In recent years, culinary tastemakers across the nation have started to realize something we’ve known for a while: St. Louis has a truly extraordinary food scene. Citing a slate of fresh new spots and up-and-coming talent, the food bloggers, celebrity chefs, and restaurant reviewers have coalesced around a narrative: That St. Louis has arrived, transitioning from flyover city to bona fide food destination. It’s an exciting development and one that is well-deserved. These new industry voices, filled with creativity and innovation, make right now a landmark moment to dine in St. Louis.
- DISH: The gaucho-style rolled skirt steak or the carabineros (deep-sea prawns)
- DRINK: The dulce de leche martini—but you can’t go wrong pairing a sangria with the South American cuisine.
- INSIDER TIP: Co-owner Daniel Gonzalez says his wife, Maria Giamportone, makes the best lobster bisque he’s ever tasted. 7322 Manchester, Maplewood.
- DISH: Khao soi, with chicken drumsticks simmered in red coconut curry with fresh egg noodles
- DRINK: Thai iced tea (cha yen)
- INSIDER TIP: Owner Su Hill is the sister of Ann Bognar, co-owner of Nippon Tei, Ramen Tei, and Tei Too, which previously occupied the space. Hill and a group of “three aunties” prepare all the food. 8158 Big Bend, Webster Groves.
- DISH: An in-house dry-aging room says it all. Try the 16-ounce rib-eye—or consider a seafood option.
- DRINK: From the impressive list of classic cocktails, order an Aviation, which takes the martini to new heights.
- INSIDER TIP: The inviting patio is typically in full shade by early evening and overlooks a small lake and trails—perfect for a post-dinner stroll. 13360 Clayton, Town & Country.
- DISH: If it’s still on the menu, try the pheasant breast, with beet essence, asparagus, and apple-bacon sauce.
- DRINK: Break through the the mirror-glazed, blue-luster-dusted shell of the Starry Night dessert to discover chocolate cake, chocolate crème, and blueberry compote.
- INSIDER TIP: Chef Scottie Corrigan’s honey-jalapeño bisque soup was so popular, he also made it into a house ice cream. 634 N. Grand.
- DISH: Pair the seasonal tartine of yellow chanterelles with watermelon “fries.”
- DRINK: The Pink Dragon Fruit Matcha or medicinal mushroom coffee.
- INSIDER TIP: The signature tartines’ names are inspired by Clayton street names. 14 N. Meramec, Clayton.
- DISH: The namesake dish comes with tempura-like fried whitefish, shrimp, and calamari, along with yuca fries, fried plantains, and two styles of Peruvian corn.
- DRINK: Chicha, the nonalcoholic purple corn lemonade, can be amped up by adding a shot of rum or pisco.
- INSIDER TIP: A rising star, owner-chef Andrew Cisneros collaborated with Perennial Artisan Ales to create a new concept, Sanguchitos by Brasas. 323 N. Main, St. Charles.
- DISH: If available, order the macerated heirloom tomatoes with shaved pickled beets. Otherwise, try the ’nduja croquetas.
- DRINK: The pink negroni
- INSIDER TIP: Late last year, The New York Times included the Fox Park restaurant among 50 favorites nationwide. 2800 Shenandoah, Fox Park.
- DISH: The limited menu is posted early in the week. Count on one beef option, one fish item, and a random protein (pork, duck, lamb, etc.).
- DRINK: The Root Cosmo gets the Wow Garnish Award—when popped, a rosemary-scented smoke bubble cascades over the drink.
- INSIDER TIP: The rooms are charming and pastoral, but time your visit for when the patio is open. 5525 Walnut, Augusta.
- DISH: Salve’s Caesar salad is like no other, and the lamb arancini are served with date agrodolce and yogurt.
- DRINK: Co-owner Natasha Bahrami’s Gin Room, known nationwide, anchors the restaurant.
- INSIDER TIP: The patio has its own bar with a separate cocktail menu. 3200 S. Grand, South City.
- DISH: Among the most popular dishes: the lobster pot pie, grilled Caesar, and carrot fritters.
- DRINK: The wine list punches above its weight, with a hefty selection of rosé, sauv blanc, and “alternative whites.” The Picpoul and Muscadet are value-priced standouts.
- INSIDER TIP: Take turns guessing how many wine corks are on the wall above the bar. 12710 Olive, Creve Coeur.
- DISH: The ever-changing 15-item dinner menu takes familiar foodstuffs for a breezy, creative ride. See something seemingly off the wall? Order it. Chef-owner Logan Ely doesn’t miss.
- DRINK: A short wine list with largely unfamiliar selections yields unexpected dividends. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—the staff has almost certainly heard it before.
- INSIDER TIP: During Sunday brunch, reservations are pretty much mandatory, as is the four-item Beer & A Shot menu. Big as two hands, the biscuit is the quintessential sharable. 2501 S. Jefferson, South City.
- DISH: Start with the morel and burrata tartine (if available). Then try the seafood rigatoni in a shellfish broth studded with heirloom tomatoes.
- DRINK: Co-owner Bryan Herr, proprietor of the erstwhile Naked Vine, curates a masterful wine list featuring a whopping 23 California cabs and 40-plus by-the-glass selections.
- INSIDER TIP: Westchester is among the only finer-dining restaurants in the metro area to serve a late dinner, staying open until 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 127 Chesterfield Towne Center, Chesterfield.
The Hill might be synonymous with Italian food in St. Louis, but the cuisine takes on countless iterations across the region, such as at Acero. The authenticity and creativity there is real (think lamb ragu), but don’t overlook the wine list. 7266 Manchester, Maplewood.
Little-known fact: Clayton runs largely on the Bolognese sauce at Café Napoli, in the heart of the county seat. Classics—along with scampi, veal marsala, that creamy Bolognese—all glow. The interior offers cubbyholes for a delightful intimacy. 7754 Forsyth, Clayton.
