St. Louis, Missouri, boasts a rich and diverse culinary scene, known for a variety of iconic foods that have become synonymous with the city’s gastronomic identity.
With each iconic dish, the city weaves a flavorful tapestry that beckons both locals and visitors to explore and celebrate its unique food culture, making St. Louis a must-visit destination for people seeking a taste of the heartland’s culinary treasures.
What Foods is St Louis Known For?
St. Louis is known for its St. Louis-style BBQ ribs, toasted ravioli, Gooey butter cake, St. Louis-style pizza, slinger, ted drewes frozen custard, pork steak, crispy pig snoots, amongst other dishes. The city’s dishes reflect it’s culinary creativity and its ability to put a delicious spin on beloved classics. The city’s culinary landscape has been shaped by a blend of cultural influences.
German traditions have contributed to the city’s love for breaded and fried dishes like toasted ravioli, while the Southern BBQ influence is evident in the smoky, slow-cooked flavors of St. Louis-style BBQ ribs.
Italian-American roots have given rise to unique creations like toasted ravioli, and local innovation has produced delights such as gooey butter cake and St. Louis-style pizza.
These diverse influences converge to create a distinctive and flavorful food culture that defines St. Louis’s culinary identity. Here are these dishes discussed in more details:
Toasted ravioli is a beloved St. Louis specialty that tantalizes the taste buds with its unique combination of textures and flavors. This iconic dish begins with plump ravioli, typically filled with cheese or meat, which is breaded and then deep-fried to perfection.
The result is a crispy, golden-brown exterior that gives way to a warm and gooey interior, where the filling becomes creamy and savory. Often served as an appetizer or snack, toasted ravioli is accompanied by a side of zesty marinara sauce for dipping, adding a delightful contrast of tangy tomato flavor to the rich, fried goodness.
It’s a comforting and indulgent treat that captures the essence of St. Louis’s culinary innovation and is a must-try for anyone exploring the city’s food scene.
St. Louis-style Pizza
St. Louis-style pizza is a unique and distinctive culinary creation that sets itself apart in the world of pizza. At the heart of this iconic dish is its ultra-thin, cracker-like crust, which is notably crisp and almost wafer-thin, providing a perfect canvas for toppings.
What truly defines St. Louis-style pizza is its cheese – it’s typically covered in a special blend called Provel cheese, a combination of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone, known for its creamy, slightly tangy, and incredibly melty texture. The toppings, often including items like sausage or pepperoni, are typically cut into small, bite-sized pieces.
The pizza is typically served in squares rather than traditional triangular slices, making it easy to enjoy the harmonious marriage of crispy crust, gooey Provel cheese, and savory toppings.
This St. Louis classic offers a delicious departure from the traditional pizza experience, and for many locals and visitors alike, it’s an irresistible culinary adventure worth savoring.
Gooey Butter Cake is a delectable St. Louis dessert that’s cherished for its sweet, indulgent, and utterly satisfying qualities.
This iconic treat consists of two distinct layers: a dense buttery, and slightly chewy bottom layer, which serves as a rich cake-like base, and a lusciously gooey top layer made with a heavenly combination of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and eggs.
The name “Gooey Butter” perfectly encapsulates its texture – it’s gooey, sweet, and utterly irresistible. Often dusted with a delicate sprinkling of powdered sugar, Gooey Butter Cake delivers a perfect balance of sweetness and richness, making it a beloved favorite for both locals and visitors to St. Louis.
It’s a slice of pure indulgence that has become a symbol of the city’s culinary heritage and an absolute must-try for anyone seeking a taste of St. Louis’s sweet side.
The St. Louis Slinger is a hearty and unconventional breakfast dish that has captured the hearts (and appetites) of locals for generations.
This comforting creation typically consists of a base layer of crispy hash browns, topped with a pair of perfectly cooked eggs (often sunny-side up), a generous ladle of spicy chili, and a sprinkling of diced onions.
To add a finishing touch, some versions even include hamburger patties or sausage links. The entire concoction is crowned with a generous blanket of melted cheese.
The result is a flavorful and satisfying breakfast that offers a delightful medley of textures and tastes, from the crunch of the hash browns to the richness of the eggs, the heat of the chili, and the creaminess of the cheese.
The St. Louis Slinger is not only a testament to the city’s love for bold flavors but also its penchant for creating distinctive comfort food that sticks to your ribs and leaves you fueled for the day ahead.
St. Paul Sandwich
The St. Paul Sandwich, a unique and beloved St. Louis creation, is a testament to the city’s culinary diversity and innovation. This distinctive sandwich features a thick and fluffy egg foo young patty as its star, cooked to golden perfection and often seasoned with soy sauce and other savory flavors.
The patty is nestled between two slices of soft white bread and is typically accompanied by fresh lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise, and sometimes tomato.
