Before he got into making shoes, my grandfather spent a few years as a butcher. He was also German, so I was no stranger to some good homemade sausage growing up. I would sit at the kitchen table and watch him grind up various cuts of meat in a hand cranked meat grinder.
Then he took the ground meat and stuffed it into natural sausage casings. In a couple of hours he had a nice string going. Then he cooked it on the grill. It’s been a long time since I had smoked sausage that good. That is until I wandered onto the Hill area of St. Louis on a beautiful autumn day recently.
Steve’s “Hot Dogs on the Hill” is tucked away in a nice part of that iconic Italian neighborhood in St. Louis known as “The Hill.” The Hill is famous for its Italian restaurants, bakeries, and grocery shops. According to Wikipedia: “Italians, mainly from Northern Italy and Sicily, immigrated and settled in the area starting in the late 19th century, attracted by jobs in nearby plants established to exploit deposits of clay discovered by immigrants in the 1830s.” Now it’s likely that it may soon get famous for its hot dogs.
Steve Ewing is a musician that many music lovers around St. Louis know as the front man for the band “The Urge.” The Urge was a popular band that played in the city in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Their eclectic music combines multiple styles of music including ska, punk, thrash metal, reggae, and hip hop.
For about three years Steve has been operating a mobile hot dog cart at many of the fairs and festivals around St. Louis. His most recent appearance was at the renown (and very popular) “Taste of St. Louis” that is held downtown every year. Now, just last week, he has opened a brick and motor restaurant called “Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill.”
The restaurant, located at 2131 Marconi just a couple of blocks past Shaw, is small but definitely a step up from the cart. It’s a quaint little storefront that blends perfectly with the neighborhood. Inside, the walls are lined with memorabilia from the band. The first things that you see when you enter are the hand scrawled menu board and a poster from the now-defunct Admiral showboat.
That having been said, the real thrill comes from the food. The menu offers up hickory-smoked, fire-grilled dogs, and a wide selection of smoked sausages including Andouliie, Polish sausage, Chorizo, and Salsiccia. The toppings include a mouth watering array of choices including grilled green peppers, hot peppers, sauerkraut, fresh onions, BBQ sauce, and a choice of cheeses.
There is also a delicious brisket sandwich that is as tender as the day is long. This is the masterly handiwork of Joseph Zeable, whom Steve thinks makes the best smoked brisket in town. I agree. Rounding out the rest of the kitchen staff is Scott Turner. The only thing missing is a kid’s meal, but the Madeline, which is a plain Nathon’s New York dog, is perfect for them.
The prices are reasonable, around $4-$5 bucks for the sandwichs and $6.50 for the meal, which includes chips and a drink. It’s the perfect place to stop for lunch. It’s also wheelchair accessible. The website is: www.StevesHotDogstl.com Phone: 314-762-9899.
These guys are very enthusiastic about their food and I’m sure that “Steve’s Hot Dogs on the Hill” will be a hit. And oh by the way, those of you who miss The Urge, they have back-to-back shows at the Pageant on November 11th and 12th.