I recently met a former colleague who is now a small business owner in the audio/video - custom installation field for lunch at Tucker's Place in West St. Louis County in the greater St. Louis metro area. It had been years since I'd eaten at Tucker's Place and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to have him suggest meeting there.
My first trip to Tucker's Place was for a dinner with a former boss and sales manager who were riding my butt about something around 16 years ago. I don't quite remember why they were ganging up on me, but they must have figured that by treating me to a steak dinner it would light a fire under me. I remember the steak was good, but nothing special. I found out later on that Tucker's Place is a very economical and high value restaurant in the St. Louis area. My boss at that time was notoriously cheap and it made perfect sense to me much later on that he would take me to Tucker's Place. By the way, the steak dinner didn't work - I ended up leaving that company about six months later to take a better job with a competing rep firm based out of St. Peters, MO.
There are three Tucker's Place restaurants in the greater St. Louis area. The original one opened in Soulard in 1982 (see map) and there is another one in South County (see map). Tucker's Place has won numerous local awards for best steak/steakhouse and best value restaurant over the past number of years.
It was about 12:30 when I met up with my guest at Tucker's Place just off of Wood's Mills Road on Manchester (see map). We both had appointments out in West County and he thought it would be a good place to meet for lunch. We were met by a hostess who told us she had one table open for lunch, a small two-seater that was up against the wall in the dining room just off the bar area. The place was packed with both business-types and older people who were looking for a good lunch at a low price.
The lunch menu was pretty basic with a couple three steaks to choose from. In addition to steaks, Tucker's Place is also known for their pork chops and grilled chicken breasts, as well as a handful of seafood entrees to choose from. Each day, Tucker's Place features a special "sandwich of the day", but they have their mouth-watering burger available each day through the week. The special that day was the Philly cheese steak sandwich. That was tempting, but I ended up getting the cheeseburger for lunch - the Tucker Burger. The Tucker Burger starts out with a 9 oz. ground beef patty, flame broiled to order and topped with your choice of cheese. I ordered Pepper Jack cheese on my medium burger.
My guest ordered up the Philly cheese steak sandwich. We contemplated getting an order of (from what I remember) their mouthwatering beer-battered onion rings, but my guest thought that a sandwich and a salad would be good enough for him. After gaining about 10 pounds back from the nearly 50 that I lost, I decided that it was probably best for me to go the salad route, as well. We both ordered side salads with Tucker's Place's homemade lemon pepper dressing.
I had noticed Tucker's Place also had pizza on their menu and as we were enjoying our salads, I noticed that a table near us had a pizza brought out to them. It didn't look like the paper thin crust like you find at most St. Louis area pizza places, but it wasn't a thicker, spongy crust either. Actually, it looked quite good. I may have to go back to Tucker's Place to try the pizza at some point.
After finishing our salads, of which the lemon pepper dressing over the fresh greens proved to be very tasty, our sandwiches came out. My burger was served open faced with the top of a large sesame seeded kaiser roll off to the side. There was a generous amount of pepper jack cheese on top of the burger patty. A slice of tomato, some bib lettuce, pickles and a raw onion slice was served along with the burger.
From the first bite, I was very impressed with the burger. It was lean, yet still juicy. The center was pink, but not too raw. I would have called it more medium-rare than medium, but I wasn't going to complain. The bun - which is a big determination as to the overall taste of any burger - was very good. It was light, but chewy. The only problem is that it didn't hold together very well and the burger got a little messy as each bite made it smaller. I had to ask for more napkins from our waitress. It was easily a three napkin burger.
My guest's Philly cheese steak sandwich was declared to be "good". He said that he's had better cheese steak sandwiches, but for the price ($8.45 for the sandwich, side salad and a glass of iced tea) he thought it was a great value. I, too, thought my burger (same price, only I just had water for my lunch) was a very good value. I've had burgers that were much higher priced that didn't come close to the taste and quality of the burger I had at Tucker's Place.
Tucker's Place has been a favorite of St. Louis area residents for a number of years. The service is good, but not like you'd find at an upper scale restaurant, which is totally understandable. My guest, who is about as big a "foodie" as I am, reiterated that the Tucker's Place restaurants are a great value with above average food. Based on the steak that I had a number of years ago and the burger that I had on my last visit, I would have to agree. It's not a 5 star restaurant, but I'd certainly give Tucker's Place 3 1/2 stars.