As Missouri Slowly Opens, Take a Drive to Pick up Dinner and Take Home a Memory

By Suzanne Corbett, Travel / Food Editor

Social distancing and stay at home rules in St Louis area remain in place until at least mid-May when officials will reassess the situation. Until then, like many loyal foodies, I will continue to support local restaurants and eateries with curbside carry out and drive-through options, which are working hard to keep menus fresh and customers engaged.

It’s tough to keep customers from getting bored. After a while, we’re all craving a little something different. Maybe not so much what we’re eating from that take out bag, but we’re weary of eating it at home. Thankfully, Spring was arrived. Warm days perfect for alfresco dining.  Perhaps a take-out picnic.  Something the cabin-fevered hungry can welcome, of course, with social distancing.

While most public parks are still closed, the roadways are open.   A long drive to the county that back in the day were generally taken on Sundays. I loved those Sunday afternoon drives because we never knew what local delicacies we would find. A church supper, a roadside café of food shops where items for an impromptu roadside picnic could be purchased.

I predict the Sunday drive will again become a family favorite, especially as restrictions are being eased. And it won’t matter which road you take. You’ll find a number of interesting food shops and eateries selling food and drink via curbside pickup or carry out along the way that will make a tailgate picnic a memory to cherish.

While restrictions around Missouri are beginning to be eased, it’s still important to follow the  rules of social distancing when heading out down the road.  It doesn’t matter what road you take. Pick one that makes you and family happy, which could be a simple drive through town in for an ice cream cone. Those wanting a longer drive, I always recommend hitting the trail, one of Missouri’s wine trails.

Among my favorites are Hermann’s Wine Trail, the Route de Vin, and the Augusta Wine Trail. Each provide some of the most  scenic drives in Missouri – winding through rolling hillsides and quaint historic towns, some with riverfront overlooks and roadside parks are prefect to park and enjoy the view with a sandwich or picnic feast.  Destinations that could prove just what the doctor ordered . A chance to enjoy the outdoors, take in a little fresh air and enjoy local foods safely – as prescribed by local officials – while toasting life with a glass of Missouri wine.

Before taking off down the road, check out wine trail you wish to drive through for the latest local restrictions on where one can visit.  Also, double check who is open and the visiting guidelines and safety measures expected such as wearing a mask or the number of people allowed at any one site, and review the latest curbside pickup or drive by experiences.

Following are a few of my picks where to stop along a few of my favorite Missouri backroads.

Wurst Haus sausages for a grab and go snackWhen driving through the Hermann along the wine trail try these locations to fill your picnic basket. The Hermann Wurst Haus where curbside pickup of their German-style sausage and cheese are available. Give the  u-pick bundled assortments a try. Choose from three, six or nine  different sausages. And don’t forget the cheese and crackers, which the Wurst Haus offers.

PuchtaAdam Puchta Winery counts among its packaged for pickup an impressive food and drink menu featuring smoked meats and gourmet pizzas. Wine by the bottle as well as their signature wine slushies and its Riefenstahler lemonade – lemonade mixed with  Riefenstahler, a semi-sweet red concord grape win.

Missouri Highway 94  isn’t what most would call a highway.  It’s better than an interstate highway.  MO- 94 is mostly a two-lane road that twists and turns through some of Missouri’s  most picturesque  countryside.  Passing through villages and small towns, connecting a dozen wineries such as Sugar Creek Winery in Defiance, Daniel Boone’s last hometown. Sugar Creek  is open for wine sales and guests who practice social distancing. That said, guests are welcome to stay on property and enjoy a picnic with wines, water or soft drinks purchased on site.  If you forgot to pack our picnic, no worries. Check out the cheese and sausage collection inside the tasting room.

montelle slushyMontelle Winery ups the culinary offerings with its curbside brunch featuring quiche on weekends. The café menu is another option, which sports homemade, salads, pizza along with two standouts treats –  Bavarian pretzels and cheese and baked double cream brie with candied walnuts and fruit compote.  Consider enjoying your meal with a Montelle’s Quarantine Cocktail. A  16 or 32 ounce wine slushy, sealed with tamper proof tape to enjoy at your al fresco dining location or at home, but not while driving.

Route du Vin, French for wine road, connects its wineries and craft breweries that dot Missouri’s French colonial section of Ste. Genevieve and St Francois Counties.  Most wineries are open for pickup orders, along with select  eateries and food shops.  Take a drive around Ste. Genevieve’s main square and check out the food options, which include those located just a block on the square such as Sirro’s. A favorite with locals for decades.

As Missouri slowly begins to reopen, remember to follow the guidelines to remain safe and healthy. And before you take off down the road, double check the area’s curbside menu options, which can change daily. Find what you’re hungry for, then hop in the car and gobble up the highway.