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The Top 10 Greek Restaurants in St. Louis

The Top 10 Greek Restaurants in St. Louis - STLRestaurant.News

The Best Greek Goes Way Beyond Gyros

St. Louis, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – When we think of Greek food, many of us zero in on that famous Greek sandwich, gyros, or that famous Greek dessert, baklava.  Both are classically Greek cuisine, relying on quality ingredients precisely layered together to form a unique and delicious treat.  But Greek cooking goes way beyond these two familiar dishes, and St. Louis is fortunate to have a robust Greek-American community, meaning scores of terrific Greek restaurants and delis offering classic dishes and contemporary cooking too.  Greek cuisine is one of the classic Mediterranean cuisines—think olives, wine, fish, vegetables, grains, and meat (including lamb, poultry, and pork, as well as rabbit and beef).

We wanted to know where to get the best Greek food in St. Louis. So, we turned to customer reviews to find out which restaurants are rated the highest by the people who matter most, diners!  What we found was a delicious variety of Greek restaurants all across the metro area.  There were chef-driven Greek-Mediterranean restaurants, mom-and-pop gyro stands, and loads of comfortable, casual dining options in between.  Topping the list is The Greek Kitchen at 15939 Manchester Road in Ellisville.  It just opened last November (in the former Café Kebab space), and has quickly become a local favorite.

The Greek Kitchen has a bright, cheerful, casual dining space that seats about 30 inside, and another dozen or so on the small patio out front.  It offers Greek classics that are prepared fresh in the semi-open kitchen.  Here you will find traditional dishes like dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves filled with beef and rice), Spanakopita (flaky spinach and cheese pie), and one of my personal favorites, Saganaki (fried Greek cheese).  At The Greek Kitchen, it’s prepared tableside.  They coat Kasseri (a semi-hard, salty, sharp cheese) with brandy, light it on fire, and then douse the flames with a squeeze of lemon juice.  It is a truly special dish.  On select nights, they also offer Moussakas (layered with potatoes, eggplant, and meat sauce, then topped with creamy béchamel).  And yes, they make excellent gyros and souvlaki (chicken kebabs), as well as fresh hummus, falafel, and tzatziki.  The one menu surprise is Buffalo-style chicken wings, which aren’t Greek, but are spicy and delicious.  Don’t skip the display case near the register.  There you’ll find a variety of Greek pastries, including baklava.  Owners Chef Lisa Nicholas and Joe Kandel previously sold these pastries wholesale under the name Sinful Creations.  They still offer catering under the Sinful Creations name.

As we said, there is great Greek food to be found all over the metro area.  Here are the top 10 Greek restaurants in St. Louis:

1. The Greek Kitchen (4.87 stars/82 reviews) Ellisville, 15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, MO 63021, (636) 686-7200.
2. Spiro’s Restaurant (4.77 stars/143 reviews) St Charles, 2275 Bluestone Drive, Saint Charles, MO 63303, (636) 916-1454.
3. Vinnie’s Italian Beef and Gyros (4.60 stars/161 reviews) Lindenwood Park, 3208 Ivanhoe Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63139, (314) 644-7007.
4. Cafe Nova (4.59 stars/128 reviews) Princeton Heights, 5611 South Kingshighway Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63109, (314) 351-7443.
5. The Little Greek Corner (4.47 stars/70 reviews) Fenton, 1914 Bowles Ave, Fenton, MO 63026, (636) 600-0603.
6. Lilly’s Gyros (4.43 stars/110 reviews) Metro East, 10600 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights, IL 62208, (618) 398-5455
7. Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar (4.40 stars/52 reviews) Affton, 9416 Gravois Road, Affton, MO 63123, (314) 631-1375.
8. Spiro’s Restaurant (4.37 stars/71 reviews) Lindenwood Park, 3122 Watson Road, Saint Louis, MO 63139, (314) 645-8383.
9. Anthonino’s Taverna (4.37 stars/980 reviews) The Hill, 2225 Macklind Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63110, (314) 773-4455.
10. Tazé Mediterranean Street Food (4.32 stars/192 reviews) Downtown, 626 Washington Ave, Ste. 103, Saint Louis, MO 63101, (314) 254-7953.

Honorable Mentions are our way of sending a shout out to some terrific restaurants, sometimes personal favorites, sometimes up-and-comers who didn’t have enough reviews (minimum 50) to make the top 10 list.  These dining options are worth your attention if you’re looking for great Greek food. So, Honorable Mentions go to:

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church Luncheons (4.28 stars/29 reviews) Town and Country, 1755 Des Peres Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131, (314) 966-6720.  Every Friday they do an authentic Greek lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The menu varies week to week, but it’s always homemade, high quality, and sells out quickly. Hint: The gym/dining hall entrance is around back. You can place a carryout order if you call ahead.

Apollo Cafe (4.89 stars/9 reviews) Concord, 5450 Southfield Center, Saint Louis, MO 63123, (314) 270-4001.  Fast, casual, friendly cafe serving Greek and Mediterranean fare.  Gyros, hummus, falafel, salads.  This place just opened in June, and already diners are raving about the great service and deliciously fresh food.

