Bill’s family lives in St. Louis; at least once each year we travel that well-used stretch of Interstate I-70 from Kansas City to the Gateway of the Midwest. It’s not the most spectacular scenery in mid-America — you bypass cows, farms and small towns on the way — but there is one noteworthy stop.
About three hours into the trip, just west of Warrenton, Missouri on exit 188, you come across a Flying J truck stop. The usual amenities are available for the weary traveler: gas, food, showers — and something that seems a bit peculiar to find in the middle of nowhere — a roadside popcorn stand.
Open year round, Bob’s Kettle Korn does a booming business. Freshly popped corn is offered in original, caramel, cinnamon, and that slightly sweet-but-salty favorite known as kettle corn.
The parking lot smells like heaven and the lure of fresh popcorn is undoubtedly one of the toughest things to resist. So I never do. And I happily munch my way into the city.
Once in St. Louis there is a plethora of things to do, but when it comes to dinnertime, the obvious choice is The Hill.
The Hill is a historic part of town inhabited primarily by those of Italian heritage whose ancestors migrated there in the late 19th century. Many of the storefronts in the area offer old world-style Italian goods, bread, pastries and cuisine popular in the Southern parts of Italy.
Cunneto’s House of Pasta is undoubtedly one of the most popular restaurants in the area and no trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit.
On this trip, Cunneto’s came to us and catered Bill’s mother’s 90th birthday party. We feasted on salad, skewers of chicken spiedini, mostaccioli with thick tomato sauce and cavatelli with sautéed broccoli and garlic.
If you hail from the area, this next St. Louis stop will come as no surprise.
Founded in 1921, White Castle is considered to be America’s first fast food chain restaurant and has a cult-like following.
Their claim to fame is a small square hamburger, known as a slider. Originally sold for a mere nickel, today’s sliders (I was told they got their nickname because they were so greasy and small they would just slide right down) can still be had for under a dollar.
They come packaged individually in a little box, but a true devotee would never consider getting just one. Orders of six are not uncommon; they also come in a suitcase of twenty-four.
Crave-worthy is hardly how I would describe a slider, but then again, I don’t hail from the area.
If you are St. Louis bound definitely check out the Gateway Arch, the zoo and the science museum, but in my opinion, you can probably pass on the fast food. That little piece of history isn’t worth your time.
What’s your favorite part of a road trip? I hate sitting for long periods of time, so the destination is much better than the ride! —Karen