In 1910, fourth-generation German immigrant Alvin O. Eckert set up a small produce stand on a roadside in Belleville, Illinois. More than 100 years later, that roadside stand has flourished into the expansive Belleville plot of Eckert's Farm: a pastoral acreage where orchards surround a country-style restaurant, bakery, and handmade-custard shop. The Eckert family's sixth and seventh generations ensure this farm remains a true family affair. Sixth-generation member Jim Eckert is the chief horticulturist, and his cousin-once-removed, Chris, oversees retail operations and the sale of the farm's homegrown produce and spare scarecrow parts. Chris's sister Jill helms the food program, and his wife Angie oversees the Country Store and colorful Garden Center.
Throughout the year, visitors arrive on the Belleville farm's grounds for a range of seasonal activities, including peach-, apple-, and pumpkin-picking. During the summer, a concert series features live outdoor music on Friday and Saturday nights, and in the fall, staff lead bonfires and evening hayrides through the orchards. Inside the farm building, instructors teach cooking classes for adults and children, as well as a wine-pairing class.
Family-friendly activities also abound at the Eckert family's other two farms. The Grafton farm, where public apple-picking began in 1964, offers daily animal feeding and miniature golf. The seasonal Millstadt farm is home to a workshop, haunted hayrides, and an array of warm-weather children's attractions—including a 70-foot underground slide.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger?the Whopper sandwich?consists of flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and Hershey pie keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
Inside the St. Louis Downtown Airport, travelers excitedly bustle about on their way to distant destinations or emerge from vacations rested and ready to return home. The constant stream of action is all part of the experience for diners at Crusoe’s on the Runway, which combines the spectacle of air travel with hearty American meals. Whether they’re traveling or just stopping by for a bite, diners fill their bellies as they overlook two of the three runways from the airport’s east ramp. St. Louis–style pizza, steaks, and pastas satiate hunger pangs, along with comfort food such as Mom’s meatloaf and country-fried steak. As they watch Airbus A320 jetliners and lightweight Boeing 757 aircrafts launch into the sky and gently touch down on the runway from their tables, guests can hold up score cards to judge the pilots’ form.
In 1999, Jimbo Sinovic opened the first Big Daddy's in the historic Soulard district, less than a half-mile from the iconic Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The eatery's drink specials and tasty pub staples?served for lunch, dinner, and late-night owl watching?established the bar as a neighborhood favorite and inspired its owner to declare it "The Best Bar in the Whole Wide World."
Amid the buzz of weekly card games and chess matches and the wafting fragrance of freshly ground coffee, this Belleville eatery serves up a menu of homemade platefuls and pastries for satisfied diners. Sandwich-seekers can sink their teeth into The Abbey's cold sammie-speciality, The Abbey club, in which bread brings together ham, salami, turkey, cheddar and swiss with savory diplomacy ($6.95). In the fresh air of The Abbey's outdoor covered patio, veggie hunters may spear the café's signature salad sporting mandarin oranges and feta cheese ($6.95) or opt to snack on a selection from the smorgasbord of hot sandwiches ($6.95) or soup du jour ($3.75). The Abbey promotes local artistry through rotating art exhibits, which customers can contemplate while they sip coffee and sample sweets. Local musicians strum strings on Saturday mornings, providing a more pleasant soundtrack than a bluebird sweetly singing you compliments.
Patrons pass platters full of pizza, pasta, and other provisions at this intimate Italian-American eatery, where salads and spaghettis are served fresh and sharing is encouraged. Start off supper by sipping on Marco's freshly made soups ($2.95 for a cup, $3.50 for a bowl) or munching on its original seed salad, tossed with sesame and poppy seeds, crunchy chow-mein noodles, and sprinkled with house-made dressing ($6.95 for regular).