Would you believe that with all the vintage road signs I’ve photographed, I’ve never intentionally gotten a picture of the iconic Ted Drewes sign? I have photographed it once before (it’s actually the first use of the “vintage road signs” tag on this website!), but it wasn’t a great picture, and I wasn’t even getting the shot for the purpose of capturing the sign…instead, I was capturing a moment of celebration after a Cardinals game. Anyway, I figured I should correct that oversight, with a picture of the Ted Drewes sign in all its glory!
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ian Froeb has recently come up with the STL100 list of the 25 best restaurants in the area (ranked), along with another 75 great restaurants to round out the top 100 places to grab a bite to eat. This inspired me to come up with my own list…my five favorite non-chain (unless it’s a local place that has added locations over time), restaurants in the area (in no particular order), plus five honorable mentions, because I can.
- Seamus McDaniel’s, Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis–Best burger I’ve ever had, in a really great neighborhood. Seamus will always be number one on my restaurant list!
- Beast Craft BBQ, Belleville, IL–This is a new location on the St. Louis area restaurant scene, and it’s the place that really got me interested in BBQ. The burnt ends (an item hard to find in Belleville) are fantastic, and their “Big Sammich” series always leaves me wanting to try whatever they think up next!
- Amighetti’s Bakery and Cafe, The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis–The Amighetti Special, made with turkey pastrami and Amighetti’s secret dressing, is the best deli sandwich I’ve ever had. They also make fantastic cannoli!
- Olympia Kebob House and Taverna, St. Louis–Best saganaki in town!
- Eckert’s Country Restaurant, Belleville, IL–If you’re looking for country-style food, this is the place to be. The fried chicken and chicken fried steak are both excellent, and the side dishes (available to pass family style) are just what you’d expect. If you’re still hungry after dinner (doubtful), you can walk next door and get a frozen custard for dessert (in season).
- El Maguey, multiple St. Louis area locations–Great Mexican food on the Missouri side of the Mississippi.
- Ted Drewes, St. Louis–Sometimes, you just want dessert, or to celebrate a Cardinals win. If so, Ted Drewes is the place to be!
- Llywelyn’s Pub, multiple St. Louis area locations–Bonus points go to the St. Charles location, where you can actually eat in an old bank vault!
- Schlafly Tap Room, St Louis–If the great beer selection isn’t enough of a draw, the food is also excellent. I’m partial to the schnitzel. And while you’re there, make sure to try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert!
- Gordo’s Margaritas, Millstadt, IL (of blessed memory)–There are other restaurants named Margaritas around town, but my favorite was Gordo’s in Millstadt. The food was excellent (especially the chimichanga!), and the people who work there were great. I’m really sorry to see it closed…we’re going to miss eating there a lot!
Where are your favorite places to eat in St. Louis?
Now that I’ve seen all of the “Cakeway to the West” displays, I feel that the time has come to pick my very favorites. It’s not easy to choose, because there were so many awesome artists decorating these cakes, but I have narrowed it down. The names in bold represent my “top ten” of all my favorites.
The Dogtown cake is my very favorite, for a lot of sentimental reasons. Dogtown was the neighborhood Ryan and I lived in when we were first married, and it was the perfect first place to live, as a newly married couple, and as new residents of St. Louis. There’s a great community feeling, and a great history, not to mention the awesome ethnic (Irish) flair…and this cake is like a love letter to all of that. I couldn’t have designed it better if I had tried!
The Rigazzi’s cake is awesome, not necessarily because of the cake itself (although it references a lot of St. Louis favorites like the Zoo, beer, and baseball), but because of its location, both on The Hill, and beneath one of the remaining All-Star arches. It’s like a St. Louis tchotchkes Holy Grail!
I also love the Blueberry Hill cake. It’s a tribute to pop culture icons…Darth Vader, Pac-Man, the Simpsons, and more. It’s random and awesome, and when you add in the bright colors of the cake, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite!
The cake at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard makes my list for two reasons (three if I’m being honest). First, it was done by my very favorite local artist, Mark Hurd, who I’ve had the opportunity to meet at Art on the Square (and buy several pieces of art from!). Second, I love the way that the candle is an extension of the steeple. And, if I’m honest, I also love that it’s at a Lutheran church. You can’t talk about the history of St. Louis without mentioning us Lutherans at least a bit, right?
I also love the cake at the University City Lion Gates. I’m not sure that there’s one more recognizably St. Louis culture cake than this, because it asks (and answers!) the all-important St. Louis question, “Where did you go to high school?”
The cake at The Cheshire is just awesome in all of its fleurs-de-lis glory. I especially love the candle, with the writing, and the extra fleur-de-lis. It’s just a beautiful, elegant cake!
The cake at Shaw Park is fun, because it shows all of the activities that can be enjoyed there all year round…swimming, ice hockey, and tennis all included!
The Busch Stadium cake is a favorite because Cardinals. Enough said.
The Ted Drewes cake both captures the spirit of the place, and gives us an excuse to get some frozen custard. It’s a win-win cake!
The Carondelet Historical Society cake is a favorite because it references so much St. Louis history, some of which was new to me. I love how much I’ve learned through the Cakeway to the West project!
The cake at Saint Louis University is all kinds of awesome. The placement is perfect. Depending on which way you’re looking, there are fountains or flowers or a gorgeous church in the background. And the cake itself is really pretty, and perfect for the location.
