The Tattooed Dog – Wentzville, MO – It’s Burger Time!

“The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger.”
Chris O’Brien 

If the above statement is true, I’m in serious trouble.  How many posts on burgers can one blog have?  For me, the answer is now 13 and counting.  The most recent shares my experience from the Tattooed Dog in Wentzville, MO.

The Tattooed Dog advertises itself as “upscale dive grub”.  The burger selection is impressive; and the reason for my visit.  However, they feature some pretty interesting sandwiches as well.  Can I interest you in some fried chicken sandwiched between two apple pancakes?

menu

For my lunch, I chose the Benedicto for the simple reason that it has a fried egg on top!

Burger

It was a solid burger.  I liked the greens to help me feel OK for not eating healthy.  The pretzel bun was also a great touch.  There are two things that would have made this burger even better.  One, if you ask if I want “pink or no pink”, I expect it to be pink as requested.  Luckily, it was not overdone so much that it was dry.  Two, I should have requested my fried egg over easy.  That’s my personal preference and I didn’t think to ask.

The Tattooed Dog delivered a solid burger and it’s a nice change to the fledgling restaurant scene in Wentzville.  I like the uniqueness of the menu and I’m sure I will try other burgers in the future.

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  When I saw “upscale dive pub”, I was expecting a dark location with a large bar.  I was surprised at all the windows that lit up the place during lunch.  It’s also surprisingly kid friendly and did not feel like a bar atmosphere at all.  The only really “divey” part was the bathroom.  The walls were painted an awkward brown color…

Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In – Crystal City, MO – Quadzilla, King of the Burgers!

The word is out about this place and it’s one of my favorite stops heading south on I-55.  Of course I’m talking about the one and only, Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In in Festus!  Yes, I’m on a burger binge – this is my third burger related review in a row!

For those that love Carl’s Drive In, these burgers are pretty similar.  They are small balls of ground beef that are smashed onto the grill.  They are very thin patties so you will need multiple to make a reasonable size burger.  The double seems to be the standard, but I always like to take things up a notch. For that reason, I went for the…Quadzilla!

Quadzilla with fries

Quadzilla with fries

As you might expect, the Quadzilla is a meal that has a burger with four patties.  It also comes with fries and a drink for $8.88.  Not a bad price and it does fill you up.  You have options for all the standard ingredients for burgers, but they also offer mayo.  I have had it with and without, and actually prefer it with mayo.  Insert Canadian joke here…

Quadzilla with onion rings

Quadzilla with onion rings

These burgers come out piping hot.  You must resist the urge to take a bite immediately.  I have tried both the onion rings (for an upcharge) and the fries, but I would suggest sticking to the fries.  I think the fries need more salt, but that is obviously something you can correct.

This is my go to “fast food” restaurant when heading down I-55 to see family.  It’s not a huge detour off of I-55 and it’s worth the extra few minutes.  The people are friendly and the food remains unchanged for years.  My only regret is that I still have never tried one of their shakes.  Be on the lookout for an update on Twitter or Facebook because I will complete that task soon!

There isn't a lot of info online about this place.  Here is the lunch / dinner menu.

There isn’t a lot of info online about this place. Here is the lunch / dinner menu.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  This is a family friendly restaurant.  There are only bar stools for seating, or you can place a carry out order at the window.  It is cash only but there is an ATM in the corner in case you forget.

Home Wine Kitchen – Maplewood, MO – Burger Night!

I have been receiving emails showing Home Wine Kitchen’s weekly menus ever since my first trip to Table.  While there have been many that have intrigued me, I never found myself taking that extra step and trying the place out.  In one of the more recent emails, something caught my eye: Burger Night.    For $15 you get a burger, one side, and local craft beer.  Sign…me..up!

Let me first give you some details about Burger Night.  It runs every Sunday from 3 – 9 P.M.  During that time you can get the burger special with either their famous house burger or the ever changing market burger.  Each burger has a specific side that it comes with and they select one beer for the night.  Sounds pretty simple right?

Instead of making the potentially tough decision, I gave both burgers a try.  First up, the award winning house burger. The house burger was topped with bacon, cheese, garlic aioli and an egg.

house burger

All burgers are prepared medium rare unless you specify differently.   The burger was very soft and juicy.  There was no chance this was over cooked.  The egg was just the way I like it, very runny.  I’m in love with this burger.  For this reason alone, I already know I will make a return trip.  I did feel bad for the house made chips.  Even though they were a great side, nothing stands a chance on a plate next to this burger.  

The market special was the Texas burger.  It was topped with BBQ sauce, onion rings, and blue cheese.

