Food & Drink

  • Best Food Festival

    Schlafly Stout & Oyster Festival

    Let's face it, nobody really wants to picture the burly dudes named Bimbo and Bubba peeling shrimp in the back of a restaurant kitchen. But stand six knobby-knuckled oyster shuckers in the middle of a restaurant and let 'em go to town? Wicked! Schlafly Tap Room owners Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman have been hosting that kind of shindig, officially… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Café Lazeez

    OK, fine: Technically the fried chicken at Café Lazeez isn't fried — at least not in the usual sense. Instead, the chicken served at this tiny establishment (an odd but winning amalgam of traditional Pakistani dishes and American fast food) is "Broasted." Broasting — a trademark, FYI — involves cooking chicken in a device that combines a deep fryer with… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    Geo's Wings and More

    It doesn't matter how masterful a wing sauce is if it's covering a hunk of pimply chicken skin that's been breaded to within an inch of its life. Who eats those slimy things? Breading them dilutes the flavor and steams 'em in their own flesh. Geo's Wings and More serves up meaty, unbreaded wings, fried crisp — a perfect canvas… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thin Crust)

    Laganini Pizzeria & Restaurant

    The only secret to the pizza at Laganini Pizzeria & Restaurant is where to find it: The restaurant occupies a nondescript former fast-food building in the Bevo neighborhood, and the pizza is tucked away at the back of its menu, after a tempting selection of dishes from Bosnia, Germany, Greece and beyond. Keep turning those pages, friend: Laganini's pizza might… More >>
  • Best Pizza (Thick Crust)

    Black Thorn Pub

    Fans of the Black Thorn Pub know there are two rules to enjoying the Tower Grove South joint's incredible deep-dish pizza: 1) leave yourself plenty of time; and 2) listen very carefully. The first rule is pretty obvious. Deep-dish pizza takes time to cook; add in the crowds who throng this relatively small pub and you could be waiting an… More >>
  • Best Pizza by the Slice

    Feraro's Jersey-Style Pizza - CLOSED

    There is a slice of pizza, and then there is pizza by the slice. The former you can make from any ol' pizza: thin crust or deep-dish, round or square, topped with buffalo-milk mozzarella or smothered in Provel. Pizza by the slice is practically a religion. In New York City, adherents of rival by-the-slice joints have been known to joust… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Stellina Pasta Café

    Pasta? Of course. It's in the restaurant's name after all. Sandwich? Sure. In 2007 this very newspaper tabbed them the best in St. Louis. Salad? Who picks a restaurant for its salad? But that's one more reason this cozy south-side eatery has developed such a following over the past few years: Even the salads are terrific. The "Big Salad" lives… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Winslow's Home

    Fans of the brisket sandwich at Winslow's Home lurk in the open, like paparazzi. They pretend to browse the wares of this throwback general store/café and dream of the tender, thinly sliced brisket roasted overnight, basted with a beguiling jus and piled high between toasted flaxseed bread. They know that the time between the beginning of lunch and the moment… More >>
  • Best Delicatessen

    LeGrand's Market & Catering

    LeGrand's Market, a deli, supermarket and sandwich shop, sells T-shirts that cite "22 Reasons Not to Be a Vegetarian" (there's one for each cut of beef). And they know how to put their lunchmeat where their mouth is. You can buy said lunchmeat by the pound or on a sandwich, or you can purchase a hunk o' something to take… More >>
  • Best Food and Drink Blog

    STL Hops

    Homebrewer Mike Sweeney founded STL Hops in September 2007. In two years it has become the go-to site for the area's growing craft-beer community. You want the latest news on the latest brews? STL Hops has it. You want frequently updated lists of what's on tap at local brewpubs and beer-centric bars? STL Hops has that, too. You want informative… More >>
  • Best Use of the Worst Cheese

    "The Record Breaker"

    Provel, she is a divisive cheese. Some people stand beside her unflinchingly; others turn up their noses at her mere mention. Every so often, however, these opposing factions are able to set aside their processed-cheese differences — such as when they chow down at Callier's Deli & Grill. The venerable Ballwin eatery has been serving up sandwiches, pastas and pizzas… More >>
  • Best Calamari

    Mangia Italiano

    Mmmrfphmmmrfphmmmrfhmmm Oh. Hi. Hold on a sec. Lemme grab a napkin. OK. So, like, we're usually too busy eating the calamari at Mangia Italiano to talk about them and, let's be honest, what higher compliment could we pay? There's no secret. Just a simple — and simply delicious — dish, executed well: tender squid; batter a crisp, golden brown; a… More >>
  • Best Capsaicin Fix

    Mammer Jammer - CLOSED

    The "Mammer Jammer" sandwich at the restaurant of the same name defies description. Yes, it's essentially a cheesesteak: thinly sliced beef, cheese, onion, jalapeños and dried red-pepper flakes. But the heat from the chiles takes the sandwich to another place — or, rather, the endorphin rush brought on by a capsaicin overload takes you to another plane of existence, where… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Little Saigon Café

    Not just any spring rolls at this veteran Central West End Vietnamese restaurant, but the cha giò chay, or crisp vegetarian spring rolls. Don't let the term "crisp" trick you. These aren't battered, deep-fried monstrosities. Rather, a light, soft spring roll is given a quick frying so that its exterior becomes crisp, almost brittle, like the surface of a crème… More >>
  • Best Falafel

