RFT Readers Picked These Restaurants & Bars as the County's Best

We asked RFT readers which restaurants are the best in St. Louis -- and you answered, with winners in more than 60 categories. From the best decor to the best burritos and oh so many categories in between, here are this year's reader-approved restaurants in St. Louis County. Planning a meal out in the city instead? We have the best picks there, too. Dying to know who won a particular category? Check out the complete 2016 Restaurant Guide here or pick up your free copy on newsstands throughout the area.

We asked RFT readers which restaurants are the best in St. Louis -- and you answered, with winners in more than 60 categories. From the best decor to the best burritos and oh so many categories in between, here are this year's reader-approved restaurants in St. Louis County. Planning a meal out in the city instead? We have the best picks there, too.

Dying to know who won a particular category? Check out the complete 2016 Restaurant Guide here or pick up your free copy on newsstands throughout the area.

05/27/2016
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Decor - The Slider House
Just a few months after debuting in the St. Louis market, the Rock Hill outpost of the Slider House is already making a splash with its miniature sandwiches. But while the gourmet sliders and thoughtful appetizer selection served by this Nashville-based chain were bound to wow local diners, few could have anticipated how dazzling the place’s looks would be. Done in a charcoal and white color scheme, the Slider House has a modern-meets-rugged vibe — a Texas saloon designed by Restoration Hardware. The leather booths and cattle motif (including a steer head that hangs over the bar) are a little bit country; the grey brick, exposed ductwork and massive, industrial-style ceiling fans are a little bit rock and roll. When weather permits, the glassed-in garage doors open up to create an inviting indoor-outdoor aesthetic. For a place that specializes in small food, the Slider House went big when it came to design. Photo by Emily Higginbotham.
Decor - The Slider House

Just a few months after debuting in the St. Louis market, the Rock Hill outpost of the Slider House is already making a splash with its miniature sandwiches. But while the gourmet sliders and thoughtful appetizer selection served by this Nashville-based chain were bound to wow local diners, few could have anticipated how dazzling the place’s looks would be. Done in a charcoal and white color scheme, the Slider House has a modern-meets-rugged vibe — a Texas saloon designed by Restoration Hardware. The leather booths and cattle motif (including a steer head that hangs over the bar) are a little bit country; the grey brick, exposed ductwork and massive, industrial-style ceiling fans are a little bit rock and roll. When weather permits, the glassed-in garage doors open up to create an inviting indoor-outdoor aesthetic. For a place that specializes in small food, the Slider House went big when it came to design. Photo by Emily Higginbotham.
Fast Casual - Doughocracy
If you wander into Doughocracy and eye the spread of toppings, hand-tossed crust and freshly made sauces, one burning question will likely run through your mind: Why on earth did it take so long for fast-casual pizza? We’ve been building our own burritos for years now, but for some reason quick-service pizza has yet to catch on in a big way. Doughocracy shows what we’ve been missing in the form of delicious Neapolitan-style pies piled high with just about any topping you can imagine. Want a classic Margherita-style pizza? They’re about as real-deal as it gets without the trip to Naples. Prefer to load one up with salsiccia, eggplant, hot peppers and pesto? Hey, you do you. Nothing is off limits at this Delmar Loop gem — well, except leaving without stuffing yourself with the “Nutella Bomb” dessert pizza. A few bites of this decadent dish will leave you calling Chipotle the Doughocracy of burritos. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Fast Casual - Doughocracy

