Our awesome meal at Pappy's
The restaurant tour was inspired by a favorite show of ours called, “Man v. Food” that airs on the Travel Channel. For those of you who have not seen this show before, the premise is, the host, Adam Richman, highlights the best pig-out and comfort food spots in the US. Each episode covers a city and some of their best restaurants. We incorporated this into our trip by selecting certain featured restaurants that looked good to us and then mapped out a route to take us from Wisconsin to Utah. The result took us on a route that was pleasing to our eyes and our taste buds. Here is a rundown of the restaurants that we visited:
Cozy Dog Drive In, Springfield, IL – “Home of the famous hot dog on a stick”. That’s right, Cozy Dog is the birthplace of the corn dog. This is a really cute diner-style restaurant with plenty of memorabilia and souvenirs. It is a well known spot along Route 66 and it seems to be even more popular with the locals. We stopped in around breakfast time and even though it was early, we could still get an original cozy dog. I am not a corn dog enthusiast by any means, but the cozy dog was really tasty. Well worth the stop and if I ever find myself in Springfield again, I’ll be stopping in for another.
Pappy’s Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO – This was one of the restaurants we were most excited to visit. Pappy’s has a big reputation for having some of the best BBQ around. After eating there, I can see why. This place has some of the best BBQ I have ever had! Pappy’s only cooks so much of each meat every day, so when they run out (let me just emphasize when they run out) you are out of luck. We knew this ahead of time so we got there early. Even though it was around 11am on a weekday, there was still a waiting line that went out of the restaurant. It was well worth the wait though. When it was our turn to order, we ended up trying four different meats: pulled pork, ribs, spicy sausage, and the beef brisket. I will be honest, the side dishes were nothing to write home about, but the meat was phenomenal! It is hard to pick a favorite as it was all very good, but we were most impressed with the beef brisket. It just melted in our mouths! The only problem with the beef brisket was that we didn’t order enough of it. Oh well, all the more reason to get back to St. Louis sooner than later.
Crown Candy Kitchen, St. Louis, MO – Crown Candy has been around since 1913 and is known for their unique selection of candy and their homemade ice cream. This is a quaint little corner store with a lot of charm. On Man v. Food, this was the location where Adam Richman tried to down 5 malt milkshakes in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that each milkshake comes in those large mixer cups so they fill about 3 regular-size glasses (15 glasses of shake for those of you keeping track). Unfortunately he failed. Given my ability to down ice cream like there is no tomorrow, part of me wanted to try the challenge, but I figured a road trip wasn’t the best time to get sick. ;) So, I just got one chocolate malt. Ice cream was the perfect desert for a hot day. If you are planning a visit to Crown Candy and you are not familiar with St. Louis, make sure you have good directions. Its inner city location makes it tough to find and I’m not sure we would have found it without our GPS.
Stroud's Cinnamon Rolls - So good! (the photo does not do them justice)
Stroud’s Oak Ridge Manor, Kansas City, MO – Nothing has ever made me say, “You know, I really need to get to Kansas City” until now. Where do I begin? Stroud’s has some of the best home cooked comfort food I have ever had. It is located in an old manor house that does not seem to have any 90 degree angles at all. The old feel of the building just adds to a place that immediately feels comfortable and familiar as soon as you walk in. As for food, we decided to go with a family style order of pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans. The chicken was some of the best fried chicken we have ever had. It was crispy and well seasoned and the meat was juicy and hot. The gravy is also worth mentioning. It is thick and very tasty. As I understand it, they make it with the left over chicken bits from pan-frying the chicken. I don’t know how that couldn’t be good! The biggest surprise to us was that the meal was served with the most amazing cinnamon rolls either of us have ever had. Neither of us are big fans of cinnamon rolls to begin with, but these were simply amazing! They were dense, gooey, and packed full of tasty goodness! They were so good that we asked for two more to go after we were done. Stroud’s is well worth the stop even if you aren’t in the area. Needless to say, we now have an excuse to get back to Kansas City.
The Cherry Cricket, Denver, CO – This was the last stop on our restaurant tour. Cherry Cricket is known for their burgers and even more than that, they are known for the wide variety of unique toppings that make your burger just about as individual as you are. As it says in the menu, “If we have it in our kitchen, we can put it on your cricket burger!” The cricket burger is served ‘a la carte with lettuce, tomato, and a pickle spear. After that it is up to you to choose what kind of toppings you want on it. For example, I ordered my burger with white cheddar cheese, a fried egg over easy, fresh avocado, and salsa. That was a tasty burger! If you decide to come here and construct your own burger, one thing to watch out for is the price. Each extra topping has its cost and it does not take long to create a $10 burger.
That concludes the restaurant portion of our trip. I hope you enjoyed it. If you are looking for a fun way to spend a vacation, consider taking a restaurant tour. Remember, you do not have to order a full meal at every restaurant (but you just might want to). Sometimes, just getting a featured item from the menu and sharing it is just as good. For more great restaurant recommendations, check out Adam Richman’s blog.