Cardinals Baseball Great Albert Pujols Opens New Restaurant

St. Louis has always been a baseball town. From the sea of red at the new Busch Stadium, to the legendary players and broadcasters like Jack Buck and Harry Carey, the other major sports, well, kind of take a back seat. Oh yeah, the colors turn a little blue when the Rams are in the playoffs, but that just seems to be a little few and far between to most of the fans. The hockey Blues just seem to be faded like an old pair of jeans and may even be bought and moved, and St. Louis hasn’t seen an NBA team since the sports news was broadcast in black and white. It used to be that if the Cardinals made the World Series, classes in the Public School System came to a halt while television sets were wheeled into the rooms so the students and teachers could watch the games. And nowadays, just try to get a really good seat at the new stadium without a whole lot of cash or a corporate or season ticket holder connection. We’ve been pretty protective of our baseball heroes too; just look at the discussions that arose about where to place the bronze sculpture of Stan the Man at the new ballpark.

Our latest hero and subject of admiration is the Latin slugger Albert Pujols. Just walk through any shopping mall or supermarket on a Saturday before a game at Busch Stadium and count the number of 5’s on the back of people’s Cardinals shirts and you’ll see why. Now Albert, along with the Hanon family, (owners of Guacamole’s Restaurant in O’Fallon, Missouri), have opened up a new restaurant called Pujols 5.

The restaurant had its grand opening last Monday at its location in Westport Plaza. Westport seems to be the favorite spot to open a sports-themed restaurant in St. Louis other than downtown by the stadium. About 300 fans showed up for the opening gala. Albert was joined by the Hanon family, his wife, and fellow players Yadier Molina and Jose Vizcaino. Cardinals General Manager Walt Jockety was also in attendance.

The verdict is out on the food and service at Pujols 5, but it looks like it will feature lots of chicken, some Jamaican as well as American dishes. There’s even a veggie burger named after Cardinal’s manager Tony LaRussa, who is doesn’t eat meat. And, just like the other restaurants opened by sports figures in the area, there’s no shortage of Cardinals and Pujols memorabilia. A number of other St. Louis sports figures have opened restaurants around the city over the years. Some of them have folded up and some remain. Here’s the lowdown on the ones that are still with us:

Mike Shannon’s Steak and Seafood 100 N. 7th St. (314) 421-1540.
Shannon’s, like most of the other restaurants run by sports players, is heavy on meat and fish. It’s a great place to have lunch or for a late dinner after the game, being in a location right near the new stadium. Come for the steak and seafood, but don’t ignore the chicken quesadilla either.

J. Buck’s 101 S. Hanley Rd. Clayton, Mo. (314) 725-4700.
In the heart of the Clayton business district, this place sparkles with elegance from the signage outside, to the towering plate glass windows to the classy crescent-shaped bar. The menu includes Filet mignon, roasted salmon, and barbequed baby back ribs. All of these dishes have unorthodox, but very intriguing flavors mingled into them like cedar, mushrooms, and apple jalapeno jelly.

Ozzie’s 645 Westport Plaza, St. Louis (314) 434-1000.
Ozzie’s is probably the most down-to-earth sports bar of the group. The place is usually jammed with Cardinals memorabilia and fans that aren’t too reserved to yell and scream at one of the many screens that are showing games of one kind or another from around the world. The food is also sports bar’ish with sandwiches and burgers, some Mexican, and ribs. There is a good variety of beer to wash it all down with though.

Dierdorf’s and Hart’s 323 Westport Plaza, St. Louis (314) 878-1801
Owned by football greats Dan Dierdorf and Jim Hart, this St. Louis steak restaurant has practically become a landmark. There is also a location downtown. Both are dark with lots of wood, robust and macho just like Dan and Jim themselves. Pure steak and seafood with huge cuts of red meat and shrimp dishes like BBQ shrimp and saut�©ed shrimp.

Al Hrabosky’s Ballpark Saloon 800 Cerre St. St. Louis (314) 241-6969.
Hrabosky was a reliever for the Cardinals whose nickname was “The Mad Hungarian.” This is reflected in the restaurant’s motto: “normal behavior not required.” This place is a metal shack, downtown and close to the stadium, with an MVP lounge upstairs. On game nights they take out all of the furniture so everyone can “get ready for some baseball!” The menu is standard sport-bar food, but be sure to try the deep-fried cheeseburger fries.

There are a few other celebrity joints around town like B. Federko’s downtown on 14th Street, and the three locations of Twister’s Iron Bar Saloon, both former hockey players for the St. Louis Blues. Actor John Goodman also has part ownership in a place called O’Leary’s.

Some celebrity places like Brett Hull’s, Charlie Spoons, Stan Musial & Biggies, Jackie Smith’s Louisiana CafÃ?©, and Plager’s have gone belly up over the years. Let’s hope that Albert’s new restaurant as well as his number has lots of staying power.

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