If you wander into Doughocracy and eye the spread of toppings, hand-tossed crust and freshly made sauces, one burning question will likely run through your mind: Why on earth did it take so long for fast-casual pizza? We’ve been building our own burritos for years now, but for some reason quick-service pizza has yet to catch on in a big way. Doughocracy shows what we’ve been missing in the form of delicious Neapolitan-style pies piled high with just about any topping you can imagine. Want a classic Margherita-style pizza? They’re about as real-deal as it gets without the trip to Naples. Prefer to load one up with salsiccia, eggplant, hot peppers and pesto? Hey, you do you. Nothing is off limits at this Delmar Loop gem — well, except leaving without stuffing yourself with the “Nutella Bomb” dessert pizza. A few bites of this decadent dish will leave you calling Chipotle the Doughocracy of burritos. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Pastries/Doughnuts: Strange Donuts
St. Louis is blessed with an abundance of traditional mom-and-pop doughnut shops, and so when Strange Donuts came on the scene, many questioned what this trendy young whipper-snapper could possibly add to the mix. Turns out, the answer is a lot. Since 2013, Strange has been king of the done-zone, with its eclectic offerings and collaborations with local tastemakers like the “Mai Lee Pho King Done.” These creative concoctions are more than just hype. Behind every Strange is a seriously good doughnut. Warm, soft and cake-like, these crave-inducing pastries would be tasty enough without all the bells and whistles. But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? For this emerging doughnut empire, the substance is much better with style. Photo by Jon Gitchoff.
Pastries/Doughnuts: Strange Donuts

St. Louis is blessed with an abundance of traditional mom-and-pop doughnut shops, and so when Strange Donuts came on the scene, many questioned what this trendy young whipper-snapper could possibly add to the mix. Turns out, the answer is a lot. Since 2013, Strange has been king of the done-zone, with its eclectic offerings and collaborations with local tastemakers like the “Mai Lee Pho King Done.” These creative concoctions are more than just hype. Behind every Strange is a seriously good doughnut. Warm, soft and cake-like, these crave-inducing pastries would be tasty enough without all the bells and whistles. But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? For this emerging doughnut empire, the substance is much better with style. Photo by Jon Gitchoff.
Burritos - Seoul Taco
St. Louis’ David Choi didn’t invent Korean-Mexican fusion, but he sure has perfected it. Since opening his Seoul Taco food truck in 2011, the restaurateur has grown his brand, first as a small brick-and-mortar location and now as a burgeoning regional chain with locations from Columbia to Chicago. If you wonder how he’s become so successful in such a short time, head to his Delmar Loop storefront and order one of his gigantic burritos stuffed with bulgogi steak. The juicy beef, marinated in a mouthwatering cocktail of soy, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and ginger, is paired with kimchi fried rice and accouterments then wrapped in a tortilla. The marinade and kimchi jus combine with sour cream to create a glorious burst of flavor that can no more be contained in a wrap than Choi’s business can be contained in a tiny truck. Photo courtesy of Instagram / foodandtraveljunkie via pikore.com.
Burritos - Seoul Taco

St. Louis’ David Choi didn’t invent Korean-Mexican fusion, but he sure has perfected it. Since opening his Seoul Taco food truck in 2011, the restaurateur has grown his brand, first as a small brick-and-mortar location and now as a burgeoning regional chain with locations from Columbia to Chicago. If you wonder how he’s become so successful in such a short time, head to his Delmar Loop storefront and order one of his gigantic burritos stuffed with bulgogi steak. The juicy beef, marinated in a mouthwatering cocktail of soy, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and ginger, is paired with kimchi fried rice and accouterments then wrapped in a tortilla. The marinade and kimchi jus combine with sour cream to create a glorious burst of flavor that can no more be contained in a wrap than Choi’s business can be contained in a tiny truck. Photo courtesy of Instagram / foodandtraveljunkie via pikore.com.
Tacos - Mission Taco Joint
If you ask around about the best tacos in town, chances are you’ll be directed to Cherokee Street. That’s a safe bet, but if your taco tour guides leave out Mission Taco Joint, you should fire them. For three years, Adam and Jason Tilford have been serving up some of the town’s most authentic Mexican style street food, such as tortas, burritos and street corn. Don’t let their gringo-sounding last name fool you: The Tilford brothers honed their south-of-the-border chops first at Tortillaria in the Central West End and then at Webster Grove’s upscale Milagro Modern Mexican. Mission is a low-key good time, but the impeccably cooked fillings and fresh garnishes here make these simple tacos stand above the rest. Succulent beef brisket birria, spicy housemade chorizo or fish tacos as fresh as a Baja breeze are stuffed into handmade corn tortillas and finished with traditional accouterments. It’s as real-deal as you’ll find at a Cherokee Street storefront — maybe even more so. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Tacos - Mission Taco Joint