And still relatively new, Casa Don Alfonso in The Ritz-Carlton dazzles, with a sprawling copper-plated open kitchen and sumptuous seating areas, along with exquisite southern Italian specialties. It almost instantly set a new bar for excellence. 100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton.
If you haven’t dined on that fairy-light-festooned patio at Charlie Gitto’s on an early-autumn evening, then you have not really eaten well in St. Louis. Try the burrata Caprese salad, along with a glass of Ruffino rosé—that alone will convince you. 5226 Shaw, The Hill.
Dig that drizzle of hot honey on the pizza at Edera, and and take advantage of chef Andrew Simon’s memorable pizza specials. The patio’s vine-covered walls make for the ultimate in intimate outdoor dining. 48 Maryland Plaza, Central West End.
Among West County’s upscale formal Italian restaurants, Il Bel Lago is consistently one of the best. Presentations are extravagant. The menu’s classic Italian. Pastas are superb. Happy hour, lasting until 8 p.m., offers lots of affordable small plates, and when the weather cooperates, there’s fountain-side dining. 11631 Olive, Creve Coeur.
Sleek and chic, Il Palato is leather-chair, marble-bar upscale. The fare’s southern Italian, with light broths and delicate preparations, such as pan-roasted branzino with mushroom risotto. 222 S. Bemiston, Clayton.
A six-course tasting menu with wines at J. Devoti Trattoria is a marvelous deal. It’s relaxed; the piatti selections alone—for instance, a cheese plate of local curds and house-made breads—make this place’s reputation well deserved. 5100 Daggett, The Hill.
With dishes like veal saltimbocca and a filet topped with gorgonzola, LoRusso’s Cucina serves strictly Nona-style fare with hefty portions. There are house-made pastas, breadcrumb-dusted shrimp roasted with garlic butter, six-layer lasagna, and a constantly changing selection of gelato. 3121 Watson, The Hill.
At Peno, a tureen of seafood is fragrant and irresistible, the broth like a fine liqueur. Pizzas are suitably blistered, providentially crusty. It’s cozy-chic without pretense; the patio’s like dining streetside in Capri, without all the pesky Vespas. 7600 Wydown, Clayton.
Another oddly situated titan is Paul Manno’s, located in a strip mall, with an interior and style that stuns. It’s Jersey Italian, with an accent on steaks and a Sinatra-smooth atmosphere that epitomizes the whole swanky shebang. 75 Forum Shopping Center, Chesterfield.
Situated in a big Victorian house in Kirkwood, Peppe’s Apt. 2 oozes Old World class. Dishes are flawless, the sauces executed deftly, and presentations lovely. 800 S. Geyer, Kirkwood.
From the subdued lighting to the crisp service, Trattoria Marcella doesn’t miss a beat. And oh, that osso buco. The beef tenderloin sandwich on garlic bread, though, is an insider favorite, served with Parmesan fries. 3600 Watson, South City.
Located in the former Bar Les Frères space, Michael and Tara Gallina’s new restaurant lives up to the high expectations. Guests can enjoy such dishes as smoked trout rillette toast in a Parisian-chic atmosphere. 7637 Wydown, Clayton.
Enjoy the croque madame or bistro steak and frites while sitting at the charming sidewalk tables overlooking the CWE, in the window-lined bistro, or at next-door Brass Bar. 4580 Laclede, Central West End.
Experience quality French cuisine at a reasonable price at this Kirkwood mainstay, serving such classics as Poulet de Bergerac (chicken wrapped in a puff pastry). 427 S. Kirkwood, Kirkwood.
Take in the city skyline from the romantic rooftop patio, where eggplant Napoleon drizzled with a balsamic reduction and fresh halibut are among the standouts. 2017 Chouteau, Lafayette Square.
First, Natasha Kwan and Rick Roloff, the husband-and-wife team opened vegan eatery Frida’s in University City (temporarily closed at press time for a revamp), at a time before plant-based eating was popular in St. Louis.
The pair followed up with Diego’s Cantina, a restaurant serving Latin American–inspired street food that pays homage to Roloff’s childhood in a Texas border town. Now, Kwan and Roloff are going in yet another direction with a Benton Park eatery offering flexitarian comfort food, including vegan mozzarella sticks and crispy chicken sandwiches.
Named Station No. 3, the restaurant is located in a former service station and is also a nod to Kwan and Roloff’s third restaurant venture together. 622 North and South, University City; 630 North and South, University City; 1956 Utah, South City.
Jason and Adam Tilford’s colorful concept serves up fun spins on tacos, such as the Mango-Hop-Anero Shrimp. Multiple locations.
Taking an old-school approach, the Ellisville restaurant serves up Mexico City–inspired dishes, drawing from 150-plus years of family recipes. 15939 Manchester, Ellisville.
In burgeoning Botanical Heights, chef Ben Poremba’s trendy vanguard serves more than 50 types of tequila and mezcal. 1621 Tower Grove, South City.
The popular restaurant (which is planning a second location in Kirkwood) features items inspired by regions including India, Thailand, and Nashville. 7405 Pershing, University City.
The unassuming Overland restaurant offers authentic Mexican dishes, including birria, a traditional stew served with queso. 10238 Page, Overland.
- DISH: If you’re a fan of Pastaria, try the Italian-inspired cacio e pepe eggs, served with semolina toast and arugula salad.
- DRINK: If you’re feeling spicy, opt for the bloody mary, with tomatillos and poblanos.
- INSIDER TIP: Take in the lush surroundings from the deck in the store, or find a spot in the inviting courtyard if available. 4605 Olive, Central West End.
