Best Place to Eat and Get Gas - 2003
Who'da thunk you could get award-winning blackened red snapper while filling up your SUV? If you said to yourself, "Only in Chesterfield," you'd be right. But this ain't the swanky part of Chesterfield, with all the strip malls and fancy cars; this is the old, rural, pickup-drivin' section of town. Between 5 and 10:30 a.m., folks show up at Gator Flats for a breakfast of biscuits and gravy and stuff like "gator grill" -- a steak, egg, sautéed onions and cheese on a croissant. Or you can grab a "gator goulash" while filling up -- two biscuits, egg, hash browns and either bacon or sausage, all smothered in gravy. Paul Allen Marsh opened Gator Flats in 2000, but it's Ada Love who runs the kitchen. By lunchtime, hard-workin' guys in sweaty T-shirts are coming in for one of Ada's daily stick-to-your-ribs lunch specials -- pork fritters, beef and noodles, fried hoki fish or a meat-loaf plate. Regular menu items include a big fried chicken basket, barbecued burgers and homemade soups and chili. Friday is the day to show up for Ada's blackened red snapper. It's cooked to order -- succulent and hot -- topped with "Gator Sauce" (a mildly spicy remoulade) and comes with two sides, such as au gratin potatoes and homemade coleslaw. It's so good that it placed second in the 2003 Cajun Cook-Off during St. Louis' Mardi Gras celebration. You can eat your meal there, but there are only a few tall tables without stools and one corner booth. Most get the stuff to go, presumably balancing it on their laps as they motor away.