Photography by Kevin A. Roberts
I recently came across a child who didn’t realize hamburgers could be enjoyed without mandatory condiments. “Just a bun and meat?” asked the young gent. (What McDonaldization has done to American youth!) On the other hand, folks who once couldn’t imagine options beyond ketchup, mustard, pickle, and onion can now order burgers with amazing toppings—and choose from a variety of bun and meat options.
And so we have Stacked Burger Bar. About the only thing that Stacked doesn’t offer the burger fancier is peanut butter. (Don’t gasp: Missouri is, in fact, the home of the goober burger, but that’s another story.) Located in one of Carondelet’s great old storefronts, the burger bar does offer live music on some nights and plenty of happy-hour specials. But it’s more burgers than bar.
The menu’s main emphasis, of course, is ground meat: beef, pork, and turkey, plus chicken breast, roast beef, and brisket. A checklist includes 64 options, from patties to toppings. While a couple of the options are a stretch (strawberry maple jam?), the restaurant really does let you have it your way. The menu also lists a number of preplanned renditions.
First, though, there are the appetizers. The signature house appetizer is the guacamole bites—think toasted ravioli with chunky guacamole inside and ranch dressing instead of marinara sauce, with a hint of cumin. The salads include a BLT wedge and a Caesar. The burgers are large, though, so plan ahead.
The Big Fat Greek Burger includes beef rather than lamb; it’s topped with house-pickled cucumbers, Kalamata olive relish, feta cheese, spinach, and roasted–red pepper hummus—all adding up to a great series of bites. The Wakey Wakey, a mix of beef and pork, rides on Texas toast with American cheese and a fried egg, another drippy pleasure. (If you want to try that strawberry maple jam on a burger, according to the menu, this is your jam.) But The Goat surpasses all of those options in flavor. Our beef patty arrived medium-rare as ordered, topped with goat cheese and onion jam; the tang of the cheese and sweetness of the onions sashayed across the tongue.
Vegetarians have options, too, including a first-rate black-bean patty with pepper jack cheese and a chipotle aioli. It isn’t chewy like a hamburger patty, but it’s quite tasty, with mild heat and familiar notes of cumin and oregano. A vegetable wrap starts with roasted–red pepper hummus, rich and slightly sweet, as well as olive relish, mushrooms, feta cheese, and spinach, plus what seems to be a light hit of tart vinaigrette.
There’s considerable skill at the deep fryer here. The fries are good; the sweet-potato fries are first-rate; and the house-made chips are all crisp, tasty, and properly drained. And for dessert, a chocolate-chip cookie ice-cream sandwich, served with a spoonful of chocolate syrup, is irresistible.
Lunch service is excellent, but evenings get a little busier. If you’re waiting, you might ponder fast-food burgers—and then rejoice that alternatives like this exist.
The Bottom Line: The menu offers something for almost any type—and it doesn’t bother us a bit that extra napkins are required.
Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Sat and Sun