Texas Burger

This one was also cooked as expected. I had tried the house burger first so this one was not as exciting for me.  It was heavy on the blue cheese so most of the other flavors were lost.  I did enjoy the polenta fries and want to try to make my own at home.

My first visit to Home Wine Kitchen’s Burger Night was a great success.  This will not be the last time I will have their house burger.  This burger would be in my top 5 for St. Louis.  What would be in your top 5 list?

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  I hit burger night early and it was easy to get in. The burgers take 15 minutes to prepare, but it’s worth every second.  I was impressed with the service as the server was very attentive.  He also asked about my thoughts on both burgers.

One thing to note, I bet I have walked past Home Wine Kitchen several times.   It’s in a great location on Manchester in Maplewood, but the exterior isn’t overly flashy.  You have to pay attention or you may miss it.  The inside is rustic with a lot of wood.  It’s warm and inviting.  

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White Cottage – Belleville, Il – Get Ready for the Summer Heat

After spending the early evening perusing the wares at Art on the Square in Belleview, Illinois, I was in desperate need of some nourishment.  As with most towns in the St. Louis area, I had a couple of places on my list in case I happened to pass through or nearby any unfamiliar towns.  During this initial visit, I chose to check out the White Cottage.

I arrived just before dusk on an unseasonably cold night.  I was impressed to see people lined up for ice cream outside while wearing hoodies and light jackets.  I chose to dine inside so I could have more than just ice cream. One thing you notice right away is the smell from the ice cream and the cones.  It was clear that this was not a place to stop if you are on a diet, even the air was rich with calories.

Surprise, surprise….the double cottage burger was calling to me.  The burger was very standard: two quarter pound patties, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onions.  You can have pickles and they provide mustard, ketchup, and mayo by request.  The patties are not packed tightly.  This helps keep them juicy even when cooked to a medium well all the way through.  Although this burger was standard, it was far from ordinary.

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Now that I had my dinner, it was time for dessert.  White Cottage carries several different flavors of ice cream and they don’t have the same choices each day.  To be honest, I was overwhelmed with the thought of only trying one flavor so I did what any smart person would do.  I opted for two small orders:  strawberry cheesecake and chocolate raspberry truffle.

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Both were phenomenal.  PHENOMENAL!  The chocolate raspberry truffle was rich and the strawberry cheesecake had actual strawberries in it!  I can only dream of working my way through the rest of the ice cream menu.

White Cottage is the kind of place that every small town in America needs. Even though it was clear I was the only person who was not a regular, I didn’t feel out of place. I would recommend this place to anyone that finds themselves in Belleview.  Heck, I would recommend taking a break when traveling along I-64 just for the ice cream.  With the summer coming up and the thermometers starting to rise, make sure you stop by to cool off.

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Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Great family spot shared by generations.  If you read about the place, it’s closed a few times but seems to be back on track. The inside is very simple, there are several booths and a couple tables, and menus are provided at either.  You can seat yourself and you pay at the counter before you leave.

Daddy Ray Burgers, O’Fallon, MO – St. Charles Shack Attack

What’s up with food prepared in shacks in St. Charles County?  I found some excellent fried chicken at Chicken Coop last November and this year I stumbled upon Daddy Ray’s Burgers on the day of their one year anniversary.
Since it was my first time, I ordered their namesake:  the Big Daddy Bacon Cheddar Burger.  It doesn’t come with lettuce, tomato, or pickle but you can ask for them.  It does, however, come with their pub cheddar which I’ll admit I was leery of.  Remember my experience at the now shuttered Fatted Calf?  I also ordered the garlic Parmesan fries as my side.  After only a quick 5 minute wait I had my food.

Daddy Ray burger

This is a meat lovers burger.  It’s a 1/2 pound burger topped with crispy bacon that is clearly a diet crasher.

After Two Big Bites

As you can see, the middle isn’t pink but they still keep it juicy.  The pub cheddar was creamy and added a nice contrast to the beef and bacon.  It was nothing like what I had at the Fatted Calf.

fries

The fries are thin and crispy.  They loaded them up with Parmesan and just enough garlic so you would notice it, but not so much that you would offend all your co-workers after lunch.

I usually bring my lunch to work so I can save my calories for dinner or the weekend; however, I’m starting to find reasons to change that.  Daddy Ray’s Burgers is one of those places.  They make a mean hamburger without a lot of fluff. Wanna go eat a burger without anyone watching? Daddy Ray’s gives you that option.  My only recommendation would be for them to ask you how you like your burger cooked.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 1.  Although Daddy Ray’s is a bit nicer than the Chicken Coop, I had to stay consistent with my earlier shack rating.  Daddy Ray’s is in a small building in O’Fallon along Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.  I bet a lot of people have driven passed it without noticing. Their business is completely take-out or outside dining.  They do let you call ahead and you can pick up your order behind the building. This is appreciated now that it is getting colder and you may not want to get out to order at their window.  As an added bonus, they have a loyalty program that after 9 burgers you get $5 off.

