Missouri Food and Drink

In the last two posts, I talked about our recent trip to St Louis and Kansas City, but I didn’t fill you in on the food and drink we encountered. Always a highlight of our travels, it was exceptionally so in these two cities!


Missouri is a stronghold of of barbecue and we visited the stalwarts of this cuisine in both cities. In St. Louis, Pappy’s Smokehouse is known as the home of the best Memphis style barbecue. We had loved it on our visit in 2012 and it was equally as delicious on this visit! The ribs are smoky and the sauces vary from sweet to spicy – they are amazing.

In Kansas City, we tried two iconic offerings. Arthur Bryant’s was founded in the early 1920’s and is considered by many to be the most famous barbecue restaurant in the U.S. Again, the ribs had that smoky, fall-off-the-bone characteristic and the sauce, tasting of vinegar and paprika, was excellent. The atmosphere was down-home, with the floor just a bit slick from the grease in the air!

Our second excursion in KC was to LC’s Bar-B-Que. This small, one-room joint, in a rather sketchy location, is known for its ‘burnt-ends’ and they did not disappoint! As with the other two barbecue restaurants we visited, the many testimonials to their excellent food were posted on the walls!

All three barbecue joints were excellent – but my personal award goes to Pappy’s. To me, their ribs are still the best!!

Other Restaurants of Note

We also enjoyed some excellent meals at:

  • Anthonino’s Taverna in the hill district of St. Louis – great Italian fare, especially their signature toasted ravioli
  • Triumph Grill in Grand Center, St Louis
  • Mario’s in Westport, Kansas City – fabulous grinders and soup


We has some excellent stops for afternoon refreshments on this trip. The October special of pumpkin brew became our drink of choice and we had some great ones!

We also enjoyed a visit to the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, where we tried two flights featuring their many varied brews.

Brew of a different sort

Our regular readers may recall our cultural guest blogger in Prague and Vienna, Debbie. Today, Debbie returns as our resident expert on coffee houses. We visited many on this trip – here is Debbie’s take on the coffee scene in SL and KC:

“Sure, St. Louis and Kansas City are known for beer, blues, and baseball, but who knew that they are home to a craft coffee culture where the local roaster shops outnumber the big green chain outlets? Pleasantly surprised, we were. You need to adjust your whole coffee-drinking experience. There are too many to review individually, so suffice it to say that if it ain’t pour over in front of your face, it ain’t coffee. And don’t be asking for dark or mild roast, the talk is of flavours, of boldness, of undertones. Don’t be asking for small, medium, or large either – pour overs are served in ounces and might magically appear in a mini carafe or a wine glass or a flask that you can pour into your cup at leisure. And the baristas, oh, the baristas! Not for here is the short-term-part-time-wait-till-I-go-back-to-school barista, for being a barista in a craft coffee house IS a career – a career with a passion, a passion for smells, flavours, and designs. It is a thing of beauty to watch a big, strapping, bearded man gently, ever so gently, slowly pour the steaming water over the grounds at a a precise pace measured by timer for perfection every time. And if you happen to order a milky delight (only whole milk, of course), it is a wondrous thing to watch his big hands pour and tip until the perfect picture emerges in soothing browns and milky whites before he gracefully hands you his work of art. You have probably figured out by now that there is no rush in craft coffee houses. Here, you are patient and when the moment arrives, and you have that lovely, warm, beautiful liquid in your hands and feel it permeate your physical body and mind, you sit back and read or ponder or engage in thoughtful conversation with whoever is near, for this, really, is an art gallery. Not to be completely outdone by the product itself, however, is the location and the sign on the door. Chances are you will be looking for an unpretentious hole in the wall with minimalistic furnishings and with a name that only hints at what wonders hide inside – Oddly Correct, Blueprint Coffee, Picasso’s and many undiscovered others. There might be food but the best ones just have a few nibbles because you are here for the shining star, the coffee. So, the next time you are in St. Louis or Kansas City, enjoy the beer, blues, and baseball but also venture into the world of craft coffee. It’s worth a special trip.”

 Ah yes, it was a great trip filled with wonderful eats and drinks!


Bev & Harv

The B’s of KC

As I indicated in the last post, we recently vacationed in Missouri. You ask: Missouri? Why?

Well, for a while now, we have discussed visiting Kansas City to explore the B’s: barbecue, baseball, beer, blues…… And then Harvey decided it was time for another NASCAR race – and the timing was right to go to the race in KC. After a few days in St Louis, we hopped in our rental van and were down the road to KC. Oh – another reason – one of my bucket list items is to visit all 50 U.S. states. I had 3 left – Kentucky, Oklahoma and Kansas. The Kansas Speedway is in Kansas – Check! Only 2 to go!

We had 4 days in KC – 3 to explore and one dedicated to the race. We were pleased to find there was lots to see and do. Here are some of our highlights:


Kansas City has more than 200 fountains, which is more than any city in the world except Rome. We lost count but think we saw about 30. There are maps of the fountains available and it would be a fun way to spend a day (Harvey thinks not). The majority of the fountains we noted were spouting blue water in support of the Royals!  

America Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

These two museums are housed in the same building in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.

The American Jazz Museum was opened in 1997 and features the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films. It was very interesting to view the exhibits and learn interesting facts about jazz music and artists. The multiple ‘audio stations’ enhanced the experience.   You can learn more about this museum at: http://americanjazzmuseum.org/about-us/#sthash.kl2tgoQl.dpuf

The museum also includes the Blue Room Jazz Club, which offers live music nightly. We didn’t make it back in the evening this trip, but would plan this in a future trip.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of African-American baseball and does a great job of this using exhibits, photos and film. We found it very interesting and informative.

Downtown Kansas City

We enjoyed visiting the City Market, the Union Station and the WWI Liberty Memorial.

Since 1857, the City Market has been one of the largest public farmers’ markets in the Midwest. In an open-air format, the market  offers an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and attractions.

The Union Station served rail traffic in KC from 1914 – 1985. In 1999, the refurbished station reopened with public attractions and in 2002, it once again became an active train station, servicing Amtrak public transportation.The Liberty Memorial, dedicated on November 11, 1926, honours the men and women who served in WWI and is located at the National World War I Museum. We didn’t visit the museum on this trip – another item for a future trip.  

Further Afield in KC 

One afternoon, we took a trip to the southern suburbof Overland Park to the Museum at Prairiefire. This museum is a natural history museum and has a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It looked very interesting from peering in the windows because unfortunately it was closed when we arrived. However, the trip was not wasted as the outside of the building is spectacular on its own!  We also took a trip past Kaufman Stadium as the KC Royals were playing our Blue Jays. We had looked at getting tickets but the only available were single tickets at ridiculous prices, so we watched the games at various venues. The stadium itself is situated right next to the freeway and it was quite a site to see the masses of blue (for the Royals) in the stands.

One morning while Debbie and Larry were on a walk near our hotel, they came across the American Truck Historical Society. They went in and decided that Harvey must see this, so we stopped in for a visit later that morning. This society is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of trucks, the trucking industry, and its pioneers. The building contained some interesting memorabilia, but it serves most prominently as an archive of literature surrounding the trucking industry – brochures, manuals, newspaper ads and articles – anything to do with trucks. The readers who know Harvey well, will know of his passion for automobile literature and thus, he was fascinated with this collection. He could have spent hours perusing the items, but in deference to his travelling partners, he just took a brief look around, bonded with the staff, and committed to spending a day there if we were to return to KC.  

The Race

It is difficult to describe a NASCAR race to anyone who has never attended one. It is a spectacle like none other that I have ever been to, and I’ve attended major league baseball, football, basketball and hockey games, as well as international soccer and skating events. NASCAR fans are a breed of their own – an eclectic mix of car lovers, good old boys and wide-eyed newcomers – 70,000 of them at this race. The camping and tailgating is crazy and the smoke and aroma of barbecue hangs in the air. It’s hard to imagine that watching 43 cars drive in circles 267 times around a 1.5 mile track could be so enthralling. It is not a social event while the race is going on – it’s too loud to hear (and you need earplugs when you aren’t wearing the scanner headphones) – so interaction consists of pointing and pantomime. It really is something that anyone who enjoys cars, racing, big events or just people watching should do at least once!
 As I mentioned in my St. Louis post, we tried out a number of local restaurants, bars and coffee houses. Stay tuned for the details on those in St. Louis and Kansas City soon. 

Kansas City was a fun place to visit and as mentioned, there are a lot more things we would love to do on a return trip. 


Bev & Harv

Four Days Under the Arch

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to St. Louis and Kansas City with our traveling companions, Larry & Debbie. In this blog entry, I’d like to tell you some of the highlights of our four days in St. Louis, the Gateway to the West.

Harvey and I had visited St. Louis in the summer of 2012 – but only for two nights and in the midst of a major heat wave – so we really hadn’t done much exploring, other than the major tourist sites – the famous Arch and the Anheuser-Busch brewery. This trip, we had four days to get to know the city. Our expert trip planner, Debbie, had done excellent research and we travelled about the city like native St. Louisans (really, that’s what they are called).

Our hotel was located near the airport and had the most friendly staff I have ever encountered in a mainstream hotel. By the time we left, we were hugging them good-bye! We used the MetroLink light rail train to travel into the city core for the first couple of days. This was a very efficient travel mode – even on the evening train when the driver announced that the train was ‘defective’ and we crawled into the last stop at the airport!

We toured most of the major neighbourhoods in St. Louis. Here’s a recap:

Downtown St. Louis

The skyline of downtown St. Louis is dominated by the Gateway Arch. Standing 630 feet tall, the Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. and is celebrating 50 years in 2015. The grounds of the Arch are currently undergoing a major renovation, which is expected to be completed in Spring 2017.

Nearby is Laclede’s Landing, which combines rich St. Louis history with modern entertainment. Generally you can stroll along the riverfront, but access is limited at this time due to the major construction surrounding the Arch.

The “new” Busch Stadium was opened in 2006 and is home to the St. Louis Cardinals. It looks like it would be a great place to watch a ballgame!  