- DISH: The stone-ground grits is filling enough for two meals
- DRINK: The Sunny Day Latte, with cinnamon on top
- INSIDER TIP: The lunch items are equally noteworthy—and for dinner, try the off-menu Frankenstein pie from O+O Pizza next door. 100 W. Lockwood, Webster Groves.
- DISH: Split something sweet (the S’mores French toast) and savory (flat-iron steak and eggs)
- DRINK: Indulge with a French toast latte
- INSIDER TIP: Beat the crowds by going first thing on weekends, or go on a weekday. 8135 Maryland, Clayton.
- DISH: Crêpes are practically mandatory here. Our preference: the savory Mo. Made Sausage with roasted apple and white cheddar.
- DRINK: Depending on your mood, indulge with a Chocolate Bar Mocha or a Bloody Samurai (with wasabi and soy sauce).
- INSIDER TIP: As it turned 15, the downtown location moved into the former Dubliner space, where the 60-seat second-floor mezzanine offers overflow seating and hosts private events. Multiple locations.
- DISH: If you’re splitting, the biscuit flight’s a filling way to kick off brunch. Mix and match four types of biscuits with house-made jam, honey, and butter.
- DRINK: While you’re at it, consider sharing a carafe of blood orange mimosa.
- INSIDER TIP: Chef-owner David Kirkland has always emphasized fresh ingredients, stretching back to his days at Café Osage. Ask about the fresh produce grown above the restaurant at Sally’s Rooftop Garden & Terrace. 3224 Locust, Midtown.
- DISH: If available, the mushroom and greens quiche is a light, fresh option.
- DRINK: Sump True Level drip coffee or a Big Heart chai latte
- INSIDER TIP: Peruse gifts, wines, and more downstairs at The Cellar Shop. 7213 Delmar, University City.
Helmed by acclaimed chef Lou Rook, Annie Gunn’s has pulled off the impossible over the past 33 years: to exist both as a meat-and-potatoes steak house and a bastion of timeless haute cuisine. 16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield.
While some restaurants have found success in keeping up with changing tastes, others are beloved because they evoke the past. Beffa’s is that place. With roots dating back well over a century, the Midtown gathering place has a fresh start under a new generation of the Beffa family, but it retains its classic Reuben sandwich feel, even if the cafeteria-style service had to go by the wayside during the pandemic. 2700 Olive, Midtown.
Before all the national buzz, there were the trailblazers. Consider The Crossing, where owner Jim Fiala empowers fresh talent, such as chef Thu Rein Oo, to ensure the restaurant remains innovative. 7823 Forsyth, Clayton.
Nostalgia is what keeps Cyrano’s humming as well. Known for its stunning desserts, the Webster Groves spot has added a few new items here and there, but it remains true to the standards, including world-class bread pudding and the iconic Cleopatra. 603 E. Lockwood, Webster Groves.
No conversation of St. Louis restaurants would be complete without the Italian old guard. Dominic’s on The Hill continues to set the standard for the sort of tableside fine Italian dining that’s defined a genre in our city. 5101 Wilson, The Hill.
Even from its new spot in Westport Plaza, former Top of the Met classic Kemoll’s Chop House continues to dazzle with its chops and Italian-inflected fare. 323 Westport Plaza, Maryland Heights.
Perhaps no restaurant better embodies both our history and present than Mai Lee, the beloved Vietnamese restaurant led by the Tran family. As the city’s unofficial culinary ambassador, Qui Tran bubbles over with pride for what his family has created and uses his position to help future talent realize their potential. 8396 Musick Memorial, Mai Lee.
Led by James Beard Award winner Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Café underwent a significant transition when he took it over in 2003, 16 years into its run. Although he kept some of the popular dishes from the restaurant’s previous incarnation, Nashan has infused the menu with his classically trained touch. It continues to be a vital part of St. Louis fine dining. 2000 Sidney, Benton Park.
The St. Louis dining scene would not be what it is today were it not for Tony’s, which set the standard by which all other fine-dining should be judged. That it remains St. Louis’ shorthand for the epitome of elegance is a testament to founder Vince Bommarito Sr.’s lasting vision. 105 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton.
Truffles has found lasting success by threading the needle between the classic chophouse experience and elegant, white-tablecloth dining. 9202 Clayton, Ladue.
Nick Bognar draws a single, effortless pull of the knife to shave the salmon. It’s not the fish’s lean flank; it’s the sunazuri, the belly, old ivory-white, luscious, sticky with fat, and he scores shallow slices to expose more. Then he grazes the flesh with a blue torch flame, just long enough to melt some of that shiny fat to up the succulent factor into overdrive.
It is a matter of finesse. It’s that quality that can define a restaurant, establish its character, a quality that above all elevates a meal into an experience. It’s the finesse that infuses everything—food, atmosphere, service—so seamlessly, you’re often not immediately conscious of it. You just sense it and suddenly you realize how special it is. That’s what happens when you watch Bognar, at indo, crafting that salmon into a minor masterpiece in front of you. It’s style, talent, attitude. Most of all, though, it’s a wonderful finesse.
The Bognar family has long been a player on the St. Louis dining scene. Nick Bognar’s mother opened Ballwin’s Nippon Tei decades ago. The restaurant is an improbable combination of Japanese and Thai cuisine that nevertheless proved wildly popular all over West County and where Bognar began earning the hot-pan-on-the-forearms scars of a professional chef; he later took over a sister restaurant, Tei Too, in Webster Groves.
While traveling the globe, Bognar cooked at a Texas restaurant that set the bar for Japanese dining and shook the complacency that was then stifling Japanese-themed eateries on both coasts. The restaurant’s reputation came largely because of a fierce, uncompromising dedication to the traditions of Japanese cuisine that were intertwined with a daring willingness to monkey with innovation and madly creative works of edible art. It was an approach that matched Bognar’s personality exactly.
