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.
Calling all peanut sauce lovers! Take a look at Sala Thai's Thai-style menu, and sample the highly-rated dishes everyone's buzzing about.
Going gluten-free? Dig a low-fat diet? Sala Thai has you covered on both fronts.
A night out deserves a drink to celebrate, and this restaurant has the perfect selection of beer and wine to go with your meal.
This restaurant welcomes kids, too, so you can feel good about bringing the whole family.
Score quick and easy seating for groups of any size at Sala Thai.
Not a popular place for dress-up dining, most Sala Thai patrons come in casual attire.
Take the comfort of your own home and add great grub from Sala Thai to create the perfect night.
For those in a hurry, the restaurant lets you take your meal or snack to go.
Parking is provided in a nearby lot, so diners can easily walk to and from their cars.
Public transportation is a prime transportation option, with stops at Lebanon Ave. @ 1234 Lebanon Ave. (15), Lebanon Ave. @ Wade Sq (15), and Lebanon Ave. @ Forest Hill Dr. (15).
Sala Thai offers parking for all diners, including those who travel by bike.
Take a break from the kitchen without breaking the bank! Sala Thai will fill you up with top-notch fare that s modestly priced.
When you're ready to take your Thai fare up a notch, the all-star menu at Sala Thai is waiting.
So swing by Sala Thai for some quick Thai flavor and find out what all the hype is about.
Thai food makes for a delicious weekend meal, and you won't find much better than Sala Thai.
Order all of your favorite Thai dishes at Sala Thai and eat your way through the trends of Thailand.
Featuring fresh and flavorful American food, Seven Restaurant and Lounge is a local favorite.
Searching for gluten-free goodness? Come to Seven Restaurant and Lounge and taste it for yourself.
This restaurant also operates a bar, so a round of drinks with dinner is not out of the question.
The happy hour at Seven Restaurant and Lounge is sure to impress.
For comfortable outdoor service, Seven Restaurant and Lounge sets up a seasonal patio.
Those that prefer some music with their meal will find live tunes at Seven Restaurant and Lounge.
The weeknight rush is in full force at Seven Restaurant and Lounge, so anticipate a wait if you go after work.
Some say walking is the greatest thing in life. This restaurant knows it's carryout.
Diners will appreciate the quick and easy parking options located near this dining establishment.
Ride in the passenger seat and take public transit; convenient stops are located at E Washington St. @ S High St. (1), E Washington St. @ S Illinois St. (1), and E A St. @ N High St. (1, 16).
Seven Restaurant and Lounge's diners can store their bikes safely at the rack around the corner.
If you go out for a nice meal, it doesn't need to cost $100, come treat yourself at Seven Restaurant and Lounge.
For lunch or dinner, make plans to try Seven Restaurant and Lounge.
Seven Restaurant and Lounge serves up a variety of American eats in a casual setting. Swing by today and munch on some of your favorite dishes.
Fletchers Kitchen and Tap is a relaxed restaurant with an elegant decor and classic American dishes.
Beer, wine, and more are also available from this restaurant's extensive drink list.
Little ones are free to make a mess at this restaurant, where the whole family is invited to dine.
Sometimes it's annoying to plan events for big groups, and sometimes it's easy with great restaurants like Fletchers Kitchen and Tap helping you out.
Need to catch up on some work or the latest news? Get online at Fletchers Kitchen and Tap with their complimentary wifi.
Make the most of the warm summer months by dining outdoors in Fletchers Kitchen and Tap's beautiful outdoor seating area.
Through their catering service, Fletchers Kitchen and Tap can also set out a delicious spread for your next party.
Always five minutes behind schedule? Pick up your food to go instead.
For convenience, diners can park in a neighboring lot.
Store your bike at one of the many racks outside of Fletchers Kitchen and Tap.
Fletchers Kitchen and Tap offers a nice selection of mid-range cuisine, so you can expect a meal there to cost about $30 or less per person.
Conveniently charge by major credit card when cash isn't an option.
When you're feeling hungry, head on over to Fletchers Kitchen and Tap and indulge in a tasty and innovative American dish.
When you're in need of a casual night out, head to Fletchers Kitchen and Tap and enjoy some great American classics.
Dress up your ice cream with a side of fudge or a handful of sprinkles — The Wine Tap is an ice cream shop everyone can enjoy.
Enjoy a drink with your dinner — this ice cream shop has a full bar to serve up a glass of wine, beer, or more.
Unwind on a budget, and enjoy happy hour's low-cost beers and simple eats.
Warm weather brings out The Wine Tap's highly coveted patio seating.
Complimentary wifi is available as well.
Tap your foot to The Wine Tap's tunes — live performances are often showcased here.
Dog-owners can bring their pups with them to this canine-friendly establishment.
You may be better off finding a table during the week, as weekends at the ice cream shop tend to be packed.
Parking is easy at The Wine Tap, especially those looking to park on the street or in a lot close by.
Public transit is conveniently located next to The Wine Tap, with nearby stops at E A St. @ N Church St. (1, 16), E A St. @ N Jackson St. (1, 16), and N Charles St@ E Main St. (1).
Make use of the safe and efficient bike parking at The Wine Tap.
Fancy-schmancy price tags don t always bring the best results, and The Wine Tap s super yummy, mid-range menu is taste-test approved.
Catering to diners throughout the day (and night), The Wine Tap serves AM, PM, and midday meals.
