucks has sprung up in St. Louis despite an almost complete ban on street vendors that spans the entire region.  Street Vendors are prohibited as the default, and vending districts don’t always match up with good vending locations.  As can be seen here in St. Louis City Ordinance 65061, vending is allowed only Downtown (East of Tucker), along the river from Chouteau to Biddle, along Grand from Natural Bridge to 70, on a tiny block bounded by Broadway, Meramec and Ohio (“Licensed vendors in this district may sell agricultural products and flowers only”), and in any ward whose number ends in ’4.’  These rules seem arbitrary and disconnected from reality.

From St. Louis City Ordinance 65061

SECTION THREE. Vending prohibited; exceptions.

No person shall sell or offer for sale or permit the offering or selling of any goods, wares, merchandise, flowers, horticultural products, services, food or beverages upon any public sidewalk, street, roadway, or roadway median within the City of St. Louis except in those areas designated by ordinance as Vending Districts.

Although these laws are often unenforced, they’re on the books.  Luckily not every entrepreneur has been deterred.  Stands selling BBQ or hot dogs, t-shirts and rugs, bootleg CDs/DVDs and  sno-cones can be seen on vacant lots or in front of businesses all over the city.  While I’m sure that some of these businesses are licensed, some are certainly not.

BBQ Truck/Trailer Jamaican in North St. Louis, Missouri

Mi Hungry Bar-B-Que on North Kingshighway – I remember eating here 6 or 7 years ago off Grand.  Pretty tasty stuff.

Recently, food trucks have been bringing street vendors the kind of positive attention that could lead City Hall(s) to rethink their restrictive ordinances.  While food trucks are not new to St. Louis, the 20-30 that have popped up over the last couple of years represent something new.  These businesses feature creative options that differentiate them from the conventional American hot dog stand or taco truck.  Over the past two years I’ve visited food trucks with specialties ranging from Korean Tacos to grilled cheese sandwiches, Filipino rice bowls to po-boys, Vietnamese sandwiches to gyros and from sushi rolls to crepes.  The diversity of options that have appeared in this relatively short time span is incredible.

Comfort Food/Soul Food on Chestnut in front of Anthem in Downtown West

Street Life Food Truck – Recently featured in a great music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aiy6-Wp_7WA

As these new eateries have proliferated, they have established a growing list of lunchtime parking spots to rotate between.  Popular locations include CityGarden, Wells Fargo Advisors (Beaumont and Pine), SLU Pius Library, Anthem (19th and Chestnut), Washington University Medical Center (Taylor and Scott), and Purina on Chouteau.  With the exception of CityGarden, most of these places don’t usually attract pedestrians.  They are all in close proximity to large daytime populations, but sit on the edge of parking lots, or underused green space.  One contributing factor is that St. Louis Food Trucks are Pretty Much Banned from Parking Anywhere Ever.

Food Trucks at St. Louis University - Popular Lunch Destination

Food Trucks outside of SLU’s Pius Library on Lindell

In a positive step towards accepting these mobile vendors, City Hall established “Food Truck Row” on 13th Street between Market and Chestnut this last summer.  Granted, this spot is located on the Gateway Mall in the Civic Center (often referred to by suburbanites as “Homeless Park”), and is more convenient to City Hall employees than anyone else, but it’s a nice gesture.  As someone who works in Downtown West (but not at one of the huge organizations that can attract their own food trucks), I find Food Truck Row to be one of my more conveniently located lunch options (behind Mom’s Kitchen, Hoagie City, The White Knight Diner and Imo’s on Washington).

Zia's on the Hill has an incredible Food Truck

Zia’s at Food Truck Row

Although it has been reported that business at Food Truck Row is slow, I’ve seen some busy lunch hours there.  It can also be anticipated that business will improve once SLU’s Law School is completed, and the renovation of the Municipal Courts Building should also help out.  One thing that the City could do to help, is add more seating!  There are currently only three tables in this rather large park, and none in the adjacent blocks of green space.

Fireman's Memorial in the Gateway Mall is home to Food Truck Row

Food Truck Row needs more Tables

Keep an eye out for Food Trucks around town, and try to support the ones that stop at Food Truck Row.  There are some really incredible chefs behind many of these trucks, and just as the food truck gives them the opportunity to try out their business, it gives us an opportunity to try out their food.

For daily map of Food Truck Parking spots, check out http://showmefoodtrucks.com/.

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U-City Grill

April 13, 2010

The U-City Grill is exactly what we need more of in St. Louis.  Despite the fact that this place has been around since 1987 (almost as long as I’ve been alive and longer than all but 7 of the 42 restaurants listed on the loop directory),

U. City Grill - Since 1987

I first discovered it less than two years ago while living nearby.  One day, feeling like diner food I decided to check out the “grill” and came across this menu:

Menu @ the U-City Grill

Since it was after 11 am, I had the option of either being brave and trying the Korean food, or going elsewhere.  Luckily I decided to be brave and ordered the first thing on the menu – Bulgoki (no idea how to pronounce this) Beef.  Just a couple of short minutes later I was handed a bland looking two-tone plate.  There was white rice and white bean sprouts covered in beef.

