The St. Lous Slinger – a true original to the Gateway City.
For those of you who don’t know what a Slinger is, well it is hash browns, a hamburger patty, two eggs all covered in chili.
You either love them or they make you nauseous. Me, I love them.
As repulsive as it may sound chili and eggs actually taste pretty good together.
The Slinger originated at O. T. Hodge Chili Parlor, a now de-funked local chain of restaurants. These chili parlors could be found downtown on Olive, on Jefferson Ave, in Union Station and the last operating restaurant was in Ferguson.
But the Slinger tradition carries on in many local eateries around the St. Louis Area. Some are authentic to the original O.T. Hodge Slinger, some have minor variation and some are unique to themselves.
As a connoisseur of breakfast, I consider myself an expert on what makes a Slinger good. But I have to warn you when it comes to the Slinger, I am a traditionalist and in general, I don’t like variations from Hodge’s Slinger.
So where’s the best Slinger?
Where’s to find to find the best Slingers
As you can imagine, the chili is one of biggest deciding factors when it comes to the Slinger. What I lot of people didn’t know was that O.T. Hodge actually bought their chili.
Kind of hard to imagine a chili parlor that doesn’t make their own chili. But the chili O. T. Hodge served was actually Edmund’s Chili. I don’t know the whole history but Edmund was related to the Hodge family. And though Hodge’s didn’t survive, Edmund’s Chili still does.
It is still made here in St. Louis over near the Benton Park area. You can actually buy frozen Edmund’s Chili at many of the local grocery stores in the St. Loui
s area. In fact, even some of the little IGA grocery stores in rural Illinois carry Edmund’s Chili.
So being a traditionalist I prefer Slingers that are made with Edmund’s Chili. Fortunately there some greasy spoons out there that still use Edmund’s Chili. One of my favorites is the Courtesy Diner. They have three locations in the area, on Kingshighway, Hampton and Laclede Station Rd.
My preference is the on Kingshighway just a little north of Arsenal. It appears to be an old Dogs and Suds or A&W Drive-In. Imean it is like stepping back 40 years. The bathroom is actually downstairs next to their storage locker.
This place has the feel of the corner diner. You can sit at the counter and watch them sling hash as they crank out the order during peak eating times.
You’ll find a lot of regulars there that the servers and cooks know by name – now isn’t that cool. However, if old dives aren’t your thing, the Hampton and Laclede Station locations are relatively new and updated.
In addition to theSlinger they have another O. T. Hodge hold over, The Devil’s Delight. It is the Slinger without the hamburger patty. You can also add a tamale to order and take yourself to self-indulgence hell. I can’t imagine a better way to start the morning
Other eateries that are true to original Slinger are Eat-Rite on Chateau and the Olivette Diner Eat-Rite is, of course, a St. Louis icon. They have their regulars but you don’t always get a smile from the staff.
If you go to the Olivette Diner I suggest you go Sunday morning with Keith works. If you enjoy good natured abuse with your chili and eggs then this is the place. Besides the Slinger the Olivette Diner also has fickin’ awesome breakfast burrito. This is one fat monster that will stretch your stomach.
A little bit of trivia: the Olivette Diner is where the band Head East shot the cover for their biggest selling album Flat As A Pancake. The Diner has some photos and the album cover on display in a case near the front door.
Notable variations on the original
A common variation on the Slinger is sausage pattie in lieu of a hamburger. In most instances. I prefer the hamburger.
If you feel daring you can go to Spencer’s in Kirkwood and to get it with sausage. If they don’t use Edmund’s Chili they are pretty darn close with their concoction.
The City Diner on (two location both on Grand) also uses sausage patties. And instead of using Edmund’s they have the audacity to make their own chili.
Their chili is a little sweet and I typically don’t like sweet chili but with sausage patties, it actually works. In fact, this is the only sausage Slinger that I actually like.
The Southwest Diner on Southwest Ave actually has a Slinger with a, you guessed it, Southwest flair. You get your choice of green chiles or red chiles – the red being a little spicy. Though it won’t fix those withdrawals for the original it is certainly a nice change up.
You can also find Slingers at Uncle Bill’s Pancake house. Probably the largest serving of all the restaurants and as Slingers go, it will do in a pinch.
Inventive and completely unique Slingers
The Sappington House over in Crestwood has their own variation of the Slinger. Since it doesn’t have chili I really can’t classify as a Slinger but is unique. Also, Roosters (on Locust and a second location on Grand) has a chili-less Slinger. I have never tried it so I can’t really speak to it except, no chili.
Though the Slinger is unique to St. Louis it does appear to have some notoriety outside of the area as Steak-n-Shake actually had the St. Louis Slinger on their breakfast menu at one time.
If you haven’t every tried a Slinger I suggest you pull the trigger and indulge. You risk a bloated belly and flaming heartburn but it will be sure to please the palette. I personally prefer mine, eggs over easy, with cheese, jalapenos, and a tamale.