People often ask me what my favorite kind of food is. Now usually, I answer with Mexican food. And I’ll admit, I do love a good taco or burrito, especially from my favorite restaurant: ¿Por Qué No? in my hometown of Portland, OR. In reality though, if I’m thinking more broadly, my favorite foods all have a couple things in common: high fat, high salt – unhealthy foods.
So, when I arrived at school two years ago, I fell in love with the grungy diners that dot the flat landscape of St. Louis County. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:
Carl’s seats about 10 people at full capacity and is my absolute favorite diner. Their patties are ultra-thin, grilled up about 4 feet in front of you on the griddle. It’s the combination of a patty like you’ve never had it, the cozy vibe, four dollar triple cheeseburger – the only acceptable thing to order here – and warm fries. They also have their own specialty root beer which is my favorite in StL (sorry Fitz’s).
This is my favorite 24 hour diner, even smaller than Carl’s located down by Busch Stadium (across the freeway) it’s far from cozy. It looks kind of like an abandoned 50’s drive in that someone stumbled upon and realized the power was still on. Don’t expect any special treatment here. Do expect a killer burger at any hour.
Southwest is not your typical diner. Only open for breakfast and lunch, this diner features southwestern cuisine and a fun western style diner atmosphere. Objectively better than your average STL diner food, Southwest features fun dishes like enchiladas and their own version of a slinger topped with green or red chili.
I can’t think of a more stereotypical St. Louis diner atmosphere, down to the jukebox, red leather booths and open kitchen behind the bar. Home of the St. Louis Slinger (2 eggs, hash browns, hamburger meat, all topped with chili and a side of toast for $6.25), this 24 hour diner is special for its consistently disappointing food that you know with just a few higher quality ingredients could have been great.
Uncle Bill’s Pancake & Dinner House:
To go to Uncle Bill’s you have to be with at least 5 friends. Sporting a little bit bigger of a dining room, Uncle Bill’s is great for a late night fiesta and will pile more than enough food on your plate to satisfy those late night munchies.
Tiffany’s, like Courtesy, is very typical St. Louis diner. They have the Slinger, of course, but add a couple twists – like adding gravy. Tiffany is a must for getting to know St. Louis culture and diner food, all the way down to the owner’s healthy gun collection.
City Diner South Grand:
City Diner is a little more upscale than some of the other places on this list. Located in restaurant-happy Tower Grove, they serve things like wings, a little bit of a nicer burger, as well as juices, salads and more.
Photos courtesy of Kyle Stobel, WU Photography ’17
See some of his phenomenal photography at: https://strobelphotography.smugmug.com