The foods of St. Louis


Like any metropolis, St. Louis has locally revered eateries and foodstuffs, as I was reminded during my recent visit. (My parents live near there, so I know the city reasonably well.)

Toasted ravioli, frozen custard and St. Louis-style pizza were among the items we had this time, and we ate at the popular Midwestern chains Steak ‘n Shake and White Castle.

But I did insist that we eat at one place that’s common in the Inland Valley: Panera. Did you know it’s based in St. Louis? There, most locations are called Saint Louis Bread Co. They must have decided the name wouldn’t work elsewhere. (“Is there something special about bread from St. Louis? I’ve got bread right here.”)

Anyway, the menu was the same, as far as I could tell, but I enjoyed handing over my Panera rewards card for the employee to swipe.

Somewhere in the organization, a computer is puzzling over my card’s sole points of use: Rancho Cucamonga, La Verne…and St. Louis.

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  • meg

    They opened a branch in Atlanta right before we moved to California (1995), calling it the Atlanta Bread Company. I reckon they experimented with changing the city name as they expanded, before giving up and going with Panera.

    [Eventually we’d have had a Rancho Cucamonga Bread Co. and a La Verne Bread Co. and a Chino Hills Bread Co. I think they made a wise choice. — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    Hi David,

    I went to the Mall in Tacoma, WA to eat at my first Panera Bread restaurant. I had a tomato basil, swiss cheese panini sandwich, on ciabatta bread, with their own potato chips. The bread almost weighed me down; the chips were delicious. The cost was $7 and change.

    The Bistro Cafe, at Nordstrom, turned out to be the best deal I found, at the Tacoma Mall. A sales clerk whispered to me that, since I am a senior like her, I could request the children’s menu. I followed up on her advice–I had a huge grilled cheese sandwich, french fries, fresh fruit, and coffee for $5.19, plus tip. I saw another senior couple eating a meal, with the same fruit as mine, so I was no oddity.

    The Bistro is a pretty fancy little place, compared to the cafe, in our own Nordstrom, in Montclair. I am going to check here, to see if they have a children’s menu.

    My next step is to get into a local Weight Watchers group.

  • I assume that you skipped the Hardee’s. 🙂

    [You assume correctly. Besides, I can never forgive them for taking over Burger Chef. — DA]

  • Atlanta Bread Co is a completely different outfit Meg — but given that they launched the same year Au Bon Pain rebranded St Louis Bread & went wide leads me to think they sought to avoid confusion. Great Harvest isn’t bad, either.