Mackinaw City- What Not To Miss !

Gateway to Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City is an ideal destination for offbeat travelers. Located on the northern most tip of lower peninsula this city provides an abundance of attractions & activities, but here are few which we covered on our trip and surely shouldn’t be missed:

1. Mackinac Bridge

An 8 km long suspension bridge standing 552 feet above is part of Interstate Highway 75, which connects Upper Peninsula to the mainland and is the way ahead for entering Canada. First opened in 1957, a wonderful drive through this 4 lane bridge takes you between Mackinaw city and St. Ignace. Check out the video img_4355

2. Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Oldest working lighthouse of Lake Superior, with history beginning back 1849, this lighthouse has observed greatest shipwrecks and so is also known as graveyard of shipwrecks. Located next to the largest freshwater lake of North America in Paradise, Michigan, here one can visit Shipwreck Museum and Lighthouse, sit besides the Lakeshore spending some quality time with mesmerizing lake. We got enthralled by the beauty of Lake Superior and spend hours relaxing while walking along the deserted beach.

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Whitefish Point Lighthouse
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Lake Superior

3. Ferry Ride To Mackinac Island

Ferry is lifeline of Mackinac Island, the only way to commute from Mackinaw City. The ferry to Island is a 20-min ride and on way back 30 min. Beautifully located in midst of Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is one of the most famous attraction of Michigan. The Island is quaint, historic and lively, which can be explored only by bicycle or buggy ride. On the way back to Mackinaw City it’s a great experience as ferry drives down below Mackinac bridge and you can get a closer look around the bridge along with some historical information about it.IMG_4282.jpg

4. Sunset at the Mackinac Bridge

Don’t miss the chance of experiencing sunset along the Mackinac bridge. Ideal for photographers and nature lovers, the surrounding area provides breathtaking sunset views from either ends Colonial Michilimackinac Park in Mackinaw City or Staits State Park in St. Ignace.IMG_4088.jpg

5. Mackinac Island’s Fudge

The trip to the island is not complete without having the mouthwatering fudge. As Mackinac island is better known as America’s Fudge Capital and offers countless fudge flavors which no one can resist. Must try Joann’s Fudge, selling famous fudge since last 35 years.

6. Scalawags Whitefish & Chips

Scalawags WhiteFish & Chips is Mackinaw City’s famous food joint serving quality seafood. On the shore of freshwater lakes this city offers ample seafood options. Don’t miss this place located in corner of Downtown, it might take a while to order the food due to it’s popularity, but it’s definitely worth a wait. Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

7. Downtown

Walking down the streets in downtown is a true delight. There are shops of fudge, souvenirs, apparels and one can find many local eateries. If you get lucky as us, you might end up enjoying bands and music show late in the evening.img_4216

8. Robert Shangle

While strolling around Downtown if you get across a human size statue just give it a closer view, you might be looking at Robert Shangle, the world famous “Live Statue”. Most of the time people cannot sense that he’s real person & get stunned with his sudden blinks. img_4409

Travel Tips:

  1. While visiting Upper Peninsula try to get to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
  2. For Ferry rides to Mackinac Island opt for Starline or Shepler’s ferry links are below: http://sheplersferry.com/ or http://www.mackinacferry.com/
  3. Summers are the best time to visit Mackinaw, otherwise keep some warmers as it may get cold.

5 Day Road Trip Through “Pure Michigan”

Being the only state with two peninsulas and borders with four Great Lakes (Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior & Lake Erie), we made a trip to State of Michigan. We always had a strong desire to explore this heavenly place, so we took an additional two days off on Labor day Weekend.

Day 1

We started from Columbus, Ohio towards Mackinaw City which was a 472 miles long drive. It took us nearly eight hours to reach there and we barely made it before sunset. After getting re-energized witnessing the gorgeous sunset, we were all set to take a stroll around Downtown.

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Mackinac Bridge

Day 2

Next morning we drove to Whitefish Point Lighthouse located in Upper Peninsula connected to the mainland through Mackinac Bridge. We drove 80 miles from city through Lush green Scenic drive (one of our best long drives), just to experience majestic Lake Superior.img_4097

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Lake Superior

After spending a good time there we drove back to Mackinaw city and took a 16 min Ferry to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is connected only via ferry with Michigan mainland and is popular for its awestruck viewpoints, fort, fudge and famous buggy rides, the only public transport available on island.

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StarLine Ferry
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Makinac Island

Day 3

As we had to make a good 150 miles drive we started early morning for our next destination Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We landed before 11:00 am driving through beautiful Traverse city and took a hike into dunes for next 4 hours. The initial Dune climb looked fine, but the next 4 miles in sand dunes steep uphill and downhill totally drained us out.

