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Famous St. Louis Food: 5 Specialties You Must Taste

Photo by Diana Lambdin Meyer

Toasted, twisted, gooey and concrete tastes in St. Louis

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The best part of travel is experiencing something a little, or a lot, different from what you experience at home. And of course, letting someone else do the cooking. Every city has its own little niche and a few joints you have to experience to say you’ve really experienced a place. The five famous St. Louis food specialties are:

  1. Toasted Ravioli. It’s St. Louis’ gift to the culinary world. While you can get it anywhere, the original place that first messed up regular ravioli and called the mistake “toasted rav” is Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill. The Hill is a famous Italian neighborhood, so you must eat somewhere on the Hill to say you’ve been to St. Louis.
  2. St. Louis Style Pizza. With a cracker-like thin crust and minimal toppings, St. Louis style pizza is best defined by the use of provel cheese. You either love it or hate it, but the best place to get it is at Imo’s Pizza. There are about 100 locations in the St. Louis metro area, so you’re always within a few minutes of this famous St. Louis food.
  3. Gooey Butter Cake. Basically a regular butter cake that hasn’t been thoroughly baked, a gooey butter cake is a typical St. Louis dessert. Many brides serve it at their wedding and, of course, gooey cupcakes are the best. Find it at many places, but you’ll love the variety at Gooey Louie’s.
  4. Concrete Custards. Actually, just call it Ted Drewes. That’s what everyone knows. Part of the appeal? It’s located on historic Route 66, but really, it’s the best frozen treat on the planet. Period. Hang out in the parking lot for a while as those around you enjoy their custard and you’ll witness a fundamental experience of living in St. Louis – a trip to Ted Drewe’s.
  5. Pretzels. Specifically, Gus’ Pretzel, a nod to the German heritage of Missouri and an institution in St. Louis since 1920. This famous St. Louis food is a requirement for tailgating and other sports related parties. Take some home as a souvenir.

Any of the above St. Louis food specialties always go better with beer. Anheuser-Busch and its products remain king in St. Louis, but you’ll always want to give a nod to Schlafly Brewery. They fought and wrangled with the state legislature for years, finally opening the doors for craft breweries to open and flourish throughout the state of Missouri.

And feel free to ask about Missouri wines as you order a meal. Before Prohibition, wine from the eastern Missouri River valley near St. Louis was the most awarded and respected in North America. Indeed, a day trip toward Augusta or Hermann will take you to the heart of Missouri’s wine region.


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