15 diet-busting foods in St. Louis worth every extra sit-up

When you visit St. Louis, you have plenty of chances to get your fill of quinoa and light beer. But when you're craving something so greasy, so cheesy, so lick-the-sauce-off-your-elbows gratifying, there are plenty of spots that'll leave you feeling like you've committed all seven deadly sins in one sitting.

It's time to put your diet on pause and satisfy your inner glutton with 15 comfort foods even health nuts would fall for.

1. The Slinger at Courtesy Diner
The slinger is synonymous with St. Louis. At Courtesy Diner, the line cooks load up plates with eggs, hash browns and hamburger patties, then drown them all in chili, chopped onions and cheddar cheese. For the most voracious of eaters, they'll throw on a burrito as the sinful cherry on top. Best eaten at 3 a.m. after a night of beer-soaked carousing.

2. The Horseshoe, Sgt. Pepper's Café
This open-faced sandwich is usually constructed with Texas toast, a burger, French fries, and "secret" cheese sauce. But the Beatles-inspired Sgt. Pepper's in Edwardsville, Ill. uses Buffalo chicken strips in place of the burger. The hot sauce and cheese soak into the toast for extra deliciousness after you fight your way through the heaping mound of meat and potatoes.

3. Red Hot Riplets Dog, Dogs 'n Frys
The geniuses at Dogs 'n Frys have concocted the ultimate homage to St. Louis's favorite potato chip. Their latest hot dog creation features a bacon-wrapped dog doused in Red Hot Riplets-infused queso. Then they accessorize it with a handful of crumbled Riplets for extra flavor and crunch. This heat-packed combo sends both your mouth and your heart aflame with joy.

4. PBLT, Sugarfire Smoke House
One of St. Louis' most celebrated BBQ joints also serves up one the city's best sandwiches. For their PBLT, they slather thick cuts of bread with a generous scoop of pimento cheese, top it with sugary house bacon, and to make sure you get your vitamins, throw on some lettuce and tomato. Then they toast it to perfection so all the melty goodness oozes out with every bite.

5. Mountain Berry Pie, Ravanelli's
The pie here is so good, it's become my official birthday cake every year. Ravenelli's skips the frou-frou flaky crust and instead treats diners to a dense, thick crust surrounding a coat-your-teeth filling of luscious blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. The moment you hold a full pie in your hands and feel its girth, you know this is the king of the desserts.

6. Smothered Fries, The Shaved Duck
There are French fries. And then there Shaved Duck smothered French fries. The potatoes here are hand-cut in house and then deep-fried in duck fat (yep, you read that right) for an extra shot of flavor. They're then topped with pulled rib and pork meet, a tidal wave of cheese sauce, and freshly grated sharp cheddar. Be still my heart.

7. Fried Chicken, Porter's Fried Chicken
If you've ever seen the documentary City of Gold, you know there are dining gems hidden in America's suburban strip malls. And Porter's Fried Chicken is no exception. Here, each piece of chicken is double-dipped in a spicy, flour-based breading to maintain the juicy meat inside and ensure that perfect snap every time you bite in.

8. Brain Sandwich, Schottzie's Bar and Grill
St. Louis's meatpacking industry and its German heritage made brain sandwiches the fast food of the early twentieth century. While tastes have changed, Schottzie's still honors our history with their deep-fried pork brain specialty. The spicy, crunchy coating houses the slightly creamy meat inside and is served up on Swiss rye bread with red onions, pickles and mustard.

9. Macaroni and Cheese, Sweetie Pie's
Oprah made Sweetie Pie's famous, but their macaroni and cheese made them legendary. With its mix of cheeses, dollops of butter and crunchy top coat, Sweetie Pie's shows us how our favorite childhood dish should always have been. Best of all, the servings are huge so serious mac fans can eat to their heart's content – or until their pants button gives out.

10. The George, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
There are a few shorts weeks in February that make my entire year. That's when Ted Drewes, voted as the Best Ice Cream Shop in the World, pulls The George into its rotation of seasonal concretes. In honor of George Washington, a hefty slab of sugar-topped cherry pie is blended into vanilla frozen custard and then topped off generously with whipped cream. Hello, lover!

11. Welsh Rarebit, Llywelyn's Pub
St. Louis's hometown chain of Irish pubs is home to one of the most delicious Celtic dishes in the city. The chefs whip up their Guinness cheddar cheese sauce, with the perfect amount of spices and hint of Worcestershire, before pouring it over grilled sourdough bread. It's then loaded with bacon bits, chopped tomatoes, and God bless them, crispy fried onions.

12. Pancakes, Uncle Bill's Pancake House
There are plenty of places to get gourmet pancakes, but for old school, nothing beats Uncle Bill's, which is open 24 hours a day. Their buttery golden, plate-filling flapjacks can be outfitted with fruit topping, decked out in pecans or chocolate chips, or for the most sugar-addicted, piled with ice cream, homemade fudge sauce and whipped cream.

13. Heart Stopping BLT, Crown Candy Kitchen
There's a reason this sandwich lives up to its name. St. Louis's oldest soda fountain piles their BLT with more than a dozen pieces of thick-sliced, kettle-fried bacon, fresh lettuce and tomato, and a coat of good ol' Miracle Whip. And of course, it's on served up on white bread. Pair it with their so-thick-your-eyes-will-bulge-out milkshake for the ultimate in salty and sweet.

14. Biscuits and Gravy, The Mud House
While The Mud House is my favorite breakfast spot for their creative vegan and vegetarian spins on the morning meal, they also treat carnivores to a traditional breakfast favorite with a twist. Made-from-scratch biscuits are bathed in a milk gravy with locally-sourced sausage and a smattering of fresh herbs. To kick it up a notch, they throw on two sunny-side up eggs.

15. The American Burger, Baileys' Range
Baileys' Range is known for dressing up its 100% grass-fed Missouri beef with toppings like pesto and goat cheese. But for true burger connoisseurs, The American is the way to go. This two-fisted burger features fried macaroni and cheese, bacon and a healthy heap of Sriracha mayonnaise. Wash it down with an ice cream float made with St. Louis's own Fitz's root beer.

Nicole Plegge is a freelance writer and pop culture aficionado based in St. Louis. While she's busy writing for a variety of websites, magazines and blogs, she still can't get over never being able to attend the Eastland School for Girls.