Everyone will scream for the ice cream at The Wine Tap. Head there tonight for quite the treat!
What is American food? Cuisine that is delicious and perfect for any occasion. Come grab some at Gary's Restaurant.
Eat healthy and feel better with Gary's Restaurant's low-fat and gluten-free plates.
Wifi access is totally free at Gary's Restaurant, perfect for catching up on the news, hopping on social media, or even working.
The restaurant's noise level can be somewhat straining on the vocal cords, so intimate get-togethers may be best enjoyed elsewhere.
Good luck spotting a suit and tie at Gary's Restaurant — casually-dressed diners are the norm here.
Gary's Restaurant is known for serving great food, and they are able to serve it at your next event with their excellent catering.
Leaving the couch is half the battle. Your foods awaits your pickup at this restaurant.
Parking is provided in a nearby lot, so diners can easily walk to and from their cars.
Commute by bike to Gary's Restaurant and find easy bike parking.
Gary's Restaurant is creating dishes any foodie will love at around $30.
For a quick and easy payment solution at Gary's Restaurant, pay by major credit card.
Head on over to Gary's Restaurant first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening — Gary's Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For lunch or dinner, make plans to try Gary's Restaurant.
If you’re anything like me, you probably plan your vacations by giving as much consideration to the things you’re planning to eat as the things you’re planning to see. A mere five-hour Amtrak ride from downtown Chicago, St. Louis certainly has enough to recommend it as a foodie destination—after all, the Missouri state food is the ice-cream cone. But one cannot live on gooey butter cake alone (I’ve tried), and a weekend spent scaling giant arches and navigating caves in City Museum demands substantial sustenance.Below, I’ve highlighted six restaurants in Saint Louis that wowed me on a trip to the Gateway City—make it your manifest destiny to try them all.Sweetie Pie's (4270 Manchester St.)This soul-food eatery is famous for its ultra-creamy macaroni and cheese, which is made with four kinds of cheese—including copious amounts of Velveeta. But the thing that really sets this mac over the top is its crispy golden-brown crust. The staff here know that, so they make sure every helping includes some of that burnt cheesy goodness as they pile it onto plates alongside crispy fried catfish, corn bread, and other sides like candied yams or collard greens.Juniper (360 N. Boyle Ave.)Regardless of what you order here, you’ll want to start with the breadbasket. No, it’s not free, but then this isn’t your average cradle of dinner rolls either. For $9, you’ll get a wooden board loaded with buttermilk biscuits, angel biscuits (which are light, airy, and made with lard), green onion–studded hush puppies, a giant wedge of corn bread, and a mammoth fluffy popover. Sides of housemade jam and butter complete the comfort-food spread. You can also save room for dessert by getting a half order—trust me, the bacon-bourbon ice cream’s worth it.The Mud House (2101 Cherokee St.) The Mud House has everything you could want in a neighborhood coffee shop: exposed-brick walls with lots of nooks for reading, creative drinks, and close proximity to shopping—it’s located on St. Louis’s famous Cherokee Antique Row. But its kitchen kicks things up a notch by serving hearty breakfast and lunch fare, like thick-cut brioche french toast topped with apple-cider syrup (pictured above). As for coffee, the shop offers some unique flavored options, including a lavender mocha and a rosemary latte. I don’t typically enjoy sugary coffee drinks, but the rosemary latte had only a hint of sweetness, and the herbal notes contrasted nicely with the rich bitter coffee.Bogart's Smokehouse (1627 S. 9th St.)You can smell Bogart’s before you see it. Walking down 9th Street, you can almost picture the smoky, meaty scent moving toward you, waving cartoon-like fingers under your nose, and beckoning you inside. Brisket, burnt ends, and pastrami are all popular, but the star attraction is, of course, the ribs. These are cooked until they bear a perfect pink smoke ring, then finished with an apricot glaze and “brûléed” to create a slightly caramelized crust. If you like your ribs on the saucy side, you can do that yourself by picking one (or several) of the bottled sauces on each table.Planter's House (1000 Mississippi Ave.)I could go on for hours about the perfectly cooked lamb loin I had here—in fact, I think I did in a post-dinner phone call to my mom. I might have also waxed poetic about the smoked fingerling potatoes or about the donuts, which were filled with pineapple jam and molasses cream and were the best I’ve ever eaten in my life. But at its heart, Planter’s House is about craft cocktails, and they don’t disappoint. On my visit, I tried the Manhattanite, a modern take on the classic manhattan made with Rittenhouse rye, house sweet vermouth, and chocolate bitters. The chocolate comes through front and center, giving the drink incredible richness. Any lingering bitterness was balanced by a slight caramel-y finish that came courtesy of an orange peel that was torched tableside, then extinguished in the drink.Rooster (1104 Locust St.)This downtown breakfast spot specializes in crepes of both the sweet and savory variety. There are plenty of options to tempt you in either direction: crepes stuffed with cheddar and Missouri-made german sausage, for example, or with caramelized bananas and blueberry mascarpone. But if you’re torn between both sides of the menu, the raspberry, basil, and ricotta crepes are a good bet. The crepes themselves aren’t particularly sweet, and the bright herbal notes from the basil are a nice balance to the tart raspberries. They’ll also fill you up without weighing you down, which might be exactly what you need after several days of barbecue.Photo credit: Shannon Grilli, Groupon