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.
Fresh, from-scratch Mexican food—that's the focus of Rafael Marcelino at Chaparritos. His menu includes all the classics—tacos, tortas, fajitas, and enchiladas—plus a vast selection of shrimp, which serves as an ode to his family and their history of selling seafood in his hometown. But that's not the only cool fact behind Chaparittos; here are a few more things to know:
The name: It's Spanish for "shorty," which is Rafael's nickname
The most popular dish: steak ranchero, a colorful medley of marinated steak, chorizo, and bacon served with sautéed vegetables. And speaking of marinated steak...
In the press: "One of my secrets is marinades," Rafael told the Riverfront Times. "Everything...has its own taste, but when you put it together, it's going to be glory in your mouth."
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 complement 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.
Load up on toppings or opt for a simple slice of cheese at Little Caesars Pizza, Cahokia's classic pizza venue.
Gluten-free and low-fat is the name of the game at Little Caesars Pizza, where eating healthy, flavorful dishes is of utmost importance.
Everyone will feel comfortable dining at Little Caesars Pizza, where business casual attire is standard.
Feed the gang at your next get-together with catering from Little Caesars Pizza as well.
We're happy to report we have parking available onsite. We'll meet you here.
So stop fantasizing about ordering pizza and call the team at Little Caesars Pizza to make that amazing pie a reality.
Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits tops the list for tastiest chicken in town.
Between the music and the crowds, be prepared for a lot of noise at this restaurant.
At Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, business casual is the norm, so save your suit and tie for another day.
You can call it in, then carry it out.
Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits will even bring the amazing food from their kitchen to yours.
Fed up with difficult parking? At Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, you will find easy nearby parking and good eats.
There's no time like now to get that fantastic A+ chicken from Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits' team in Cahokia.
For that all-American meal, head to burger house Classic K Hamburgers.
No need to gussy up for a trip to Classic K Hamburgers, where patrons dress for comfort and fun.
Some say walking is the greatest thing in life. This burger joint knows it's carryout.
Don't spend time searching for parking — guests are welcome to use the adjoining lot.
You're going to love the delicious variety of burgers at Classic K Hamburgers. Try one today!
For a creative and innovative burger filled with endless flavors, look no further than the highly-rated Classic K Hamburgers.
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