Bulgoki Beef - Delicious

Now usually I like vegetables to be a pretty big part of my meal and my initial thoughts were that I was not going to like what I had in front of me.  Then I tasted it.  Somehow, this simple combination of thinly sliced steak (expertly marinated of course), rice and bean sprouts is perfection.  For about six dollars I was full and happy.  Since then, every time I walk into the U-City Grill I can’t help but notice the smiles on the faces of the other customers.  This place makes people happy!

The U-City Grill

If you have never been here, go.

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Sweetie Pie’s Progress in Grand Center

April 10, 2010

My love of Grand Center (and my addiction to the Best Steak House) has kept me driving past the future fourth location of Sweetie Pie’s, keeping me up to date on the swift progress that is being made on this project.  A few days ago, to my delight, I noticed that as the outer layer of the building was being peeled off to reveal the brick underneath, Ghost Signs were also revealed on the West side of the building.

San-Del Strickland Printing Co Sign @ New Sweetie Pie's Location

Here is a closer look at the wall in 2 chunks:

San-Del Strickland

S-D Bindery Co.

Google doesn’t seem to know much about the business advertised here but I hope to come across more information as I continue to look.  Still, it is exciting simply to see history excavated like this (even though in this case the brick will still have to be covered up again because of the strong adhesive used to initially cover it).

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Sweetie Pie’s: Coming to Grand Center!

February 26, 2010

From the St. Louis Business Journal and the St. Louis American:  Sweeetie Pie’s is opening up a third location (not including the Granite City restaurant/bar/nightclub Sweetie Pie’s Easton Delmar in Grand Center!

Future Home of Sweetie Pie's

This is wonderful news for all of us because Grand Center needs more activity and Sweetie Pie’s is delicious!  Governor Nixon even came down to the Sweetie Pie’s location in the Grove for the announcement.  Pretty cool.  Check out this Living St. Louis video on Sweetie Pie’s.  As soon as I watched it for the first time I went straight down Manchester and got myself some of that Mac & Cheese.  If you haven’t been, you really should go.

UPDATE: This month’s St. Louis Magazine has a great interview with Robbie Montgomery, Owner of Sweetie Pie’s.

UPDATE 2: This project hasn’t had any activity for some time now and may be dead.

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The Best Steak House

February 5, 2010

The Best Steak House, with its prime location (on Grand “across from the Fox“), delicious food, reasonable prices (shown after tax on the menu boards) and otherwise wonderful experience, is my favorite place to eat.

St. Louis Restaurants

Best Steak House in Grand Center

As a SLU student I would sometimes eat lunch at the steak house and then return for dinner.  When I discovered the Chicken Gyro, I met one of my best friends.  At my most recent job, I had a Monday, Wednesday and Friday Best Steak House Lunch set up that ran for months.  My coworkers and I would play a game where we would try to finish an entire steak dinner and then stay awake for the rest of the shift.

Steak and Chicken Plate - 10 dollars after tax

I accidentally covered up my steak with the Texas toast for this picture but there really is a six ounce rib-eye under there and the meal did actually cost just ten dollars.  More commonly I get the chicken sandwich baked potato daily special which comes out to 5.85 with tax – Incredible.  If possible, save room for dessert.  German Chocolate cake, Carrot cake and Baklava are my favorites here but if you’re too full after eating one of those steak dinners, I’d recommend simply looking around the room at the excellent collection of historical photographs of the neighborhood.  This history lesson is expanded upon a little more by Living St. Louis:

According to the small ammount of additional information I have been able to find online, The Best Steak House on Grand is a remnant of what was once a larger trend in the United States.  Luckily, from what I have read, we are left with the Best of the Best Steak Houses.  A reviewer of The Best Steak House on Broadway in Chicago gave a brief history of the business model:

Once upon a time, “Best Steak Houses” littered big cities and small towns across America. They weren’t part of a chain or a franchise — they were just cheap places to get a steak, baked potato, and the ubiquitous Texas toast.

This reviewer “John B.” went on to give the Chicago eatery a terrible review demonstrating to me that what our Best Steak House has to offer is truly unique in the year 2010.  In many ways, Grand Center owes the increasing stability it now has more to the Steak House than to the Fox Theatre or Powell Hall.

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La Vallesana

January 19, 2010

Today, for the third time in a week or two, I decided to run down to Cherokee Street for a Torta and a Mexican Coke at La Vallesana.

Half of a Torta de Pollo

The radishes, carrots and jalapeños provide for a spicy accompaniment to a very spicy meal (even without the red or green sauce which spice it up exponentially).  I have been coming here regularly since I read several glowing reviews of this “Taco Stand” in the summer of 2008 (starting with this Sauce Magazine article).  I was initially drawn in by descriptions of “Tacos al Pastor” which combine pork and pineapple to create utter deliciousness, but recently it is the Tortas which have kept me coming back.

La Vallesana - Cherokee and California

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