    Kabob House

    In your hand the falafel at Kabob House feel as dense as a neutron star, yet these deep-fried chickpea fritters — the unofficial fast food of the Middle East — are a shockingly light dish. Inside the crisp brown exterior, the seasoned chickpea mash is moist, nearly airy, with the slightest grain. The spice is gently warming. Six of these,… More >>
  • Best Enchiladas

    Taqueria el Jalapeño - CLOSED

    The enchiladas michoacanas at this hole-in-the-wall taqueria aren't your run-of-the-mill enchiladas. Take corn tortillas, top with chopped onions and queso de Monterrey, fold into wedges and fry on a flattop to a light golden-brown crisp. Top the wedges with more cheese, lettuce, tomato, potato, carrot, jalapeño, sour cream and a fiery red-chile sauce. The combination of flavors is remarkable: spicy,… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Garduño's Mexican Food

    Available in four- and twelve-ounce servings, Garduño's fresh and flavorful guac provides endless possibilities. Start off with the simple approach — grab some tortilla chips and dig into the lovely, chunky (but not too unwieldy to scoop) treat. Note the dominant avocado flavor. That might sound like a no-brainer, but when was the last time you ate guacamole and noticed the flavor of… More >>
  • Best Taco Cart

    Juan's Taco Cart

    Cherokee Street is great, but if you really want an authentic Mexican dining experience, visit DeSoto Park on a Sunday afternoon. From April to September, the tiny patch of grass in North St. Louis' Carr Square neighborhood hosts La Liga Latino Americana de Futból, the most diverse (and competitive) amateur soccer league in the city. Somebody has to feed 26… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division)

    La Tropicana Market - CLOSED

    Fidel Castro may have stepped down, but it doesn't appear likely that U.S. citizens will be able to travel to Cuba anytime soon. Oh well, we'll always have Miami. And, a lot closer to home, La Tropicana Market, purveyor of what is quite possibly the finest Cuban sandwich this side of the Mississippi. What, you ask, is a Cuban sandwich?… More >>
  • Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division)

    The Market at Busch's Grove - CLOSED

    The decadent décor is intact and the non-union staff still fawns. But in its re-rebirth, Busch's Grove, the legendary landmark of seeing-and-being-seen in Ladue, has adopted far more democratic airs — and the Market at Busch's Grove is all the better for it. Busch's takeout-counter choices number several dozen and range from blue-blooded (portobello mushroom truffle goat cheese cheesecake) to… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Pappy's Smokehouse

    What's the best time to arrive at Pappy's Smokehouse? Well, the midtown barbecue joint opens at 11 a.m., so if you arrive by, say, nine o'clock in the morning, you should be OK. We kid, of course — but only a little. Arrive sometime between 10:30 and 10:45 and you'll be close to the head of the line. Wait till… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Local Harvest

    With a goal to source 50 percent of its products from within a 150-mile radius of St. Louis, Local Harvest won't be the biggest grocery store you set foot in. Nor will it have the widest selection, but it will leave you feeling good about the choices you're making. Whether you're a carnivore looking to buy humanely raised meats or… More >>
  • Best Meat Counter

    Baumann's Fine Meats

    Jim Lucas knows meat. The former stock trader used to stop at Baumann's Fine Meats on his way to the lake to buy what he felt was the best in sirloin, hamburger, ground chuck, sausage (you name it, really) so he could blow away his friends at the barbecue. He liked the butcher shop so much, he bought it last… More >>
  • Best Fresh Seafood Counter

    Bob's Seafood

    For better or for worse, the days when Midwesterners in love with seafood were out of luck are long gone. Thanks to the wonders of modern-day shipping, fish are hauled in and shipped around the globe at record speeds; sometimes literally a day out of the water. And in St. Louis, there's no fresher place for fresh seafood than Bob's… More >>
  • Best Sausage Shop

    Piekutowski's European Style Sausage

    In 1999 Pope John Paul II paid a visit to little ol' St. Louis. He saw the Arch. He saw the cathedrals. And then he made a special pilgrimage to north city's Hyde Park neighborhood and grabbed some sausages at Piekutowski's European Style Sausage. He bit into a slice of Krakow sausage and announced that his world had just been… More >>
  • Best Cheese Counter

    The Wine & Cheese Place

    In belt-tightening times, fine cheese might not be at the top of the average shopper's list, but for those of us who don't have room in the fridge for Kraft singles, great cheese is an affordable luxury. And when we shop for cheese, we want the assistance of a staff that knows the way around its own cheese counter. So… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Maplewood Farmers' Market

    Where's the toughest place to park in St. Louis? Downtown for a Cardinals game? Try Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday afternoons when hordes of hungry St. Louisans descend upon the Maplewood Farmers' Market for the freshest, tastiest produce in town. Arrive after the market begins at 4 p.m. — it runs till 7 p.m., but you'll want to get there as… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Global Foods Market

    St. Louis is chock-a-block with Asian markets. Two things separate Global Foods Market from the world-grocery pack: organization and produce. Aside from the major divisions — fruits and vegetables, meat, deli, dairy — aisles are arranged by country of origin. And even within each nation, there's an easy-to-grok logic to how the shelves are stocked. No wandering through "China" wondering… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    SweetArt

