April 12, 2019

15 St. Louis Restaurants Our Critic Is Raving About This Spring

Spring has sprung and, man, we are excited about it. It’s time to stretch out, soak up the sun and chow down on some great food. Emerge from your winter hibernation with a visit to these great St. Louis restaurants. Each has earned a rave in our pages this year. And from juicy burgers to perfect pancakes to margaritas the size of a punch bowl, there is something in this collection for everybody.

Scroll down to view images
Sultan Mediterranean Restauran
(84200 Manchester Avenue, 314-390-2020)
Your first clue that Sultan is something special comes courtesy of its dolmas. It's not that their presence is novel; you can find rice-stuffed grape leaves at just about any Mediterranean restaurant. Usually, though, they are basic and often even from a can, plopped next to some shawarma as an afterthought. To liken Sultan's dolmas to such a mass-produced product, however, would be like comparing A5 Wagyu beef to a sirloin from Ponderosa. Here, the grape leaves serve as a delicate wrapper for flawlessly cooked rice, fresh herbs and lentils that are bound together with just a touch of spice-perfumed tomato sauce. The heaping platter also includes halved red and white onions, eggplant and zucchini, all stuffed with the same delectable filling.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Sultan Mediterranean Restauran
(84200 Manchester Avenue, 314-390-2020)

Your first clue that Sultan is something special comes courtesy of its dolmas. It's not that their presence is novel; you can find rice-stuffed grape leaves at just about any Mediterranean restaurant. Usually, though, they are basic and often even from a can, plopped next to some shawarma as an afterthought. To liken Sultan's dolmas to such a mass-produced product, however, would be like comparing A5 Wagyu beef to a sirloin from Ponderosa. Here, the grape leaves serve as a delicate wrapper for flawlessly cooked rice, fresh herbs and lentils that are bound together with just a touch of spice-perfumed tomato sauce. The heaping platter also includes halved red and white onions, eggplant and zucchini, all stuffed with the same delectable filling.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The matriarch responsible for Sultan's exceptional dolmas is Jenar Mohammed, who owns the three-month-old restaurant with her husband, Akram Saeed. A talented home cook, Mohammed dazzled her family with her interpretations of traditional Kurdish recipes well before they fled Iraq in the 1980s. The family was granted refugee status and landed in St. Louis, where they recently opened Sultan. And at this restaurant, even the hummus plate and falafel are special, elevating the humble chickpea to a thing of beauty. The former is velvety, spiked with rich tahini and brightened with a flourish of sumac; the latter equally impresses with its crisp, brown exterior and an almost fluffy, couscous-like texture. These are not simply rehashes of common dishes; Mohammed prepares them as if it's the first time anyone has done so.
Find out more here.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The matriarch responsible for Sultan's exceptional dolmas is Jenar Mohammed, who owns the three-month-old restaurant with her husband, Akram Saeed. A talented home cook, Mohammed dazzled her family with her interpretations of traditional Kurdish recipes well before they fled Iraq in the 1980s. The family was granted refugee status and landed in St. Louis, where they recently opened Sultan. And at this restaurant, even the hummus plate and falafel are special, elevating the humble chickpea to a thing of beauty. The former is velvety, spiked with rich tahini and brightened with a flourish of sumac; the latter equally impresses with its crisp, brown exterior and an almost fluffy, couscous-like texture. These are not simply rehashes of common dishes; Mohammed prepares them as if it's the first time anyone has done so.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Frisco Barroom
(8110 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-455-1090)
Frisco Barroom created a menu that never ventures from being accessible but is still interesting. A simple pretzel is the perfect blend of chewy and soft, properly salted and buttery, and paired with beer-cheese sauce that might as well be the nectar of the gods. The beer-infused cheese has a slight tang to cut through the richness, but not so much that it takes away from its velvety texture. It's perfection of the form.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Frisco Barroom
(8110 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-455-1090)

Frisco Barroom created a menu that never ventures from being accessible but is still interesting. A simple pretzel is the perfect blend of chewy and soft, properly salted and buttery, and paired with beer-cheese sauce that might as well be the nectar of the gods. The beer-infused cheese has a slight tang to cut through the richness, but not so much that it takes away from its velvety texture. It's perfection of the form.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The chicken wings at Frisco Barroom are equally riveting. The plump wings and drummies are succulent and gently kissed with smoke; black-peppery seasoning fuses with their caramelized skin. You might be tempted to skip any condiments, but the Peruvian dipping sauce, which tastes like a verdant, cilantro-spiked ranch, is too good to pass up.
Find out more here.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The chicken wings at Frisco Barroom are equally riveting. The plump wings and drummies are succulent and gently kissed with smoke; black-peppery seasoning fuses with their caramelized skin. You might be tempted to skip any condiments, but the Peruvian dipping sauce, which tastes like a verdant, cilantro-spiked ranch, is too good to pass up.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Mike's Hot Dogs
(7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-449-6919)
Mike's Hot Dogs' "St. Louis" dog is a messy, over-the-top homage to the Gateway City. A large Angus beef dog is smothered in molten Provel, bacon pieces and caramelized onions. By itself that might be too rich, but chef Mike Eagen mitigates the fat with halved grape tomatoes, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. It's a delightful mess. The "Volcano," another wild concoction, features the same beef dog, though this time it is split down the center and charred on the outside, giving it a more robust, meaty taste. It could be a heat bomb of a dish, with layer upon layer of spicy toppings including jalapeños, hot sauce, peppered bacon, sport peppers and jalapeño aioli.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Mike's Hot Dogs
(7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-449-6919)

