Tenderloin Grill, Kansas City, MO – You Sniff Me, I’ll Sniff You Back

My weekends have involved lots of trips through Kansas City and opportunities to try new restaurants.  My most recent trip took me to a restaurant surrounded by taquerias and South American food; Tenderloin Grill is located just minutes from KC’s popular Power and Light district.  The family has been serving sandwiches the same way since they started out of a wagon in 1932.  Their slogan is “the times have changed but we haven’t.”

Tenderloin Grill is known for their hand-battered pork tenders as well as their pig snoots. They are both sandwiches that are dressed the same way: mustard, in-house hot sauce, horseradish, onion, and tomato.  They will ask if you want their standard dress, so there is an option to leave things off.  I had to give both a try.

First, let’s talk about the pork tender sandwich.  It is lightly breaded to add some flavor but not overpower the pork.  Obviously it’s going to be on the greasy side; it’s a fried chunk of pork for Pete’s sake!  If you order the standard dress for the sandwich, be prepared for some heat.  The hot sauce they make in house is flavorful and lives up to being called “hot”.  Pair that with the horseradish and your sinuses are going to have that familiar nose-tingling burn.  Thanks allyl isothiocyanate.

pork tender

If staring at two pig nostrils doesn’t bother you, why not try a snoot sandwich?  Unlike their crispy cousins served in St. Louis, these are pressure cooked and then boiled. The snoot had more meat on it than you would think. If you have texture issues, this may not be for you. It lands somewhere between tender pot roast and jello on the texture scale.  This was the first sandwich I have ever eaten that sniffed me back!  For me, this sandwich was more of a gimmick.  Trying it allowed me to renew my man card for the year.

pig snoot
All of their sandwiches come with hand cut fries.  Those that remained crispy were fantastic, however, about half the bag was soggy. 🙁  If they had a little bit more consistency, they would be a great side for sure.

Tenderloin Grill turned out to be a unique stop as I drove through KC.  The pork tender sandwich was great and now I can say I have had pig snoots both St. Louis and Kansas City styles.  It’s a fun little diner that believes in doing things the old school way is the only way.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  2.  It’s definitely more on the “divey” side of things in a good way.  It has that diner feel and is very simple.  You can watch the food being cooked right behind the counter.  You will use a lot of napkins because these sandwiches leak mustard and hot sauce everywhere.  Maybe it should be BYOB (bring your own bib).

Death in the Afternoon – St. Louis, MO – Power Lunch

“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” – Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

I’m a long time member of Blood and Sand and one of my greatest struggles is the distance between my home, my work, and that restaurant.  That same issue kept me from trying Death in the Afternoon, until I scheduled a PTO day for indulgence.

View of Death in the Afternoon from City Garden

View of Death in the Afternoon from City Garden

Death in the Afternoon is located in one of my favorite treasures of St. Louis, City Garden.  I was ecstatic when the owners of Blood and Sand took took over that location.  They are a lunch and brunch spot that takes full advantage of their view.  Their menu is ever changing but there are items for most palates.  I enjoy the nod given to some of my favorite Asian fare like the steamed buns and ramen.

Death in the Afternoon is located in one of my favorite treasures of St. Louis, City Garden.  I was ecstatic when the owners of Blood and Sand took over that location.  They are a lunch and brunch spot that takes full advantage of their view.  Their menu is ever changing but there are items to satisfy palates.  I appreciate the twist on some of my favorite Asian fair, such as steamed buns and ramen.

First up was the hummus.  With the addition of the roasted vegetables, this was definitely not your plain Jane hummus. Where was this idea of using zucchini on top while my family’s garden was exploding with extra produce???  As far as hummus goes, this version is a very solid offering.


Next up is one of my guilty pleasures:  Japanese steamed buns.  Remember my gushing over the pork belly buns that I devoured at Booker and Dax in NY?  Although these do not replace those in my heart, they have a lot to offer.  I went with two each of the pork belly and mushroom steamed buns.  They are served with a side of pickles and daikon carrot slaw.  I loved experimenting with the different flavor and texture combinations.  While I would order these again, they are on the pricey side at $5.50 a bun.

steamed buns

My last dish was the Cubano sandwich.  Who doesn’t like a sandwich that has multiple types of pork!?  Personally, I know that I have been craving one since I recently (finally) saw the movie Chef.  I know this isn’t a movie blog, but it’s a great watch if you love food.  Anyway, this sandwich didn’t disappoint.  The bread was crunchy, and you still have the prerequisite yellow mustard and pickles.


Death in the Afternoon is a great lunch spot with a view.  If you are lucky enough to work in the area, it’s a must.  I can’t wait to try the brunch and their Bloody Mary.  I would love to see what they could do with a banh mi as well.  Hint hint.


Dive 2 Five Scale:  4.  I think all the power suits and business lunches made me go with a 4 on this.  It has a trendy vibe in a great location.  It’s a little more than your typical lunch but as they say, you get what you pay for.

Pastrami Joynt – New York vs California Style?

Finally back at it again with some new blog posts!  Expect to see something about  a bourbon that was just released in Missouri as well as another Kansas City BBQ place soon…  However; today is about another lunch adventure in St. Peters:  the Pastrami Joynt.

The Pastrami Joynt claims to be “a different kind of deli”. They have sandwiches of all types with most being $7.50.  When you order you pick the bread, cheese, and dressing.  They also offer lettuce, onion, and tomatoes as optional included toppings.  I decided to start with the namesake and ordered pastrami.  Being somewhat of a purist, I went with rye bread and mustard but did opt for the lettuce, onion and tomatoes.

Pastrami whole

Pastrami Joynt serves the thin sliced California style pastrami rather than the thicker hand cut style you expect in New York, but they do at least give you a good amount of meat.