Dado’s Cafe (4.26 stars/66 reviews) St. Louis Hills, 5425 Hampton Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63109, (314) 224-5588.  Dado’s combines classic Greek fare with casual American cuisine in a comfortable space.  The menu offers a nice mix: Greek meatballs, saganaki, gyros, burgers, fresh hummus, gourmet pizza, pastitchio, salt cod, prime rib, even toasted ravioli—you get the idea, a little something for everyone.  They also have a full bar and they do brunch on Sundays.

The Dark Room at The Grandel Names New Chef/ General Manager

The Dark Room at The Grandel Names New Chef/General Manager

New Chef/ General Manager at the Dark Room inside the Historic Grandel Theatre

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) There’s a welcome addition to The Dark Room, which recently relocated to its new home inside the renovated historic Grandel Theatre located at 3610 Grandel Square. The Dark Room was created to “help bring life” to the Grand Center and north of Washington Avenue during slow seasons and has been very successful at that.

This popular hangout that resides in the heart of the popular Grand Center Arts District now has a new General Manager.

Local chef and marketing veteran, Brett Singleton, slips into the new role. Singleton has been working with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation for many years in a marketing capacity, responsible for helping to communicate and further the Foundation’s main mission which is to provide opportunity and infrastructure to St. Louis artists.

“We are very excited to have Brett on board in this new capacity,” said Chris Hansen, Executive Director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “He has been deeply engaged in all aspects of the Foundation and truly understands how The Dark Room enhances the arts patron experience and engagement through offering exceptional food, beverage and hospitality.”

Singleton also spent much of his time in The Dark Room’s kitchen preparing food for the restaurants fresh and exceedingly popular Sunday Brunch, as well as, performing as a chef in catering with Hanon Management Group Culinary. Before that, Singleton served as Director of Marketing for Ballpark Village and had a 17-year career covering multiple field and corporate marketing and sales positions at Anheuser-Busch.

When The Dark Room recently relocated to its new home inside the Grandel Theatre it enlarged its space, hours and menus. The restaurant operates under the umbrella of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, which is known for looking out for the neighborhood. Every dollar spent goes directly back into the local arts community.

Operating Wednesday through Sunday, The Dark Room offers a “petite lunch” menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a full dinner menu from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and a limited late-night menu from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. They also offer fun daily happy hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. During operational hours, you will find The Dark Room photo gallery and live music stage open and electrified. Don’t miss out on the Sunday live music brunch program, “Dark Room Brunch Sessions.” It’s presented every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features gospel, soul, jazz and Americana acts. Dinner is available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays as well.

The Dark Room at The Grandel

3610 Grandel Square

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 776-9550

For more information and continued updates, visit:

www.thedarkroomstl.com
www.facebook.com/thedarkroomstl
Twitter: @TheDarkRoomSTL
Instagram: @TheDarkRoomSTL

Experience the French Quarter Vibe at Café Ventana

Cafe Ventana

Café Ventana

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 23, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you’ll never forget the city’s historic charm and cuisine.  Thanks to the owners of Café Ventana, you can savor the taste of the Big Easy right here in the Lou with a delicious selection of Louisiana inspired brunch entrées, specialty cocktails, fresh baked bread, made from scratch pastries and their signature beignets (traditional or filled with chocolate or the Chef’s creation).  For those who ride their bike to the restaurant, they get a free beignet.

Café Ventana’s menu choices are celebrated for their fresh ingredients that come directly from their on site gardens and offer options for all diets with a paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan friendly fare.  Breakfast is served all day and includes New Orleans Biscuits & Gravy, Smoked Salmon Bagel, Paleo Breakfast, Granola, Breakfast Burritos (steak, chicken, or black bean), and Omelettes (veggie, Greek, meats (ham, bacon, turkey or paleo pork sausage) and more.  Sandwiches include BLT, Turkey Avocado, and the Cuban Wrap (black forest ham, carnitas, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, mustard in a tomato wrap) to name a few.  Their fabulous Lobster Bisque, Beignet sliders and house made chips are especially popular.

Vegetarian options feature Spinach Salad, Greek Salad, House Made Hummus (served with toasties & crudités) and sandwiches such as Apple Brie (roasted apples, brie, walnuts, honey on toasted wheat bread), Portabella Mushroom (portabella mushrooms, spinach, havarti cheese, basil pesto aioli on toasted sourdough) and the Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil pesto aioli on toasted sourdough).

On Saturdays & Sundays from 8 AM – 2 PM is their famous Nawlin’s Style Brunch featuring Tasso Biscuits & Gravy and Grillades & Grits.  Plus Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and live music from noon-2 pm!

The Bar boasts Good Libations such as a Hurricane, French 75 (gin, lemon juice, prosecco) Absinthe Ritual (Absinthe, sugar cube, cold water, classic French preparation), wines, rare whiskeys, Cathedral Square Beers and non-alcoholic favorites and smoothies.  For those needing a caffeine fix or a perk-me-up for work or studying, there’s House Lattes, Espresso’s and Freshly Brewed Coffee, plus additional flavors to customize your perky brew (rosemary, sage, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, clove mocha, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, white chocolate, pumpkin spice, mint, lavender or almond).