If you ask around about the best tacos in town, chances are you’ll be directed to Cherokee Street. That’s a safe bet, but if your taco tour guides leave out Mission Taco Joint, you should fire them. For three years, Adam and Jason Tilford have been serving up some of the town’s most authentic Mexican style street food, such as tortas, burritos and street corn. Don’t let their gringo-sounding last name fool you: The Tilford brothers honed their south-of-the-border chops first at Tortillaria in the Central West End and then at Webster Grove’s upscale Milagro Modern Mexican. Mission is a low-key good time, but the impeccably cooked fillings and fresh garnishes here make these simple tacos stand above the rest. Succulent beef brisket birria, spicy housemade chorizo or fish tacos as fresh as a Baja breeze are stuffed into handmade corn tortillas and finished with traditional accouterments. It’s as real-deal as you’ll find at a Cherokee Street storefront — maybe even more so. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Salads - Crushed Red
If ever there was a St. Louis chain poised to follow in Panera’s footsteps, Crushed Red is it. The local franchise now boasts two Denver locations in addition to the three here in town. Dine at the restaurant’s flagship in Clayton, and you’ll quickly understand why the concept is setting the fast-casual world on fire. Crushed Red offers diners hand-stretched pizzas and a selection of appetizers made from wholesome ingredients. The restaurant’s salads, however, truly define the “healthy food fast” movement. Choose from one of the pre-designed salads or build your own from a list of ingredients as long as the line out the door during lunchtime. But don’t fret about the crowd: The salad crafters mix and chop orders with maximum speed. It’s a wonder something served so fast can be so elegant and wholesome, but Crushed Red nails it. The sky is the limit for this soon-to-be fast-casual juggernaut. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Salads - Crushed Red

If ever there was a St. Louis chain poised to follow in Panera’s footsteps, Crushed Red is it. The local franchise now boasts two Denver locations in addition to the three here in town. Dine at the restaurant’s flagship in Clayton, and you’ll quickly understand why the concept is setting the fast-casual world on fire. Crushed Red offers diners hand-stretched pizzas and a selection of appetizers made from wholesome ingredients. The restaurant’s salads, however, truly define the “healthy food fast” movement. Choose from one of the pre-designed salads or build your own from a list of ingredients as long as the line out the door during lunchtime. But don’t fret about the crowd: The salad crafters mix and chop orders with maximum speed. It’s a wonder something served so fast can be so elegant and wholesome, but Crushed Red nails it. The sky is the limit for this soon-to-be fast-casual juggernaut. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Vegetarian - Frida’s
Is Frida’s “Mushroom Reuben” a jab at its predecessor? One might assume as much. But while this plant-based eatery sits on the site of an old Jewish butcher shop, when you taste this satisfying sandwich, it seems less a way to exorcise the past and more a way to honor it. Buttery crimini mushrooms, melted Swiss, tangy thousand island dressing and funky sauerkraut are piled atop pumpernickel-swirl bread for a dish that is so hearty, you won’t miss the corned beef. It’s just one of the many excellent options at this four-year-old restaurant that caters not only to vegetarians, but also to those with dietary sensitivities or restrictions. The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Frida Burger,” a monstrous patty of Match meat alternative, beans and spices, smothered in tahini-chipotle slaw. It may not be certified Angus, but it’s no less hearty than what you’d find at that butcher shop. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Vegetarian - Frida’s

Is Frida’s “Mushroom Reuben” a jab at its predecessor? One might assume as much. But while this plant-based eatery sits on the site of an old Jewish butcher shop, when you taste this satisfying sandwich, it seems less a way to exorcise the past and more a way to honor it. Buttery crimini mushrooms, melted Swiss, tangy thousand island dressing and funky sauerkraut are piled atop pumpernickel-swirl bread for a dish that is so hearty, you won’t miss the corned beef. It’s just one of the many excellent options at this four-year-old restaurant that caters not only to vegetarians, but also to those with dietary sensitivities or restrictions. The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Frida Burger,” a monstrous patty of Match meat alternative, beans and spices, smothered in tahini-chipotle slaw. It may not be certified Angus, but it’s no less hearty than what you’d find at that butcher shop. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Mac & Cheese - Salt + Smoke
Mac & Cheese - Salt + Smoke
Salt + Smoke’s fatty beef brisket is so spectacular, it’s hard to remember that there are other things on its menu too. But it only makes sense that this Delmar Loop smokehouse serves a side dish with its signature entree that’s just as worthy of the spotlight. Salt + Smoke’s mac & cheese is a creamy, bubbling mélange of white cheddar-coated noodles and crumbled butter crackers. The interplay of baked cheese and cracker-crumb coating results in a heap of cheesy goodness that makes every table feel like the cooks just scraped the yummy crisp edges of a delicious casserole. Tangy, rich and textured, this side dish might make you forget that you came for the brisket — almost. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Mac & Cheese - Salt + Smoke