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Dune Climb

Worn out and starving  we dropped our plan for Silver Lake(2 hrs drive from Bear Dunes) and headed straight towards our hotel 169 miles away in city of Holland by nightfall.

Day 4

After getting our muscles back in shape with a good overnight sleep, next day (The Labor Day) we kept it light and decided to enjoy Labor day Truck Parade in Holland Downtown (read it here). Labor day in Holland is a special occasion and the whole city of Holland and neighboring Zeeland gather to say thanks and acknowledge the local labors and service providers.img_4491By noon we made our move towards Windmill Island Gardens, famous for De Zwaan, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in USA. Also this place has got many Dutch cultured artifacts and details.img_4653

In the evening we headed towards Holland state park beach along Lake Michigan to enjoy the sunset next to the big Red Lighthouse. It was one of the most memorable sunset and came out as a perfect end of our trip.img_4858img_4868

Day 5

Final day we left after breakfast for Columbus. A good 6 hours drive and we were back in our city.

As we really like offbeat locations and try to avoid big cities, so we skipped Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse city on our trip to Michigan. We will be back soon with more detailed posts on Michigan, so stay tuned.

Our Travel Map:

route

 

Travel  Tips

  1. Hiking in sand is seriously a bad idea if you haven’t done it beforehand.
  2. Carry loads of water if you are hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  3. Always keep a low day after 2 hectic days, it just get you back on track.
  4. If you are driving to Upper Peninsula keep your gas tank full, as there are only a few on the way.

Who doesn’t love Harley Davidson!!


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After taking an enjoyable ride with Untapped tour we headed for Harley Davidson Museum, a 130,000 sq ft building complex  on the banks of Menomonee river.

Known for its power-packed engines and booming sound, Harley Davidson started as a journey of 4 like minded people (William S. Harley and Arthur, Walter, William A. Davidson) back in 1903.hd-museum-front

Tickets : We bought the tickets along with Untapped tour and got it for 12$ each (saved 8$), you can buy it from museum also.

The museum got opened for public in year 2008, having 450 motorcycles and Harley Davidson Motor Company’s 110 year history artifacts. The museum has two floors, each displaying the history and archives from Harley Davidson Motorcycles. The museum comprises of The Engine Room,The Clubs and Competition gallery, The Motorcycle Gallery , Tank Wall, The Custom Culture gallery & The Experience Gallery. 

Engine Room: After entering the gallery experience the 1940’s Knucklehead Engine dismantled into multiple parts in the Engine Room. This is an exquisite experience for die   hard Harley fans, interacting with motor and sounds of engine. Do not miss the orange wall displaying the evolvement of Harley Davidson’s engines from the very first to the latest.

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The Motorcycle Gallery- Moving through the gallery on upper floor there is a chain of motorcycles depicting the glorious first 50 years. Each of this model is an important segment of the history, serving with postal department and US military, Harley has emerged out as top class motorcycle.IMG_3323IMG_3314

Tank Wall- Be ready to get amazed with 100 designs of Harley Davidson tanks custom-made since 1903 on a single wall. IMG_3337

The Custom Culture Gallery:  This section is dedicated to customized bikes featuring impact of Harley Davidson worldwide, like 13 foot long engine of ‘King Kong’, replica of Captain America and Easy rider bike and many more.

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“King Kong” Bike

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The Clubs and Competition gallery: Since its launch Harley Davidson has been part of many events and tournaments. This section is devoted to those golden moments and the recognition’s of vintage bikes with replica of racing tracks along with photographs and copy of articles to portray the glorious past.IMG_3327

The Experience Gallery: At last before you leave, experience the ride on Harley Davidson and get clicked. The gallery has a wide variety of bikes from the classic ones to the new.IMG_3367

Apart from the museum the premises also have” The shop” (featuring souvenirs, clothing, accessories and collectibles) and a restaurant.

Planning a visit Milwaukee? Make a stop here, you definitely don’t wanna miss this.

Walls Embedded With Historical & Architectural Relics In Chicago

 

Home to WGN radio and a lot many fragments from famous architectural marvels around the world, Tribune Tower is on the edge of eminent Magnificent Mile of Chicago.

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Initial structure was taken by great Chicago fire in 1871 and then with inspiring Neo-Gothic design by Hood and Howell the current face of Tower finally concluded in 1925.
This tower houses today Chicago Tribune and CNN office along-with WGN radio.