Café Ventana’s atmosphere is a relaxed bohemian bistro setting with inspired lighting that fills the room with natural light through the tall windows and massive skylight ceiling.  Around the castle-like curved stone fireplace are comfy chairs.  There are multiple bistro table areas throughout including one accented by a tall fountain and stoned pillars that give you the feeling you are in the French Quarter.  The venue also has designated quiet areas for serious studying.  The covered outdoor patio offers plenty of seating.  The adjacent Café Ventana Annex offers private Think Tank rooms, meeting and event spaces with secure Wifi and Skype for rent.

Café Ventana is located in the Central West End near St. Louis University on West Pine Boulevard just West of Vandeventer, South of Lindell and North of Forest Park Parkway.

Café Ventana

3919 W Pine Blvd

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 531-7500

Hours of Operation:

7 AM – 8 PM

Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria to Host July Giveback Tuesday Event Benefiting All Among Us

Katie's Pizza and Pasta Osteria to Host July Giveback Tuesday Event Benefiting All Among Us

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 16, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria in Rock Hill is proud to announce their upcoming Giveback Tuesday event, which will benefit All Among Us. The event is slated for Tues., July 25.

Every month, Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria features a local nonprofit charity and donates 100 percent of the earned proceeds from the entire day to the charity. Lunch, dinner, drinks, and carryout are all included. So far, Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria has donated more than $100,000 to local nonprofit organization.

This month’s Giveback Tuesday will also mark the restaurant’s third anniversary of starting up the monthly event.

“We truly believe in the spirit of giving back and supporting the community that we serve,” said Katie Lee Collier, owner of Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria. “That’s why we had decided to hold this event every month, to help out worthy charities in need.”

Funds raised from this Giveback Tuesday event will go directly toward helping the organization build funds to renovate their building at 107 Carson Road in Ferguson, which is being used as a women’s care center.

“Our desire is to make a safe place for women and children to heal and move forward,” said Kristin Hayes of All Among Us. “This facility will be a warm and welcoming home for women and children, many of whom come from abusive relationships, are chronically homeless, or are struggling with mental illness. We also walk alongside our clients as we enroll their children in school and assist the clients with obtaining their GEDs and health insurance, teaching them about finances, finding them jobs where they can succeed, helping them find permanent homes, and more.”

All Among Us, Inc., is a young non-profit organization. Cathryn Shaw, the Executive Director of All Among Us, founded the organization in July 2016 to better serve those in need after working in the city for 11 years with chronically homeless and single mothers who were living in extreme poverty. The organization is currently focusing on opening a 24/7 women’s care center in Ferguson.

“We want to fill the gap created by the closure of three major shelters in the city by opening this care center for women and children in Ferguson,” said Hayes. “Last year, we had an impact in over 600 lives. Many of these people have not received love, care, or dignity in years. It’s very gratifying to see how quickly someone heals once they feel safe, have people care for them, and receive something as simple as new clothes, a healthy meal, and a daily shower.”

Zion Lutheran Church of Ferguson is providing the proposed building rent-free for 10 years. The building, which was constructed in 1927 and has sat vacant for nine years, is in need of ADA-compliant renovations, including the installation of showers, a renovated kitchen, new drywall, paint, flooring, and more.

“We are grateful to Zion Lutheran Church of Ferguson and appreciate Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria for believing in us and helping us as we get our feet on the ground financially,” Hayes said.

Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria is open every day at 11 a.m. and features Happy Hour specials from 3 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. Carry-outs are also available.

For more information or to make reservations, please call (314) 942-6555 or visit http://www.katiespizzaandpasta.com.

___

Source: News provided by Katie’s Pizza – distributed by 24-7 Press Release – published on STLRestaurant.News

The Top 10 Thai Restaurants in St. Louis

The Top 10 Thai Restaurants in St. Louis

St. Louis’ Favorite Spots for the Best Thai Food

St. Louis, MO/July 15, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Thai food is all about balance and detail.  Thai cuisine is as diverse as the landscape of Thailand.  Regional flavor profiles abound, as in most nations, but there are a few key elements that seem to draw Thai food into one cuisine—primarily the use of strong aromatic components, multi-layered, complex flavor profiles, fresh ingredients, and light preparation methods.  Thai food strikes a delicate, artful balance of the senses, with dishes that are simultaneously salty, sweet, sour, and spicy.  One of the more appealing aspects of Thai cooking is that the spiciness can be adjusted to suit the diner’s preferences.

That ability to name your spice level is a key component on the menu of our #1 restaurant this week.  Customers love the 1–5 spice rating system at Thai House in Columbia, Illinois.  This local favorite is worth the drive over the river and through the cornfields.  Thai House offers spiced-to-order authentic Thai dishes in a warm, hospitable environment, and according to customer reviews, they are the best Thai restaurant in the St. Louis metro area.