More recently, Bognar returned to Nippon Tei, where a series of sold-out omakase dinners (limited to those lucky enough to fill the seats at the sushi bar) made immediately obvious that he’d upped his game—considerably. So when word came he was opening a new place, in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, fans were lining up.
Whatever the first tenants of the space had in mind, they probably did not envision what it’s become. The pressed-tin ceilings and vintage bricks are still there; indo’s interior is still so small that servers call out when going through the door to avoid accidents. The dining room’s not much larger than a living room; the bar’s cozy. Devotees fill every seat, every night, as Bognar performs. It’s like watching close-up magic, except the guests get to eat the illusions.
The sushi alone has drawn thousands to the place. Bognar’s offerings are on an entirely different level. Buttery rich amberjack, domino slices of it, perch in a shallow bowl, in a lemony pool of coconut milk and nam pla fish sauce, dressed with a house-made condiment, kosho, and jacked up with Thai chiles and candied ginger. Even the crankiest sushi traditionalist would be stunned at one of the cuisine’s most classic fishes presented in such spectacular fashion.
Then there’s the Southeast Asia–influenced part of the menu: noodles with a smear of black garlic paste on the plate, short-rib curry, pot-sticker dumplings served on a lacy filigree of crunchy fried tempura batter. Laksa—think of it as an Indonesian cioppino—is a thick broth of coconut milk gravy, pink with chile oil, with rice noodles and a layer of prawns, mussels, crisp fried fillets of salmon and a tumble of salmon roe, all so fragrant with curry and so beautiful that it floods your senses. The dishes are both interesting and inspired.
Bognar seems restless. Or maybe it’s just, like his work behind the counter, an urge to push it, to see how far and in what new directions he can take things. This fall, he plans to open Sado on The Hill, in the space that once housed Giovanni’s. The plan is to create an even more intimate space than indo’s, with the focus on the sushi bar, where Bognar hopes to revive his legendary omakase dinners. At indo, too, changes are shaking things up. A substantial cocktail list was recently added, along with a fairly lengthy menu of wrapped temaki sushi. (No, not rolls, but hand-wrapped cones.)
Sushi enthusiasts are already making reservations to see what alchemy the chef will work. Word comes of confit mushrooms, truffle salt, and pickled wasabi finding their way into these temaki. Expectations here, however high, are bound to be exceeded.
Indo—there is scarcely a higher encomium—is a restaurant for the connoisseur. It is a place for those who appreciate the quality of finesse. 1641D Tower Grove.
Owner Eddie Arzola describes the Benton Park restaurant as his family’s “extended dining room table.” After all, three generations of Arzolas have served Tex-Mex for 30 years. The latest rendition offers a comfy patio and expanded tequila menu. Signature fajitas are marinated for 72 hours, and two kinds of salsa (smoky-sweet red and spicy roasted verde) accompany chile-dusted tortilla chips. 2730 McNair, Benton Park.
When Avenue opened in Clayton nearly a decade ago, chef-owners Bryan and Diane Carr were already well-known for Pomme and Pomme Wine Bar; today, Avenue’s menu features seasonal dishes, including numerous seafood offerings. 12 N. Meramec, Clayton.
It looks like the Taos Pueblo outside. Inside are burgers the size of your head, barbecue, pizzas, and nachos. The bar is comfy, and the terrace is spacious, with attractive firepits. 131 W. Argonne, Kirkwood.
Housed in a 1930s-era building, Cleveland–Heath is one of the most popular restaurants in the Metro East. The restaurant serves up new American comfort food, including its famous Rensing pork chop, as well as a hearty weekend brunch. The deviled eggs here are potentially addicting. Limit yourself and concentrate on that ever-changing seasonal menu. 106 N. Main, Edwardsville.
A fresh, healthy fast-casual spin on Vietnamese fare featuring bowls, banh mi, bao sliders, pho, and more, each available with a wide choice of protein options. Multiple locations.
It’s one of the few places that balances a competent bar with a creditable restaurant. You’ll find burgers, salads, and the best Welsh pasty in town. 8110 Big Bend, Webster Groves.
For hearty comfort food, head to the aptly named restaurant, an elegant interpretation of comfort food recipes, thanks to the talented Lavinia McCoy, who serves up her self-described “urban soul” cuisine (for instance, smothered pork chops) alongside flawlessly cooked lamb chops. 1620 Delmar.
Besides the classics, Khanna’s offers Indian fusion items, such as chicken tikka tacos. The restaurant serves some seriously intense spices, especially those such as fenugreek, ginger, and coriander, all of which perfume the air. Everything seems ramped up in flavor—and richness. 13724 Olive, Chesterfield.
Mandy Estrella’s fast-casual restaurant serves familiar dishes from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Chicharrones are the draw, but other Latin American specialties are similarly alluring. 2001 Park, Lafayette Square.
One 19 North offers a lengthy menu of shareable dishes and wine in a cozy, intimate atmosphere. The menu is reasonably priced. The starters—baked goat cheese, smoked-Gouda grits, fried artichoke hearts—are delicious. And there’s a nice wine selection. 119 N. Kirkwood, Kirkwood.
In many cases, “tapas” has become synonymous with “overpriced little plates.” Not at Robust. Exquisite cheeses and cured meats are cleverly matched with an extraordinary wine list. 227 W. Lockwood, Webster Groves.
Many regulars skip the weekend crowds during the hugely popular Saturday brunch and opt instead for the “weekday brunch.” The restaurant and bakery really shines at night, when it serves a dinner menu loaded with homey, classic dishes such as Buttonwood Farm’s fried-chicken-and-bacon-wrapped meatloaf. 5400 Murdoch, South City.
At both the DeMun and Shaw locations, Sasha’s sits on cozy, tree-lined streets, where enjoying a glass of your favorite red and a plate of charcuterie feels as pleasant and relaxed as sharing a glass on your front porch with friends. Multiple locations.
