Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this Gut Check series, we are chewing our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. To see hundreds more winners and finalists and download the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis mobile app, visit our Best of St. Louis homepage.
Whether you call it comfort food or soul food or just plain food, the cuisine that this category honors is hard to resist. It's also wonderfully broad, from universal favorites like fried chicken to such acquired tastes as liver and onions to (as with this year's winners) trendy, upscale renditions of beloved classics.
Page through for the four finalists and the winner of "Best Comfort Food" in St. Louis.
Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove (4270 Manchester Road; 314-371-0304)
For many St. Louisans, Robbie Montgomery's Sweetie Pie's has long been synonymous with soul food. Thanks to Welcome to Sweetie Pie's, the breakout-hit reality show on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network, it now has a national audience. So expect long lines at this cafeteria-style restaurant. It's worth it for everyday delights like the meatloaf and pork steak or such daily specials as short ribs (Monday) or oxtail (Wednesday). And the sides -- mac & cheese, yam, cornbread -- alone are worth the trip...and the wait.
Diner's Delight (1504 South Compton Avenue; 314-776-9570)
Thanks to a thorough renovation a few years ago, after four decades Diner's Delight looks like a relatively new restaurant. The menu, though, remains a constant. Really, all you need to know about the soul/comfort food bonafides of Diner's Delight is that tripe is one of that only five dishes that are available every day. (Fried chicken, burgers, fries and salad are the others.) The rest of the menu rotates daily through such down-home, stick-to-your-ribs classics as meatloaf, liver and onions, oxtails and Salisbury steak.