No, seriously. It's really good.
There's probably still some barbecue or pizza with Provel cheese around here somewhere—kidding, there's a ton of it—but St. Louis in the last couple of years feels as if it has leapt rather decisively into the now, with a wave of innovation transforming the local dining landscape into something deliciously unrecognizable.
From nationally-renowned (and award-winning) fine dining to Filipino street food to a vibrant little Bosnian restaurant scene to new ideas on old fronts (yes, like barbecue), don't just stop in St. Louis if you happen to be passing through—make a date with the city, come here, and eat the best of what it's offering, right now. Here are just five places to get you started.
Missouri native Michael Gallina worked at Eleven Madison Park and was chef de cuisine at New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns before moving back home in 2015. With wife Tara—they met in New York—he debuted this regional terroir-centric spot earlier in 2017; fans of the Stone Barns experience will feel a tiny little thrill here, particularly at the sight of the chef's choice tasting menu, a steal at $85 per head for 6-7 courses.
Grace Meat + Three
Chef Rick Lewis has been on the local scene for some time; now he's gone off on his own with this brand-new counter service joint in The Grove neighborhood. The lunch-only spot is a bold, joyful celebration of all things Southern, with unique, inventively-plated dishes like a sweet tea-brined turkey leg, country fried tofu made from local soybeans, St. Louis-style Duroc ribs, a great fried chicken livers starter and a mess of very good side options.
You only have three more weeks to sample Chef Tello Carreon's award-winning cooking; Carreon dropped a bombshell on the local scene, just today—he's calling it quits, later in the month. Owner Ben Poremba says the restaurant isn't going anywhere, but just to be safe, if you can get a table over the next couple of weeks, do so. Previously a chicken shack, this colorful, rather alluring spot in the Botanical Heights neighborhood rocketed to considerable stardom with a simple, but bold menu that pushed the boundaries in a region not particularly acquainted with the likes of pulpo asado (grilled, crispy octopus), mole negro, seafood tostadas, ceviches and more.
Vista Ramen / Earthbound Beer
It's not one, but two places, both located on one of the hipper strips in town right now. One is a newly-expanded brewery, responsible for some of the most unusual beer in town (and far beyond, actually), the other an irreverent, experimental noodle bar. The two spots are reportedly be partnering up to get food into the brewery, sooner than later—for now, it's a great, one-two punch of St. Louis cool.
It’s not like St. Louis was going hungry before Gerard Craft showed up, but he certainly made the wider world sit up and pay attention. Tapped as Food & Wine Best New Chef way back in 2008 and, in 2015 after years of being nominated, Best Chef: Midwest at the 2015 James Beard Awards, Craft pushed the boundaries with his tasting menus at Niche, now closed. In its place you will find this cheery, accessible lunch and dinner spot in suburban Clayton that's as chill as Niche was serious. Stop in and stay a while.