southwest diner uses gravy, not chili, to smother its popular southwest slinger. photo by julia calleo

Chili Versus Gravy: St. Louis' great slinger debate

To quote Southwest Diner co-owner Jonathan Jones: “A diner in St. Louis has to have a slinger.” It may not be as controversial, but the slinger has earned its place alongside Provel-topped pizza and bread-sliced bagels as one of St. Louis’ most debated dishes. 

A classic slinger usually comprises eggs, meat, potato, chili and cheese. However, once you get into the hard-and-fast details, nothing is certain. As far as toppings go, the chili versus gravy argument has long separated the dish’s most passionate supporters. 

While torrents of chili dress the slingers at most local diners, Jones defends Southwest’s use of gravy with a simple question: “Um, have you had our gravy?”

Here’s how your five Readers’ Choice Favorite Diners handle the slinger.

the dining room at southwest diner in st. louis // photo by julia calleo

First Place // Southwest Diner
6803 Southwest Ave., St. Louis, 314.260.7244,

Sitting at No. 1 in the Favorite Diner category, Southwest brings a unique (and often spicy) take on numerous breakfast staples. Its Southwest Slinger features two quarter-pound burger patties, home fries, melted longhorn cheese, two eggs and red or green chilies. Notice that actual chili is absent here. You mad? Get over it – for two bucks, you can add homemade sausage gravy (and you definitely should).

Second Place // Uncle Bill’s Pancake and Dinner House
3427 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.832.1973,

Open 24 hours a day since 1961, Uncle Bill’s is the spot that everyone and their parents (and grandparents) know. A very traditional take, the Sling Shot features hash browns, a burger, two eggs, chili and two pieces of American cheese. And that’s perfect, because let’s be real – nobody wants a weird slinger at 3 a.m.

Read More // It's 2 a.m. at Uncle Bill's Pancake and Dinner House

Third Place // City Diner
3139 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.772.6100,

With a massive menu featuring everything from huevos rancheros to Philly cheesesteak to liver and onions, there’s something at City Diner for everyone. If you’re here for the slinger, you can look forward to two eggs, pork sausage, hash browns, chili and cheddar.

Honorable Mention // Courtesy Diner
Various locations,

If you haven’t eaten a slinger at Courtesy Diner between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m., you’ve missed the quintessential St. Louis late-night experience. The efficiently titled Slinger has two eggs, hash browns, hamburger and chili. There’s no cheese, but it’s available as an add-on. (Pro tip: Don’t forget Courtesy Diner is cash-only.)

Honorable Mention // Chris’ Pancake and Dining
5980 Southwest Ave., St. Louis, 314.645.2088,

Definitely the most out-there concoction, Chris’ slinger is more like a mutant egg dish – in a cool way. The Slinger Stuffed Omelet contains jalapeno, onion, smoked brisket, hash browns and cheddar, all topped with chili.

Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.