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Midwest

St. Louis in Requeim

Cheap Eats, Midwest, St. Louis By March 7, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , 2 Comments

The things you just may not know about your hometown. Like finding out that St. Louis is the chess capital of the world. A fact to surely take pride in but something that also seems just a little trivial when placed next to the earliest memories of one’s life. The first time I saw fireworks was off the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The heat of a humid St. Louis summer is synonymous with watching professional baseball(Go Cards!). And then there is the food that I grew up with. Late night burger runs at Steak ‘n Shake. Toasted Raviolis, Provel laced pizza, heck veal parms – it ain’t easy finding a veal parm sandwich these days. But that was not the St. Louis that Cheap Eats experienced. Like the saying goes, “you can’t go home again” and we didn’t. Our time was spent throwing the spotlight on a barbecue scene that is coming into its own over the last fifteen or so years. And bold St. Louisans who resist the constant temptation to settle in the idyllic if less historic suburbs west of the city proper in order to bring life to a city that was once the center of the Midwest. St. Louis has changed . . . some, and I’m proud to say that. So even though I look fondly on the this town as where it all began for me, let’s sink our teeth into a side of my hometown that is just as fresh and as different for you as it was for me.

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Des Moines in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Des Moines, Iowa, Midwest By February 22, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

The time has come to put Des Moines on your food map. I can’t say exactly when this Midwest town shifted from land of pork tenderloin sandwiches(you have company Indy) to a James Bear nominated food scene but the food renaissance of the 21st century is making its presence known in Des Moines. Of course there are somethings that remain timeless in Des Moines, like Miller High Life paired with quality fried anything or a college bar that doubles as a brunch destination. As I look back on the few days I spent in Des Moines, I recall funky neighborhood surprises like the uber hip clothing and knick knack store Raygun, visiting Midwestern yuppies, and more than a few meals I would happily make a return trip for. Oh Des Moines, the land of silent “S’s”(thx Meigan Bell), you are more than some markings on a map, you are true blue hub of Cheap Eats.

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Louisville in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Kentucky, Louisville, Midwest By January 31, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

So how do you say it? I went with version one, the one with the drawl, and it earned me more than a few nods of approval. Invoking that drawl also reminds you that Louisville is a little bit Southern. As Baltimore straddles a line on the cultural map of the East Coast and the South, so does Louisville, with the South and the Midwest. This city might surprise you with a diverse set of famous former residents like Hunter S. Thompson and Muhammad Ali, Thomas Edison and even Tom Cruise. You probably know about the whole horse racing thing and the bourbon. And you probably could have guessed that both have been an integral part of Louisville’s history and identity for well over 230 years. Point is you have heard of Louisville but do you know what’s going on with the food here? First off, they got some food history, the most notable IMO being the Kentucky Hot Brown and yeah we found one fit for the Cheap Eats Budget. This is a city that has more than a few nearby farms. And beyond that solid farm to table showing is a grip of talented chefs who are having fun with food. And on that note let’s start off with the most fun breakfast we have found to date:

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Indianapolis in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Indianapolis, Midwest By January 24, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

If Grand Rapids was the gentle small town reminder of my Midwestern roots and why this part of the country is just so darn livable, Indianapolis was that pause and a “huh” you drop when you step into a city in “fly over country” and are taken back by a sprawling, diverse urban landscape. Gentrification ain’t just a real estate buzz word in Brooklyn, San Francisco or Silver Lake(LA), it is happening wherever it can. Case in point: Goose The Market. Like so many places we featured in Season Two of Cheap Eats, this beaut of an artisanal butcher shop and deli was fueled by a dream, funded with modest means and holds a zip code that might drive your car insurance rates up. Or at least it did; the neighborhood that Goose calls nest(or home) is Fall Creek Place, and like the Indy food scene, its an up and comer. Being in a Midwest city, we knew there would be some iconic Meat and Potato fare to be had. But there were a few “pause and a huh” moments to be had in the form of some Asian eats that would be a stand out in San Fran, along with with some chef driven, farm to table Midwest fare that you knew was going play a lead role in your Indy diet. Speaking of diets, it’s time to put yours on pause and peep the Cheap Eats in Indianapolis.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Midwest By January 18, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , 4 Comments

That smile on my face(along with the best carnitas torta I have ever had) serves as an instant reminder on how happy I would be to return to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now this is no slight against the other cities we have visited in Cheap Eats, from the no brainers like beautiful Bozeman and Jackson Hole to towns I would love to catch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play(I’m looking at you Pittsburgh). Its just that to be frank: Grand Rapids was a head scratcher. I had never been there, let alone Michigan, which made my expectations a bit of a blank canvas. A beautiful thing it is to travel to a place you have never been, without any expectation. It allows for the unforseeable to take hold of you; like Grand Rapids rousing my dormant Midwestern roots. Unless you are a sun drenched Californian or Floridian who fusses when the thermometer dips below 65, you gotta love Autumn in a place like Michigan. Now I did log in 20 years in Los Angeles but I have never been afraid of putting on a winter coat, it’s the sunshine that always made me an advocate for Southern California. Thankfully we had a few sunny days there, certainly enough for me to summon back the Fall days of my youth, growing up in St. Louis MO. For the five days I spent there, Grand Rapids reminded me that I grew up in the Midwest by virtue of weather and environment. And as much as I feel drawn to the bright lights of major metropolitan areas, instantly bonding with all that teeming culture and diversity and forever willing to put up with the downers you hear on the nightly news reports, I am a Midwesterner by birth and rearing.  The colors of the Fall will forever feel like my childhood. Which is a lovely memory and all but add that to the aforementioned Carnitas Torta, and folks, I’m smiling all the way back to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

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Blueberry Hill – St. Louis, MO

Burgers, Midwest, St. Louis By February 10, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: 7oz ground chuck, soft spread cheddar , green leaf lettuce, thick cut tomato, onion and pickle
the bucks: $7.45
the coordinates: St. Louis, MO

Like great barbecue, great burgers stir our emotions. Unlike exquisite nigiri sushi or a three hour tasting menu that moves at the elegant pace of a ballet, many great burgers do not receive Michelin stars. Rather they are satisfied with lifelong customers, some who may even consider taking their progeny to these hallowed establishments as a rite of passage. Blueberry Hill in St. Louis is very much that type of burger establishment, though for me it might just fall short of the whole “rite of passage” part. Still, when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck and being a local burger treasure, I feel compelled to include their 7oz of ground chuck into this collection. And frankly after almost 15 years of overcooked burgers in Los Angeles(Umami Burger really changed the game), I will always tip my cap to a Midwest joint that has been nailing medium rare the whole damn time.

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