I doubt anyone actually reads this site anymore – but it’s been 6+ months since I packed up the VW Cabrio (which incidentally, holds almost nothing) and headed back to the east coast, so I thought I’d give an update. I’ve ended up in Philadelphia, a city that’s completely new to me. Now that I’ve been here awhile, I’ve compiled a list of some of the big food/drink-related things that I miss about St. Louis or that Philly just doesn’t do quite as well. Here are items 10 – 6, part II to follow:
10. MO Liquor Laws – PA liquor laws aren’t as bad as their terrible beer laws, which are the worst thing ever, but you Missourians don’t know how good you have it. When liquor had its own aisle in the grocery store, I was always making impulse purchases – picking up bottles that were particularly shiny or a pretty color or whatever and it was just part of my normal grocery shopping routine. And I went to the grocery store on a pretty regular basis so I had a pretty impressive collection going on. No extra stops at the liquor store or possibly another stop at the “fancier” liquor store (PA actually has two types of liquor stores, it is weird). Plus, I could hide how much money I actually spent on alcohol because it was incorporated into the grocery bill. Easy win for MO.
9. Slingers - I asked my friend if there was some sort of official Philly drunk/hangover food and he answered “Cheesteaks” (the answer to everything in Philly is apparently cheesesteaks) and not even some cool XXtreme Cheesesteak (a la STL’s own Mammer Jammer). Just a normal cheesesteak, which to me is regular, sober food, like a cheeseburger. I mean, it’s greasy and satisfying and I’d eat one while drunk but it’s no match for the Slinger, which serves no other purpose in life other than to be eaten while drunk at 2 am or hungover. I like the ones at Courtesy… two eggs over easy, hash browns, hamburger patties, chili, cheese and onions, please… maybe a side of toast. STL +1.
8. Fast Food Chains – When I first came to St. Louis, I thought it was fast food hell. You guys had no Dunkin’ Donuts and no Wendy’s – and this was in the pre-Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich days so that was rough. I was forced to branch out and discovered you guys not only have some crucial staples (Five Guys, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, Qdoba/Chipotle), but you also have a burger chain devoted to butter burgers (Culver’s), a burger chain devoted to steakburgers (Steak ‘N Shake), White Castle (which I had never actually had pre-STL), and even a chain devoted to roast beef au jus sandwiches that isn’t gross like Arby’s (Lion’s Choice). I never went to McDonalds once in the year and a half I was there because why would I? And someone finally brought back Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts before I left, making it a pretty perfect fast food world. Philly’s got the basics but it doesn’t have the extras.
7. Ted Drewes – Philly has Rita’s Water Ice while St. Louis has Ted Drewes’ concretes. Water ice is pretty refreshing when it’s hot out so I’m not anti-Rita’s, but summertime means ice cream to me, and concretes (which are essentially super thick Dairy Queen Blizzards with whatever add-ins you want) are pretty cool – You can turn the cup of frozen custard upside down and it’s so thick, it will stay in the cup. It’s a neat party trick. Rita’s actually has something similar and I’ll give it a try, but Shake Shack in NYC, which serves up pretty much my favorite burgers ever, sells the real deal (he pays respect to Ted Drewes and everything) so hopefully I’ll make it there sometime soon. This is more of a tie but I’ll miss them once the warm weather hits.
6. Beer Festivals - I haven’t experienced Philly in the summer yet, but they have a lot to live up to. STL is a beer city and has the Heritage Festival, Microfest, Schlafly’s Hop in the City, Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival… there’s pretty much always some big day drinking event going on which I love, and MO has plenty of solid craft breweries (all that unpopulated land IS good for something other than meth labs and puppy mills, who knew?). What really puts STL ahead, in my opinion, is that even the zoo gets in on the action. Ottertoberfest? Could beer events get any cuter? Or Jammin’ at the Zoo, an all you can drink event with wine and beer stations lined up throughout? This should really catch on at every city zoo because Zoo + Alcohol is a great (and I’m sure perfectly safe) combo. This one is TBD but I have a pretty good idea of who the winner will be.
Stay tuned for the top 5!