Mac & Cheese - Salt + Smoke Salt + Smoke’s fatty beef brisket is so spectacular, it’s hard to remember that there are other things on its menu too. But it only makes sense that this Delmar Loop smokehouse serves a side dish with its signature entree that’s just as worthy of the spotlight. Salt + Smoke’s mac & cheese is a creamy, bubbling mélange of white cheddar-coated noodles and crumbled butter crackers. The interplay of baked cheese and cracker-crumb coating results in a heap of cheesy goodness that makes every table feel like the cooks just scraped the yummy crisp edges of a delicious casserole. Tangy, rich and textured, this side dish might make you forget that you came for the brisket — almost. Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.
Chili - Llywelyn’s
When you close your eyes and imagine the perfect bowl of chili, what do you see? Ground beef, cumin-heavy tomato sauce, pinto beans and some onions? Just try the white chicken chili Llywelyn’s Pub and see how long that image lasts. The Welsh public house’s variation of the Tex-Mex dish starts with pepperoncini-infused cream, then adds navy and garbanzo beans and large chunks of pulled chicken breast. The result is a rich, deeply satisfying bowl that has the essence of traditional chili but the decadence of a cream-based soup. It’s slightly tangy, mildly spicy and 100 percent guaranteed to make you think twice about what makes a perfect bowl of chili. Photo courtesy of Llywelyn's.
Chili - Llywelyn’s

When you close your eyes and imagine the perfect bowl of chili, what do you see? Ground beef, cumin-heavy tomato sauce, pinto beans and some onions? Just try the white chicken chili Llywelyn’s Pub and see how long that image lasts. The Welsh public house’s variation of the Tex-Mex dish starts with pepperoncini-infused cream, then adds navy and garbanzo beans and large chunks of pulled chicken breast. The result is a rich, deeply satisfying bowl that has the essence of traditional chili but the decadence of a cream-based soup. It’s slightly tangy, mildly spicy and 100 percent guaranteed to make you think twice about what makes a perfect bowl of chili. Photo courtesy of Llywelyn's.
Fresh Guacamole - Mission Taco Joint
Fresh avocados, soft to the touch and somewhere between lime-green and yellow. A dash of sea salt, a sprinkle of bright pico de gallo and a dusting of queso fresco. Guacamole doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be, which is why Mission Taco Joint’s version of this Mexican dip is such a treat. For this simple recipe, chef Jason Tilford knows that it’s all about the avocado, with other ingredients serving in supporting roles. He uses perfectly ripe avocados, resulting in a creamy concoction as authentic as you’d find on a beach south of the border. Paired with salty chips, still warm from the fryer, the only enhancements you need are a patio, some flip-flops and an ice cold Negra Modelo. This simple pleasure is pure decadence. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Fresh Guacamole - Mission Taco Joint

Fresh avocados, soft to the touch and somewhere between lime-green and yellow. A dash of sea salt, a sprinkle of bright pico de gallo and a dusting of queso fresco. Guacamole doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be, which is why Mission Taco Joint’s version of this Mexican dip is such a treat. For this simple recipe, chef Jason Tilford knows that it’s all about the avocado, with other ingredients serving in supporting roles. He uses perfectly ripe avocados, resulting in a creamy concoction as authentic as you’d find on a beach south of the border. Paired with salty chips, still warm from the fryer, the only enhancements you need are a patio, some flip-flops and an ice cold Negra Modelo. This simple pleasure is pure decadence. Photo by Mabel Suen.