Customers rave about the Gyoza (fried dumplings similar to potstickers) and the Khanom Jeep (steamed pork dumplings) at Thai House, along with the comfortable dining room and friendly service.  Other popular menu items at Thai House include the Larb Gai (spicy chopped chicken salad flavored with red and green onions, cilantro, lime, and chilis) and the Holy Chicken (sautéed with garlic, onions, sweet basil, bell peppers, green beans, and mushrooms).  They have an extensive menu that includes five different curries (green, panang, pineapple, red, and yellow), several dishes using Jasmine Rice, and of course, Phad Thai (stir-fried rice noodle with egg and bean sprouts, served with a side of fresh red cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and topped with ground peanuts and chopped green onion).  In general, if you visit a good Thai restaurant, the Phad Thai will be outstanding.  In this Thai House doesn’t disappoint.  Customers love their Phad Thai, along with their Prig-Khing, their Yum Woon Sen, and their Tasty Duck. Bonus: They have a kid’s menu, making this a great place to introduce young palates to the balanced flavors of Thai cuisine.

St. Louis diners are enjoying Thai food all over the metro area—north, south, east, and west—there’s great Thai food right around the corner from just about everywhere.  Here are the Top 10 Thai restaurants in St. Louis according to customer reviews:

1. Thai House (4.70 stars/149 reviews) Monroe County, 109 South Main Street, Columbia, IL 62236, (618) 281-2777.
2. Pad Thai (4.53 stars/209 reviews) South County, 12676 Lamplighter Square, Saint Louis, MO 63128, (314) 843-0999.
3. Pearl Cafe (4.39 stars/305 reviews) Florissant, 8416 North Lindbergh Blvd, Florissant, MO 63031, (314) 831-3701.
4. Rice Thai Bistro (4.39 stars/111 reviews) West County, 14536 Manchester Road, Winchester, MO 63011, (636) 220-1777.
5. Sunisa’s Thai Restaurant (4.38 stars/110 reviews) Cottleville, 6057 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Saint Peters, MO 63304, (636) 922-4888.
6. Simply Thai Restaurant (4.37 stars/90 reviews) Florissant, 2470 North Hwy 67, Florissant, MO 63033, (314) 921-2179.
7. THAI Gourmet (4.35 stars/55 reviews) Weldon Spring, 4267 Keaton Crossing Blvd, O’Fallon, MO 63368, (636) 329-8200.
8. Zen Thai & Japanese Cuisine (4.25 stars/210 reviews) Crestwood, 9250 Watson Road, Saint Louis, MO 63126, (314) 842-0307.
9. Tong Phoon Thai Restaurant (4.19 stars/93 reviews) Metro East, 5900 North Illinois Street, Fairview Heights, IL 62208, (618) 632-1210.
10. Zapp Thai Noodle & Market (4.13 stars/98 reviews) Metro East, 1407 West US 50, O’Fallon, IL 62269, (618) 628-9276.

There were literally dozens of really good Thai restaurants that didn’t make our top 10 list.  So we wanted to share a few of the “almost made it” restaurants that are worth noting.  These restaurants each offer a little something special that makes them worthy of Honorable Mentions:

Fork & Stix (4.09 stars/270 reviews) The Loop, 549 Rosedale Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63112, (314) 863-5572.  This is cozy restaurant with a chill vibe that serves traditional Northern Thai cuisine (think beefy khao soi and porky hung lay curry), rich with the flavors of palm sugar, tamarind, and galangal.  The emphasis here is on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Viet Thai (4.64 stars/22 reviews) Florissant, 8458 North Lindbergh Blvd, Florissant, MO 63031, (314) 801-8818.  As the name suggests, this is a Vietnamese-Thai fusion restaurant with beautifully prepared, ultra-fresh food.  The veg spring rolls are heavenly,

Sushi Thai by Samran (4.51 stars/43 reviews) Belleville, 229 North Illinois Street, Belleville, IL 62220, (618) 355-9693.  Another fusion restaurant, this one offers great sushi and authentic Thai dishes with lots of terrific vegetarian options.  The restaurant doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it’s worth checking out, and the service is outstanding.

Bridgeton Restaurant’s St. Paul Sandwich Wins National Praise

Bridgeton Restaurant’s St. Paul Sandwich Wins National Praise

Old St. Louis Chop Suey’s St. Paul Picked for Best Sandwich List

St. Louis, MO/July 13, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Hungry St. Louisans know this is a great restaurant city, with plenty of offerings to satisfy the most selective of palates. Here you will find everything from storied mom and pop delis to award winning fine dining establishments. St. Louis is home to two recent James Beard Foundation Best Chef winners (Gerard Craft and Kevin Nashan), nationally acclaimed delicatessens, and farm-to-table vegetarian restaurants, as well as numerous accolades for the best barbecue in the country. So, we weren’t surprised to learn that culinary website and newsletter Tasting Table had included a St. Louis restaurant among its picks for the best sandwiches in America. This is home to JBF American Classic winner Gioia’s Deli, the nationally acclaimed Blues City Deli, and other amazing sandwich makers, after all. Still, we were surprised that their pick from St. Louis was a Bridgeton restaurant best known for their affordable Americanized Chinese cuisine—Old St. Louis Chop Suey.