    Cupcakes are good for you. OK, well, maybe not as good as a plateful of kale, but SweetArt uses no mixes, no trans fats and no high-fructose corn syrup, so you've got that going for you. And make no mistake: SweetArt's 'cakes taste every bit as sinful as their less-wholesome counterparts. From the Red Velvet to the Almond-Amaretto, from the Cookies… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Carolyn's A Matter of Taste

    Cupcake shops are popping up all over town, and, of course, St. Louis loves its gooey butter cake, but Carolyn Dickens of Carolyn's A Matter of Taste asks, "Is there anything better than apple pie à la mode?" It's a rhetorical question, but the answer is an emphatic no! if we're talking about Carolyn's apple pies. Says Carolyn: "People don't… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries

    Given the general crud on-the-go Americans shove down their gullets, this category should be a sop, the best of an unimpressive bunch. Thankfully, the arrival of Five Guys Burgers and Fries into the St. Louis market negates the need for any apologies. Over the past twenty-plus years, the chain has grown from its original Arlington, Virginia, location to more than… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Sugaree Baking Company

    Sugaree Baking Company opened in Dogtown in 1996. For much of its history, only those fortunate enough to attend or plan a wedding with a cake from the husband-and-wife team of Jim Pettine and Pat Rutherford-Pettine knew how wonderful their baked goods were. Finally the rest of us can partake: Sugaree now opens to the public every Friday and Saturday… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    LaMar's Donuts & Coffee - CLOSED

    Doughnuts seem to be one of the easier foods to make. You take some batter, throw it in boiling oil, glaze it and voilà! How could someone possibly screw that up, right? Well, the answer is out there. The world is full of mediocre doughnuts. You won't find any imperfect confections at LaMar's Donuts & Coffee. What you will find… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    The Bagel Factory

    "My name is Tony. I don't give my last name," says the voice on the other end of the line before confirming that the Bagel Factory has been making bagels the same way in the same location for the past 38 years. What's so special about these bagels? Rather than steaming its bagels, Tony imparts, the Bagel Factory boils 'em, resulting… More >>
  • Best Scones

    La Dolce Via Bakery & Café - CLOSED

    Precious little separates a scone from a stone. There's that one pesky letter. And something else that has caused so many otherwise-competent bakers to put a tray of scones in the oven and pull out a tray of stones. What is it? Over-kneading? Subpar ingredients? Bad karma? Whatever the scone/stone distinguishing factor is, Marcia Sindel has it down cold, and… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Pastry

    The Morning Bun

    Some things are worth waking up early for. Not a heavy, glutinous muffin, certainly, or a plate of rubbery scrambled eggs. The Companion Bake House & Café is no slouch when it comes to muffins or eggs, but the thing that should really get you excited about setting the morning alarm is the "Morning Bun." This delectable pastry combines the… More >>
  • Best French Toast

    Crème BrûléeFrench Toast - CLOSED

    After a long hard night, all you want is a little love, a little sweetness, a lot of comfort. You want something to smooth out all of life's sharp edges. So you head to the Shangri-La Diner on Cherokee Street, plunk down your sorry ass in a comfy vinyl booth and order a pot of coffee and the crème brûlée… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Companion Bake House & Café

    Bread is life. Bread is hearty, elemental, basic and necessary. Bread, though, does not grow on trees. The late '90s saw this nation begin to slowly back away from mass-produced white bread fortified with chemical preservatives. We have a slew of good bakeries in town, each one staffed by artisans practicing the time-honored science of yeast and flour recombination. Companion… More >>
  • Best Pretzel

    Dressel's Public House

    The pretzel at Dressel's is hot. Like, steam-engine hot. You have to wait for it to cool. Which, frankly, is good discipline. After all, good things come to those who wait — consider the properly poured Guinness. While you wait, consider the medieval history of the pretzel, its dubious origins as a monastic invention or an Alsatian Lenten compromise. Consider… More >>
  • Best Beer

    Black Sky Stout Porter - CLOSED

    Black Sky Stout Porter's name is a throwback to the old English nomenclature when "stout" was a synonym for "strong" rather than a style unto itself, according to Drew Huerter, Mattingly's brewer. The beer, Huerter imparts, clocks in at a robust but not overpowering 6 percent alcohol and uses "historical [porter] ingredients, such as brown malt and blackstrap molasses." But… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company

    Long a St. Louis institution, Kaldi's is hardly a dark (roast?) horse for the title of Best Coffee. There's something to be said, though, for a roaster that doesn't rest on its laurels. The classic French Roast, Natural High and Café Kaldi are available year round, but it's the seasonal varietals that set this roaster apart. Kaldi's establishes relationships with… More >>
  • Best Burger

    The Royale

    The Royale's signature burger is called, fittingly enough, "the Royale." You know what they call "the Royale" in France? No, really — what do they call it? (We dropped French after one semester.) According to Yahoo!'s Babel Fish app, you'd ask for huit ounces de boeuf de Wagyu d'Australie. That's half a pound of beef from the revered Wagyu cattle… More >>
  • Best Smoothie

