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.
A huge yellow sign in the shape of a two-man log saw hangs above the unpainted clapboard façade of Sawmill BBQ, emblazoned in bold block letters with the straight-forward phrase "BBQ RESTAURANT". Inside, the restaurant hums with the activity of diners chowing down on bratwursts and cheeseburgers as the scent of dry-rubbed spare ribs and tender beef brisket fills the air. Traditional dishes of coleslaw and baked beans sidle up to morsels of turkey beast and pork loin, while homemade hot, sweet, and mustard-based sauces slather pork, beef, and the faces of ravenous diners. The surroundings promote a feel-good vibe of backcountry hospitality, with its big, grassy lawn, huge, screened-in porch, and rustic handcarts, pumps, and farm implements.
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.
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The Maplewood and 9th Street menu may differ slightly from other locations’ lineups, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.99/$8.49) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($4.29/$7.89). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.29/$7.89) or the Pesto Bello ($5.49/$8.99), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R & B crooner.
King Edward's menu serves up a symphony of battered and fried eats by the basket, by the box, and by the feasting-family pack. Taste-test a three chicken-strip dinner with a small side ($5.09), or bring home a small-scale buffet with a 16-piece mixed family pack served up with three large sides and eight rolls ($22.29). If you swing through on a Saturday, you can also grab the once-a-week special of a shrimp-rich po' boy ($4.19). Or stop by any day to hook other seafaring fare, such as catfish nuggets and a small side ($6.39) or six frog legs with a small side ($8.19). With coleslaw, baked beans, and other small sides priced at $1.79 each, customers can top off their fuel tanks for less without replacing their stomachs with a more energy-efficient electric-hybrid model.