The editors at Tasting Table selected 23 sandwiches from coast to coast to highlight in their article “Bread Winners: From NOLA’s best po’boy to a braised oxtail French dip in Portland, here are the best sandwiches from coast to coast.” Making their best sandwiches list was the humble, albeit delicious St. Paul Sandwich from Old St. Louis Chop Suey (12454 Saint Charles Rock Road) in Bridgeton, near DePaul Hospital.

The St. Paul Sandwich is a St. Louis original. Its creation is credited to Steven Yuen at Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square who allegedly named the sandwich for his hometown of St. Paul, Minn. And Park Chop Suey was the first place I encountered this local delicacy (a shrimp St. Paul). For the uninitiated, a St. Paul is made with an egg foo young patty, topped with lettuce, pickle, mayo, and sometimes onion and tomato between two slices of white bread (think Wonder Bread here). This is fusion cuisine that dates back to before fusion cuisine was a thing. The St. Paul at Old St. Louis Chop Suey is available in all the usual egg foo young flavors, shrimp, crab, chicken, beef, ham, pork, veggie, and the special (a combination of proteins). It’s crispy, flavorful, and surprisingly satisfying. It may not be haute cuisine, but it’s certainly “guilty pleasure” worthy, and it’s one of Tasting Table’s picks for the best sandwiches in America.

But St. Louis is loaded with other sandwiches that could have made the list. Here are a few other suggestions for the best sandwiches in the country:

Gioia’s Deli on The Hill (1934 Macklind Ave, St. Louis) makes some of the best sandwiches anywhere, but then they’ve had a lot of practice over the last 99 years feeding St. Louis. And this JBF American Classic winner makes 700–800 sandwiches a day. Their Hot Salami is famous. They’ve been making it since 1918, using the salam de testa they make fresh every day, then topping it simply with cheese, lettuce and tomato on fresh Italian bread. It’s not just the best of it’s kind in St. Louis, but we’d put up against any sandwich anywhere.

The Amighetti’s Special from Amighetti’s Bakery on The Hill (5141 Wilson Ave, St. Louis). This Old-school, counter-serve joint has been making fresh Italian sandwiches, bread, and desserts since 1921. Their signature sandwich, the Special is a super-gourmet sub that layers premium quality ham, beef, salami, brick cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, Amighetti’s own special dressing, and pepperoncinis on their freshly baked, crusty Italian bread. There’s no other sandwich in town (or anywhere) quite like it.

Blues City Deli in Benton Park (2438 McNair Ave, St. Louis) has a whole menu of sandwiches that pay tribute to the towns and cities along the Blues Highway. A couple of top contenders from their eclectic sandwich menu include the Tony Supremo (roast beef, root-beer-glazed ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and Creole mayo on a warm baguette) and their Muffalata (Genoa Salami, Ham, Mortadella, Provolone, Mozzarella, Homemade Olive Salad). These sandwiches helped make them one of Yelp’s 100 Best Places to Eat in America for 2017.

Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium in Richmond Heights (1170 Big Bend Blvd.) and Des Peres (11656 Manchester Rd.) is a family owned company that specializes in creating sandwiches using super-fresh ingredients, even growing their own herbs and vegetables right on the premises. Fozzie’s BABLT (Big A** BLT) has got to be the best BLT we’ve ever encountered. It’s loaded with a half-pound of crispy bacon and topped with romaine lettuce, tomato and roasted garlic mayonnaise on sourdough bread.

Other great sandwiches around town that should be on anyone’s short list for best sandwiches in St. Louis (and the U.S.) include: The Brisket Sandwich from BEAST Craft BBQ in Belleville (20 South Belt West); The Cuban from Pickle’s Deli in the Central West End (22 N. Euclid, Suite 105) and downtown (200 N. Broadway, Suite 110): and For Pete’s Sake (smoked pork loin) from Nora’s in Dogtown (1136 Tamm Ave.).

All that being said, the St. Paul Sandwich at Old St. Louis Chop Suey is a worthy, albeit unexpected choice for Tasting Table’s list of the 23 best sandwiches in the country—and you can only get one in and around St. Louis.

Celebrate National Mac and Cheese Day Friday

Where to Find the Best Mac and Cheese in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO/July 13, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) — National Mac and Cheese Day is upon us.  Of all the celebrated food holidays and observances, this is one of our favorites in my family.  Macaroni and cheese is a simple combination of noodles, butters, and cheese that comes in a multitude of variations.  Mac and cheese can be made with a variety of cheeses, from mild to sharp, tangy to smoked, and everything in between.  It can be an artisan creation that blends familiar flavors with exotic ingredients.  Or a homey dish of cheese, butter, milk, and pasta that is as warm and satisfying as it is simple.

The origins of this classic dish are a disputed matter.  James Beard Foundation cookbook winner Clifford A.  Wright says, “there can be no doubt that its ultimate origins are Italian.”  As proof, he cites a 13th century cookbook recipe for a dish that calls for lasagna noodles to be cut into squares, cooked, and tossed with grated cheese.  Food 52 says the dish may be French in origin.  Dishes combining dough or pasta, cheese, and butter appear in several 14th century cookbooks across Italy, France, and even England’s The Forme of Cury.  American-style mac and cheese may date back to the eighteenth century.  Smithsonian Magazine says, “it most likely hails from Northern Europe, with the earliest known recorded recipe being scribbled down in 1769.”

