Caroline Groff, Staff Writer
“Big Macs,” roast beef and tacos are in your future—and they are all vegan. Utah Station (1956 Utah Street,
St. Louis 63118), the semi-new restaurant in Benton Park, is here to make comfort and fast food dreams a reality. With only two meat options on the menu, don’t let that deter you from embarking on your eating expedition.
Just off Cherokee Street, the restaurant sits on the corner of Utah Street standing out from the neighborhood surrounding it. The name is pretty self-explanatory once you set eyes on the place. The restaurant, which opened in August of this year, takes the form of an abandoned service station at the end of said street and fits the bill for those in need of some vegan junk food delicacy.
The small station sits about 40 people in their inside seating area, with a small bar at the side and a garden just outside the back door. With weather permitting, the station’s garage doors are opened up to a patio of picnic tables accompanied by a fire pit. The seats fill up most evenings and it isn’t hard to see why.
With the motto “We keep selling until there’s nothing left to sell!” on their menu, they list the enticing options in store. The menu is constantly rotating through a variety of meatless options, but for now the appetizers, including buffalo cauliflower bites, chili cheese fries, and poutine with a homemade gravy, are the first glimpses of the delicious plant-based opportunities ahead. The menu is 90 percent vegan, leaving those who insist on a meat-filled meal two red meat options, but that 90 percent is where the menu shines. The “Big Mak” offers a spin on the spelling and contents of the McDonald’s classic. Vegan patties matched with a dairy free cheddar cheese and updated take on that classic Mac sauce.
The actual meat substitutes are one of the main stars. Executive chef Chris Berke created a variety of meat options, “veef” is the veggie spin on beef and and their more general “veat” is used for a variety of dishes. Next on the list of vegan gems is the “Roast Beef and Chedda.” Made with that homemade “veat” and smothered in banana peppers and a creamy cheese sauce with a kick. These “veat” options aren’t just flavorless slabs loaded with sauces and sides to make them taste better but hold a lot of the flavor themselves. The “roast beef” is seasoned to perfection and packs such a punch with flavor that it soaks into the bun.
The tacos, given the title of “Crack Tacos”, are a spin on a Jack in the Box taco that’s been kicked up a notch. In a crisp hard shell fried with a ground “veat” concoction, more of that vegan cheese and a hot sauce that bites back, you can’t eat just one. Paired with a vegan ranch that is so good you forget about the veganism all together, they are truly an addictive bite. “We’re doing something different here that’s a result of years and years of experimenting,” said chef Chris Bertke in an interview with Feast magazine.
The vegan enterprise is open Thursday through Monday from 3 to 10 p.m. and stays closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, so you’ll have to plan your trip accordingly. Restaurants are all working to meet the demand of people to have more variety in their meatless options. There are countless new restaurants offering these substitutes, but more importantly, bringing these substitutes with flavor. And Utah Station is at the top of the list.