Best Tapas/Small Plates - 2008
Modesto might be big enough to hold a half-dozen authentic Spanish tapas bars, but it captures the tapas spirit nonetheless. The dishes are delicious, the drinks — the sangria, especially — flow with ease and the atmosphere is exceptionally laid-back. Modesto is about having a great time with friends. It helps that chef Grace Dinsmoor turns out the best Spanish dishes in St. Louis, from simple snacks like marinated olives or anchovies to otherworldly fare like bacon-wrapped dates and albóndigas (pork and veal meatballs). Seafood fans will enjoy a rare local appearance of octopus, and those seeking a casual evening at the bar will find both the wine and cheese selections very satisfactory. The only downside? There aren't several other tapas bars in the area for an authentic tapas crawl. Oh, well. You'll just have to order another round at Modesto.