Pastrami half

I prefer the New York style with juice dripping down your arms but this will satisfy any life threatening pastrami cravings.

Pastrami Joynt is a small place in a strip mall off of Mexico Rd.  This is a no frills place with the main decorations being two small TV’s. You order at the counter and pay after you eat.  There was only one person working both the kitchen and the register.  That slows things down and makes it awkward to pay when you are having to wait in line again.  Would I try it again?  Maybe for take out or a call ahead order.

 Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  Small strip mall place with a friendly person manning the counter (and kitchen).  Most of their business seems to be takeout. They offer reasonable lunch options if you are tired of chain sandwich shops like Subway.  They offer drinks in cans and bottles and have a list of standard sides.  I have not located a website but you can have a sneak peek of their menu that I scanned:  Pastrami Joynt

Pastrami Joynt on Urbanspoon

Salume Beddu – St. Louis, MO – Artisan Cured Meats in a Strip Mall

What’s a better way to celebrate a half day of work than with a great lunch!  This week I tried the lunch at Salume Beddu on Hampton Ave.  I have tried their artisan cured meats before, but never their lunch items.

This is a very tiny place in an old strip mall.  You have to know what you are looking for or you might drive past.  There is seating for approximately 14 people, total.  The menu is equally small.  However each item clearly is designed with a purpose.  I chose the speck and Gruyere sandwich with preserved lemons.

The sandwich arrives warm.  The bread is a great golden brown.  It is crunchy and the interior has the right amount of chew. Clearly you can see there is a lot more bread than any of the other ingredients.  Speck can be overpowering but they nailed the right amount.  The Gruyere was the perfect complement adding a slight nutty flavor.  To me, it seemed like everything was proportioned to let the preserved lemon shine through.  I never thought I would call a sandwich refreshing, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.

Salume Beddu not only provides tasty artisan cured meats, but great lunch options.  The menu may be small, but this a great example of quality over quantity.  I am sure that I will be back to try them all.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  It’s night and day from the exterior and interior of this place.  As I said before, Salume Beddu is part of a small strip mall.  Once inside you feel like you have left the country.  I would highly recommend getting their salumi plate if you have never tried their meats before.  It is a great way to sample a wide variety.  Once you do, you know you will be taking some home.

Salume Beddu on Urbanspoon

Katz Deli – NYC, New York – The Birthplace of My Love of Pastrami

When taking a trip to New York City, you must try one of their amazing deli’s.  For me, I go to the one of the staples since 1888, Katz.

When I go, only get one thing; their famous pastrami sandwich.  Going to Katz is an experience from start to finish.  When you arrive you can choose to be served at a table or get a ticket and head to the counter.  I always opt for the ticket.  You then stand in line at the cutters waiting to give them your order.  Once you do order (the pastrami, you know you will) you are given a few slices to sample while your sandwich is constructed.  I use the word “constructed” because this is a big sandwich.

The sandwich is simple, yet unbelievable.  It’s only pastrami, rye bread, and yellow mustard.  When you have such juicy meat and plenty of it, why mess with it?  WARNING:  You will get messy eating this sandwich.  The pastrami will leak out through the bread and down your hands.  You will hardly notice as your focus will be to continue stuffing your face.

This is food porn.

Katz Deli was the first place I truly enjoyed a pastrami sandwich.  I had tried other local varieties throughout the country but it was never a “go-to” item for me.  Since my first trip to Katz, I have been hooked.  Take some time when you visit to see all the pictures of celebrities on the wall that have been there experiencing the same great sandwich.

Dive to Five Scale – 2.  Let’s be honest, anything served cafeteria style is a little divey.  Nothing wrong with that.  You may have to be a vulture to pounce on a table as soon as it comes available.  You may even have to share.   You have security at the door.  It’s an old building that just keeps cranking out quality sandwiches they have for decades.

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon


Gioia’s Deli – A Candidate for Best Sandwich in St. Louis

Am I alone in spending the last several Wednesday’s watching Adam Richman’s show about his search to find the Best Sandwich In America?  Now that his search is over, a suggestion from one of my blog readers challenged me to a similar quest.  That’s how I found myself at Gioia’s Deli this weekend.

As always, I did my homework before my visit.  95% like Gioia’s on Urbanspoon and most suggest to try the hot salami.  Once I arrived, I grabbed a number and waited my turn.  The place was busy at 1pm on a Saturday.   I ordered the hot salami with the garlic cheese bread, pepper cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard.  While I was waiting for it to be toasted, 8 out 10 people ordered the same sandwich.  That was a good sign.

Look at the melted cheese!

The sandwich wasn’t particularly photogenic, and I wasn’t patient enough to try for perfection.  I couldn’t wait to dive right in while it was still hot.

Slightly different angle to see the salami

There was a generous amount of the thick slices of the salami.  It was soft, earthy, and slightly salty.  The rest of the toppings were fresh but respected the star of the show.   I had a late breakfast so I struggled to finish the thing.  However, I wasn’t going to waste a bite so I pulled through.

The verdict.   With places like this, why waste your time going to some chain to get a $5 anything.  Yes this will cost a little more and will take a little more time, but it’s worth it for the quality.  Jared wouldn’t have lost any weight eating these tasty sandwiches!  Is it the best sandwich in St. Louis?  That’s a tough call, but I’m sure it will be top 5.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  Family oriented local business.  There was a line the entire time I was there so it will continue to do a good business well into the future.  There is limited seating inside but there is some great street-side seating.  Nothing overly fancy about this place.  The focus is all about giving you a great sandwich that will make sure you will be back.

Gioia's Deli on Urbanspoon