Unlike Jim Fiala's Terrace View, which previously occupied the restaurant space in Citygarden, Joe's Chili Bowl (808 Chestnut Street; 314-241-7070) is a complete departure from upscale dining. The surroundings remain exquisite, featuring views of Market Street and Busch Stadium, but the vibe is much more casual.
Joe's Chili Bowl opened for lunch on April 13, and it started breakfast service this past Tuesday. General manager Roxanne Williams says that further expansion to a late-night menu will come slowly with time.
Joe's Chili Bowl offers such Americana favorites as burgers and hot dogs on its menu, as well as several Italian dishes and the St. Louis staple toasted ravioli. As you might expect, the restaurant's namesake dish is featured heavily: Chili is ready to be deployed on fries, hot dogs, tamales and slingers. In addition to beef chili, chicken and veggie chili are also available.
Based on our server's suggestion, Gut Check went with the "Downtown Dog" for lunch. This is a nod to the Chicago-style hot dog with neon-green relish, onions, sport peppers, tomato and celery salt (but no mustard).
The dog was plump and delicious. However, because the dog had been dragged through the garden of toppings the poppy-seed bun gave way rather quickly.
Gut Check also opted for chili-cheese fries. These were absolutely drenched in Joe's chili and cheese sauce, with the spice blend of the thin chili pairing well with the cheese.
For dessert, Joe's Chili Bowl offers several sweets including cakes and cookies, but Gut Check chose its chocolate-chip gelato, which the eatery sources from Gelato Di Riso (5204 Wilson Avenue; 314-664-8488) on the Hill.
On Gut Check's visit, Joe's Chili Bowl was on the tail end of a busy lunch shift, and we observed slow ticket times for a handful of tables. We also saw the front of house staff do everything in their power to make guests happy.
"This was our busiest lunch yet," Williams says. "We're going to have more staff on our lunch shifts from now on." Williams also states that the staff had only been working together for a few short weeks and was very impressed with how her staff has come together so quickly.
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