It’s not even clear how Americans came to know this classic comfort food.  Some food historians credit Thomas Jefferson with bringing macaroni and cheese to the U.S. after a European trip that took him to Italy and France.  Others say colonists in Connecticut introduced a creamy casserole form of mac and cheese, having brought the recipe with them from England.  No matter how it got here, macaroni and cheese has become a classic—if not the quintessential American comfort food.

Most of us grew up with the blue boxed macaroni and cheese with it’s convenient combination of elbow macaroni and dried cheese sauce mix.  It was weeknight fast, and surprisingly tasty.  It was the only mac and cheese my mom ever made.  I loved the stuff, right up until the cafeteria at my elementary school began serving their version of macaroni and cheese at lunch time.  The creamy, buttery, white cheddar and Velveeta-based, baked casserole was made by the lunch ladies at South Elementary School in Fairborn, Ohio—and it put the boxed kind to shame.  It was creamy and cheesy, with the perfect toasty cheese crust on top.  If that mac and cheese was sold in a St. Louis restaurant, I would eat there every day.

Fortunately for mac and cheese lovers across the metro area, there are a lot of local restaurants that do justice to this American mainstay.  Some local eateries offer their takes on this classic as side dishes to accompany fried chicken, steak, or barbecue mains, or on their kids’ menus.  Other places feature mac and cheese as an entree that stands on its own.  Across town, you’ll find mac and cheese stirred into a creamy, saucy dish; baked under a blanket of buttery, crispy breadcrumbs; and topped with everything from bacon to asparagus relish.  You’ll even find crispy mac and cheese balls (Lotawata Creek in Fairview Heights), and a smoked gouda mac and cheese hand pie (Saturdays only at Pint Size Bakery in Lindenwood Park).

Since Friday, June 14th is National Mac and Cheese Day, we thought we’d point you to a few St. Louis restaurants that do this creamy comfort food justice.  Each has its own version of the noodle, butter, cheese combo that makes their mac and cheese worth the trip.  Here are our recommendations for five places that offer exceptional interpretations of this homespun comfort food favorite:

1. Sweetie Pies makes the mac and cheese of my dreams.  This is the closest approximation I have found to the old elementary school lunch ladies’ version I fell in love with all those years ago.  It’s super cheesy, creamy, and baked with a toasty cheese crust (no breadcrumbs), and simply delicious.  Miss Robbie Montgomery, founder of Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants (and one of the stars of the reality TV show Welcome to Sweetie Pies on OWN) has even shared the secrets to her signature Mac and Cheese.

VIDEO: Miss Robbie Montgomery shows Food Network’s Guy Fieri how to make Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese.

There have been several iterations of Sweetie Pie’s Restaurants over the years. Currently, you’ll find this incredible mac and cheese at Sweetie Pie’s The Upper Crust, 3643 Delmar Blvd. in St. Louis’ Grand Center neighborhood.

2. Steve’s Hot Dogs at 2131 Marconi Ave. on The Hill is known for two things, hot dogs, as the name suggests, and mac and cheese.  They offer the great American comfort food five ways, from the unadorned, silky “Madeline Mac & Cheese Bowl” to the decadent layers of rotini, alfredo, parmesan, cheddar, bacon, and fried onion known as “The Macgyver Bowl,” the choices offer a little something for everyone.  At Steve’s you can get mac and cheese topped with bacon, or chili.  They even have a sweet and spice combo called the “Kevin Bacon Jamaican Bowl” which starts with a slice of pepper jack that’s topped with Mac & Cheese, honey chipotle, crisscrossed bacon slices, grilled bell peppers and then more bacon.  Can’t decide between a hot dog and mac and cheese? Have a Gorilla Mac & Cheese Dog: a smoked Nathan’s hotdog, topped with creamy mac and cheese, bacon, and French fried onions.

3. Mak’s Pub and Grub is a family owned bar and grill that specializes in gourmet “Mak” and Cheese.  The Princeton Heights restaurant (6109 Gravois Ave.) opened last year offering six different, creative versions of macaroni and cheese.  The choices run the gamut from a “Classic Mak” made with their melted four-cheese blend, cavatappi (corkscrew noodles) and toasted pretzel crumbs, to the “Brinner Mak” made with brown sugar bacon, hash brown, a sunny side egg, and corn flakes.  You can even get mac and cheese stuffed into a grilled cheese sandwich!

4. The Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Herbie’s is legendary.  This dinner menu entree is a brilliant combination of lobster tail, four-cheese mornay, asiago gratin, corn, and truffle oil.  Since July 14th is also Bastille Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s favorite comfort food than ordering the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Herbie’s (8100 Maryland Ave, Clayton) French-inspired American bistro.

