Foley’s

Where?

Yeah, it’s one of those kinds of hidden treasures, tucked away at the very end of Sutton in Maplewood, not that far from Manchester’s cornucopia of culinary delights. It’s a bar. An Irish bar, to be specific, which gives them bonus points right off the bat.

There’s a stable of regulars at Foley’s, a motley crew of construction workers and union men, hard-scrabble people with an allegiance to the place. And it might be hard to see why at first. The bar isn’t all that great, but the beers are cheap, the food is cheap and the service is fast and friendly.

The burgers? Oh the burgers. Thick, juicy, meaty and cooked within an inch of their lives. The bun is bigger than most places, which helps you keep eating. Veggies are plentiful and fresh, even the pickles. The cheese selection is limited, but you probably don’t want anything more than a slice of cheddar getting between you and this meaty hunk of burg.

Happy hour is 4-6, with bottled A-B products at $1.50 a pop. The burger will cost you about $3.00 and a side of fries another $1.50. You can get out of there with all that for about $6, but that’s assuming you don’t tip.

And you don’t want to skimp on the tip here, because the service is friendly and personal. The staff knows what they do and they do it well, delivering drinks to a crowded bar and your food to your table with the same speed.

According to St. Louis Magazine, they have the best burgers in town. I might not go that far, but you can see where they’re coming from.

Highly recommended.

Blueberry Hill

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Blueberry Hill? Not much, but I’m going to have a crack at it.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is that Blueberry Hill has Chuck Berry fever. A bad case. Chuck memorabilia plasters the walls, floors, ceilings and nearly every available surface. So does memorabilia dedicated to old vinyl, The Simpsons, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and many many other cultural touchstones.

Think Applebee’s but with a real sense of sincerity. The people at Blueberry Hill aren’t just throwing things on the walls willy-nilly, they have a purpose and a focus. They are true fans of music, TV and comic books – old and new.

The second thing you notice is the smell of burgers cooking. The Blueberry Hill logo that used to appear in their ads featured a pop-art dad, fork and knife in hand, licking his chops over a tasty burger.

And that’s exactly what we found. A juicy slab of meat served piping hot on a bun that could barely contain the overflowing veggies. The tomato slice was a good 1/2 inch thick, the onions freshly cut and the pickles were soaked to perfection. The burg comes cooked to order and the Medium Well was a touch on the pink side, but that was OK with us.

A word of warning : this burger is a jawbreaker. If you try to eat it with all the veggies intact, including the massive tomato slice, you might hurt yourself.
Follow it up with one of the dozens of beers (I recommend the O’Fallon Gold) and you’re good to go.

The burgs here are relatively cheap given their size and deliciousness. $6 burgers are pretty common, but experiences like Blueberry Hill aren’t.

I assume people in St. Louis have been there, but you’d be surprised. So go, strap in and enjoy the ride. After your delicious burg, you can catch a band downstairs in the Duck Room or the Elvis Room, grab a smoothie down the street for desert, browse the racks of Star Clipper … the U. City Loop is full of things to do, places to be, people to see and bizarre sights by the dozen.

(Note : This was written prior to the “tomatoes have salmonella” scare we’re going through right now.)

Seamus McDaniel’s – Mushroom n’ Swiss

Seamus McDaniel’s is right around the corner from me in dogtown, and while getting my bass setup tweaked at Acme Guitars, I dropped in on a whim and a burg binge.

I opted for the Mushroom and Swiss, with Sauteed Onions, and let me tell you, it’s an experience worth writing home about!

First off, the overall quality of the burg is flavorful. The mushrooms and onions, the uber-melty swiss, and the just-charred-enough grade A beef blend perfectly and one bite begs for another. The bun was toasted just right too.

Size? This one is a mother, but it is just right by itself (you won’t care about the fries afterwards anyway)

So there’s a burger worth a visit to Dogtown!

Hammerstone’s

After seeing the amazing Chuck Palahniuk at Mad Art Gallery last night, there were few options for a good burg. I knew that Venice Cafe would have funky food, but I was looking for something a little more substantial. 

Someone reminded me about Hammerstone’s, a bar only 3 blocks from the most popular bar in Soulard, McGurk’s. 

So off we went. Parking was hard to find, but the bar was nearly empty on a Tuesday night.

The burgers here come in 2 varieties : 1/2lb and 1/4lb. Being a man of significant hunger, I chose the former. 

The 1/2lb burg comes with your standard array of veggies, an onion slice, some soggy pickles, some limp lettuce and a gross tomato. 

The burg itself was good, but nothing extraordinary. It was on the dry side, the bun was so Plain-Jane and the fries were nothing to write home about. 

That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was a serviceable burg with everything you’d expect. Workmanlike, generic. Which is not what we’re after here. 

That said, the place is a sports bar at heart, with drunk Cards fans filtering in post-game to listen to the wonky singer/songwriters mangle Beatles tunes. If you enjoy that sort of thing and can withstand a mediocre burg, have at it. 

