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A homage to the late, iconic Central West End restaurant. Owner Steve McIntyre, a long-time owner of the original Balaban's, has fashioned this new edition as a more casual restaurant serving mostly small plates. These include both classic Balaban's dishes - cucumber bisque, beef Wellington - and familiar bistro fare. The best bet might be the flatbread pizza, especially the version with spinach, fontina cheese and caramelized onion. This Balaban's also sells retail wine and offers carryout meals.
One of the St. Louis area's first Spanish tapas restaurants, BARcelona specializes in small plates that pack a big punch. Housemade sangria, quick service and a festive atmosphere make this place a favorite among the happy-hour crowd.
A neighborhood restaurant with a menu overseen by (very) prominent - and (very) busy - local chef Mike Johnson. Dishes draw inspiration from Mediterranean cuisines, not only European, but also North African and Middle Eastern. Crab cakes are spiced with za'atar and served with a harissa aioli; falafel is served in bite-size "popcorn" form. The menu is dominated by small plates, but there are also sandwiches, soups and flatbread pizzas, as well as a few pasta dishes and traditional entrées. Weather permitting, the patio is a popular seat.
An attractive sliver of a space in downtown Ferguson, Cork Wine Bar offers a wide selection of the most popular varietals as well as a seasonal menu of "plates." These dishes can be shared, but many are proportioned close to entrée size. The sliders are quite good, and the flatbread pizzas feature a light, flavorful herb-speckled crust and sensible arrangements of ingredients.
Danno's American Pub is a bit off the beaten path for the average city-bound 'hood rat, but it's also a good reminder why venturing out of the city is a worthwhile exercise. Danno's is exactly what you expect from a classic American bar, except this one is tended by an adventurous mixologist, not just someone who knows what goes in a cranberry-vodka. Danno's casual atmosphere and comfy club chairs lend a relaxed air that facilitates anonymity -- something that's hard to come by in the big small town that is St. Louis proper.
What began as a wine bar has become one of the more intriguing establishments in the metro east, with a topnotch wine list and beer selection and a tiny kitchen that has been home to such talented chefs as Kevin Willmann (now of Farmhaus) and Jonathan Olson. The menu features thoughtful, often inventive, preparations that utilize as much local product as possible.
The amazing, authentic Italian food that you have come to know and love from J.F. Sanfilippo's downtown has arrived in the Chesterfield Valley! Filippo's Italian Kitchen and Bar combines the best menu options from the downtown location with a taste of West County nightlife.
Rome? Or Madrid? At Guido's you don't have to decide. This Hill institution serves tasty Italian fare, including one of the city's best thin-crust pies, and authentic, knockout Spanish tapas. While Guido's has no pretensions of being a tapas bar in the Spanish sense, owner and chef Miguel Carretero and his parents Segundo (front of house, including wine) and Genoveva (executive chef) hail from Madrid, and Guido's tapas are as close to the real deal as you can find in this town: soul-satisfying albóndigas (meatballs), spicy patatas bravas (sautéed potatoes in a picante sauce), the striking charbroiled squid dish calamares a la plancha and more.
True to its chilly blue decor, the Ice Kitchen strives for a polar level of cool. Physically, this bar may be located in the heart of Westport, but the black-clad, uber chic patrons might make you feel like you're stuck in the Matrix. The menu consists of small and large plate "continental fusion" cuisine, including Peruvian, Asian and Greek-inspired tapas, and the bar boasts the largest martini and vodka catalog in St. Louis, with over 100 vodkas to choose from. By night, this young urban professional scene becomes a raging hip-hop and R&B dance party fueled by live DJ sets.
An upscale-casual Italian eatery in Dogtown, La Gra Italian Tapas specializes in small plates, pizzas and pasta. While the term tapas usually sends palates to the western side of the Mediterranean with its Spanish olives, seafood and cheeses, the dishes at La Gra maintain the European light-bite fare with an Italian flair, such as their housemade bruschetta - tomatoes, garlic and capers served chilled on a crostini - or arancini, balls of rice breaded, fried and stuffed with veggies and mozzarella. La Gra's pizzas are Sicilian style, thick and rectangular, covered in sauce and different types of cheeses, including the regular Italian varieties and the familiar St. Louis fave. Various specialty toppings include chicken spiedini, Cajun shrimp, barbecue pulled pork and the usual meats and veggies. Diners can also special order their own pasta combinations, such as linguine in a garlic-cream sauce with grilled chicken or fettuccine pesto with scallops. La Gra also offers larger entrées for hungrier patrons, including a pork chop Marsala or beef medallions with peppers, onions and gorgonzola. Reservations are suggested during busier dining hours.
CLOSED A handsome new space along Forest Park Southeast's resurgent Grove, Mia Rosa offers cicchetti - essentially, the Italian equivalent of tapas. Both cold and hot cicchetti are available. The latter are mostly smaller portions of familiar entrées, from osso buco to duck breast in a red-wine sauce. Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto is a standout, and the bruschetta of the day makes a fine accompaniment to a glass of red wine from the modest list. A raw bar, flatbread pizzas and an array of soups and salads are also available. At $3 each, desserts present a good value.
A large, stylish space serving small plates in the contemporary mold: Ahi tuna, sliders and pork belly all make an appearance on the lengthy menu. Owner and chef Eric Erhard brings Caribbean and Latin American influences to his dishes, which include jerk chicken kebabs in a key lime-yogurt sauce and fried calamari given a welcome lime twist. The "Sexy Gritz" might be embarrassing to order, but paired with shrimp and thick slices of garlic in a fiery sauce, they make for a tasty repast. Dessert includes a tribute to the Chipwich, the ice-cream sandwich made with chocolate-chip cookies.
Morgan Le Fay's Tapas Bar and Lounge offers a comfortable and contemporary place to socialize with your friends or hold a business meeting. The interior features several areas to -- quite literally -- lounge in, with more than a dozen board games scattered about, just in case. The bar stocks twelve varieties of beer, and the kitchen is known for its Reuben sandwiches and its "American tapas." Lunch fare includes sandwiches, soups and salads, but dinner is when the tapas come out to play. Options run the gamut from "kitten fish and puppies" (small catfish filets and hush puppies - ha ha) to skewers to pork, chicken or beef sliders. Nightly drink specials draw a variety of customers -- from college students (Monday) to teachers (Thursdays). There's live music on Friday and Saturday night.
Operating out of a large space on Washington Avenue, Mosaic offers an upscale (read: dress to impress) atmosphere. The "modern fusion" menu means these are not the typical tapas that one may be accustomed to. Options include herb gnocchi, limoncello mussels and lobster-and-crawfish risotto. Mosaic also has late-night lounge hours for those looking for an after-dinner drink.
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