Chef Kevin Nashan works in the kitchen at the Sidney Street Cafe on Wednesday morning, April 9, 2014. Nashan has been nominated for a James Beard Award. Behind him is cook Justin McMillen. Photo by J.B. Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Craft is the name most associated with contemporary dining in St. Louis. His flagship restaurant, Niche (nichestlouis.com), offers upscale New American cuisine. Next-door to Niche in Clayton is the casual, family-friendly Pastaria (pastariastl.com), which serves terrific pasta and Neapolitan-style pizza.
The past two years have been especially strong for new spots, including a new home for the Louisiana stylings of locally beloved chef Josh Galliano at the Libertine (libertinestl.com). In a quiet corner of the otherwise bustling Central West End neighborhood is another Southern-food gem, Juniper (junipereat.com).
Ben Poremba serves refined Mediterranean-influenced cuisine at Elaia (elaiastl.com), located near the Missouri Botanical Garden. The adjacent wine bar, Olio (oliostl.com), inside a renovated 1920s gas station, serves snacks and small plates.
An established restaurant that continues to draw acclaim (and crowds) is Sidney Street Cafe (sidneystreetcafe.com) in Benton Park. Owner Kevin Nashan is without a doubt the most respected chef among his St. Louis peers.
St. Louis might not enjoy the same national reputation for barbecue as Kansas City, but the area has experienced a ‘cue boom in recent years. Pappy’s Smokehouse (pappyssmokehouse.com) in midtown is the epicenter of the renaissance; a favorite of Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, it’s famous for its ribs.
Pappy’s pitmaster Skip Steele also operates Bogart’s Smoke House (bogartssmokehouse.com) in Soulard, which features incredible ribs and smoked prime rib. For Texas-worthy beef brisket, head to Sugarfire Smokehouse (sugarfiresmokehouse.com).
No visit to St. Louis would be complete without trying one of the city’s unique foods. St. Louis-style pizza from Imo’s Pizza (the original and most famous vendor, imospizza.com) is distinguished by its cracker-thin crust and love-it-or-hate-it Provel cheese. Follow that up with one St. Louis’ two famous desserts: a frozen-custard concrete from Ted Drewes Frozen Custard or gooey butter cake from Park Avenue Coffee or Gooey Louie.