Directly adjacent to the stadium is Ballpark Village. This entertainment complex actually occupies the area where the “old” Busch Stadium was located. We stopped in for a delightful lunch at the Budweiser Brewhouse and while there, were able to watch a live interview with Bob Gibson. Larry was especially pleased with this – as he was the only one of the four of us who actually knew who Bob Gibson was. Bob is a retired baseball pitcher who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and holds a significant place in the team history. Larry apparently has a couple of his baseball cards in his collection. Despite the ignorance of the rest of us, we all thoroughly enjoyed listening to the interview of this man, who is nearing 80 year of age and was very informative and entertaining. 

Also located nearby are the Scottrade Center, where the St. Louis Blues play our game, and the Edwards Jones Dome, where the Rams tackle football.

We wondered through the Citygarden, a vibrant and serene blending of lush plantings and internationally renowned sculptures with delights of water, stone, architecture and design.

Edit  We also stopped in at Union Station. This National Historic Landmark was once the world’s largest and busiest train station but was converted in the early 1980s into a hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex and today, only serves local rail (MetroLink) transit passengers.

Forest Park

Forest Park occupies 1,293 acres in the center of the St. Louis and is the seventh largest urban park in the United States. It contains St. Louis’ major museums – the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum – as well as the Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo, and The Muny, which is the country’s biggest outdoor theatre. It was a lovely spot for a lengthy stroll, despite a brief rain shower which sent us scurrying for cover under a tree.

 Central West End

Perched on the eastern edge of Forest Park and over a century old, the chic Central West End is full of charming sidewalk cafés, galleries, antique shops, restaurants, boutiques and pubs. It’s a little European, a little New York and totally St. Louis. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis was completed in 1914 and is the mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The World Chess Hall of Fame is also located in the Central West End. We enjoyed a great pumpkin brew at one of the many local establishments!
  Grand Center

Grand Center serves as the cultural hub of the region, and is home to many theaters, with their neon signs lighting up the street in the evening.  

Lafayette Square

This neighborhood boasts an impressive collection of beautiful Victorian homes and could be described as ‘urban chic.’ We enjoyed checking out the exterior grandeur of many of these homes.


The city’s oldest neighbourhood exhibits a leisurely pace and an appreciation of days gone by. The historic streets are lined with red brick townhomes that house live music clubs and unique restaurants. We walked to Soulard to experience their annual Oktoberfest. While sipping on the ever present ‘Bud’, we enjoyed a variety of live music on three separate stages – the oldest Blues band in St. Louis, a traditional German ‘oompah’ band and an interesting classic rock polka band.  

The Hill

The Hill is the quintessential “Little Italy” neighbourhood. Baseball’s Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola grew up here, and today it maintains a traditional collection of authentic Italian bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants and mom-and-pop trattorias.

Everything is colorful here – even the fire hydrants are painted red, white and green. Its epicenter is one intersection that sums it up perfectly, with St. Ambrose Catholic Church on one corner, an Italian bakery/restaurant on another, an import shop across the street, and a neighborhood tavern/bocce garden on the fourth corner.

We enjoyed a coffee house, an corner Italian sandwich shop and a lovely dinner (but more on that later).

The Loop

The area is nicknamed “The Loop”after an old streetcar turnaround and is the original home to Chuck Berry. The highlight of The Loop is Delmar Boulevard, an eclectic main drag lined with an array of ethnic and American restaurants, music clubs, coffee shops, vintage clothing stores and boutiques. It’s an easy place to spend a full day exploring shops that offer everything from tattoos and piercings to books and records. Larry certainly spent considerable time checking out the records, but he didn’t seem to want to follow through his suggestion that we stop at a tattoo shop.  

Bordering The Loop is University City:

University City was founded by publisher Edward Gardner Lewis, who began developing the location in 1903 around his publishing complex for Woman’s Magazine and Woman’s Farm Journal. A number of historic buildings, including the beautiful City Hall, are mixed in with the century old homes, some of which are lovely and some which require some modern TLC. 

Webster Grove

Webster Groves is a fashionable neighbourhood with cozy restaurants, boutiques and century-old homes, more than 300 which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We wandered for a while, stopped in for an afternoon refreshment and drove around the tree-lined streets to view the exteriors of many of the beautiful homes. 

We enjoyed just wandering around the areas and learning about St. Louis. It is an interesting city that is currently dealing with some societal challenges, not the least of which is a rising murder rate. I certainly don’t want to imply that we ever felt unsafe as the murders are definitely concentrated in specific areas and specific demographics. We found interesting and enlightening articles about this issue in a local publication, the Riverfront Times. If you are interested in reading more – http://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2015/10/01/st-louis-has-the-highest-murder-rate-in-the-nation and http://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2015/10/07/st-louis-murder-map-tracks-killing-by-neighborhood .

As always, we tried out a number of local restaurants, bars and coffee houses. Stay tune for the details on those in St. Louis and Kansas City soon, as well as a post about our days in Kansas City. 


Bev & Harv