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The exterior of the building is embraced with 149 fragments from historical sites around the world. Some were requested and some were collected by McCormick(owner of Chicago Tribune), while others were came up as gift and political affairs. Latest one is a part of steel from World Trade Center.

Here are few captures out of the bunch, we brought along with us.

Apart from the above fragments, Yellowstone National Park, Cave of the Nativity where Christ was born-Bethlehem, Temple Forbidden City, Pearl Harbor-Hawaii, Princeton University-New Jersey, Sydney Opera House-Australia, White House-Washington DC, The Colosseum-Rome, Great Wall of China, The Great Pyramid, Berlin Wall and many more are glorifying Tribune Tower prominently.

Meanwhile, taking the pictures we got overwhelmed by spotting….

 

 

IMG_3513Among those notable fragments, a marble slab from Taj Mahal is an honorable mention.

We firmly believe Tribune Tower is one of its kind and an idealistic place for architectural lovers.

Hope you liked our post !! Let us know your thoughts.

A Cheesy Affair With Chicago Style Pizza !!

We are die-hard food lovers, especially when it comes to the signature dishes,we never miss any opportunity to try out. Nothing hidden about our fondness for food, one can find our journey on Instagram.

After exploring Chicago we tried our hands on Chicago’s signature dishes and came across “Chicago Style Pizza”.

Chicago Style Pizza : Well known as pizzas paradise, Chicago style pizza acclaims two most popular pizza styles, deep dish and stuffed. Both are made pie style with large amount of cheese and tomato sauce, delighting both eyes as well as taste buds. While Lou Malnati is esteemed for deep dish pizza, Giordano’s has been hailed for its stuffed ones, deeper than the deep dish ones.

STUFFED PIZZA: Our fondness for pizza took us Giordano’s ,before visiting there we ordered in advance as it takes 40 minutes to get it prepared.

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After few minutes we got served with the most acclaimed Giordano’s Stuffed Pizza, and we got our answer why it’s a big deal in Chicago. The thick buttery crust with layers of mozzarella cheese, add on toppings, covered on top with a thin layer of dough & tomato sauce make this dish outstanding. 8a786196fc90affa0d4208559cf77f49_1444181327

DEEP DISH: After Giordano’s episode it was Lou Malnati’s turn, well known for it’s traditional deep dish pizza. Talking about Lou Malnati’s pizza, we got it after waiting for an hour as its Chicago’s favorite and always full specially over the weekends. Crispy crust with layers of cheese and ingredients you choose topped with tomato sauce. IMG_1062IMG_1061

Dear vegetarian don’t be disheartened , both places offers veggie ingredients to choose from.

Disclaimer:  After having Chicago style pizza you may feel guilty, which is absolutely normal.

Tips:

  1. Order pizza before arriving as it takes 40-45 minutes.
  2. Also try Uno’s & Gino’s east pizza.

 

7 Reasons To Visit Navy Pier In Chicago

Just a few weeks after landing in Chicago, we made our maiden visit to Navy Pier. This 3300 foot long Pier on shoreline of Lake Michigan left us fascinated. A place which attracts all walks of life equally, with uncountable reasons. After our first visit we had a lot many reasons to get back here, to quench our quest and explore it fully. Here are the things, which make Navy Pier so special:

Historical SignificanceLooking at today’s Pier, it really feels surprising how it has evolved from being just a Commercial Pier, to a Naval Training center, then a College Classroom and finally as we see it today a place for entertainment and public gathering. IMG_1816

InfrastructureNavy Pier currently has sections starting from a Park at entrance followed by Children Museum, IMAX theater(Chicago’s largest movie screen)shops and Ball room. In middle there are rides, Miniature Golf Course on upper floor, restaurants at lower level and festival hall at the end.IMG_3526

Rides– Pier Park has most popular rides as Ferris wheel (under renovation to increase its height from 150 to 196 feet), Musical Carousel, Light Tower Ride & Wave Swinger. 

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New Ferris Wheel

 

Ferris WheelVisiting Navy Pier and not opting for Ferris Wheel, one should not dare to do that. It should be on your bucket list while visiting Chicago. Take a 7 minute ride on Ferris for panoramic view of Chicago Skyscrapers & Lake Michigan, in the midst of winds just for $6.

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View from Ferris Wheel

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Water Tours & Cruise Another way to catch the sight of Windy City, opt for Water Taxi from Navy Pier to Shedd Aquarium and Union Station or Architectural Tour to get acquainted with the City of Chicago.