Scarlett’s is a great choice for a glass of rosé and a crêpe on a weekend afternoon, as well as a spot for more serious dining. The neighborhood eatery has oven-scorched pizzas and unpretentiously presented gastropub fare with Spanish and Italian influences that easily pair with its handsome wine list. Two patio areas are equally comfortable and inviting. 4253 Laclede, Central West End.
Louisiana native Travis Parfait and restaurant veteran Pamela Melton link the Gateway City and Crescent City with a combination of barbecue and New Orleans comfort food. If the call goes out for Cajun fare, the seafood gumbo here is worth the trek. 3550 S. Broadway, South City.
The menu includes upscale pub grub, as well as seafood stew, pan-roasted chicken, and a pub chips platter with Irish cheddar rarebit. The tap list features an impressive rotating selection. Multiple locations.
- DISH: The butter-poached Niman Ranch strip steak
- DRINK: The One Million Kisses cocktail with—wait for it—cream cheese foam
- INSIDER TIP: The list of original cocktails reads like a TouchTunes playlist. Each cocktail is the title of a song with the musician’s name noted alongside the drink components. (Hint: Splurge a little and upgrade your whiskey to Glenmorangie Signet.) 1500 St. Charles, Downtown.
- DISH: Frazer’s cioppino, loaded with mussels, clams, shrimp, fresh fish, and squid in a rich, aromatic tomato broth with bay leaf and fresh thyme.
- DRINK: The What Is That? Velvet? cocktail, a combination of rum, sugar, lime, frothed egg white, and olive oil.
- INSIDER TIP: Don’t overlook its other seafood offerings: New Orleans barbecue shrimp, salmon, mussels, oysters, and fresh fish specials. 1811 Pestalozzi, South City.
- DISH: The “famous” egg salad and a Jerusalem bagel, served with labneh, za’atar, and pomegranate molasses.
- DRINK: The spritz selection is a refreshing way to enjoy a low-ABV cocktail.
- INSIDER TIP: Guests can also order bottles from sister restaurant Elaia’s eclectic wine list. 1634 Tower Grove, Botanical Heights.
- DISH: House-made fries are available in three flavors, and the dill pairs well with the In a Pickle cocktail.
- DRINK:You won’t find it on the menu, but one of co-owner/mixologist Ted Kilgore’s most delicious cocktails is the Industry Sour, a concoction he’s known for across the country.
- INSIDER TIP: The barrel-pick cocktails are popular and beautifully crafted; each rye and bourbon expresses its own nuances. 1000 Mississippi, Lafayette Square.
- DISH: The Brussels sprouts are a notch above others in town, made with chickpeas, pine nuts, and agrodolce.
- DRINK:The Golden State cocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Visit during happy hour (from 4–6 p.m. Monday through Friday) for $8 eats, as well as discounted drinks. 6 N. Sarah, Central West End.
- DISH: The must-try crêpe cake dessert
- DRINK: A throwback: The Catalina wine cooler
- INSIDER TIP: During a Cards game, the TVs run several seconds behind the live feed, so when you hear a cheer—or better yet, fireworks—you still have time to catch the action. 1 S. Broadway, Downtown.
Chris Meyer and Mike Miller’s complementary skills fuel the success of Songbird, their breakfast-and-lunch café, with Meyer in the front of house and Miller in the kitchen. Meyer grew up with family who gardened extensively and later spent three years working on an organic farm. She believes top-notch ingredients make a difference, but they aren’t everything. “Mike is one of the few people I’ve met who have an innate gift for cooking,” she says. “People can learn to be really great in the kitchen and mechanically proficient, but Mike can visualize things and make great food.” At Songbird, the service matches the food’s quality. “I appreciate Chris’ genuine approach,” Miller says. It’s a winning combo. 4476 Chouteau, The Grove.
- DISH: The black garlic and artichoke pizza, with kale, Baetje Farms goat cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon, and wildflower honey.
- DRINK: The bright-green All Cash cocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Take home some of the house-made black garlic butter. Multiple locations.
- DISH: The Sugo Rigatoni—a mixture of perfectly braised pork, tomato, Parmigiana Reggiano, and fennel slivers—could be the most overlooked dish in town.
- DRINK: The theatrical house-smoked negroni is assembled with Old Tom gin, Campari, Antica vermouth, and smoked orange bitters.
- INSIDER TIP: Sit by the pizza oven to watch pizzaiolo Alex Herman confect perfect Neapolitan pies with a leopard-spotted crust. 5105 Westwood, St. Peters.
- DISH: The eggplant parmesan, a simple yet stunning take on a nostalgic Italian classic.
- DRINK: The Poison Apple, made with tequila, spiced pear, apple brandy, cinnamon, lime, orange juice, and angostura bitters—a well-balanced approach to a fruity cocktail.
- INSIDER TIP: If available, order any corzetti dish, hand-pressed pasta made with a corzetti stamp. 102 W. Lockwood, Webster Groves.
- DISH: The locally made Salume Beddu spicy ’nduja meat pizza, made with a hybrid Neapolitan dough, a tomato base, mozzarella, garlic, oregano, and a drizzle of honey.
- DRINK: The house-made limoncello is a tangy, lemon-packed spirit that can cut through any rich pizza or pasta.
- INSIDER TIP: Hit Pastaria’s deli during the day for those irresistible cookies, made with the perfect balance of chocolate and brown butter. 7734 Forsyth, Clayton.
- DISH: The stracciatella pizza is crafted with an irresistible house-made cheese, a tomato base, extra virgin olive oil, and black pepper—a simple but fulfilling meal.
- DRINK: The Hemingway, a $10 cocktail that punches above its weight as a perfect blend of white rum, Pamplemousse liqueur, Luxardo, lime juice, and grapefruit juice.