Mike's Hot Dogs' "St. Louis" dog is a messy, over-the-top homage to the Gateway City. A large Angus beef dog is smothered in molten Provel, bacon pieces and caramelized onions. By itself that might be too rich, but chef Mike Eagen mitigates the fat with halved grape tomatoes, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. It's a delightful mess. The "Volcano," another wild concoction, features the same beef dog, though this time it is split down the center and charred on the outside, giving it a more robust, meaty taste. It could be a heat bomb of a dish, with layer upon layer of spicy toppings including jalapeños, hot sauce, peppered bacon, sport peppers and jalapeño aioli.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Though the name might lead you to believe otherwise, Mike's Hot Dogs is much more than a sausage shop. Eagan's outstanding burgers are plumper versions of griddle-style patties, but they still get that beautiful crispness around the edge. Customers here are treated to a beautiful, juice-and-condiment-dripping-down-your-wrists mess of a burger, the ooze coming from greasy patties, gooey American cheese and caramelized onions that taste like they've been simmered in gravy.
Find out more here.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Though the name might lead you to believe otherwise, Mike's Hot Dogs is much more than a sausage shop. Eagan's outstanding burgers are plumper versions of griddle-style patties, but they still get that beautiful crispness around the edge. Customers here are treated to a beautiful, juice-and-condiment-dripping-down-your-wrists mess of a burger, the ooze coming from greasy patties, gooey American cheese and caramelized onions that taste like they've been simmered in gravy.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Thai Table
(7293 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-776-9225)
Thai Table's pad Thai is just one delight in a parade of dishes that will make you rethink Thai food. Som tum, the popular green-papaya salad, is positively electric. Thin slices of the fruit are paired with shredded carrots and grape tomatoes, then tossed in tamarind, lime and Thai chiles. Do not let the fruity base of the salad fool you; this som tum is searing hot, but so bright and flavorful it lights up the palate. It's like fireworks going off in your mouth.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Thai Table
(7293 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-776-9225)

Thai Table's pad Thai is just one delight in a parade of dishes that will make you rethink Thai food. Som tum, the popular green-papaya salad, is positively electric. Thin slices of the fruit are paired with shredded carrots and grape tomatoes, then tossed in tamarind, lime and Thai chiles. Do not let the fruity base of the salad fool you; this som tum is searing hot, but so bright and flavorful it lights up the palate. It's like fireworks going off in your mouth.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Thai Table's "Summer Rolls" are equally thrilling. Crisp shredded vegetables and silken vermicelli noodles are stuffed into a rice-paper wrapper. On their own, they are outstanding, but the accompanying dipping sauce makes them transcendent. Though delicate in texture, the condiment's chile and cilantro-forward flavor is mighty. Verdant, tart and fiery, it lights up the mouth from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat.
Find out more here.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
Thai Table's "Summer Rolls" are equally thrilling. Crisp shredded vegetables and silken vermicelli noodles are stuffed into a rice-paper wrapper. On their own, they are outstanding, but the accompanying dipping sauce makes them transcendent. Though delicate in texture, the condiment's chile and cilantro-forward flavor is mighty. Verdant, tart and fiery, it lights up the mouth from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
58 Hundred
(5800 Southwest Avenue; 314-279-5799)
One of 58 Hundred's standout dishes are their Brussels-sprouts tacos. This dish pairs charred vegetables with toasted almonds, giving the tacos a satisfying contrast of textures. Pickled red onions and lime crema electrify the deeply savory sprouts, making each bite a symphony of brightness, bitterness, crunch and softness. It's not simply a quality non-meat option; it's one of the best things the restaurant offers.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
58 Hundred
(5800 Southwest Avenue; 314-279-5799)

One of 58 Hundred's standout dishes are their Brussels-sprouts tacos. This dish pairs charred vegetables with toasted almonds, giving the tacos a satisfying contrast of textures. Pickled red onions and lime crema electrify the deeply savory sprouts, making each bite a symphony of brightness, bitterness, crunch and softness. It's not simply a quality non-meat option; it's one of the best things the restaurant offers.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The Buffalo-fried-shrimp starter is another example of 58hundred at its best. The shrimp is soaked in hot sauce before cooking so it absorbs all of the intense, vinegary heat. The shellfish is then coated in a delicate breading that is heavily flecked with black pepper. Buttermilk ranch and shaved slices of celery garnish the bottom of the dish, offering a cooling contrast to the shrimp's deceptively fiery punch.
Find out more here.
Photo credit: Mabel Suen
The Buffalo-fried-shrimp starter is another example of 58hundred at its best. The shrimp is soaked in hot sauce before cooking so it absorbs all of the intense, vinegary heat. The shellfish is then coated in a delicate breading that is heavily flecked with black pepper. Buttermilk ranch and shaved slices of celery garnish the bottom of the dish, offering a cooling contrast to the shrimp's deceptively fiery punch.

Find out more here.

Photo credit: Mabel Suen