    OR Smoothie & Café

    Mai Truong, owner of OR Smoothie & Café, believes that smoothies are like puzzles: Every component must fit perfectly or the smoothie doesn't work. The fact that a juice is organic isn't enough for Mai. Rather than taking the easy path of using the same brand for each type of juice, Mai chooses whichever brand she likes best for each… More >>
  • Best Milkshake

    Crown Candy Kitchen

    Some comfort foods are challenging, aggressive. Buffalo wings are valued by their oral incendiary abilities. Nachos and T-ravs have sharpened their edges. The slinger wants you dead. Other comfort foods are passive and more, well, comforting — such as the milkshake. It takes a hell of a shake, then, to beat a man down, cow him, steal his dignity. But… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    The Fountain on Locust

    Step inside the Fountain on Locust and Norman Rockwell visions of happy families sipping ice-cream sodas in a simpler time come to mind. With its high ceilings, vibrant paint job and old-fashioned soda fountain, it could snag an award for Best Ice Cream Parlor Décor (if there were such a thing). If you order food off the menu, just be… More >>
  • Best Snow Cones

    Tropical Moose

    It's all in the ice, the perfect snow cone. How you shave it and then how you shape it in the cup. Get it right, and a snow cone is the best antidote to the steamy, stinky St. Louis summer. Get it wrong, and the tastiest syrup in this or any other universe won't rescue a cup filled with ice… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Patric Chocolate

    Very few companies in the United States make their own chocolate from scratch — i.e., starting from a cacao bean and ending with a chocolate bar. We're fortunate to have two such companies in Missouri: Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield (a close second in this category), and Patric Chocolate in Columbia. Don't let the sticker shock of Patric Chocolate scare you away. (The… More >>
  • Best Gooey Butter Cake

    Gooey Louie

    You wouldn't think the rules of nutrition would apply to dessert, but they do. For example, anything containing fruit, such as an apple pie, will always be better for you than anything containing chocolate. By the same token, a gooey-butter cake that is made from fresh butter and cream cheese and eggs straight off the farm is better for you… More >>
  • Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

    Veggie "Boudin" Burger - CLOSED

    What makes a good burger is subjective, but it's safe to say that heft is always a plus. That's not always easy to find when dealing with non-meat alternatives, which is why the Bleeding Deacon's Veggie "Boudin" Burger is such a treat. A wheat bun can barely cushion the thick, hearty patty, which is composed of white beans, rice and… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Frank's N Brats

    Busch Stadium sells more nachos — 120,000 pounds of chips and 32,000 gallons of cheese sauce a year — than any other ballpark in baseball. This gut-busting statistic can probably be attributed to the fact that the hot dogs available inside the stadium are overpriced and underwhelming. Luckily for the city's hungry baseball fans, Frank Merrins has his hot-dog stand… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    The U - CLOSED

    The U has a winning reputation for slinging up hot sandwiches into the wee small hours (witness last year's pick for Best Place for Late-Night Dining), but the midtown joint does more than just sizzle sammies on its flattop grill. The fries at the U come with a bevy of options: plain, with cheese sauce, or with housemade ranch dressing… More >>
  • Best Whole Roast Chicken

    Nachomama's

    The myriad charms of Rock Hill Tex-Mex establishment Nachomama's are not hard to understand. It's easy to fall under the spell of the joint's unassuming but spot-on ambiance: the vintage country & Western on the radio, the beer- and soda-logo tabletops, the rainbow of fruity Jarritos sodas. And that's before you even get to the menu — the burritos, quesadillas… More >>
  • Best Local Chef

    Josh Galliano

    Hurricane Katrina forced Josh Galliano to relocate from New Orleans to St. Louis. His impressive résumé — including stints at the legendary Commander's Palace and at chef John Besh's celebrated August (both in the Big Easy) and at Daniel Boulud's namesake restaurant in New York City — landed him at Larry Forgione's An American Place. He eventually became Forgione's chef… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for a First Date

    Nachomama's

    Let's get something straight: Movies make for crappy first dates. Sure, they can take the pressure off by providing conversation fodder — but only after you've sat side by side for two hours, silently, in the dark. A restaurant first date is a far superior way to get to know someone — plus, the diet's not limited to overpriced popcorn,… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for a Date Night

    Atlas Restaurant

    No, not a first date, but that rare event when you and your significant other can find time in your hectic lives to relax, share a bottle of wine, have an actual conversation and enjoy a terrific meal. Atlas is the ideal environment. There is hardly a more welcoming place in St. Louis: From the moment you arrive, owner Jean… More >>
  • Best Prix Fixe

    Acero

    Despite three successful restaurants — Liluma, the Crossing and Acero — chef Jim Fiala seems to maintain a low profile. For whatever reason, word of his $25 prix fixe dinner at Acero seems to be a secret, too, known only to foodies and acolytes of his mini-fiefdom. It hurts a little (full disclosure) to let the rooster out of the… More >>
  • Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

    The Crossing

    The good news: Diners can satisfy their cravings for Jim Fiala's haute-rustic cuisine any time they please, thanks to affordable lunch options at Liluma and the Terrace View. The better news: Said diners can also treat themselves to authentic Italian regional food at Fiala's Acero and not take a mortal hit to their wallets. The best news: When invited on… More >>
  • Best Place to Blow Your Winnings