- INSIDER TIP: Start with the baba ganoush, accompanied by fresh, French-style fougasse bread. 2024 Marconi, The Hill.
- DISH: The spinach pizza, with bacon, garlic, a zesty umami kick of lemon, grana, and mozzarella.
- DRINK: Co-owner Sean Netzer has curated an impressive list of affordable wines from small producers that are available for online ordering. (Dining in? Add a $15 corkage fee.)
- INSIDER TIP: The meatballs and toast might be the best in town. 1629 Tower Grove, Botanical Heights.
- DISH: Ask about the burger of the month.
- DRINK: The Do Not Seek the Treasure specialty cocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Happy hour—from 3–5 p.m. daily—is among the best in town. 8125 Maryland, Clayton.
- DISH: Check the Burger Battle matchup: Each week, two burgers face off and the most popular moves on to the next week.
- DRINK: Choose from a range of beverages with a twist: boozy lemonade, boozy iced tea, boozy wine coolers, or boozy shakes.
- INSIDER TIP: Visit the new Shaw location, housed in a renovated former service station. Multiple locations.
- DISH: The Cowboy Burger, which helped owner Mike Johnson to win the World Food Championships last year (albeit with a version made from Impossible vegetarian meat).
- DRINK: A shake, of course—the shake of the week, Totally S’more-tified, or the Strawberry Shortshake.
- INSIDER TIP: At the Kirkwood location, order online, and pick up at the drive-thru. Multiple locations.
- DISH: The Captain Classic (four beef patties with ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, and American cheese).
- DRINK: Excel Frostie root beer—or a mocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Arrive early or during an off time to avoid the lines. 5656 Oakland.
- DISH: Seek the specials. For instance, Stacked recently partnered with Field to Fire to create a burger topped with locally sourced ingredients.
- DRINK: Sip one of the many whiskeys.
- INSIDER TIP: Ask about seasonal options. During peach season, for instance, Stacked used Eckert’s peaches in peach drinks and desserts. 7637 Ivory, South City.
- DISH: The rotating menu frequently sells out—if you see burnt ends or brisket, move quick.
- DRINK: Grab a local craft brew while waiting.
- INSIDER TIP: Tickets for the Live-Fire Brunch Buffet come with a coupon for the butcher shop. 4156 Manchester, The Grove.
- DISH: The smashed umami burger hints at the chef-driven roots of owner Chris Bolyard.
- DRINK: Remedy Broths, nourishing 10-ounce bone broths fortified with naturally healing ingredients.
- INSIDER TIP: Bolyard teaches how to break down hogs, lamb, and beef at monthly butchery classes. 2733 Sutton, Maplewood.
- DISH: The barbecue joint has perfected its Memphis-style dry rub. The ethereally good ribs need no sauce.
- DRINK: Keep it local with a Fitz’s root beer
- INSIDER TIP: Order online to skip the wait. Multiple locations.
- DISH: Order the Texas brisket with a side of Ritz cracker-topped mac and cheese.
- DRINK: Choose from a list of top-shelf whiskeys.
- INSIDER TIP: The Meat of the Month Club offers a monthly dose of off-menu specials. Multiple locations.
- DISH: More than the meats are noteworthy. Besides the creative sides, owner Mike Johnson serves up vegetarian options.
- DRINK: A decadent pie shake
- INSIDER TIP: At the flagship location in Olivette, stop next door at Sugarfire Pie. Multiple locations.
Acclaimed restaurateur Ben Poremba takes over the Billie-Jean space, promising Moor-influenced Spanish, Mediterranean, and tapas dishes. 7610 Wydown, Clayton.
Jalea’s Andrew Cisneros and Half & Half’s Mike Randolph collaborated on the menu at this companion to Three Kings. 1181 Colonnade, Des Peres.
Customers come for biscuit sandwiches and leave with cinnamon rolls or Biscuit Bombs. 200 N. Kirkwood, Kirkwood.
Café Napoli’s Pietoso family plans to drop anchor by year’s end with a new seafood concept in St. Charles. 1450 Beale, Ste. 115, St. Charles.
PIZZA CHAMP + SHARED
A perfect pairing: pizza from the owners of Elmwood and brews from the team at Side Project Brewing. 2657 Lyle, Maplewood.
Located next to sister restaurant Lucky Accomplice, this Logan Ely eatery features smashed and topped pizzas. 2501 S. Jefferson, South City.
James Beard Award nominee Nick Bognar is putting the finishing touches on this sushi-based restaurant in the former Giovanni’s space on The Hill. 5201 Shaw, The Hill.
The modern Asian/dim sum restaurant in Tower Grove South emphasizes novel preparations and experiential fun. 3611 Juniata, South City.
The travel-themed wine bar from Hamilton Hospitality conjures a comfy airport lounge. 2101 Chouteau, Lafayette Square.
In late fall, Louie owner Matt McGuire plans to open “a city tavern and steakhouse” in the former I Fratellini space. 7624 Wydown, Clayton.
Inventive bowls and burrito-size sushi rolls full of delicious ahi tuna, spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, and other offerings dominate the menu at this casual Midtown spot. But the dozen or so varieties of wonton nachos are not to be missed. The “OG Fire” versions—which load up a tray of wonton chips with spicy tuna or salmon, cucumber, avocado, sesame seeds, crispy shallots, tempura crunch, and OG fire sauce—are an irresistible flavor bomb. Keep an eye out for a second location in Maplewood early next year. 9 S.Vandeventer, Midtown.
Surf and turf served with style is the name of the game at Bernadette Faasen’s 3-year-old Creve Coeur destination. The dinner and cocktail menus change with the seasons; past offerings have included wild-caught salmon served over squid-ink linguine with gorgonzola cream, plus inventive sips with names like “Suit & Thai.” In addition to its barbecue and seafood, Cobalt boasts gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, as well as booze-free drinks, accommodating any and all guests. 12643 Olive, Creve Coeur.
