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An all-you-can-Russian buffet might sound like a punch line, but the food at Astoria is no joke (though at $8.95 for lunch and $12.95 for dinner, it is a steal). Those who crave hearty Russian staples such as borscht, beef stroganoff and latkes will be more than satisfied, but be sure to try a few unfamiliar dishes: Golubtsy, beef and rice wrapped inside cabbage leaves, are compulsively edible; and the Uzbek dish honan is the love child of pork dumplings and lasagna. Chase it with one of many Russian beers or a bracing shot of icy vodka and be glad the Cold War is a distant memory.
The Bagel Factory is a coffee shop and cafe located in Creve Couer.
Voice Places is your guide to Ben & Jerry's in St. Louis. The brainchild of two self-proclaimed Vermont hippies back in the 1970s, Ben & Jerry's has grown into a worldwide ice cream empire. Despite being bought out by megacorporation Unilever in 2000, the brand has remained true to its crunchy roots by supporting various causes such as campaign spending reform and even the Occupy movement. Its scoop shops serve up all the B&J's classics, from wacky flavors named for jam bands (Phish Food and Cherry Garcia) to newer creations like the Stephen Colbert-endorsed Americone Dream, plus sundaes, shakes, smoothies and coffee drinks.
Just west of Ballas Road in Creve Coeur lies upscale seafood restaurant Bristol. Classic dishes such as crab cakes and tuna tartare intermingle with modern takes such as lobster tamales and coconut-green curry mussels on the appetizer menu. At lunch, diners can opt for a "power-lunch combo," which includes a bowl of soup or salad and a smaller selection of the restaurant's entrées, including roasted duck flat bread and sushi rolls. Naturally, the main event at Bristol is the seafood, with a large variety of entrée fish, including catfish, trout, monkfish, swordfish and salmon. For those who aren't fish-friendly, Bristol also offers steaks, a chicken dish and even a vegetarian menu. The restaurant also serves a Sunday brunch buffet and hosts special events.
California Pizza Kitchen originated in Beverly Hills in 1985, riding the "California cuisine" wave that would come to define the culinary decade; the company now boasts 250 locations of casual sit-down eateries with modern, neutral decor and a casual-yet-upscale feel. A pioneer of envelope-pushing fusion pizzas, the chain claims to have invented the now-ubiquitous barbecue chicken pizza, an anchor of a menu that offers pies topped with everything from Thai-spiced chicken with peanut sauce and bean sprouts to bacon, avocado and mayo-dressed lettuce on three different crust options: original, honey-wheat or thin and crispy. Besides the namesake pizzas, CPK offers hungry St. Louis diners a full menu of "California twist[s] on global flavors" including enormous salads like the Spago-inspired Chinese Chicken and a so-right-now Quinoa and Arugula, plus other globe-trotting items ranging from "Tuscan" hummus and tortilla soup to fish tacos and cedar-plank salmon. California Pizza Kitchen is easy to find on Voice Places.
There are chains you loathe, chains you can tolerate and chains you secretly love. Then there's Chipotle, which you should put on a pedestal and offer sacrifices to. The burritos are big, yes (though probably not as big as your head), and quickly made to order, but it's Chipotle's commitment to quality that sets it so far above the fast-casual crowd: beef, chicken and pork raised without hormones or antibiotics, piquant salsas, tortillas that hold everything together without being gummy. Hell, even the beans taste better. A few Chipotle fans claim they can make a burrito — already a steal at $5 to $6 — last two meals, but you probably won't believe it until you see it yourself. See listing for additional location under "St. Charles County."
St. Louis diners who have never managed to master Starbucks' sizing system will find Cold Stone Creamery's similarly challenging; the ice-cream chain eschews small, medium, and large in favor of "Like It," "Love It," and "Gotta Have It" sizes. Once the portion is picked, patrons can concoct their own creations from super-premium ice cream flavors like vanilla, cake batter, chocolate, strawberry and coffee, plus a kaleidoscope of toppings: nuts, brownies, cookies, candy, and even chunks of pie crust. The Creamery's ice cream engineers will scoop your selections onto a frozen slab and deftly fold in the toppings, ensuring that you won't have to hunt very far with your spoon for another hunk of cookie dough. Voice Places has Cold Stone Creamery down cold.
At Crazy Bowls & Wraps, the premise is simple: choose your vessel (bowl, wrap or salad); choose either brown or jasmine rice, whole-wheat noodles or quinoa; choose a protein - dark-meat chicken or grilled tofu (breast of chicken and other upgrades are extra). Then select from the various options. Crazy Bowls offers everything from a teriyaki bowl or hot and spicy bowl (featuring carrots, napa cabbage and onions in a jalapeño-cilantro sauce) to a spicy Buffalo wrap or Thai wrap. Vegetarians can select from such items as a veggie fajita bowl with red peppers, onion, tomato, cilantro sauce, zucchini, pepperoncinis, beans, cheddar and avocado.
This spacious Creve Coeur cafe cooks up breakfast, lunch and brunch from a larger menu than generally expected at cafes. Soups, salads and sandwiches abound, with such selections as a French dip or ham-and-cheese crepes. The beverage menu includes coffee and tea, as well as wine, mimosas and bloody marys. For fans of the fare, Cuisine d'Art also caters casual and classy affairs.
Located in a strip mall off Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur, this location of Culpeppers serves up the grub that has made Culpeppers a tradition. Diners can feast on T-ravs, potato skins and wings, a Culpeppers specialty - served bone-in or boneless with a variety of sauce choices. Steak, ribs and chicken also dominate the menu.
A local establishment that looks and feels like a sleek national “better burger” chain. (Can multiple franchises be far behind?) Uncharacteristic of the genre, here you are actually permitted to order your burger less than well-done. And if you dial all the way back to the stated limit of medium-rare, the result is very good: beefy, juicy and in need of little more than a bun to be enjoyed. That said, a plethora of cheeses, sauces and toppings are available (including some oddities like avocado, hard-boiled egg and fried pickles). The French fries (regular or herbed-garlic fries) are divine.
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