Go for any of the following:

  • Sightseeing cruises – Seadog Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing and Tall windy ship,
  • Diner cruises – Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue.
  • Private yacht.
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Shoreline Sightseeing
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Tall Windy Ship

Live Music After rides, shopping & strolling around the pier, be entertained by the live bands (absolutely free) at Landshark Beer Garden along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Grab a beer,have a good time dancing with people around you or gazing blue water with the breeze at lake shore. IMG_1812n

Fireworks– Right through the Memorial Day to Labor Day, Navy Pier gets dazzled around every Wednesday and Saturday with fireworks. But the charismatic view comes across on 4th of July and New Year Holiday when the fireworks dance on music tunes. All looks stunning from Pier but the view from boat is out of this world.o (6)

Travel tips 

  1. Plan your visit to Chicago around 4th July, New Year’s Eve to get spellbound by festive fireworks, free of cost.
  2. Get boarded to Shoreline water taxi(Green Route) which cost around $8 to Shedd Aquarium for most striking view of Chicago Skyline.
  3. Full day parking costs $21 on weekdays and $25 over weekend including Friday
  4. On a budget try to eat at Food Court,if not there are many famous restaurants.
  5. Make a visit in summer for the pleasant weather.

 

 

P.S- The pictures in the post are our own except the fireworks one.

Cloud Gate a.k.a The Bean

In the midst of the city, Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor is most fabulous attraction of Chicago. We have been here many times, but still the beauty of this bean attracts you every time in a new way. While standing at Cloud Gate it feels fascinating witnessing the great skyline of Chicago.

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Officially Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean due to its shape, was opened for public in 2006. Covered with stainless steel this seamless surface has got its inspiration from liquid mercury, providing distorted reflections and great elliptical skyline. A 100 tons sculpture expanding to 33 by 66 by 42 Feet, is truly a masterpiece by well renowned artist Anish Kapoor.

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Inside the bean

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Best Time to visit:

Its spectacular in summers and splendid in winters, so anytime year around is great, day or night it gives a spellbound view.

Timings: 6 AM to 11 PM.

Travel tips:

  1. Do not forget your camera & try getting some funny poses around “The Bean”.
  2. Make a visit around sunset or sunrise.
  3. Be an early-bird to click only “The Bean” with no people around.

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Cathedral Basilica Of St Louis

It’s almost two weeks of our St Louis trip and we are still in awe of city, especially the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. If you missed our post on St Louis then read it here St Louis: What Shouldn’t Be Missed !!

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The church with the largest mosaic collection,spread over 83,000 sq feet is the finest example of architectural excellence. Most striking feature is the use of glass in 7000 different colors instead of paint. The interior started in 1912 and it took 76 years to bring it to the brilliance we see today.

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Mosaic

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Historic Bay
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Transept Mosaics
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All Souls Chapel designed in black marble symbolizing death while white marble eternal life.

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The Umbraculum(umbrella) & Tintinnabulum(bell)  in church symbolize that its basilica, while Cathedra, the chair of bishop signifies church as Cathedral.

The red dome or central dome at the height of 143 feet is truly a masterpiece. Firstly I was astonished by the fact that windows on dome are 30 feet tall, while angels are 25 feet.  Actually, they are !!

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Hope you like the post..!! We would like to hear from you.

 

St Louis: What Shouldn’t Be Missed !!

Along the banks of Mississippi river on border of IL and MO is situated the city of St. Louis. Apart being known for the Arch, this city has a lot to offer. We tried to capture most of the city both as traveler and foodie, walking down the streets, getting a bite of local food and capturing the famous tourist spots. Here are few reasons why St Louis should be your next destination:

1. Gateway Arch:  A 630 foot monument on the bank of Mississippi river, is world’s tallest arch and a major tourist spot. Easily accessible from downtown and the most visited attractions. Buy tickets to visit observation deck on top of the arch,this few minutes tram ride will be your best experience in St Louis.IMG_3001.JPG

2. Missouri Botanical Garden Located in Shaw Blvd, this is the oldest botanical garden offering a vast horticulture exhibit. Spread across 79 acres this garden includes major attractions like Japanese garden, Climatron(a conservatory based on tropical rain forest  theme), Temperate House, Linnean House (oldest operative greenhouse). Click Here for pictures

Timings: 9am -5 pm daily, General Entry Fee: $8

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Missouri Botanical Garden

3. Cathedral Basilica of St Louis One of the few churches which are both Cathedral(having pope’s throne) and Basilica(special spiritual, historical, and/or architectural significance), it took more than 7 decades to complete it(from 1912-1988). Witness the extravagant interior of mosaics made out of glass in 7000 different colors, astonishingly no paint has been used inside the church,Check out the pictures.Tours are available to get well versed with art and history of the Church. Tour booking is free and can be done through the website or over the call, you can make a donation as per your will after tour commences.IMG_2943

4. Mississippi River Overlook-Most serene place in St Louis to experience the spectacular view of Downtown, Gateway Geyser and skyline of St Louis from 40 ft tall platform overlooking Mississippi river.