Owner Amer Abouwardah’s 15-year-old Clayton spot consistently delivers on its promise of high-quality seafood and great wine pairings. The Maryland lump crab cakes are some of the best around—have them as an app, in a sandwich, or smothered with hollandaise in a brunch Benedict. When it comes to sips, servers can always recommend a glass or bottle to match your selection, but if you’re craving a cocktail, try one of several signature martinis on offer. 44 N. Brentwood, Clayton.
Removed as we are from, well, any coast, walking into the Benton Park eatery feels like being transported. The oysters on ice in the trough, fishers’ portraits on the walls, and bright-red crustaceans making their way out of the kitchen offer us inland dwellers a brief visit to the seaside. Order a variety of fresh oysters from wherever they may hail that day while you sip on the refreshing Louie cocktail with a cayenne and salt rim. When it comes to mains, there are plenty of enticing buns, rolls (Maine and Connecticut style), and po’ boys, but we say go big and crack into a lobster boil. 1831 Sidney, Benton Park.
Tropical vibes and bold flavors define this CWE favorite, which offers such fusions as Nashville hot-fried oysters and lobster enchiladas. Tables can be hard to come by, especially on the weekends, but the bar offers extra seats with great service and a prime view of bartenders whipping up a variety of frozen cocktails (the Trinidad punch with cachaça, white rum, rhubarb, clove, and lime is pretty and refreshing) and rum flights. Stop in at happy hour to snag affordable snacks (try the deviled crab fritters with passionfruit mustard) and sips, including two varieties of refreshing shrubs topped with sparkling wine. 4659 Lindell, Central West End.
The classic Family Meal includes a whole chicken and sides of collard greens, whipped potatoes, and cornbread. 4270 Manchester, The Grove.
With taco, slider, and sushi menus, any guest can find a dish. Sit on the patio, and start with some Korean cauliflower bites. 9528 Manchester, Rock Hill.
At the self-described “Korean kitchen for the Seoul,” sample the bibimbap bowl, or the Korean fried chicken. Multiple locations.
Try the Brunch Fried Chicken Sandwich in the morning, and enjoy shrimp and grits at dinner with a specialty cocktail. 4101 Laclede, Central West End.
For brunch, there’s bananas foster crêpes. At dinner, stop by for the lobster ravioli, made with Maine lobster. 1520 S. 5th, St. Charles.
As the name implies, the spot serves soul food and seriously spicy Nashville-style chicken. 3108 Olive, Midtown.
Selections from chef Mathis Stitt are ever-changing at this wine shop and restaurant. 15860 Fountain Plaza, Ellisville.
Trezel Brown could be called the Fairy Godmother of Flavor for her use of spices, herbs, flavorings, and techniques, which bring a sparkle to the vegan dishes she serves at CC’s Vegan Spot. “When I became vegan, I thought, If I can make tofu eggs that taste delicious, I could put the soul in vegan food and make it delicious. I push myself every day to do that.” Vegans and non-vegans alike will recognize vegan spins on familiar favorites: burgers, pulled pork, ribs, cheese-steak… “If I can make everything people like…without harming animals and create a healthier path for people,” she says, “that brings me great joy.” 4993 Loughborough, South City.
- DISH: Pizza and pasta are solid choices. For instance, consider the Cacio e Pepe or the Emo Cover Band.
- DRINK: An Italian-inspired specialty cocktail, such as the Sophia Loren.
- INSIDER TIP: Happy hour (4–6 p.m. Monday–Friday) is a must. Enjoy a range of discounted drinks, as well as affordable burgers, margherita pizzas, meatballs, and other shareables. 7036 Clayton, Hi-Pointe.
- DISH: The 10-ounce rack of lamb.
- DRINK: The Rum Diary
- INSIDER TIP: Snag a cozy booth by the bar, or sit on the sprawling west-facing patio. 1419 Carroll, Lafayette Square.
- DISH: The Portuguese-inspired piri piri chicken
- DRINK: The Clementina cocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Weekend brunch spans an array of options: smoked salmon, French toast, baked eggs, eggs Benedict, grilled salmon… 999 N. 2nd, Downtown
- DISH: The tasting menu frequently changes, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.
- DRINK: Likewise, the wine list is thoughtfully curated, with a mix of selections from France, Germany, Austria, Lebanon, South America, and the States.
- INSIDER TIP: Feeling fancy? Try some caviar from owner Ben Poremba’s bespoke B.Poremba Feinschmeckers. 1634 Tower Grove, Botanical Heights.
- DISH: The duck and pancetta campanella with roasted red peppers, scallions, gorgonzola cream sauce, and sage gremolata.
- DRINK: Pair that pasta with a wine, possibly the 2020 Kim Crawford, from Marlborough, New Zealand.
- INSIDER TIP: The longtime Lafayette Square restaurant offers a considerable range of gluten-free and vegan options, from starters to desserts. 1111 Mississippi, Lafayette Square.
- DISH: The menu frequently changes, but consider the latest lineup from the three-course pre-fixe menu, complete with the wine pairings. A recent lineup, for instance, included agnolotti, cornmeal-crusted flounder, and Mark Schewe beef with some select vino. Going à la carte? Try the fresh seafood or steak.
- DRINK:If you’re branching out beyond the aforementioned pre-fixe pairings, try Perennial’s “Brew for the Crew” Munich-style lager. (And buy a round for the kitchen, too.)
- INSIDER TIP: As the restaurant’s name implies, sourcing and sustainability is important to chef Kevin Willmann, so take some time to learn about the details of those dishes. 3257 Ivanhoe, South City.
- DISH: Pan-seared duck breast with farro, shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onion, hazelnut, and a sour cherry duck jus.
