Over the past few years, the St. Louis restaurant scene has been thrust into the national dining spotlight, with tastemakers from far and wide eager to crown the city an emerging food destination. The New York Times has taken a look; so has Food & Wine, Esquire, Eater and the James Beard Foundation, each touting a crop of thrilling new restaurants that have helped St. Louis — at least in culinary terms — transcend its "flyover city" status.
They're right. In the last couple of years, St. Louis has been blessed with one restaurant opening after another that adds layers of complexity to our city's food conversation. Bosnian cuisine has finally made its way into the mainstream conversation; Filipino food, too. Second-generation Americans are embracing their traditions in the form of stunning takes on Thai, Japanese and Chinese dishes, elegant eateries are rethinking what goes on the center of the plate, and trendy corner spots are redefining what it means to be a neighborhood restaurant.
However, the St. Louis restaurant scene did not begin when others started to take notice. From mom-and-pop diners and south-city dives to world-class fine-dining and genre-defining seasonal spots, St. Louis has been blessed with an abundance of restaurants that created a foundation for the new kids to build upon. That they remain relevant, integral parts of our city's culinary fabric is not only a testament to their quality but a living, breathing reminder of how we got to where we are.
The 2022 Food Lover's Guide is a celebration of both the past and the present — of the established restaurants that laid the groundwork for what we have become and the up-and-comers who are building culinary skyscrapers upon that solid foundation. Sorted by neighborhood and personally vetted, this curated list of the area's essential dining spots will give you a comprehensive picture of the exciting local dining scene that shows how we got here and where we are headed. If the past is prologue, it's a bright future indeed.