    SLeeK - CLOSED

    So you ignored the advice of everyone standing around the blackjack table and hit on eighteen...and won big. Now what? Oh, sure, you could do the responsible thing and pay off your student loan — you went to college to be a dentist, after all, not a card counter — but that's no fun. Instead, treat yourself to the most… More >>
  • Best Service in a Restaurant

    Five Bistro

    Five is a family affair: Anthony Devoti is the executive chef; his parents, Joe and Bonnie, manage the front of the house. The family vibe extends to guests at Five Bistro, which this summer relocated to the Hill from Forest Park Southeast's Grove neighborhood. Whether you're dining there as a couple or, as someone of our acquaintance recently did, with… More >>
  • Best Décor

    SweetArt

    Some might say the Bayocs, owners of SweetArt, cheated to win this category. They didn't need to hire consultants or pay an artist to decorate the walls. SweetArt is a combination café and art studio, and all of the walls feature artwork from co-owner and local artist Cbabi Bayoc. If having one of his wife's (Reine's) homemade cookies or cupcakes doesn't make you… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Cielo

    Welcome to SkyTerrace, the patio at Cielo. Your table is right this way, facing the Arch. We think you'll have a most pleasant evening, beginning with our Parmesan crisps and fresh-baked bread, served with olive oil and a little sun-dried tomato. What's that, you like the soft music? Mmm-hmm, just a little something to put you in the mood, a… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Ladies Who Lunch

    Robust Wine Bar & Café

    Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of ladies who lunch, That started from Ladue and Frontenac, And became the Robust bunch. A turkey sandwich was had by all, Side salads on each plate. No one ordered Robust's bread pudding, For they were watching their weight, they were watching their weight. Acoustic music set the mood, No need to wheel and deal. They lingered until the… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Café Napoli

    The novice equates "power lunch" with "dropping tons of money." While a superficial business luncher may be impressed by an AmEx Black and a $14 glass of sparkling water, true players understand that power lies more in connections than in cash. That's why Café Napoli is such a popular spot with businesspeople in the know. Regardless of whether you actually… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Local Harvest Café & Catering

    When Local Harvest Grocery (see Best Grocery Store) announced it would open a separate café across the street from its location in Tower Grove South, no one could have imagined that St. Louis would gain not only an excellent spot for a nosh, but also an example of how even a casual eatery could operate in a culture increasingly concerned… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    The Charcoal House

    Each passing year brings more steak houses hell-bent on outdoing the competition, whether it's by offering sweeping city views, sparkling new digs or star power in its very name. But the Charcoal House is old. There's old Saabs and BMWs (probably bought with old money) in the lot, driven by old patrons whose old asses are parked in the Charcoal… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Oceano Bistro

    Too many restaurants take the same, cynical approach to seafood: "You Midwestern rubes are lucky to have any seafood at all here in flyover country. Now eat this crab cake." At Oceano Bistro, you'll find a much more thoughtful approach. Yes, there is salmon — the default seafood entrée of every restaurant — but here it is grilled expertly, topped… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Gokul Snacks & Sweets

    Vegetarian restaurant: Why, after all these years, can the phrase continue to conjure such unappetizing images of bland food? Break that cycle with the delightful Indian buffet and takeout at Gokul, where the main ingredients are love and butter. So much butter. What highlights the perfect textural contrasts in the food here, from the snapping cashews and smooth, dense root vegetables in velvety navratan korma… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Sweetie Pie's

    One could, in theory, head to Sweetie Pie's location in the Grove neighborhood any day just for the sides: cabbage flavored with smoky bacon, tangy mac & cheese, thick yams, black-eyed peas and generous hunks of cornbread. But you might find a specific day especially mouthwatering, for at this most holy chapel of cafeteria-style soul food, the main courses rotate… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Fatter

    Hodak's Restaurant & Bar

    Here's what transpires every day at Hodak's: A server brings a customer a steaming plate. It is heaped with four pieces of juicy fried chicken, with crinkly French fries and cole slaw on the side. The customer stuffs his pie hole, then is required to pay $7.35 (!) plus tax. Transaction complete. In our age of fad diets and pricey… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out With Grandpa

    Fairmount Park Racetrack

    Back in his younger days, Grandpa had a strict rule: You don't get lunch at the racetrack until you win. But ever since the price of a hot dog at Fairmount Park dropped to a buck on Horse Hooky Tuesdays (during the live racing season in spring and summer), the old man's eased up a bit. It requires a full… More >>
  • Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

    Onesto Pizza & Trattoria

    Look, you can let the kids drag you to another grim fast-food joint or one of those arcade-type restaurants where pot-addled teens in rodent costumes redolent of 30 years of b.o. try to distract the tykes from the fact that the pizza they are eating has a crust made out of industrial-grade cardboard. Or you can introduce them to what… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    Biggie's

    Even when Biggie's is packed — which is just about every day at lunch or dinner — you'll see a fair number of empty seats at this Lindenwood Park institution. That's because patrons are constantly spotting old friends, classmates, coworkers, bowling teammates and nearly any other connection you can imagine and heading over to their table to say hello. The… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Herbie's Vintage 72

