Next time someone tells you St. Louis is hopelessly behind the latest national food and restaurant trends — this someone will almost certainly offer as his proof our continued fetishization of the cupcake (and he will have a point) — direct him to Mission Taco Joint in the Delmar Loop.
Located in University City, Mission Taco Joint clearly has nothing to hide — you can actually watch its workers making fresh tortillas through a window on the Delmar Boulevard side of the restaurant. There's also a walk-up window and an outdoor standing area, both of which provide a delicious venue for people-watching. Inside, Mission is almost always packed, but if you can find a seat, the food — a modern reinterpretation of traditional Mexican dishes like burritos, tortas and tacos — is worth the wait. Brothers Adam and Jason Tilford brought their expertise to Mission from Tortillaria and Milagro Modern Mexican, two renowned local eateries, and their attention to detail shines through in the food. The menu mingles classics like carne asada with slightly less expected items like nopales (cactus) and grilled tofu tacos. At Mission, the longer you linger, the more you'll find yourself scrutinized by a pack of hungry, vulture-like customers, eyeballing you from the waiting area. Hold your ground — snag a side order of "street corn," order another round of roast duck and crispy pork belly tacos — and save room for a churro.