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How Steve’s Hot Dogs began serving St. Louis’ official hot dog

Steve's Hot Dogs started as a hot dog cart serving concertgoers in 2008 by founder and musician Steve Ewing. Now, they operate with a full kitchen and restaurant space on Grand, just south of Tower Grove Park.
Emily Woodbury
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Steve's Hot Dogs started as a hot dog cart serving concertgoers in 2008 by founder and musician Steve Ewing. Now, it operates with a full kitchen and restaurant space on Grand, just south of Tower Grove Park.

Ever since Steve Ewing opened his first hot dog stand in 2008, he found himself wondering about something St. Louis seemed to be lacking.

“It’s like, ‘Why don’t we have a hot dog?’” Ewing told St. Louis on the Air. “We’ve done specials [like] the Seattle dog, the Denver dog or the Carolina dog. All these other places have dogs, and we don’t have an official hot dog.”

After 14 years and three locations (Steve’s Hot Dogs is now on Grand just south of Tower Grove Park), Ewing finally got his wish. Last week, Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia presented Steve's Hot Dogs with a resolution declaring the eatery’s “St. Louis Hot Dog” the official hot dog of St. Louis.

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Avery Lea Rogers
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The St. Louis hot dog is served in an Italian roll lined with provolone cheese, and topped with grilled bell peppers, grilled onions, bacon and a smoky pepper mustard.

The dog is smoked and served in an Italian roll lined with provolone cheese and topped with grilled bell peppers, grilled onions, bacon and a smoky pepper mustard.

Ewing said the restaurant’s main chef, Joe Zeable, drew inspiration from Italian cuisine on the Hill, where Steve’s Hot Dogs was first located.

“We're like, ‘Well, we're on the Hill,’ so we have all these amazing ingredients that we can get,” Ewing said. “Grilled onions, grilled bell peppers, the banana peppers … that's in a lot of sandwiches, especially on the Hill. So I think his mind was on that St. Louis Hill, Italian kind of thing, and I let him go with it.”

While serving St. Louis’ official hot dog is good for business, Ewing said his goal is recognition outside the Gateway City.

“What I really hope is that over time, we can start getting people outside of St. Louis to recognize that this is our hot dog, and that's going to take some time,” Ewing said. “That's going to take us getting out and really promoting that. And when we do our events, like bringing that dog to people, [to] say, ‘This is the official hot dog of St. Louis.’”

Steve’s Hot Dogs offers the official St. Louis hot dog

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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