    When Balaban's went dark at the beginning of 2008, St. Louis didn't lose just another restaurant but a 35-year institution that was the anchor of the Central West End. As the restaurant remained closed for weeks, and then months, its many fans wondered not only if anything ever could replace Balaban's, but if anything even would. Enter Monarch co-owners Aaron… More >>
  • Best Tapas/Small Plates

    Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant

    Ever since Spanish-style tapas arrived on the international culinary scene, it seems that every other European cuisine suddenly rediscovered its own version of small-plates dining. Such wee-dish incarnations may well be delicious in their own right, but the Spanish original remains the best. And Modesto's happy hour — in force at the bar on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Cheap)

    Sugo's Spaghetteria

    The economic turmoil of the past twelve months might have put fine dining out of your budget, but you don't have to look like you're slumming it. In truth, you needn't "slum" it at all. At Sugo's Spaghetteria in Frontenac — yeah, even Frontenac is frugal nowadays — you can enjoy Italian favorites for a reasonable price. Most dishes are… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)

    Ricardo's Italian Café

    For twenty years now, the husband-and-wife team of Mark and Michelle Adams has made Ricardo's Italian Café one of the city's most delightful dining destinations — the restaurant equivalent of the place where if everyone doesn't remember your name, they really are always glad you came. Mark handles the kitchen, Michelle the front of house, delivering a one-two punch of… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Momos Ouzaria Taverna

    In Greek mythology, Momos is the god of mockery, which essentially means he was the loudmouth jerk of Mount Olympus. After subjecting several of his brethren and sistren to his ridicule, he made the mistake of aiming his mockery at Zeus and got himself kicked off. So it might seem risky to name a restaurant after a guy who, if… More >>
  • Best Bosnian Restaurant

    Taft Street Restaurant & Bar

    Bosnian food is hearty food, and Taft Street Restaurant dishes it out in hearty helpings. In its fifth year of operation, this pleasant, no-frills corner eatery in Bevo offers up a cuisine suggestive of Bosnia's geographic position (i.e., both Mediterranean and Eastern European). Begin with the tangy goat cheese fritters or the triangular beef-filled pastries called kulazy. After a tomato-and-feta… More >>
  • Best West African Restaurant

    Tam Tam African Restaurant

    In an unobtrusive storefront in a Florissant strip mall for which the adjective "dowdy" seems too kind, Tam Tam African Restaurant is one of the area's better-kept secrets, specializing in the cuisine of Africa's northwest. The dishes are at once familiar and strange: Consider yassa guinaar, chicken breast marinated in lemon, Dijon mustard and garlic, served in a sauce rich… More >>
  • Best East African Restaurant

    Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant

    You can't dangle your toe in the waters of Ethiopian cuisine. You must, to mix metaphors, roll up your sleeves and get your hands messy from the start, forgoing traditional utensils — or untraditional utensils, for that matter. Instead, you use the spongy, sour flatbread known as injera to scoop up the complexly spiced sautés and stews that make up… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Café Natasha's Kabob International

    Café Natasha's Kabob International isn't the sort of place you stop at if you're in a hurry, but as the old dictum goes, good things come to those who wait. The array of sumptuous stews and aromatically seasoned kebabs on the menu reveal a patience in the kitchen for preparing a complex mixture of spices and marinades that is delicate… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    India Palace

    Planes land. Planes take off. Travelers stand in line at the security checkpoint, staring at their watches. Travelers stand around the baggage carousel, staring at their watches. But you are sitting high above the fray — literally, eleven stories above, in the former tiki bar that houses India Palace. The windows overlook the airport runways, all the silly passengers who… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Miso on Meramec - CLOSED

    Miso on Meramec boldly describes its revamped menu as a "revolution." Eliott Harris, who took over the kitchen of the Clayton sushi mainstay earlier this year, delivers the goods to back that claim. If your sushi experience is limited to California, spider and other Americanized rolls, Harris' creations will nudge your tastes to new heights. If you consider yourself a… More >>
  • Best Never Went

    Sidney Street Café

    For nearly a quarter of a century, Sidney Street Café has been the crown jewel of Benton Park and among the city's most popular restaurants, one of the first spots discussed when dinner isn't merely dinner but a Special Occasion. Even more remarkable is the fact that the restaurant continues not merely to prosper — it remains one of the… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Shu Feng

    Many governments follow a One China policy, refusing to recognize — explicitly, at least — Taiwan's independence from mainland China. In the interest of global harmony, might we suggest replacing this with the Shu Feng policy? At this University City spot, you can enjoy excellent renditions of your favorite Chinese dishes, including a wonderfully fiery hot braised pork and the… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Wonton King

    There's no other place where you can order so much and know so little. Sure, you may get by with numbers at other Asian restaurants, but for the non-Mandarin speaker, ordering dim sum at Wonton King is a purely sensory experience. Even the descriptions offered by the waitstaff keep you in the dark — how do you know what you… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Basil Spice Thai Cuisine

    South Grand Boulevard between Arsenal Street and Gravois Avenue was once the crucible of Southeast Asian cuisine in St. Louis. Much of the action has since moved from the city proper into the county, but since it opened in early 2008, Basil Spice has given the South Grand business strip a new vibrancy. The preparations are meticulous, the flavors bright,… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Banh Mi So #1 – Saigon Gourmet

