8 Famous Missouri Foods & Drinks to Try Out
When you think of Missouri, you might picture rolling farmlands, the scenic Ozarks, or the iconic Gateway Arch. What you might not know is Missouri is home to a variety of delicious and unique cuisine.
Ranging from smokey barbeque to ooey gooey butter cakes, Missouri’s food is a mouthwatering blend with German, Italian, and French roots. Various cuisines have combined with rustic home cooking to create a style that is Missouri’s very own. Some of the highlights include toasted ravioli, St. Louis style pizza, gooey butter cake, barbeque, frozen custard, Fitz root beers, and finally the perfect Missouri beer.
Perhaps the most famous cuisine of Missouri is barbeque. However, the state has two distinct types of barbeques stemming from the two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis.
While both styles of barbeque are distinct from their Southern relatives due to the preference of a dry rub along with a tomato-based sauce, you can still taste the difference between them.
1. St. Louis BBQ
St. Louis style barbeque sauce is a bit thinner with a vinegar base, making it known for a sweet-and-sour finish. It also has a distinct rib cut, a rectangular cut where the rib top, cartilage, and sternum are removed. This results in a meatier cut, and it is believed to have come from the meat-packing district of the mid-20th century.
If you’re looking for true St. Louis style barbeque, you have to check out Sugarfire Smokehouse and be sure to order the Big Muddy. The sandwich is packed with layers of smoked brisket and jalapeno cheddar sausage topped with a variety of house sauces. It delivers the perfect sweet and smoky punch.
2. Kansas City BBQ
On the flip side, Kansas City barbeque sauce is what you think of when you think of a classic barbeque sauce. It’s a rich sauce with a tomato base complete with molasses or brown sugar, resulting in a sweeter finish.
Kansas City barbeque sauce has a higher sugar content than its St. Louis counterpart, meaning it can burn more easily. This makes the perfect edge a bit tricky, but it also lends itself to the famous burnt ends. While St. Louis style barbeque tends to stick to pork, Kansas City barbeque branches out into all cuts of meat.
Let’s dive into the best places to taste the difference. Operated inside a former gas station is Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Named one of Antony Bourdain’s “13 places to eat before you die”, the institution has stood the test of time with their thick slab beef ribs, burnt ends, and seasoned fries. Careful though – during peak hours, the line can wind for hours on end.
If you’re looking for something with less of a line, be sure to visit Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ. The slightly more upscale barbeque restaurant has taken the basics to a new level. From baby back ribs to smoked sausage, they’ve perfected the craft of the grill.
3. Cheesy Corn
Check out one of their six locations and order the crowd favorite side: cheesy corn. The creamy corn offers the perfectly cut to a rich cut of meat.
4. St. Louis Style Pizza
You’ve heard of Chicago and New York style pizza, but have you heard of St. Louis style pizza? That’s right.
The arch city has its very own style of pizza, and it’s unique in several ways. The crust is made without yeast, resulting in a crunchy, paper-thin crust, resembling more of a cracker than a thick dough.
Additionally, the pizza is topped with Provel cheese and is cut into small squares rather than slices. The resulting pie is perfectly sharable and deliciously cheesy ‘til the last bite.
If you’re interested in trying the St. Louis slice, you must visit Imo’s Pizza. It houses the original St. Louis-style pizza, and there are locations all over the state.
To continue the theme of new Italian classics, we have toasted ravioli. Toasted ravioli, or T-rav’s, are exactly what they sound like – cheesy, stuffed ravioli breaded and perfectly fried.
The result is an impeccable bite of marinara, cheese and parmesan. The fillings can vary from cheese to minced meat, but no matter the fillings, the result is always warm and delicious.
I’m not going to say which I believe, but you best try both and see which you believe has the superior toasted ravioli bites.
6. Gooey Butter Cake
If you’re craving something sweet after all those delicious entrées, not to worry! Missouri has many sweets to offer. Perhaps most famous is the gooey butter cake. The cake is believed to originate in the German bakeries in St. Louis in the 1940s after a baker switched the proportions for butter and flour.
The result is this sweet, dense cake about 1 inch thick with a dough base and a buttery, jiggly layer dusted with confectioners’ sugar. It is a rich, delectable bite, and it is perfectly suited with an afternoon coffee or tea to cut the sweetness.
If you’re in the mood to try the custard-like creation, you best head to Federhofer’s Bakery. This decades old St. Louis bakery stays true to the original recipe, slinging out more than 60 pans a week. Some bakeries have decided to modernize the recipe by adding cream cheese or other flavors.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous with your butter cake, you have to head to Park Avenue Coffee. This coffee shop offers more than 70 varieties of the gooey butter cake ranging from the classics to seasonal varieties.
7. Frozen Custard
If gooey butter cake is sounding a bit heavy for your palette, you might be more interested in Missouri’s famous frozen custard.
Frozen custard is twice as creamy and twice as delicious than frozen yogurt or ice cream. Made with the same base as ice cream, frozen custard enjoys the addition of egg yolk, making it even creamier and smoother, and a bit healthier.
You’d be remiss to pass by the classic Missouri frozen custard at Ted Drewes. This family business has been selling custard for over 80 years, so they’ve perfected the art. In addition to a perfect frozen custard sundae, you have to order the “concrete”, which is a malt or shake so thick that it could be served upside down.
8. Fitz’s Root Beer
Finally, you need something to wash down all your delicious Missouri food. Luckily, there are plenty of options! Coming from a St. Louis soda microbrewery is Fitz’s Root Beer.
They still use the original recipe from 1947, a delectable blend of roots, herbs, and spices that deliver the perfect amount of root beer punch. You can find Fitz’s sodas in most grocers in Missouri, or if you’re in St. Louis, you can visit their flagship store.
They bottle each of their 19 flavors in house on their vintage bottling line on the Delmar Loop, so you can sip while you take in the history of the soda company. Even add a few scoops of ice cream to try the epic root beer!
If you’re in the mood for a different kind of brewery, Missouri’s got you. Missouri is home to over 150 breweries. The most famous? Why, a classic Budweiser.
Missouri is home to Anheuser Busch Brewing, the unofficial beer of the US. If you find yourself in St. Louis, you must go check out the brewery. They do tours of the facility complete with a peek at the legendary Clydesdales! A Bud Light has never tasted so good.
If you’re looking for something a bit more craft, you’re in luck. In addition to the Anheuser Busch Brewery, Missouri is also home to numerous small craft breweries.
In Kansas City sits Kansas City Bier Company, a taproom with authentic German brews. It features not only a taproom but a lively biergarten for the whole family, complete with complementary sausages and pretzels!
There you have it! Missourians have taken classics such as Southern barbeque, simple pound cake, and ravioli and put their own spin on them, resulting in a better combination than you could ever imagine!
The food just speaks to the creativity and commitment of the residents themselves. From St. Louis pizza to Kansas City barbeque, I hope you’re hungry because you can eat your way across Missouri.