St. Louis' neighborhoods are gems in their own right: full of history, great people and, as far as Gut Check is concerned, fantastic food. Each week we'll take you into a specific neighborhood and point you in the direction of the best places to grab some bites.
This week we wander the old-school streets of Benton Park, lined with charming homes just across I-55 from the international HQ of beer juggernaut Anheuser-Busch InBev. Nestled in the neighborhood are some great brunch spots, as well as a white-tablecloth gem helmed by a James Beard Award-nominated chef, a beloved sandwich destination and a Brazilian joint.
First up, Sidney Street Cafe...
Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney Street; 314-771-5777) Ten years after Kevin Nashan took over the helm of Sidney Street Cafe, this St. Louis institution in the city's Benton Park neighborhood remains one of the area's premier dining destinations. A few of the classic Sidney Street dishes remain (steak wasabi, filet Béarnaise), but diners will have a hard time resisting the contemporary American approach, market- and chef-driven, that Nashan and his crack team of cooks follow. Look for stunning dishes like sorghum-smoked sweetbreads or foie gras with grapefruit gelee, lamb porchetta or rabbit rissole. Reservations are recommended -- and are a must on the weekend.
Hodak's Restaurant & Bar (2100 Gravois Avenue; 314-776-7292) A St. Louis institution so popular you have to line up on a ramp, amusement park-style, while you wait for a table. Fried chicken is the main attraction here -- more than a few claim it's the city's best. For $7.35 you get a half-chicken fried to a crisp, golden brown, the surface uniformly crunchy, the meat tender. Hodak's also features fried fish, chicken-fried steak and even fried frog legs. Those seeking a non-fried meal will find steaks and barbecue as well as sandwiches, burgers and daily lunch specials.
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