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Among the clubs and hip hangouts on Washington Avenue downtown lies 12th Street Diner. The place is a throwback to the '50s and rock & roll. The menu features root beer floats, omelets, pot roast and burgers, including the La Bamba burger that is topped with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, chipotle mayo and guacamole. This bright spot also features another diner classic: apple pie, cherry pie and a pie du jour.
801 Chophouse’s super-size steaks are the most expensive meal in town — and that seems to be the point. The restaurant peddles opulence to holders of corporate cards, as well as regular folks who want to feel like royalty (at least for a day). For the price tag, diners will receive impeccable service, fine wines and shamefully large cuts of beef. Bone-in selections are the best offerings: The strip, rib eye, pork and veal all benefit from the extra flavor (and thicker cut). 801 Chophouse offers a variety of steak enhancements, from Oscar-style with crab and béarnaise to a bone-marrow bath. However, the high-quality steaks and chops are delicious enough on their own. Seafood is incredibly fresh, and the oysters taste straight from the coast. Side dishes are served a la carte: The creamy scalloped potatoes and lobster macaroni & cheese are excellent options — just make sure to ask for a half order so you can save room for the Grand Mariner soufflé.
Built by Adolphus Busch around 1914, this magnificent example of the beer-baron-bravado style of architecture now features competent lighter, updated versions of classic German cooking mixed in with basic steaks and seafood, along with a quintessential apple strudel for dessert.
Al's Restaurant Just north of the flashy Lumière Place downtown lies Al's Restaurant, which has enjoyed its home along the riverfront for 85 years. The upscale restaurant serves all the perennial favorites, including escargot, lobster tails and steak tartar for starters. Al's only serves dinner, which offers a selection of steaks such as steak Diane and filet mignon or the "Italian Dinner" -- a filet alongside veal parmigiano. Not in the mood for steak? No problem: Al's also offers a variety of veal preparations, pork chops seafood and duck breast among their entrees. Reservations are recommended.
The menu reflects both the Italian and the Greek heritage of owners Anthony and Rosario Scarato. The selection tilts toward the former, with numerous pizzas and pastas available, while the Greek board focuses on the cuisine's standbys, such as saganaki (flaming cheese), dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and gyros. The pizza is very good: the crust thick, with a slight chew and a teasing sweetness; the sauce lightly applied beneath a blanket of melting mozzarella; the toppings ideally proportioned. The gyro is also good and a great value. A welcoming spot with a wonderfully friendly staff.
Along busy Hampton Avenue, Ari's offers Greek and American fare in a comfortable dining room or on their spacious patio. The menu includes saganaki, hummus and toasted ravioli. Specialties include their gyro sandwich and chicken souvlaki, with American selections such as a BLT and a club sandwich also available. Entrees range from lamb shank to chicken modiga to filet mignon. Ari's rounds out its menu with a few burgers and pastas. On Saturdays and Sundays Ari's also offers a breakfast buffet, complete with an omelet station. The restaurant has a parking lot on the side.
The friendly staff and large dining area provide a quick-fix for downtown 9-to-5ers looking for their midday meal. The lunch buffet offers a taste of the popular menu items at an affordable price. The regular menu includes a large variety of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese choices, including spring rolls, kung pao chicken and curry vegetable tofu.
The new location of a St. Louis institution: The original dates back to 1969, and its founder's roots go back even further. The new space is large, with a simple, rustic elegance and a casual ambiance. The extensive menu features the upscale Italian-American dishes much loved (sometimes to an unfathomable degree) in this area: grilled pork chops; pastas in thick sauces. Presentations can be impressive, including a caesar salad served as a tower of lettuce and a risotto served in a paper "cone" that looks like nothing so much as a giant piece of wrapped candy.
The rich and powerful in the city of St. Louis mix with everyday folk for cafeteria lunch at this unadvertised, unsigned, unpriced and unlisted spot at the northern edge of the A.G. Edwards campus. "The barbecue today is pork," says the nice man who offers you the specials. "Would you like that with a side of the au gratin potatoes or the Brussels sprouts? Maybe a nice deviled egg?" This is straightforward, working-class food -- good roast beef, pork and ham, cold cuts sliced fresh to order, tapioca pudding. And a frequent side selection of Jerry Berger, an ex-senator, a high-ranking police officer or a titan of industry.
A neighborhood bar & grill in the finest St. Louis tradition. The pork chop is the trademark dish: It weighs in at one pound and requires 25 minutes to cook. Burgers and sandwiches are satisfying, especially the veal parm. The menu includes steaks, seafood and Italian dishes, including pizza, in the Provel-intensive St. Louis style. (Not a fan of T-ravs? Biggie's might convert you.) Barbecue ribs are the weekend specialty. The atmosphere is friendly, and there's more sports memorabilia on the walls than you could study in a dozen visits.
Owner Ben Bishop Jr. wanted to create a restaurant that would pay homage to Chesterfield’s roots. The result of his efforts is Bishop’s Post, a restaurant that touts “classic comfort fare,” but feels more like an American-style bistro. Bishop’s Post is a comfortable, beautiful restaurant, and its lush, landscaped patio — complete with a waterfall — is one of the loveliest in town. Food, however, is inconsistent. Appetizers range from a delicious sweet-corn and roasted green-chile tamale to a beef tenderloin bruschetta with caramelized onions, roasted garlic and Asiago cheese that is so tender it melts in the mouth. Entrees include a variety of steaks and chops, as well as bistro classics such as grilled duck breast and sautéed quail-breast medallions. Execution is spotty, but the setting and service are worth a drink and appetizer at happy hour.
Bistro 1130 brings Mediterranean-inspired cuisine to the shoppers of Town and Country Crossing, albeit with varying degrees of authenticity. Executive chef Karim Bouzammour, a Moroccan native, infuses the menu with specialties from his homeland; Bistro 1130 is at its best when he embraces this rich, North Africa culinary heritage. In particular, the lamb couscous, served in a tagine with assorted vegetables and chickpeas, is the embodiment of authentic Moroccan cuisine. Likewise, do not pass up the fresh sardines when available. These mild, little fish are packed with fresh herbs and drizzled with lemon juice -- an authentic Mediterranean delicacy. Also noteworthy is fig-and-pine-nut-stuffed pork, as well as the excellent phyllo-dough-wrapped goat cheese turnover. Weather permitting, opt for the patio -- Bistro 1130 has a prime, lakeside location.
Bixby's brings an appreciation for contemporary seasonal, locally oriented cuisine to that old warhorse, the museum café. The lunch menu (available Monday through Sunday) includes simple but excellent entrées (grilled chicken is a standout), sandwiches, salads and appetizers (a trio of small crab cakes is excellent). The Sunday brunch buffet more than makes up for in quality what it might lack in breadth. Included in the brunch price are several items made-to-order in the kitchen, including very good eggs Benedict and a small Belgian waffle.
A neighborhood establishment in the contemporary vein, this Old Webster restaurant doubles as a butcher shop: the meats, cut in-house, are also available for retail sale. Even if you never avail yourself of (or even notice) the butcher component, you’ll find that the Block is a significant and refreshing step up from the ubiquitous lowest-common-denominator neighborhood joint. The menu is an appealing array of contemporary American favorites: steak, roast chicken, braised pork, housemaid charcuterie. The steaks (available cuts vary) are grass-fed and beautifully grilled. Pork is a standout, too, especially the “Potted Pi
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