by Nancy Stiles
It's finally here! St. Louis' huge, annual food event, Taste of St. Louis (Soldiers Memorial Plaza, 14th & Chestnut streets), is upon us. Oh, sorry, it's the "Budweiser Taste of St. Louis" this year now that Anheuser-Busch is a big sponsor, but we can't complain about more beer now, can we? All the events and over 40 restaurants can be pretty daunting to choose from, so let Gut Check be your guide to this weekend's festivities.
See also: Chef Battle Royale Competitors Announced
Co-director K. Sonderegger gave us her picks for the can't-miss stuff. You'll definitely want to go to restaurant row, where 45 -- count 'em, 45 -- St. Louis restaurants will be available for your gastronomic pleasure. Eat at favorites like Frida's Deli, Pappy's Smokehouse, Naked Bacon, Joanie's Pizzaria, the Cup and Vito's.
"We work hard to make sure they're a very eclectic mix -- not just the hoity-toity restaurants of St. Louis," says Sonderegger. "There are some of the best hole-in-the wall pizza places. We have cool and interesting restaurants that people can come and see what they're about."
Most menu items range from $2 to $7, but Sonderegger knows it sucks when there's too many great places to choose from and you've got a finite appetite. Solution: Every single restaurant will offer a smaller portion of one of their menu items for $2, so you can try a lot more places without filling up your stomach on the first burger.
There's also the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale, which pits chefs against each other until there is only one champion. The competitors include reigning champion Christopher Lee from the River City Event Center, and the challengers: Patrick Connolly of Basso, Eric Brenner of Alumni, Michael Johnson from SugarFire Smoke House, Elizabeth Schuster at Tenacious Eats, Jon Lowe from Oceano Bistro and Wil Pelly of Sanctuaria. Full details here.
"Every year gets a little bit tighter and more competitive. It's always really close -- they're very good chefs, so it's an interesting competition to come watch," she says.
You can also catch cooking demos while you eat the 314 Hot Sauce Showcase stage. Full schedule of events here.
The advantage of Budweiser's sponsorship will be an extensive beer pairing and tasting space. You can purchase a tasting booklet, and use your tickets to try from 26 different ales and lagers from around the world. Choose from A-B owner InBev's monstrous catalog of brews: Kirin Ichiban, Leffe, Hoegaarden and much more. Details here.
For the full roster of events, music, and information on prices and parking, visit tastestl.com. See you there!