The result is a delightful fusion of Chinese and American flavors, where the savory and slightly sweet egg foo young patty harmonizes with the freshness of the vegetables and the creaminess of the mayo.
The St. Paul Sandwich is a true representation of St. Louis’s culinary melting pot and is a delightful, satisfying, and uniquely local sandwich that has earned a special place in the hearts of its residents.
Pork steak is a quintessential St. Louis barbecue classic, celebrated for its succulent and flavorful qualities. Typically cut from the shoulder or blade of the pig, these generous pork steaks are slow-cooked on a grill or smoker, allowing the meat to develop a tender, smoky perfection.
What sets St. Louis pork steak apart is the signature barbecue sauce, characterized by its tangy, slightly sweet, and often slightly spicy profile.
The sauce is generously slathered onto the steaks throughout the cooking process, creating a caramelized and flavorful crust. The result is a mouthwatering combination of smoky, tender pork with a bold and savory barbecue flavor that exemplifies St. Louis’s love affair with barbecue cuisine.
Whether enjoyed at a backyard barbecue or a local barbecue joint, pork steak remains an iconic and must-try dish for anyone looking to savor the essence of St. Louis’s barbecue tradition.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard is an iconic St. Louis institution, renowned for its rich and creamy frozen custard that has delighted locals and visitors for generations.
This frozen dessert is distinguished by its velvety, dense texture, which is even creamier than traditional ice cream, thanks to a higher egg yolk and butterfat content.
Ted Drewes serves its custard in various forms, with the “concrete” being a standout favorite. In a concrete, the custard is blended with a wide array of mix-ins, including everything from nuts and candies to fruits and cookies, creating a delightful and indulgent treat.
The result is a dessert that’s both luxurious and comforting, satisfying sweet cravings with each spoonful. A visit to Ted Drewes is not just about enjoying frozen custard; it’s a St. Louis tradition and a delightful experience that encapsulates the city’s love for creamy, cold treats.
The brain sandwich, a uniquely St. Louis delicacy, offers a distinctive culinary adventure for the adventurous palate. This local specialty features thinly sliced calves’ brains, which are delicately breaded and fried to a crispy golden-brown perfection.
Served on a bun, often with condiments like mustard, onions, and pickles, the brain sandwich boasts a flavor and texture that’s both rich and creamy, with a slightly nutty undertone.
While the idea of consuming brains may seem unconventional to some, for many in St. Louis, it’s a cherished tradition that dates back decades, showcasing the city’s culinary creativity and its willingness to embrace unconventional ingredients in the name of gastronomic exploration.
The brain sandwich is a testament to St. Louis’s unique culinary heritage, where even the most unexpected ingredients can be transformed into a beloved local dish.
St. Louis-style Ribs
St. Louis-style ribs are the epitome of barbecue excellence and a culinary treasure of St. Louis. These ribs are typically cut from the spare rib section of the pig, known for their meaty, flavorful composition.
What distinguishes St. Louis-style ribs is their meticulous preparation, which involves trimming the excess cartilage and fat to create a uniform and rectangular shape, resulting in a more even cook.
The ribs are then slow-cooked to perfection, either smoked or grilled, and basted with a tangy and savory barbecue sauce that’s emblematic of St. Louis’s barbecue tradition.
The end result is tender, succulent meat that falls off the bone with each bite, complemented by a caramelized, slightly charred exterior that’s packed with flavor.
St. Louis-style ribs are a barbecue lover’s dream, a testament to the city’s passion for slow-cooked, smoky goodness, and a mouthwatering representation of St. Louis’s culinary prowess.
Crispy Pig Snoots
Crispy Pig Snoots, a unique and unconventional dish, find a niche place in the culinary landscape of St. Louis. These snoots, which are the cartilage-rich part of the pig’s nose, undergo a transformation that turns them into a local delicacy.
Typically, they are seasoned, breaded, and deep-fried until they achieve a crispy and golden exterior while retaining a chewy interior texture. Served with a side of hot sauce or barbecue sauce, Crispy Pig Snoots offer a contrast of flavors and textures, combining the satisfying crunch of the fried coating with the savory and sometimes spicy notes of the condiments.
While they might not be for everyone, Crispy Pig Snoots represent St. Louis’s willingness to embrace unconventional ingredients and transform them into a distinct and memorable culinary experience for those with a taste for the unusual.
To wrap it up, St. Louis, Missouri, is a city celebrated for its rich and diverse culinary heritage, featuring a captivating array of iconic foods that define its gastronomic identity.
Whether it’s savoring the smoky allure of St. Louis-style ribs, the adventurous spirit of crispy pig snoots, or the comforting embrace of a hearty Slinger breakfast, St. Louis’s culinary offerings are a testament to its creative and passionate approach to food.