Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lacledes Liquor Landing

Every town has one or wants one. No public official will call it by its true name, but every politician talks about needing a Tacky Tourist Drinking District ( or T2D2 as I call them) to boost the local economy. This is the neighborhood where all the out-of-towners go to get sloshed. The best and finest of these is the all too appropriately named Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The year ‘round street festival that is the French Quarter is the envy of many a city that wants drunken tourists to leave behind scads of cash.

We arrived in St Louis late, toured the Arch, and set out to look for a place to eat. The visitors guide I had picked up at the hotel showed a cluster of restaurants in an area called Laclede’s Landing within walking distance of the Arch. The Landing is an old warehouse/industrial area that has been converted to an entertainment district. At first we were a little nervous from all the empty storefronts on First Street, but once we hit the main area at Second Street, we knew we found the right place. It had all the accoutrements of a true T2D2: a Spaghetti Warehouse franchise, a dueling piano showbar, horse-drawn carriages, and lots of strolling tourists in tank tops and cargo shorts.

We picked Joey B’s On The Landing almost at random because it had Rachel Ray's seal of approval, and if any one knows anything about tacky tourist spots, it's Ms. PerkyRayOfSunshine herself. We ordered a St Louis style pizza, which features a very thin crust and a cheese that is NOT mozzarella. From our sidewalk seat we watched the parade of T2D2 archetypes go by:

  • Families on vacation with children too young to be out that late or taken into most of the restaurants still open.
  • Romantic couples trying to set a mood by taking carriage rides behind smelly, diapered horses.
  • Roving bands of urban hipsters trying to look cool without actually spending any money.
  • Bar hopping bachelor and bachelorette parties getting totally hammered.

The last group was the most entertaining. Bachelor and bachelorette parties are the local residents' unwitting way of adding color to a tourist district. Nothing is more hilarious that a group of trashed sorority alumnae trying to pry their even drunker tiara-ed victim away from the fire hydrant she is clutching onto for dear life because it is the only thing keeping her from falling into space.

Laclades Landing was pretty dead when we arrived at 9 pm on a Saturday evening but was hopping by eleven when we finished our grain alcohol fueled Fat Tuesday slushies. We hated to leave when all the parties were just getting started, but we had a brewery tour to take the next day.

Laclede’s Landing is typical of the ersatz entertainment districts we have seen in our travels. At most of these, there is usually something just a little phony or false in the d├ęcor and atmosphere. They are often in a seedy area of town nobody in their right mine would be caught in after dark if there weren’t plenty of neon around. Also, the mix of bars, restaurants, and shops tends to fit a certain tourist-causal profile. Still, we ate a meal, drank some drinks, and went away amused, so The Landing filled the function it was made for.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: In a future post, I will rate some of the best and worst T2D2’s across the country we have been to. In the meantime, let me know if your town has one or if you have a favorite to visit.


Anonymous said...

small towns like mine have no drinking district....just a fine place to drink ;)
Hi from Michele....and me :)

The Merry Rose said...

we have one or two areas in the centre of the city(cbd) on is hindley st the other rundle st - but then again Adelaide isn't a huge city(only a mill or so people). Plus those areas aren't that entertaining anymore - at least not for me.
If you are travelling to Australia check out Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

PS - Michele sent me here!!

Mooselet said...

Hey, two Aussie posts in a row! How international you've become yello. Brisbane's got heaps of places in South Bank, New Farm and Paddington - all close to the CBD for the tourists. Although we don't have horse drawn carriages, you can get a number of dinner cruises up and down the Brisbane River from South Bank.

Impetua said...

In Portland there's the gay district downtown, generally contaminated by hets but only in the nicer bars. Then there's Northwest 23rd Avenue, which used to be a funky cool place to live until it got gentrified. Now the yuppies go there to eat and get sloshed on fine wines or microbrews. We don't have a true T2D2 because the weather isn't conducive to that most months out of the year... But there is the Rose Festival, which generally attracts a certain element. They are making it more family friendly but you can still watch drunken idiots get ejected for beer brawling in the later part of the evenings.

I don't actually live in Portland anymore, we're across the river in the Land of the Strip Malls, and since I don't drink I couldn't tell you where to go for that kind of thing around here...

Elizabeth said...

In Juneau we've got The Red Dog Saloon. Very touristy.

Anonymous said...

Well, there's Quincy Market in Boston, which is where I'm originaly from. That certainly qualifies, especialy the Salty Dog & Sam's Place which is a Cheers rip-off restaurant.
Here from Micheles

kenju said...

T2D2 - I love that. We have such an area around here and so far, it is called the Glenwood Bar scene. Now I know what it really is!

Thanks for the visit. I wasn't sure how to spell "trusty", but i see that I got it right!

Olyal said...

Ahhh... your post reminds me of many drunken nights spent on around the T2D2 in Sydney.
Good times, good times!
Michele sent me today.

trusty getto said...

We don't have a T2D2 near me, but there are plenty of watering holes.

When I'm out and about, though I'm not always successful, I try to go somewhere with a local flavor that takes me out of the mainstream tourist haunts. I frequently ask a local for advice. I've found some of the best places ever that way !

Stuart said...

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