5. The Thai Pork Mac N’ Cheese at the Walnut Grill is something special.  It’s loaded with four cheese alfredo and smoked gouda, then topped with Thai-seasoned pulled pork, asparagus relish, and sweet chili sauce.  Not exactly a traditional mix of flavors, this mac and cheese is creamy, smoky, spicy, and oh so delicious.  Walnut Grill is a boutique restaurant chain based in Pittsburgh, Penn.  There are currently two locations in St. Louis (1386 Clarkson Clayton Center in Ellisville and 4401 State Hwy K in O’Fallon, MO), with a new Sunset Hills location (10797 Sunset Hills Plaza) set to open in August.

Bonus Pick: Mangia Italiano at 3145 South Grand Blvd in south St, Louis offers a baked lobster mac and cheese that can be ordered with gluten free pasta.  You’d never guess this rich and creamy dish is gluten free.

Vicia to Introduce Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu

Vicia to Introduce Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu

Optional Chef’s Choice Dinner Menu Coming to Vicia

St. Louis, MO/July 13, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – One of the hottest, new restaurant projects in St. Louis is offering something special for customers.  Vicia, the hit restaurant in the Central West End’s Cortex Innovation Community (4260 Forest Park Ave.), is now offering a special chef’s choice tasting menu as an optional experience on their dinner menu.  Co-owned by Blue Hill at Stone Barns alums Michael and Tara Gallina, Vicia opened to great fanfare back in March after much anticipation and business has been booming ever since.

With vegetable-focused cuisine that does not exclude meat, but rather uses it as a complementary flavor for the veggie-based dishes on the menu, Vicia has already brought a unique experience to the St. Louis dining scene.  But the restaurant’s new tasting menu will add a new variety of innovative, fun, and fresh flavors to the mix.  In a similar fashion to the restaurant’s a la carte menu, the chef’s choice tasting menu will not be a set menu.  The options will vary as available ingredients in the kitchen change.  That dynamic and seasonal approach will ensure diners will experience the best meal the chef can create at any given moment.  In some instances, patrons who choose to partake in the tasting menu will get a special sneak peek of new ingredients and menu items, as some dishes might eventually appear on the restaurant’s a la carte menu.

Chef Michael says he’s excited about the creative nature of the new concept.  “I liken the tasting menu to people just letting us cook for them,” said Michael.  “It really is ‘chef’s choice’ and each meal will be different depending what we have available at the very moment, what guests are excited to experience, and of course, what we, in the kitchen, think would make for an amazing feast.”

The tasting menu will consist of six to seven courses and costs $85 per person.  Diners can choose between two wine pairing experiences as a part of the meal.  At $45, diners can enjoy wines made with less familiar varietals.  At $65, their dinners will be paired with organic and sustainable wines made with familiar grape varieties.  According to Vicia, guest food allergies and dietary needs will be taken into account when chef’s choice tasting menu meals are being prepared.  In order to provide a unique experience for each table, the tasting menu will be available for the entire party only.  Guests are encouraged to indicate they wish to enjoy the chef’s choice tasting menu when making their reservations.

Vicia is probably not the restaurant you frequent on a weekly basis—because they are a bit pricy in this writer’s humble opinion—but this new chef’s choice tasting menu excites me nonetheless.  And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll keep Vicia’s Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu in mind when the next special occasion comes around.  It’s a chance to experience a completely fresh culinary opportunity.

Contact Information:

Vicia Restaurant
Owners: Tara and Michael Gallina
Cortex – Central West End
4260 Forest Park Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: (314) 533-9239

Dunkin’ Brands Honors National DCP With the Company’s Partner of the Year Award

Dunkin' Brands Honors National DCP With the Company's Partner of the Year Award

Dunkin’ Brands Honors National DCP with the company’s partner of the year award

ATLANTA, GA/July 12, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, named National DCP (NDCP) as the 2016 Partner of the Year at the 11th annual Dunkin’ Brands Franchisee & Enterprise Awards Ceremony held recently in Boston. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, National DCP is the $2 billion supply chain management company that provides strategic sourcing, distribution and business services to Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees.

“National DCP has been an outstanding partner to Dunkin’ Brands since its inception as a national entity in 2012,” said David Gill, Vice President, U.S. & Canada Supply Chain, Dunkin’ Brands. “From driving down the cost of goods, improving perfect order metrics and providing excellent support of Dunkin’s promotional activities, NDCP played a key role in 2016 being a transformative year for our organization.”

National DCP’s partnership with Dunkin’ Brands Supply Chain generated more than $25 million in cost savings to the Dunkin’ Donuts system last year. These savings, along with active commodity management and operational savings, drove the lowest food cost since Dunkin’ began reporting. Service levels have continued to improve year-over-year, with new systems being implemented and new distribution centers coming online. NDCP was also able to generate close to $3 million in contributions from suppliers for the Joy in Childhood Foundation (formerly The Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation).

“We are deeply honored to win Dunkin’ Brands’ Partner of the Year Award,” said Scott Carter, Chief Executive Officer of National DCP. “Strong collaboration with Dunkin’ Brands is critical in delivering value to our cooperative’s membership, which is comprised of Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. Our team members have worked tirelessly to deliver the best possible service at the lowest sustainable costs.”

