I like to bring a smattering of St. Louis culture into my stories by having the detectives grab a meal at a noticeable eating establishment in the greater St. Louis realm. In The Broken Cross, Detectives Ballack and Vaughan head north across the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to get some juicy ecclesiastical gossip from Father Billy Doyle in Alton, Illinois. Because this bluff town on the river banks is known for one major item (aside from an underrated yet quality row of antique stores) and that is the "Best Bar in the Midwest, Maybe the World"... Fast Eddie's Bon Air.
It's hard to capture in one blog post what Fast Eddie's is like. I first went there in 1995 during my seminary days and today the prices are pretty much around the same area. The Big Elwood steak on a stick remains at $2.99 (at least, the last time Christy and I went there for lunch). The menu is cheap and filling, and the drinks are cold. Since the late Eddie Sholar purchased the joint in 1981, things took off and the results are legendary. Over 400 chairs to sit and over 4000 half barrels of beer per year means people have a great time.
No wonder, you might say once you read the latest Ballack installment, Fast Eddie's snags its rightful place in the pages of literature. Because it's definitely one of the top dives in the world.