St. Louis makes a huge distinction between St. Louis City and St. Louis County, much like most cities I’ve visited. One thing I’ll say for the City: Being older, it has a whole lot more character. The St. Louis suburbs are, well, for the most part pre-fab, cookie-cutter, chain-infested boroughs. An outsider would have a hard time telling the difference between Mehlville and Oakville. It takes some looking to find a building more than 50 or 60 years old, and chances are few of the buildings you do find will still be standing in 60 years. I live in the county because I work in the county, and the City taxes you if you live in the City but work in the county–the intent of that law is to punish executives who work in the City but live in ritzy suburbs like Clayton or Ladue or Town & Country, but young professionals like me who live in the city because we like it but who happen to be employed in the county take a tax hit. Really, that kind of living should be encouraged–we’re bringing suburban money into the city, and during rush hour we’re driving against traffic, lessening congestion. And young professionals tend to eat out a lot and spend lots of money. If anything, there should be a slight tax incentive to live in the city and work in the county. But, once again, there are obviously issues involved here that are beyond the capacity of my little brain.
So I now live in the suburbs. But I prefer the City because I like character, and St. Louis is an old enough city to have some character (Europeans will scoff at that, but consider our standards–and really, you can develop some character in 150-200 years).
I’m meeting two friends for lunch later today. Both of them live in the City. One asked where to meet and where to go. I didn’t suggest Burger King in Oakville. But, typical of males, none of us could decide where to go, so I piped in. “Well, aren’t we just the bastions of decisiveness. Look, I’m Suburban Boy. There are great places in both of your neighborhoods, but I don’t know what they are. I’ll defer to your better judgment.”
Well, there’s a deli within a mile or two of where one of them lives that’s supposed to be out of this world. So that’s where we’re going. I know, in this day and age Subway has totally homogenized our idea of a deli, so a good local deli, when you can find one, is a delight. Two local chains used to have locations near where I work. There was Ruma’s, in Concord Village, which was good, and there was Amighetti’s in Crestwood, which was to die for. Both locations are now a Quizno’s. Quizno’s isn’t bad but you can’t get a giant pickle there like you could at Ruma’s, and there’s nothing on Earth that compares to Amighetti’s bread–you could cook yourself up a big ol’ hunk o’ tire and put it on Amighetti’s bread and it’d taste good, if not fabulous. And it didn’t hurt that the girls who worked there were all drop-dead gorgeous. Man, I miss that place. St. Louis has a great Italian heritage, and we’re willing to sell it all out to Subway and Quizno’s.
So.. A neighborhood deli where I can eat outside and converse with two really cool people… Sounds great to me.