    It's difficult to find something new to say about the nearly perennial — four times in the past five years! — winner Banh Mi So #1 – Saigon Gourmet. The menu isn't as broad as at most Vietnamese restaurants in the area, but you can be sure everything you eat will be topnotch and made to order by Lynne Truong.… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Pueblo Nuevo

    Goat is the new hip meat among the food cognoscenti. Color Pueblo Nuevo unimpressed. This modest Mexican joint in Hazelwood has been serving the tasty goat stew known as birria for years. Then again, birria is easy to overlook on a menu overflowing with sure-bet selections, from everyday favorites such as burritos and enchiladas to stuff you don't see in… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    La Vallesana - CLOSED

    Sad news from July of this year: Gidget, the chihuahua who became famous in the "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" ads, passed away at the age of fifteen. Noticeably absent from the nonstop news coverage of her death, not to mention her star-studded memorial service at the Beverly Hills PetSmart, was any mention of the scandal that brought down Gidget at… More >>
  • Best Central/South American Restaurant

    Fritanga

    In Nicaragua a fritanga is a small, casual restaurant. A snack bar, if you will. St. Louis' Fritanga offers the laid-back, welcoming vibe that you'd expect at such a joint, but this is no mere snack bar. Since 2007 Fritanga has been serving hearty dishes that pack more flavor into a single bite than most chefs can squeeze into an… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Chick-fil-A

    Chick-fil-A lures you in with the cows. There they are, Godzilla-tall painted billboards with pleas such as "Eat Chikin, Cuddle Cowz," "Skip Beef, Not Brekfust" and "Vote Chikin: Itz Not Right Wing or Left." The cows may not have stellar spelling abilities, but their hide-saving suggestions are spot-on. From the traditional chicken sandwich to the crisp waffle fries to the… More >>
  • Best Place for Late-Night Dining

    Sandrina's

    Contrary to what your parents think, you are now a sophisticated adult, and being sophisticated means early-morning food cravings no longer come in the form of greasy-spoon slingers after a night of Jäger-induced vomiting-slash-cold sweats. No, these days you want real food. And while real food after midnight is tough to find in St. Louis, Sandrina's serves up its full… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience

    The sour economy has put us in the mood for something sweet — and indulgent. We need chocolate, in other words, nature's Zoloft, and nothing sates our appetite for an indulgent dessert like Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience does. The sleek dessert bar from this St. Louis institution offers rich treats — cheesecake, bread pudding, semifreddo, crème brûlée and more —… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

    In Soo

    Sad to say, but several excellent, unique St. Louis restaurants could have occupied this space this year: Revival, McLozzi Deli, the Pitted Olive. Yet the RFT has always had a special place in our heart for the University City Chinese and Korean restaurant In Soo and its long-time owner, In Soo Jung. What distinguished In Soo from the legion of… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Café Osage

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Mom said, but nowadays odds are even those who claim to eat breakfast don't actually eat breakfast. A gallon of coffee between the last snooze alarm and lunch? That ain't breakfast. One of those grab-and-go cereal bars? That's a snack. McGriddles? Please. Take a deep breath, set your alarm half an… More >>
  • Best Breakfast with a Hangover

    Uncle Bill's Pancake and Dinner House

    Most mornings when you're nursing a particularly nasty hangover, the thought of ingesting anything more extravagant than plain toast, tap water and six ibuprofen is enough to cause your stomach to rebel. But despite your instincts to lay low with the curtains drawn, this is when your body is most in need of nourishment, and the best place to jump-start… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Nadoz Café

    A bygone country Christmas tradition from before the Depression (the Great one) was to eschew store-bought presents in favor of mothers and grandmothers making one of each kind of cake and pie possible from midwinter's stores of canned berries, dried apples and fresh eggs. Laid out on the front steps of the farmhouse to cool, this impossible bounty of sweets… More >>
  • Best Vegan-Friendly Brunch

    Black Bear Bakery

    Vegans dreamin' of a steamin' weekend feast would do well to head toward Cherokee Street for the neighborhood brunch at Black Bear Bakery. Each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the bakery's staff — which collectively owns and operates the establishment — serves up French toast, egg casserole, biscuits, mushroom gravy and homemade apple butter for the vegetarians. But… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Goody Goody Diner

    Nostalgia has led us to expect certain things from a diner: lots of chrome, a grill in full view behind the counter, pies under plastic domes, waitresses in polyester uniforms who call you "hon," endless cups of burned coffee, regulars who drop by at 3 a.m., cigarette butts smoldering in plastic ashtrays. North city's Goody Goody Diner has none of… More >>
  • Best Lunch Counter

    Adriana's

    Don't be afraid. Yes, you had trouble finding a parking spot. Yes, that line looks awfully long. Yes, the menu looks delicious, but, like that of every other dining establishment on the Hill, it seems to be replete with Provel cheese. But just wait. Not too long. Maybe five minutes. When you reach the counter, ask the cheerful woman at… More >>
  • Best Lunch Specials

    The Good Pie

    The Neapolitan-style pizza at the Good Pie is terrific at any time of the day: thin crust briefly fired in a nuclear inferno of an oven; fresh mozz melted to perfect goo; light, flavorful sauce. At lunch, though, it's terrific and an absolute steal: For as low as $8.95 (plus tax and tip), you can score a pizza that's just… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    Café Ventana

