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 fa?ade 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.
The sausage recipe didn?t start with Helmut and Henry Wanninger, but they were the ones to bring it across the Atlantic in 1965. Sons of a sausage meister, Helmut and Henry left their home in Bavaria and set up shop in St. Louis, where they began spicing, grinding, and casing sausages to the delight of the city?s southern neighborhoods, home to many German immigrants. The popularity of their encased meats continues today, though cousins Bob and Gerhard are now the master meatsmiths. These Wanninger descendants prepare more than 30 different Bavarian-style sausages, including multiple types of bratwurst, specialty sausages such as bockwurst and smoked liverwurst, and Landjager beef sticks. These specialties grace venues all over St. Louis, from Grant?s Farm to Gus? Pretzels to the Egypt-themed alternate reality that exists on the other side of the Arch.
Bob and Gerhard also apply their expertise to other styles of encased meats, such as andouille and chorizo, and they happily process deer for hunters. In addition to manning the meat counter, the duo stocks the shelves with German goods such as Lowensenf mustards and breads from local bakeries.
The owners of Harry's Restaurant & Bar are just as passionate about music as they are about food. The restaurant hosts live music performances every Friday and Saturday night, as well as a summer Thursday-night concert series, and staff provide shuttle service to concerts and sporting events around town. In the kitchen, chefs fuel their guests for music appreciation with a range of casual American dishes. Using bread from Fazio's Bakery, they assemble steak burgers, creole-style grouper sandwiches, and their signature beef tenderloin sandwich. They also create regionally inspired entrees ranging from veal-mushroom ravioli to grilled salmon and Cajun-style chicken pasta.
Whether accompanied by a large private group, a few dinner companions, or just a few past and future versions of themselves, visitors to Harry's Restaurant can partake of food and drink in four areas. For special events, Harry's accommodates audio-visual needs in the Atrium, a private dining room with a historic fireplace. Meanwhile, the main bar features several wide-screen TVs, and a multi-level outdoor patio houses its own stage for live performance. The restaurant's onsite nightclub, Horizon, offers views of the St. Louis skyline.
The doughsmiths at Cecil Whittaker’s Pizzeria craft thin-crust pizzas bubbling with an untouched surface of cheese or loaded with toppings such as jalapeño peppers, bacon, and shrimp. It’s their specialty and what they’re known for—“This is the place to go if you like St. Louis-style, thin-crust pizza (though they do offer a thick crust pizza, too) or just want to kick back and have a beer,” raves Metromix.
But the menu isn’t limited to pizzas. Each day, the kitchen roasts and slices tender beef for roast beef sandwiches dipped in savory au jus. The au jus is prepared in house, as is the meat sauce that graces Cecil Whittaker's pasta, chicken parmesan, and meatball sandwiches. There’s also a hearty selection of smokehouse dishes such as ribs, pulled pork, and brisket served with homestyle sides of green beans and coleslaw. A weekday lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. gives diners a chance to sample different entrees and sides–along with a salad and pizza bar–and creative additions the chefs cook up like sloppy joe's one day or bacon cheeseburgers the next.
At Black Bear Bakery, every batch of Lickhalter sourdough-rye bread, sweet pastries, and crunchy granola is made with the care of a shop owner. That’s because each staff member serves as a partial owner of the communal shop. This makes each staff member feel a personal responsibility for creating a shop they’d like their family to come to, encouraging them to use eco-friendly processes and locally sourced, organic ingredients. Along with whole-grain recipes filled with specialty ingredients such as kalamata olives and rosemary, bakers use century-old recipes passed down from the owners of Lickhalter Bakery. These recipes create hearty sourdough-rye loaves sprinkled with caraway seeds or twisted together with pumpernickel dough.
While breads are their specialty, bakers fill their ovens with more than just bread loaves. They craft handmade, boiled bagels that come sans holes, as well as cookies, baked granola, pizza crusts, and a variety of buns. On the weekends, they welcome the community for a vegetarian and vegan brunch, which features staples such as pancakes, quiche, potatoes, and bread pudding made from their loaves. These dishes can be washed down with pours of fair trade coffee, juice, tea, or pastry filling.