About National DCP, LLC

National DCP, LLC (NDCP) is a $2 billion supply chain management company serving the franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts. They provide comprehensive business solutions including food, beverages, supplies, packaging, technology and healthcare to more than 8,900 Dunkin’ locations in the U.S. and customers in 51 countries. Each year, NDCP purchases more than 100 million pounds of coffee, 112 million pounds of sugar and 24 million gallons of milk, and drives 30 million miles delivering approximately 75 million cases of product to Dunkin’ stores. The organization was formed as a membership cooperative following the successful merger of five different operating companies in 2012 to support Dunkin’ Brands’ growth and expansion plans. NDCP’s innovative practices have been recognized with the 2015 Supply Chain Pioneer Award from Partnership Gwinnett, the 2016 InformationWeek Elite 100 List and the 2017 Food Logistics Rock Stars of the Supply Chain designations.

About Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc.

With more than 20,000 points of distribution in more than 60 countries worldwide, Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. is one of the world’s leading franchisors of quick service restaurants (QSR) serving hot and cold coffee and baked goods, as well as hard-serve ice cream. At the end of the first quarter 2017, Dunkin’ Brands’ 100 percent franchised business model included more than 12,200 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and more than 7,800 Baskin-Robbins restaurants. Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. is headquartered in Canton, Mass.

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Source: News provided by National DCP, LLC – distributed by PR Newswire – published by STLRestaurant.News

Metro-East Will Get 1 of 3 New Sugarfire Smoke House Restaurants

Metro-East Will Get 1 of 3 New Sugarfire Smoke House Restaurants

Sugarfire Smoke House Restaurants Coming to O’Fallon, Farmington & Indianapolis

ST. LOUIS, MO/July 9, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) Sugarfire Smoke House Restaurants – One of St. Louis’ favorite barbecue joints is branching out again, and metro-east residents will among the lucky diners who will benefit.  Sugarfire Smoke House is getting set to open three new locations, one in Farmington, Missouri, one in Indianapolis, and a third in O’Fallon, Illinois.  This will be the first Sugarfire Smoke House in Illinois.  On Monday, July 3rd, the O’Fallon City Council gave initial approval for the 3,800-square foot restaurant to be built at 1405 Green Mount Road.  Final approval is expected to come at the council’s July 17th meeting.  There’s no word on when the restaurant will open, but Green Olive Media, which handles publicity for the Sugarfire Smoke House family of restaurants, has confirmed founder, chef Mike Johnson and his partner chef Christina Fitzgerald are among the O’Fallon ownership team.

Barbecue fans in Indiana got their first taste of Sugarfire’s famous brisket, ribs, and pulled pork in May of this year, when it became the official barbecue of the Indianapolis 500.  The new Indianapolis barbecue restaurant will open this fall at 24 West Washington Street in the Mile Square section downtown.  The Indianapolis restaurant, like other Sugarfire locations, will feature a local dish.  In Indianapolis, it will be a fried pork sandwich (fried pork loin, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and mayo). When it opens this fall, the 50-seat eatery will be the first Sugarfire Smoke House location outside of Missouri.  There are already six in the greater St. Louis area, including downtown St. Louis, Olivette, St. Charles, O’Fallon, Valley Park, and Washington, Missouri.

In announcing the new Indianapolis restaurant, Johnson and Fitzgerald also confirmed a rumored Sugarfire Smoke House planned for Farmington, Missouri.  The Farmington restaurant will be franchised by chef Mike Johnson’s uncle and aunt, Bill and Leanna Johnson.  His cousins, Charlie and Patrick, who’ve been working at the Olivette restaurant for the past several months will run the new establishment.

The Farmington restaurant will occupy a vacant storefront at 670 Walton Drive near the Walmart Supercenter.  The building had most recently housed a cosmetology school.  No opening date has been given for the new restaurant, but Sugarfire Smoke House Co-owner and Chef Christina Fitzgerald told the Daily Journal, a St. Francois County newspaper, that she expects the Farmington location to open in the next three to four months.  There’s no word yet what dish will be the local feature in Farmington, but the new place will feature Sugarfire’s classic slow-smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, burgers, creative sandwiches, and scratch-made sides that made the restaurant chain famous.

O’Fallon TV visited the Sugarfire Smoke House at 9955 Winghaven Blvd. in 2014, a few months after they opened.

The St. Louis-based barbecue restaurants began as a collaboration between fine dining chef Mike Johnson and pastry chef Carolyn Downs (Cyrano’s, Sugarfire Pie).  The original location in Olivette opened in 2012 and quickly won local and national acclaim.  The current Sugarfire Smoke House locations in Missouri include:

9200 Olive Blvd, Olivette, (314) 997-2301
3150 Elm Point Industrial Drive, St. Charles, (636) 724-7601
932 Meramec Station Road, Valley Park, (636) 825-1400
9955 Winghaven Blvd, O’Fallon, (636) 265-1234
512 West Front Street, Washington, (636) 432-5550
605 Washington Ave, St. Louis, (314) 394-1720

The new Sugarfire Smoke House locations are expected to have the same operating hours as the current locations which are open daily at 11:00 a.m. and close when they sell out (generally before 9:00 p.m.).