Southwestern in St. Louis

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    Canyon Café
    While the Botanical Garden might house most of the cacti in town, Canyon Café at Plaza Frontenac offers its own share of the American Southwest to St. Louisans, namely in the form of Tex-Mex cuisine. Covered in desert reds and browns, Canyon Café combines the flavors and recipes of Mexico and the western United States with traditional, casual American themes. Appetizers include tortilla soup, Sedona spring rolls with chicken and barbecue sauce, and a Caesar salad with a Southwestern touch of garlic and tortillas. Fish tacos, chicken quesadillas, and enchiladas round out the Mexican menu, while the Southwest side features more modern fare including an adovo rib eye topped with a sauce of smoked peppers and spices and smoked, pecan-encrusted salmon. The menu also features Southwest-inspired pastas, such as the "desert fire" - angel-hair pasta in a jalapeño-cream sauce topped with shrimp, mushrooms, Parmesan and pico de gallo. Canyon Café also features a list of specialty margaritas, including a few "Limit 2" drinks made from premium ingredients and limited to two per customer.
    Fort Taco
    Owner Gabriel Patino and company transformed the former Brentwood Rally’s into Fort Taco, a homage to the food they grew up on. The restaurant calls itself traditional, but it’s not exactly Mexican. Patino uses the recipes of his great-grandparents, who brought their native cuisine with them when they emigrated to Fort Madison, Iowa. Fort Taco’s menu consists of just three main items. Traditional soft-shell tacos are its signature; the large, puffy, deep fried flour shells are stuffed with either beef or chicken and simply dressed are a feast in themselves. Enchiladas -- vegetarian, beef or chicken -- covered in a rich, ancho-chile-based sauce are equally delicious, and the handmade tamales are as authentic as anything you’d find on Cherokee Street. Fort Taco is drive-through only, and thankfully the long line moves quickly -- the friendly staff understand the urgency of getting this delicious food in their patrons hands as fast as possible.
    Piccadilly Cafeteria
    The St. Ann branch of the Baton Rouge-based chain, Piccadilly Cafeteria features home-style meals and comfort food on St. Charles Rock Road just east of Lindbergh Boulevard. With a large, cafeteria-style menu, Piccadilly is loaded with Southern-influenced, old-fashioned entrées and hearty sides. Diners can follow along the line and indulge in fried chicken, turkey and gravy, chicken-fried steak, a pork chop smothered in buttermilk gravy and catfish cooked in a spicy sauce. Side items include fried okra, mashed potatoes, carrot soufflé and turnip greens simmered with bacon. Before paying for your tray, Piccadilly Cafeteria also puts out quite a few desserts to choose from, including cakes, cobblers, pies and brownies.
    Southwest Diner
    The Southwest Diner is a new diner that refuses to fall into the “new diner” trap. No faux nostalgia here — just breakfast and lunch with a heavy Southwestern accent, in a space that gets all of the little diner details right. Breakfast balances typical American diner fare (egg-potatoes-meat-toast platters, omelets) with riffs like New Mexico-style breakfast burritos and buttermilk-cornmeal pancakes. Lunch includes a green-chile cheeseburger and Southwestern-style (i.e., stacked, not rolled) enchiladas with your choice of meat and red or green chile sauce.

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