Do make a visit to Gateway Geyser next to the platform, incredibly boosting the water approximately to the height of Gateway of Arch on the other side of Mississippi River. It also holds the credibility of being the tallest fountain in USA and second in the world.

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View from the platform

5. Downtown Take a walk on the “Washington Ave” and “Broadway”, try out the best restaurants, indulge in shopping and acknowledge the diverse culture of St Louis. Busch Stadium, home ground to St Louis Cardinals and Old Courthouse are just a few blocks down from the Washington Avenue(the main street).

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Washington Avenue

6. Toasted Ravioli  Created in St Louis, this deep-fried appetizer should be on your list. Toasted ravioli of St Louis became famous when it got dropped by chef accidentally and eventually became the most desired menu item. Filled with meat and fried till golden brown it is served with marinara sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. One can have this dish at “The Hill”, an Italian neighborhood in St.Louis.

Must try Mama Toscano’s Ravioli at 2201 Macklind Ave, St. Louis.

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7. St Louis Style BBQ – We have started loving BBQ after visiting couple of joints in Chicago and now on our visit to St Louis, it would have been unfair if we hadn’t tasted the renowned St Louis Style BBQ. Few notable restaurants serving authentic STL BBQ: Pappy’s Smokehouse, The Shaved Duck, Smoki O’s Bar-B-Que. 

We tried Smoki O’s BBQ Read our review here . This place is highly recommended if you are in the city and a non-vegetarian of-course.

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Travel Tips:

  • Try to book hotel in Downtown as most attractions are nearby.
  • Make a visit to Mississippi River Overlook around sunset for spectacular view.
  • Traveling with kids !! Well St Louis do have City Museum, Zoo & Aquarium. There is no entry fee in museum and zoo.
  • Try to visit Missouri Botanical Garden in Fall season.
  • Do try Gooey Cake & Provel Cheese Thin Crust Pizza, other specialties of St Louis.
  • As a visitor, do not roam around at late nights. Be safe
  • Last but not the least click a selfie at Mississippi River Overlook.

 

 

We tried “St. Louis style BBQ”..!!

Hey everyone, we are back from St Louis with some wonderful experiences, be it our road trip or witnessing the beautiful Gateway of Arch or roaming around the city.  But first, we would like to share our encounter with Smoki O’s. As foodie travelers, we always have few local joints of every visiting city to try out and Smoki O’s was on our list for BBQ.

Thinking about St. Louis  food specialty, what comes into mind is St. Louis BBQ, uniquely prepared by grilling the meat and pouring the sauce over, rather than dry rub or slow smoking. One can taste St. Louis style BBQ ribs at many other restaurants and they might be good as well, but we opted for well known & the authentic one.

Located on N Broadway, Smoki O’s is one of the most famous BBQ joint and has been acclaimed by many for its ribs, briskets and rib tips.

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The lady behind the counter/the owner(Earline A Walker) ,greets you warmly & help you through menu. She took a great interest in knowing from where we are and our feedback for the food !!!

Though everything on menu looked like worth trying after reading so much good about this place, but we had to bound our self to Ribs and pulled pork sandwich which comes with sides ,we opted for BBQ Spaghetti & Mac and 3 cheese.

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We are new to BBQ world, but we still found STL BBQ sauce a bit sweet and less smoky one compared to Chicago. Ribs were perfectly grilled and BBQ sauce gelled well with them. The pulled pork sandwich was flavorful with soft bun,portions are good and even sides are great to choose from.

Awards and Recognition

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If you are in city, this is a must try few blocks down from The Arch, worth for the price you pay with a great hospitality.

Address- 1545 N Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102

Tips:

  1. Do try their snoots appreciated by Andrew Zimmern, Bizzare foods , we got a couple free samplers and they were great,too crispy, though we came to know lately that they were actually “nose” parts…
  2. If you are looking for a fine dining then this is not a place to be, its more like a takeaway joint with few seating.

Rating for Smoki O’s

Location- 3/5

Food- 4/5

Service- 5/5

Smoki O's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato