St. Louis Post-Dispatch writers Joe “Life Sherpa” Holleman and Evan S. “Beer Guy” Benn picked the four best hamburgers in the St. Louis area, and two of them are on Route 66.
One burger shack with a Mother Road connection is Carl’s Drive-In at 9033 Manchester Road in Brentwood, Mo.:
Beer Guy says: This stripped-down burger is delightful in its simplicity: a few ounces of meat smashed onto a flattop griddle, rendering it almost crispy and paper thin. A couple of bites into my double cheeseburger (Sherpa was wise enough to get a triple), I was seriously contemplating ordering a second one. The caramelized beef, oozy cheese and Wonder Bread bun provide a harmonious mix of texture and flavor. It hits the spot in a major way.
Life Sherpa says: While I normally prefer a thick burger, every so often my body cries out for a spatula-smashed patty from a diner. And simply put, there is no better place to get one of those than at this Route 66 shack. Sitting on a stool, watching and listening to the fresh-tasting beef patties sizzle away makes you wish you had ordered two. And with a big mug of homemade root beer, it’s a perfect lunch.
The other is Newstead Tower Public House at 4533 Manchester Ave. in St. Louis:
Beer Guy says: This was the only burger I ordered medium-rare. Newstead Pub’s menu makes a point of telling you where the meat came from (Fruitland, Mo.), what the cow ate (grass) and what its name was (Sally). I kid about the name, of course, but the point is, I felt comfortable having it a little bloody. Served with house-made ketchup, mustard and a pickle, this eco-friendly burger is truly one of the area’s best despite being slightly over-seasoned on our visit.
Life Sherpa says: This is a superior burger, even after I wondered about the wisdom of paying close to $10 or more (if you get cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms, it’s $14). The local, grass-fed protein had a wonderfully beefy and fresh flavor, and a pleasing and solid steaklike texture. Also, it was cooked to the right doneness. Nits to pick: I love salt, but the meat was a bit too salty even for me. Also, I like the outside to have a bit more of a sear.