A Brewers fan's guide to St. Louis
ST. LOUIS - The Milwaukee Brewers have begun their road trip for the middle three games of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
What should fans know if they want to follow the Brewers in person this week and try to make it Miller Park South?
Fans who want to "come see what's Brewin' " in the city with that other big beer company (Budweiser, of course) should know a few things about the hometown of the St. Louis Cardinals.
First thing: how to get there.
It's a six and a half hour drive, and you can do it by going through Rockford to avoid the Chicago traffic.
There are lots of flights from Mitchell International Airport to St. Louis and daily trains connecting through Chicago.
When you get there, you'll discover "St. Louis is just abuzz," at least according to Donna Andrews of Explore St. Louis.
She says the town is pumped for the Cardinals' three home games, Wednesday through Friday.
Busch Stadium is in the middle of downtown St. Louis.
There's no tailgating around the park, but lots of hotels to stay at within a mile's walk, though Andrews warns "Make your reservations, because they are filling up fast."
You'll also find lots of bars and restaurants in the downtown area.
"There's Laclede's Landing," suggest Andrews. "Great places to find something to eat, right on the riverfront."
That area also is known for its nightlife. People who enjoy casinos also can take in Lumiere Place Casino, close to Laclede's Landing.
In our recent trip to St. Louis in September, we checked out Mike Shannon's, named after the Cards' radio announcer.
It's about a block away from Busch Stadium, and it has renowned steak and seafood with enough baseball memorabilia to fill up a wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
If you don't mind driving out of downtown for the best St. Louis has to offer your stomach, head to two places.
One is a neighborhood west of downtown call "The Hill."
"Our predominantly Italian neighborhood, so you get a great selection of Italian restaurants on every corner," said Andrews.
"If you're looking for the St. Louis signature food, head to The Hill, any restaurant, and they'll serve you toasted ravioli...a decadent treat. It's very addictive. It's deep fried ravioli, seasoned to perfection, filled with a beef and veal mixture, deep fried to a golden brown. You take it out. You dip it in marinara sauce and slam it in your mouth."
We did just that at Mama's on the Hill, which has been in business since the 1930's. Our recommendations there also include the chicken and prosciutto spedini.
Many St. Louians familiar with Milwaukee think Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, on the city's southwest side, can top Kopp's and Leon's as the world's best.
"Ted Drewes has been on St. Louis Route 66 since 1929 serving up concrete's," explained Andrews. People who head to Culver's in Milwaukee are familiar with the concrete, but it is Drewes' specialty.
"Since it's the Cards against the Brewers, I suggest you try the Cardinal Sin," suggests Andrews.
Many of the other things to do besides the games themselves won't be cardinal sins to your wallet.
Of course, there's the Gateway Arch, the signature monument of the city.
The Arch and the Mississippi River boats cost less than $25 to do together, and that's just blocks from Busch Stadium.
Then there's Forest Park, which is bigger than New York's Central Park, and it has loads of attractions with free admission.
"The St. Louis Zoo is free. The History Museum is free. The Art Museum is free. The Science Center is free," said Andrews.
They are all free to get in, though there are small charges for particular exhibits at each place.
The zoo, in fact, was ranked by Zagat as the top zoo in America. It's much like the Milwaukee County Zoo, but about five times as big.
Then, there's the most important part - the game itself.
Even with the antipathy between the two teams, the Cardinals fans we encountered in our September trip welcomed us there.
They are very similar to Packers fans in how the community backs their team and how the Cardinals define the city.
If you encounter any friction from them, just remind those in the stands wearing red that Brewers fans have one incredibly endearing thing in common:
Just like Cardinals fans, most Brewers fans can't stand the Cubs.