Lesser-Known Cultural Food Adventures

November 12, 2021


DEFINITION: full of flavor, delicious and tasty

Any good food town has its tucked-away, locals-only, quirky places to slide in for a snack or a plate. St. Joseph is no exception. We are known as the Tenderloin Capital of the United States. We offer the “Ho chips” (homemade at the Hi-Ho), and the traditional, long-known Mexican items like tamales or fideo at Barbosa’s. Do you want to experience some of our lesser-known culturally-themed food items? Here’s a quick snapshot, featuring some that are new to the scene. For extra insight, we asked local marketing firm SJC Marketing (made up of both St. Joseph natives and Midwestern transplants) what they think.

Tomo Japanese Restaurant:

Newly opened in 2021, Tomo offers Japanese, Sushi and Asian cuisine. This includes Bento dishes, a sushi bar and Hibachi-style entrees. One unique item is the deep fried tomo special rolls. The word “tomo” means companion or friend, so grab one or many and sit down for food plus a total experience. Susan Campbell, President and St. Louis transplant, says, in a word, “Delicious!”

Gyro Paradise:

Featuring homemade sandwiches, wraps, salads and combination plates – with plenty of fresh pitas – Gyro Paradise isn’t exactly new to St. Joseph, but it does offer our only Mediterranean cuisine. The sunny atmosphere and friendly local ownership make it a unique stop for dine in or carry out.

“I like Gyro Paradise for a quick, veggie-packed hot meal. They have all the classic Mediterranean flavors like gyros, falafel, baba ghanoush and hummus. It’s a convenient break from other kinds of cuisine.” – Lindsay Palmer, St. Joseph native

Pizza Tascio:

Opened in late 2021, Pizza Tascio is locally-managed and offers authentic New York-style pizza by the slice or the whole pie. Interesting choices include white broccoli, spicy pepperoni or the upside down. Just walk up to this cozy carry-out locale and note there’s a pizza-by-the-slice happy hour. It’s OK if you bring your NY attitude … or your serious gratitude and appreciation for fresh pizza. Either one is totally fine. Check out the surrounding architecture or take a walk after your pizza along historic Noyes or Ashland Avenue.

“It’s good pizza. I really like that you can purchase it by the slice. If you like thin crust, New York style pizza you will like Tacsio.” – Jessica Stewart, St. Joseph native

Abelardo’s Authentic Mexican Food:

Another newcomer to St. Joseph, Abelardo’s offers one of the only Mexican breakfast menus (offered all day). Try Heuvos Rancheros or the Chorizo Con Huevo. This Midwestern-based, drive-thru or carry out only restaurant has a huge menu, so you may want to consider pre-considering your options. The “puffy” (deep fried) tacos could be a nice new way to enjoy an old favorite. For the really adventurous, this is the only tripe taco in town. Note: If you have room, there are three kinds of filled churros. Just saying.

“I love Abelardo’s! A co-worker recommended that I try it and it was the perfect quick experience for a quick, delicious lunch. You can’t go wrong with the fried tacos and the burritos are incredible. Their drive-thru makes them even more convenient!” – Dylan Cutitta, Kansas Citian

Sotelo Paleteria:

This is a casual place to get unique Mexican street food and frozen treats. They have every flavor of house-made ice cream and truly special offerings like Mangonada Especial (sweet, spicy, salty, and frozen), Dorilocos (cabbage, peanuts, pork rinds and seasonings) and Paleta (think bomb pops and fudgesicles in every flavor, even some spicy ones).

“For authentic Mexican ice cream and extremely delicious burritos. There is so much it’s usually two meals for one order.”  – Jordan Shadwick, Nebraskan

Pizzeria Lanza:

Yet another pizza newcomer brings completely different flavors to St. Joe, such as sweet corn and ham with ricotta and balsamic glaze, creamy zucchini, or sausage and potato with caramelized onions. For an even more original angle, Pizzeria Lanza uses organic flour, organic sauce (locally-sourced) and meats from Paradise Meats, a regional meat butcher in an active relationship with many local farms.

“The flavors are creative and it’s great that the ingredients, including the meat, are locally-sourced whenever possible.” – Rachel McCoy, St. Joseph native

It’s easy to have a food adventure in St. Joseph. We are Midwestern at heart, but we welcome and embrace cultural and culinary diversity. What’s your favorite lesser-known or cultural food item? Tell us, and let’s all share in the local food scene as friends, companions and neighbors.


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