    A coffeehouse should percolate more than just good coffee: Creativity, community and peace of mind are also essential ingredients in a winning brew. Café Ventana succeeds thanks to a beautiful space that feels just right whether you're chatting with friends over cappuccino or wine, studying for final exams, reading the daily fishwrap or writing the latest revision of your Great… More >>
  • Best Barista

    Davis Cox

    The good citizens of downtown Belleville needed good coffee, bad. In July 2008 they got their wish when Oregon Trail Roasting Company opened. During his breaks from college in Chicago, Davis Cox is the guy behind the coffee, and he's damned serious about it. "These new steam-wand tips are so insanely awesome; the froth they produce is beautiful," he was… More >>
  • Best Gastropub

    Newstead Tower Public House - CLOSED

    Ask a dozen food types to define a gastropub and you'll get a dozen different answers. They'll probably agree on two things, though: 1) it's a silly term; and 2) it has nothing to do with snails and slugs. Like pornography, you know a gastropub when you see it — or, in the case of Newstead Tower Public House, taste… More >>
  • Best Endorsement

    Barack Obama extols Pi

    Positive word of mouth always benefits a restaurant. A rave review in the local fishwrap usually helps. But you know what really gets butts in the door? When the Leader of the Free World says your pizza is the best he has ever eaten. President Obama first sampled Pi's cornmeal-crust pies during a campaign visit to St. Louis in October… More >>
  • Best Brewpub

    Schlafly Tap Room

    The indecisive shouldn't visit Schlafly Tap Room. What beer do you want? Where to start? Of course, you can always opt for one of Schlafly's tried-and-true varieties: pale ale, hefeweizen, pilsner. But you have to consider the seasonal brews, too, such as Kaldi's Coffee Stout in the fall or Scotch Ale in the winter. Miss them now and you'll have… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection in a Restaurant

    The Stable - CLOSED

    Building on its 2008 Best of St. Louis honor in the sister category Best Beer Selection in a Bar, the Stable just keeps getting better. While the numbers at this Benton Park beer palace are impressive — 24 taps and 50 or so bottles — beer lovers know that numbers can deceive, and it's what is being served that matters.… More >>
  • Best Whiskey Selection in a Restaurant

    The Scottish Arms

    Yes, you'd expect to find a decent selection of scotches at a joint called the Scottish Arms, especially when the place is owned by a Scot. That said, Alastair Nisbet's three-ring binderful of scotches tells you something special is happening here. The list runs to about 75 selections, and, with new whiskies replacing bottles as they are drained, there is… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Price Be Damned)

    Tony's

    Twelve months of doom and gloom are more than enough. The time has come to tell this economy exactly what it can do to itself. No better place than venerable Tony's, the sine qua non of classy, old-school dining in St. Louis. No better way than to peruse the impressive wine list, which harkens back to a day when the… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant (Value)

    33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar

    When Jake Hafner announced in January of this year that he was selling his Lafayette Square wine bar, St. Louis oenophiles panicked: Would 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar, bereft of its guiding spirit, become one more characterless spot selling whatever plonk distributors were trying to offload that week? Thankfully, new owner Jeff Stettner is a kindred soul to both… More >>
  • Best Dining Destination

    Firefly Grill

    Located not quite two hours by car from St. Louis, Effingham, Illinois, is probably best known for the giant cross that looms above the intersection of Interstates 70 and 57. Now, we would never suggest that the town should be known instead for the Firefly Grill. Frankly, we're old and slow and not very confident in our ability to dodge… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    National Attention

    The accolades are impressive: Last year Niche executive chef Gerard Craft was named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" — the first St. Louis chef to rate the honor. This year Craft was one of five finalists in the "Best Chef — Midwest" category of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. Josh Galliano of Monarch and Kevin… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Neighborhood

    Midtown

    Midtown? A dining destination? Tell that to most lifelong St. Louisans and they'll laugh in your face. But a funny thing has happened over the past few years: An area where your dining choices were once limited to one Italian restaurant and the Saint Louis University student union is now booming. In one building alone you can enjoy barbecue at… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Concept

    Bobo Noodle House

    Opening a noodle joint across the street from the Washington University campus is such a no-brainer that every forward-thinking restaurateur in St. Louis should be ashamed he or she didn't think of it first. Credit industry vet Zoë Robinson and chef Ny Vongsaly, who have worked together at I Fratellini and the late Zoë's Pan-Asian Café, for the slam-dunk Bobo… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out Alone

    Niche

    Yes, Niche is one of the best restaurants in St. Louis, and, yes, Gerard Craft is one of the city's most acclaimed chefs, and blah, blah, blah. This isn't about Niche. This is about you. You're on your own tonight. Maybe you're on your own every night. Whatever the case, tonight you've decided you're going to do dinner right. Have… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    El Torito

    When you first set foot in El Torito, you're greeted by a little candlelit shrine to the Virgin Mary. Take a right and you move into a massive, auténtico Mexican supermarket that stocks everything from masa and mole to an impressive selection of candles bearing the likenesses of saints and virgins. In the back there's a meat counter that sells… More >>
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