Monday, September 28, 2015

Steve's Hot Dog's

3457 Magnolia
St. Louis, Mo.
On the web

I've been hearing about this place for a few years. Angel's son Tyler (the guy who designed our logo) raves about it and tries to go there at least once on every trip into the St. Louis area.
Steve's has two locations, one on 'The Hill' and another, the one we decided to go to, alongside Tower Grove park. Either is a little further into the city than we like to go, since, with city traffic, it can eat up a lot of our limited together-time window.
But Angel was wanting to go to Whole Foods as well this weekend, so we doubled up. She'd gone with her son to Steve's once, but for me, it was a first.
Hot dogs are rarely, if ever, a destination meal for me. They're fast and easy to grill at home, so I'll occasionally do that, but frankly, (pun intended) I don't have them very often, I couldn't recall the last time I'd slapped a wiener on a bun.
The Place:
Tower Grove is a nice area. The park is very large and well taken care of. An old-school park, mostly
trees, sidewalks and several very well constructed pavilions. If you plan a trip to the city, you should put this area near the end of a day. Relax in the park and enjoy any of the fine eateries and shops surrounding it.
Steve's is in a small building it shares wit the Tic Toc Tavern. It has picnic tables under umbrellas in the front, for the nicer days. Inside, music played loudly. I was to learn that we were listening to 'The Urge', a band fronted by Steve Ewing, the owner and the 'Steve' in 'Steve's dogs'.
I don't listen to music much and don't keep up with styles or genres. I admit I don't know 'The Urge' from 'Toad the Wet Sprocket'. I hear they did alright for themselves though.
The giant chalkboard covering most of the left wall tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Hot dogs, mac and cheese, that's it.
We stared at the board for a while, then stepped up to place our order.
Me: Steve's Famous Chili-Cheese Dog. grilled onions please.
Angel: Same, with raw onions.
Adam: Gorilla Mac & Cheese Dog.
We went combo, which adds a drink and a bag of chips.
For drinks, there's a glass-front cooler, get your own. I assumed water, but changed my mind in a sudden burst of nostalgia. Fitz's Premium Grape Pop. Fitz's is a local brand. In 1993 they bought an old bank building on the Delmar Loop and brought in a 1940's bottling line they found in Wisconsin. I've been to Fitz's. You can watch the bottling line from your table. Their flagship is their root beer, which is pretty darn good. So this pop wasn't available in my youth, but it did remind me of the venerable old Nehi brand. I had a lot of Nehi Grape when I was a kid. I do not recall having one since.
Adam grabbed the root beer, Angel, a Diet Dr Pepper. I also plucked some Lay's Potato Chips off the rack, Angel, Doritos and I think Adam went for the Lay's as well.
We found an empty plastic picnic table and stumbled into our seats. It's been a long time since I sat at a picnic table, I kept forgetting that you have to step over the seat.  We twisted our tops and boy was I pleased. The candy sweet grape flavor, the tickling burn of the carbonation. . man that was good. I hadn't had a soda pop of any kind in a year or more. . . a diet thing, but this hit the sweet and burn spot perfectly.
We sat waiting for a few minutes, people came and went, lots of pickups and take-outs. I looked around and noticed a lot of Star Wars themed toys on the shelves. . . I don't know why, but it did seem to be an underlying decor theme.
The Food:
They brought out our diner-style baskets. The dogs at Steve's are 1/4 pound Nathan's Franks.
Nathan's opened its first store in 1916 on Coney Island. So Nathan's Hot dogs are the real deal, unlike in nearly every way to the cheap, flaccid ten-pack dogs you get at the supermarket. Nathan's have that distinctive 'snap' when you bite into them, natural casings. I had trouble seeing my weenie though. It was completely covered in chili and cheese. the bun was not a standard grocery store bun either, it seemed more dense. That would keep it from disintegrating  under the wetness of the chili, but to think you could pick this up and eat it would be foolishness. You'd end up wearing most of it. Plastic knives and forks were thankfully provided. I pinched off a piece of the bun, indeed it was denser, and stretchier that a standard bun. It was also, in front of me, completely pointless. A bun, to me is a delivery vessel. I couldn't pick this thing up, so there was no need for the stretchy, dense and admittedly tasty roll. I used my knife and fork to locate the frank. I cut slices, then halved
those. A 1/4 pound wiener is pretty thick. But lordy, it was good. The chili, with beans, was quite good as well, for what it was. I prefer a more tomato-y chili, which is never really suitable for topping a hot dog, since it tends to be more moist and thin than this more traditional chili style. I like that it had beans though.
Adam's Gorilla had no chili, but it was just as smothered with creamy mac and cheese and bacon. The mac and cheese had intrigued me, though putting it on a dog seemed too much. I have trouble putting pasta on bread. . . it just seems redundant. Instead we ordered a half pint side of it, no toppings, just for Angel and I to try. Oh yeah, they got it right. A perfect blend of creaminess and cheesiness. Comfort food nirvana. We ended up finishing off that
half-pint. All of Adam's tray was gone pretty quick, Angel had made the same tactical decision I did to pretty much ignore the bun and just have the dog, chili and macaroni.
Really good hot dogs and mac and cheese. Angel mentioned she really wanted the Brat and kraut, but they had sold out, according to the note on the chalk board.
As I mentioned at the start, hot dogs are not really a destination meal for me. I rarely crave one. But as far as dogs go, these were very good. I might not get the chili next time, maybe just the 'Madeline' which is listed as 'For the purest of the pure. . . . plain, with or without bun'. I'd certainly add a side of that awesome mac and cheese though. Some of the mac and cheese bowls looked pretty good as well. Adam said he'd like to try the Hawaii 5-0 dog. . .
I really liked the place, despite the long drive. Both Adam and Angel agreed, these were some good dogs. . . and Angel knows a thing or two about dogs. . .
The price was very friendly three meals and a side for twenty seven and change. I can't think of any reason to not highly recommend this joint. By far my favorite dog shop in town.

Steve's Hot Dogs Tower Grove Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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