Also : draft beers are relatively cheap, with PBR starting at $2. So, if you drink enough of those, maybe the burger gets better?

 

Cruisin’ Route 66

It’s a rare thing that sometimes, on this side of Illinois, you find yourself in a bar that reminds you of the legendary Fast Eddies Bon-Air.

Cruisin’ Route 66 is that bar. Not only do they serve up original, independent St. Louis music 5 days a week, Karaoke on Thursdays, but they also serve up some cheap, delicious food.

Take for instance their Big Ass Burger. (That is its official name, check the menu).

It’s 1/3 lbs of awesome, you can get it cooked to order – always get Medium Rare, just for juicyness’ sake – it comes with steak fries and you get it all for $3.

It used to be $1, but since you now get an order of fries and more veggies with it, I think that’s a fair trade.

The bar itself is rather large, with a total seating capacity in the 500s. You can go see a show, have a beer ($2 you-call-its from 8pm-10pm, including all specialty beers) and order this delicous burg all while having plenty of room.

Another thing of note, is the serving staff. All women, all hot as the sun and all very good at what they do.

So the burg itself is cheap, fast and tastes great, the atmosphere is truly superior, the music is generally top-notch and the beers are cold.

Definitely a must-go experience, from start to finish.

O’Connell’s Pub

Nestled between the Hill and the SHaw neighborhood sits O’Connell’s Pub. When I lived by the Botanical Gardens a few years ago, this was the only cheaply priced refuge for eats. The atmosphere is highly relaxed, the dining room is nearly always packed on the weekends, and stone empty on the weekdays. The place has an antique shop up above it, and that tells the patron volumes about the vibe. It’s part Irish pub that’s about to close, part south city dive (in a good way, like Rosie’s in the CWE, which hasn’t got burgers, sadly. Another sad note is they opted to stop serving Schlafly to replace it with an awful brew called O’Connell’s ale…

But wait, we’re here to talk about burgs!

The O’Connell’s Burger is a real mixed bag. On one hand it’s small, highly greasy, and a leans on the rare side of things. I’ve never had one without a puddle of grease and blood coagulating on my paper plate at the end of the meal. However if you can get past the rarity (and I can, baby) there’s alot to be said for this burg that makes it a contender.

Taste-wise it’s awesome. This tastes like the burgers my Mom used to make, so it always reminds me of being back in the country in Illinois. The burger may be small altogether, but the patty makes up 70% of it’s size – not bad. The cheese sets the standard for meltiness too.

As far as veggies go, I don’t think you get options, other than the amazing sauteed and grilled onions you can get on it. Try em once, at least. They aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they are great to me.

Garnished with fries (add some mayo on the side for dipping, european style) and you have a meal fit for a king or a commoner.

In parting I’ll say one thing – I double dog dare you to walk by the back door (leading to the kitchen) and not succumb to the glorious smell of burnt bovine that’s always wafting out of OConnell’s.

Veggie Burger Showdown

Yes, this site is dedicated to the beefy, delicious King of Sandwiches, but for those of you who are trying to eat healthy, or trying to cut back on your red meat consumption, Veggie or Vegan burgers can be a good substitute for “the real deal”.

The two most popular Veggie/Vegan brands are Boca, who have the copyright on the name “Boca Burger”, and Morningstar Farms, a young upstart company whose website is seeveggiesdifferently.com .

Each company has a great selection of burgers, but Morningstar’s beats all comers with its huge variety.

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll select the Morningstar Cheddar Burger and the Boca Cheeseburger.

Since both start off on equal footing, judging can be more objective. At least, that’s the idea.

In the size department, Boca has a slight 1oz advantage – Morningstar’s burg is about 9oz and Boca’s is 10.

Their nutritional values are close enough to be identical, as is their ingredient list.

So the showdown begins.

Once you heat them up, the difference becomes clear.

Boca’s burger oozes the cheese-substitute, which coats the burg in a film that’s very unpleasant to look at. It tastes OK, but is lacking the appropriate flavoring to trick this burger-loving fool into thinking it’s real meat. You can taste the artificialness of the Boca, as well as the distinct flavor of awful soy by-product.

Morningstar Farms’ burger, on the other hand, stays firm and non-greasy after being heated. When served on a bun, as all burgers should be, it more closely resembles its meaty counterpart in both texture and smell, which is about 1/2 of the eating experience. The taste, if expressed in musical terms, is the Usher to Boca’s Milli Vanilli. To take that metaphor further, the burg sings off the plate, dances around the Boca burger and steals its Grammy. That said, it’s still a veggie burger. It lacks some of the greasy goodness that meat-based burgs tend to have, but it’s easy to miss it when the veggie burg tastes as close as humanly possible to genuine article.

The clear victor in this case is Morningstar Farms. I love meaty, greasy burgers, but I’d be willing to stock my fridge with Morningstar Farms. That says a lot.