The College of Pharmacy cake might seem like a strange choice, but it really tickled me. Notice how it’s designed to look like a pharmacist’s lab coat? I love it!
The cake at the Boys and Girls Club is great for a few reasons. I love the way it’s divided right down the middle to showcase the past and the present. And I really love that one of the cakes pays homage to the long-gone St. Louis Browns baseball team. Another bonus is that I learned a little something extra about St. Louis history after seeing this one, which is probably the most fun part of this project (for me, anyway)!
The cake at St. Louis City Hall does a great job of showing what’s important in St. Louis. Notice all the fleurs-de-lis? Each one is painted in a specific way. My favorite, of course, is the baseball fleur-de-lis!
The Post-Dispatch cake gets points because it’s Weatherbird. Really, what else could it be? For those not in the know, Weatherbird is the oldest continuous cartoon in the United States…it’s been around since 1901! More history…
The Drury Hotel cake is another “what’s what in St. Louis” masterpiece. You’ve got the city flag, you’ve got the skyline, and in the letters of the city’s name, you have tributes to the Arch, King Louis, Lewis and Clark, the Cardinals, the Zoo, and the Blues. Plus, more fleurs-de-lis. Love!
The Gaslight Square cake gets retro points from me, for being placed in a historic spot. Plus this is another great past and present cake, showcasing the importance of Laclede Gas back in the days of, well, gaslights, and its importance today. The lamp bases in the background are an added bonus!
The cake that sits where the old St Louis Arena used to be is also cool, mainly because of the ticket stubs affixed to the top. You get a good idea of who performed there, and there are some impressive names listed!
The West Alton cake was an unanticipated favorite for me. It recognizes the major natural disasters in St. Louis history: earthquakes, storms, floods, and the terrible drought we had a few summers ago. It’s not only the pleasant events that shape a city, and I’m glad these were included.
The cake at the original Imo’s location looked boring when we first drove up to it, but once I looked at it, I realized how cool it is. The base is pizza boxes, while the top is decorated to look like the famous “square beyond compare” pizza. Perfectly awesome!
The Ferguson Station Depot cake is the one cake that recognizes St. Louis’ contribution to the space race. It also focuses on other forms of transportation, and is wonderfully brightly colored. Plus, there’s a great ice cream shop just up the hill from it that we discovered and enjoyed…total win!
The Old Cathedral cake is just beautiful. Covered in flowers and other images such as King Louis and religious and local symbols, it’s beautiful and peaceful. It’s just what you would expect at the site of the first cathedral west of the Mississippi!
The Warren County Courthouse cake is a favorite for several reasons. It’s a tribute to all four seasons, which is fun. I enjoyed seeing a snow scene on the July day we visited it. It also has the Halloween scene from Meet Me in St. Louis…a perfect tribute to a great movie!
The Greenville Public Library cake is decorated to look like Busch Stadium. I have no idea why this cake is so far away from the Cardinals home base, but it’s completely awesome…the Rally Squirrel even makes an appearance!
The cake at Francis Field is a tribute to the 1904 Olympics. There was just no doubt that this would be on my list…history plus Olympics for the win! It even tells what sports competed in 1904, and it’s a very different list from the Olympics games of today!
I really tried to limit myself to 10% of the total cakes, or 25 cakes, when compiling this list. I was right on target, too. But this cake, at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, kept coming to mind. I love all the old signs, many of which are neon, that are painted on it.
The cake at the Shrine of St. Joseph was another that kept coming to mind. The cake is beautifully decorated, and the church is so beautiful, and I wouldn’t have even known it was there if it wasn’t for Cakeway to the West. So I’m allowing myself a second bonus cake. And since Stl250 ended up placing a few bonus cakes, I guess it’s OK that I have bonus favorites, too!
And, one final late addition to my favorites list…the Reunion cake, which debuted at First Night on 12/31/14, and was then moved to the Missouri History Museum. It’s like a slice of all the cakes (I’m really very sorry about the pun), and was completed by many of the cake artists…the perfect way to wrap up Cakeway to the West!
All of the Stl250 cakes are beautiful and tell great stories that share the history and culture of our city. It was really hard to narrow down my favorites, because I really love them all. These are the cream of the crop for me, though, and really define what this city is all about.
Two weeks ago was my birthday. The only thing I really wanted to do was go to Ted Drewes for custard at some point over the weekend. No fancy dinners for me, no extravagant gifts, I just really wanted some custard (it’s a St. Louis thing).
So, on Saturday, we planned to go out, run a few errands, and then treat everyone to a nice frozen treat. But, we ended up getting a later start than we had planned. So, I came up with the perfect solution–custard for dinner!
Yes, I’ll admit that by that point, I wasn’t really interested in cooking dinner. But it also sounded like a really fun, crazy thing to do on a Saturday. I’m sure Ryan thought I was crazy for suggesting it, and I thought my children’s eyes were going to drop out of their heads when I told them what was for dinner. But, we almost never go out for ice cream, and we never, ever eat it for dinner (OK, there was one other time, the night before we moved into our house, but the children were too young to remember it).
So, we had a really fun time, and, I think, made a really special memory. I’m hoping that when they’re older, they’ll look back and remember the time that mom let everyone eat ice cream for dinner. It’s an evening I know I won’t forget!