When traveling, Darrell and I enjoy exploring non-franchise dining options. Do we enjoy some restaurant chains? Sure. But, a rule I’ve followed since I was quite young is: on vacation, never eat at restaurants that are available at home. We enjoy supporting small businesses, and also partaking in the less generic menus that “mom and pop” establishments tend to offer. Our favorite restaurants here at home are Bluegrass Kitchen and Lola’s. Both of those restaurants are eclectic, intimate venues with absolutely delicious fare; I’ll rave about them more specifically in another post.
In spite of our love for creative menus and mom ‘n pop dives, we also enjoy typical bar food. In St. Louis last spring, we visited one of Darrell’s favorites: Bar Louie. While their dishes aren’t anything spectacularly cutting-edge, they do “bar food” well, and offer many chains across America. We indulged in buffalo calamari, soft pretzel sticks with an assortment of dipping sauces, and loaded tater tots. Darrell frequented Bar Louie when working out of St. Louis, but last May was my first opportunity to dine at one. I wasn’t disappointed!
The buffalo calamari are lightly breaded with a zippy, vinegary sauce, topped with bleu cheese crumbles. Of course tater tots are a side dish favorited by many American children, but Bar Louie takes them to the next level with spicy jalepenos, bits of salty bacon, and smothered with queso; the glorious, heaping plate is then garnished with scallions and fresh carrot. The last, and final of our appetizer tasting, were the soft pretzel sticks. These are warm and chewy, with a perfect “bite” from the coarse salt. Options for dipping include a creamy, sweet cinnamon butter, a honey mustard with a hint of horseradish, and mild queso. Delicious!
Bar Louie has several locations in the United States. While you won’t find anything necessarily innovative, we do consider this a “rave” somewhere in our book.