Daddy Ray Burgers on Urbanspoon

Carl’s Drive In,St. Louis, MO – Burgers with an Edge

Recently I read a list of the top 10 burger places in the US and it inspired me to pay homage to the one closest to where I call home, Carl’s Drive In.

Carl’s is a tiny place with only 16 bar stools.  They serve burgers smashed on the grill so they have delightfully crispy edges.  For good reason, the terms “burger” and “crispy” typically don’t end up in a sentence together.  This burger is the exception to that rule.  I’m instantly whisked away to burger nirvana at the first crispy bite.  They are pretty small patties, I typically order a triple cheese.  Anything less a double should be considered a kid’s meal.

DSC00503

When you go, you must pair their burger with Carl’s homemade root beer.  They serve it in an ice-cold frosty mug.  The root beer alone will have you coming back.  They serve standard “out-of-the-bag” fries that are on the thick side.  The fries are still an adequate side and do not detract the focus from the burger.

Carl’s Drive In is a place that I get a craving for every month or two.  There isn’t another place like it. This place is on my must do list for anyone that visits.  I agree that it deserves a spot in any top 10 burger lists due to its’ uniqueness and their ability to crank out top-notch burgers.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  The typical complaints for this place are:

  • It’s too small and I have to stand.
  • The wait staff can be a little “gruff” or “direct”.
  • It’s cash only.

Personally I think those are very petty reasons to miss out on a St. Louis institution.  I have never had to stand to eat.  They are extremely efficient in rotating people through the 16 bar stools.  Most people that go there have been several times so they do expect that most people know what they want when they are asked.  Do your homework, arrive ready, and enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience.

Carl's Drive in on Urbanspoon

The Burger Stand at the Casbah, Lawrence, KS – Duck Fat Fries or Truffle Fries?

If you follow this blog, you will notice I have a few posts of restaurants in Lawrence, KS.  I spend a bit of time there when I can.  One of the places I frequent on almost every visit is the The Burger Stand at the Casbah.

So what is so special about The Burger Stand?  Clearly I am a burger addict.  The Kobe burger and variety of fries are fantastic.  Typically I order either duck fat fries or the truffle fries.  This time I tried both!  Here’s the Kobe burger and duck fat fries:

kobe burger and dff

They cook all burgers to medium but confirm that is how you want it.  When I cut into it, it was perfect with some pink.  It’s still very juicy with good texture.  I heard another person order one well done. AHHHHH! That cow did not deserve to sacrifice its life and to be overcooked.

The burger is topped with pickled red onion, arugula, and truffle butter.  I normally don’t like pickles on my burger but the pickled onions are the perfect complement to the fatty Kobe.  I have not been able to bring myself to order a different burger yet.

As for the fries…I love the duck fat fries and the truffle fries.   All their fries are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.  Over my many visits, I have always preferred the duck fat fries. This time the truffle fries barely edged them out.  Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the bottom of the basket.  They do leave behind some excess vitamin G (grease).  They have a variety of unique sauces for your burger or fries but I find I don’t need it.

The Burger Stand is one of the things I look forward to on my trips to Lawrence.  They have a great Kobe burger and the fries are some of my favorite. It should have a bright future in downtown Lawrence for years to come.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  This place has a very lively college atmosphere.  If it’s a game day, go early if you are trying to get lunch.  INSIDER TIP:  If the line to order when you walk in is long, look to see if the gate to the lower level is open.  You can order at the downstairs bar as well.  They make a great spicy bloody Mary to help you recover from the previous night’s events.  Those also come with bacon!

bloody mary

The Burger Stand at the Casbah on Urbanspoon

5 Star Burgers, Clayton, MO – More Green Chili in St. Louis

With all the talk of the Mayan apocalypse, most people probably missed that December 21st was also National Hamburger Day.  With burgers being one my favorite foods, of course I would use that excuse to try another burger place in St. Louis.  This time I tried 5 Star Burgers in Clayton.

What makes this place special?  They use all-natural, hormone free beef that is ground in house.  They also have some unique topping combinations as well as bringing in green chili’s from New Mexico.  In a city with a variety of burger choices, it’s the small details that will elevate a place above the rest.

