Having coffee with friends Sunday morning, the conversation turned to long-ago St. Joseph restaurants and other eateries. In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, St. Joseph was sort of defined by its eating places. Spots like Dante’s, the D&G, Oakford Tea Room and Miller’s Grill were homegrown places that each offered their own taste of St. Joseph.
A few days ago, I was reading a KCUR online thread about long-gone iconic Kansas City restaurants like Harry Starkers, the Golden Ox and the Savoy. The Golden Ox and the Savoy apparently have made a comeback and are open once again to serve a new generation.
St. Joseph has had its own share of reincarnations in the new D&G and Hoof & Horn restaurants. Each tries to recreate the original menu, but it’s hard to recreate an atmosphere.
The new D&G, while still offering classic D&G sandwiches like the Simon, no longer has all the memorabilia on the walls and the same down-home feel. It caters to a younger crowd with a music venue on one side and serves craft beers, something the old D&G never did. But it’s still good food in a place making its own memories.
A few years ago, a couple from out of town stopped and asked me to recommend a good place to eat here in St. Joseph. I directed them to a Chili’s or an Applebee’s, and they told me they didn’t want a chain but some place homegrown.
I could have punched myself in the face. While Chili’s and Applebee’s are good places, when I go to another town, I also want to eat from homegrown restaurants also to get a taste of the area.
The South Side of St. Joseph has the most homegrown places, I believe. There’s Marek’s, Pizza Royale, Simple Simon’s, Fords, Pops and Hoof & Horn.
Marek’s Torpedo sandwich compares to no other. You must get the dressing that goes with it. Hoof & Horn is still best place to get a steak or prime rib.
When talking of old eateries, my coffee mates all agreed that Miller’s Grill had the best tenderloins ever. There are some good tenderloins here in town, and I mean real tenderloins, not fritters being palmed off as tenderloins, but none compares to Miller’s Grill. Maybe nostalgia makes it taste better, but the tenderloin at Millers had the right amount of seasoning
Dante’s was another long-ago spot that had good food. I still can’t imagine how it fit in that small corner of Frederick Avenue near the D&G, but it did and was a popular place that also delivered.
There were the Night Hawk and Wade’s Indian Grill eateries too, both with their own distinct menus.
I remember Henry’s, another former local fast-food place, had the best french fries.
I’ve always bemoaned the fact that as close as St. Joseph is to Kansas City, we don’t have any good K.C.-style barbecue places.
In the ’70s, we had Masseys up north and Four Aces in the south, two excellent homegrown rib joints.
We can’t afford to lose any more homegrown places. It is what makes up part of our personality and what visitors want to experience when they come here — how does our city taste? Some residents don’t know that, either.