Review: Edibles & Essentials in South City

No, recreational marijuana still isn’t legal in Missouri. Instead, Edibles & Essentials offers some highfalutin foods at its quaint South City storefront. Chef-owner Matt Borchardt peddles an ever-changing, eclectic menu, and he’s ready to discuss what new experiments he’s developed if you have any questions. Help yourself to a Blood Orange Pellegrino or Ski soda from the thoughtful selection of chilled drinks (you pay as you leave) and make your way out back to the covered patio with some of the following.

Banh Mi Tacos
There are two permanent dishes at E&E, and rightly so. Both the banh mi tacos and fried ribs are end-of-“Titanic” good. Never let go. Starting with a hearty corn tortilla, the tacos are piled with tender pork belly, a slaw with pickled Napa cabbage, carrots and onion and topped with hoisin mayo. Giant tacos often fall apart and can be hard to eat, but those tortillas were well up to the task of keeping the good stuff where it belonged. Not quite a banh mi and not quite a taco, these in-betweeners scratch that itch only fusion food can reach.

fried ribs at edibles & essentials // photo by michelle volansky

Fried Ribs
They had me at fried ribs. I foolishly never knew one could fry a rib. Breaded and individually fried, the large, cherry-smoked pork ribs were served with a creamy Alabama barbecue sauce that brought together the rich dish. Crispy outsides made it a little difficult to target all the meat on the bone, but the search was well worth the effort. The contrast between the tender meat and crunchy exterior made for an immensely satisfying experience.

Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for a Reuben. But that means the sandwich has to really be something to impress. Edibles & Essentials’ corned beef was a sloppy delight, well-paired with tangy kraut, a sweet Thousand Island dressing and so much melted Swiss to glue it all together.

Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew – E&E has conquered the tater game. Whether as french fries, home fries or in the potato salad, spuds were all masterfully prepared. The salad featured large cubes of potato with minimal additions of celery and bell pepper tossed in a gritty sauce that made for an unexpected pleasure. The french fries were perfectly crisp, topped with shredded Grana Padano cheese and accompanied by garlic mayo and house-made smoked ketchup (best when combined).

the patio at edibles & essentials // photo by michelle volansky

The Downside
The excellent potato salad gave me high hopes for the pasta salad, which weren’t met by the bland, overly al dente side. Same goes for the Reuben when compared to the cheesesteak, which might explain why it has since left the menu. The meat was unpleasantly chewy and the cheese added calories without flavor. But the E&E team is clearly experimenting with textures and tastes and is by and large very successful. I’m always happy to find more thoughtful, interesting options for lunch. It’s essential you give this one a try.

Edibles & Essentials 5815 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 314.328.2300,