I ordered the Dad’s green chili cheeseburger.  This is not my first green chili cheeseburger.  Ten years in New Mexico and I have tried a few.  This was cooked a perfect medium as ordered.    However, this rendition was unique with the addition of fried green chili’s and green chili mayo.  The fried green chili’s offered some crunch.  You get a nice slow burn from the green chili’s.  Dare I say better than many of the great green chili cheeseburgers of the Southwest?  Yes I do!

The burgers do not come with fries but there are options for sides.  I tried two of them:  cheese curds and sweet potato fries.  First up, the cheese curds.  WOW.  You can’t go wrong with melted cheese.  The batter was light and and they were served nice and hot.  I could see myself sitting at their bar enjoying some local craft beers snacking on these.  Sorry fries, this is my new favorite burger side.  The sweet potato fries were also very good but were overshadowed by the cheese curds.  I love the little fryer baskets they are served in as well.  Nice touch!

5 star burgers lives up to its’ name. It has a bright future in Clayton.  I look forward to ordering some of their other burgers on future visits.  Maybe they can make a burger with the cheese curds on them…hint hint.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Very nice modern interior.  It’s a family friendly atmosphere but you can also enjoy some fine adult beverages.  Although I did not sit at the bar, it was a very popular place.  With the selection of craft beers I noticed on tap, I could understand why.  Much nicer than your typical burger place.

Five Star Burgers on Urbanspoon

Dave and Tony’s, Creve Coeur, MO – Gourmet Burgers? Sign Me Up

I guess after Porkapalooza I am now on a burger bender.  My burger kick continued with a recent trip to Dave and Tony’s Premium Burgers.   This unassuming burger joint is located in a strip mall as part of a Schnuck’s shopping center off of Olive in Creve Coeur.

They have a list of burgers with different topping combinations that they have selected.  I prefer to use the option-laden “Build Your Own” menu.  Look at this beauty:

This is an: extra large premium steakburger, Dave’s original bun, provel cheese, caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, fried egg, and honey mustard.

The quality of the meat is as good as you can find at a premium burger place.  Good amount of fat to keep it moist and give flavor.  I have been to Dave and Tony’s more times that I should admit.  Early on, I had a few issues getting a properly cooked medium rare.  Lately they have nailed it each time.  This was another good example.

My only regret was the topping combination I chose.  The sweet onions and honey mustard were good, but it was a little too sweet with both on the same burger.  I think next time I will either swap out the provel for smoked Gouda or the honey mustard for chipotle ketchup or steak sauce.

Dave and Tony’s continues to offer up some of the best burgers in town.  Their menu provides an unlimited amount burger combinations for you to choose from.  If you are a burger enthusiast like me, Dave and Tony’s is a must.  Stay tuned this week for some posts from my trip to the New York City Wine and Food Festival!

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  It’s a family friendly burger place in a strip mall.  They have a modern decor and a handful of TV’s always tuned on sports.  They have beer and limited wine to choose from as well.  You can make this a grab and go or stop and take your time to enjoy one of their burgers.

Dave & Tony's Premium Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

Cousin Hugo’s, Maplewood, MO – A Local Bar Burger

Every neighborhood has one.  It’s that local watering hole that practically has assigned seating for the regulars. Cousin Hugo’s in Maplewood is that kind of place.  I had picked this place out based on their rating on Urbanspoon when I was doing a search to satisfy a burger craving.

We arrived just after opening on a Saturday.  The bar was empty as the waitresses and bartender were still getting set up.  We chose one of the over-sized booths in the bar area.     Looking around you notice beer signs and college football on the TV.  Many of the walls are the older style wood paneling   Some of the regulars walk in shortly after and are teased for “being late”.  It welcomes you in as your typical local bar.

They have laminated menus on all the tables.  One of the best ways to judge a bar’s food (and to satisfy my quota) is to try their burger.  The standard burger at Cousin Hugo’s is 5 oz.  I am known to eat a little more than the average person so I ordered the double.

Double cheeseburger. Also known as the “open wide”

They serve their burgers medium well.  I typically order them medium rare but went with the flow.  The burger comes with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and caramelized onions.  I can see why they call it the “open wide”.  It was a large burger.  It was still juicy for being well done.  All the toppings were fresh.  I opted for the onion rings on the side.  They were the thicker style beer battered type.  Overall it was a filling meal with no complaints.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 2.  Very friendly bar with lots of locals.  Old style captains chairs, beer signs, and wood paneling make it a blast from the past.  Although they were kid friendly early on a Saturday morning, I’m curious if it would be much later.  Great local bar full of character that every neighborhood would be lucky to call their own.

Cousin Hugo's on Urbanspoon