- DRINK: Consider the cherry sherry lemonade, made with Minor Case sherry-finished rye, cherry juice, and lemonade.
- INSIDER TIP: The bar’s a popular spot during happy hour, weekdays from 2–6 p.m. Ask about the daily cocktail, as well as the raw bar. 8100 Maryland, Clayton.
- DISH: The bone-in grilled pork chop with shishito peppers and a Moroccan chermoula, alongside an Italian salad.
- DRINK: Pair that pork with a red wine, possibly a glass of River Pass Vineyard’s 2020 The Counselor cabernet sauvignon.
- INSIDER TIP: If you didn’t snag a reservation, remember that seats at the bar are designated for walk-ins. Just try to arrive early. 706 DeMun, Clayton.
- DISH: Chef Jesse Mendica’s menu frequently changes, so mind the specials.
- DRINK: The original cocktails are numbered. Sit at the bar and ask—the bartenders are experts. (Splitting? Pitchers are available, too.)
- INSIDER TIP: While limited, the happy hour menu (available 4–6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday in the bar) has some stars, including the Blue Point oysters. 216 W. Lockwood, Webster Groves.
- DISH: Graze on the starters: deviled eggs, beef-fat-roasted beets, PEI mussels, and seasonal offerings.
- DRINK: The Bossa Nova cocktail
- INSIDER TIP: Don’t overlook weekend brunch. 1923 Park, Lafayette Square.
- DISH: Try a tasting board. We prefer the surf and turf: filet mignon, chicken saltimbocca, sesame-seared mahi, and salmon Florentine.
- DRINK: The Burning Man cocktail, with pineapple- and sage-infused tequila, triple sec, grapefruit, agave, lime, and an ancho chile rim.
- INSIDER TIP: If the weather permits, sit on the recently added covered patio, with custom lighting, music, and greenery. 2961 Dougherty Ferry, Valley Park.
Lona Luo began helping her mother cook at age 6 while growing up in a rural village in China. She later pursued her love for cooking in Kunming, China, where she worked her way up from a server to front-of-house supervisor and learned new Japanese cooking techniques. After Luo met her husband, St. Louis native Pierce Powers, the two moved to Powers’ hometown and eventually decided to start a food stand at the Soulard Farmers Market. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find Luo in her Fox Park eatery, Lona’s Lil Eats, where guests can sample dishes inspired by her diverse culinary background. Many dishes—including the eggplant, bamboo stew, and noodle soup—hark back to her early days in China. 2199 California, South City.
- DISH: The rib eye Delmonico with potatoes (baked, cubed, or mashed) or creamed spinach.
- DRINK:A glass of the Simi cab goes great with any of the steaks.
- INSIDER TIP: Stop by Citizen Kane’s Market Place next door to pick up your own cuts of meat to re-create the steak house experience at home, complete with a bottle of Kane’s hand-mixed steak seasoning. 133 W. Clinton Place, Kirkwood.
- DISH: With exposed brick walls and rustic flair, the restaurant doesn’t feel like your classic steak house. But the menu brings the goods. You can’t go wrong with the classic Kansas City strip, but for something a little different, try the Romesco lamb chops.
- DRINK: From Bone Snapper to Balvenie, and WhistlePig to Withered Oak, the robust selection of whiskeys covers all tastes, styles, and price points.
- INSIDER TIP: If whiskey isn’t your drink of choice, head to the neighboring Winnie’s Wine Bar, another concept owned by Hamilton Hospitality, to start or end your evening. 2101 Chouteau, Lafayette Square.
- DISH: Moussalli’s serves only blue-chip beef—Niman Ranch Certified Angus, to be exact. Prepare for that prime rib with a starter of crab-stuffed mushrooms.
- DRINK:The extensive yet approachable wine offerings are selected for a variety of palates—and budgets.
- INSIDER TIP: Keep an eye out for Moussalli’s tasting dinners, themed events where you can try an array of spirits, wines, and beers, along with a six-course meal. 7415 IL-143, Edwardsville.
- DISH: The Pepperloin à la Tenderloin, a dish that’s as visually elegant as it is juicy and flavorful.
- DRINK: The Black Forest cocktail, with chocolate cherry and citrus notes, is a dessert unto itself. You might not even need to order the cheesecake.
- INSIDER TIP: Arrive early to enjoy a drink in the back bar, a cozy, intimate space accented by an ornate stained-glass ceiling. 232 Kingshighway, Central West End.
- DISH: Dry-aging is serious business here. Note the chalkboard displaying exactly how long Twisted Tree’s cuts have matured. And start your meal with a plate of golden, crispy onion rings.
- DRINK:The extensive yet approachable wine offerings are selected for a variety of palates—and budgets.
- INSIDER TIP: Likewise, the Sip & Savor menu (available 3–6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday) is a great way to dine without overspending. 10701 Watson, Sunset Hills.
At Dave and Kara Bailey’s Midtown restaurant, popular picks include the poutine, fried green beans, and vegan crab cakes—with a flight of whiskey. 3001 Locust, Midtown.
This Grove restaurant is the perfect spot for vegans and non-vegans alike. The latter will enjoy the Sultan Pilau, while the former might try the falafel plate. 4200 Manchester, The Grove.
The acclaimed vegetable-forward restaurant’s menu evolves with the season’s produce. Consider the three-course Farmer’s Feast. 4260 Forest Park, Central West End.
The khao soi is a must. The curry-noodlesoup includes crispy egg noodles and a rich yellow-orange broth. Choose from three options: tofu, chicken, or beef. 549 Rosedale, Delmar Loop.
The rich, aromatic pork shoyu ramen, served in a 24-seat restaurant, transports guests to the bustling streets of Tokyo. 3453 Hampton, South City.
At Qui Tran’s popular ramen spot, the rich flavor of the chashu pork in the Classic Nudo dish will have you coming back for more. Multiple locations.