7 new places to eat in St. Louis in April
4310 Fyler Ave., St. Louis, 314.578.8789, plantaingirl.com
Alpha Brewing Co. and Plantain Girl Mandy Estrella are the latest in a string of partnerships between local breweries and established restaurants and caterers. Far from the usual pub grub, Alphateria puts out creative Caribbean fare, from empanadas and tacos to a jibarito sandwich and ropa vieja plate. Pro-tip: the vegetarian plate – black beans, rice, maduros (ripe plantains) and tostones (twice-fried green plantains) topped with avocado slices and pickled onion – is a good way to try several sides all at once.
2. Baked Woodfire Pizza Joint
235 S. Florissant Road, Ferguson, 314.736.1810, baked-pizza.com
The team behind Ferguson Brewing Co. recently opened Baked Woodfire Pizza Joint. Go straight for the pizza – particularly the Margherita with house tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, burrata and basil. The bright, satisfying sauce was covered with more molten blobs of cheese than typical for the traditional pie. The Beetzza was also notable with roasted beets, goat cheese, roasted garlic and walnuts baked in the wood-burning oven, then topped with a fresh salad dressed in balsamic vinaigrette. The springy, chewy pizza dough also found its way into a can’t-miss dessert: cinnamon nuggets rolled in a cinnamon-sugar coating and served with a sugar-glaze dipping sauce. If you’re thinking cinnamon buns, that’s exactly right.
3. Blaze Pizza
1050 S. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.682.4005, blazepizza.com
LeBron James may be better known for winning NBA finals and Nike deals, but apparently he also knows how to pick a pizza franchise. Blaze Pizza is exploding nationally, and the first St. Louis-area location offers flash-cooked 11-inch pies with a superthin, tender, chewy crust we’ll come back for. Try it in the Art Lover with artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic and not-too-much red sauce – no soggy bottoms here. Ordering online is easy and allows you to pick up pizzas and a basic salad or two – we like the Greek – without waiting in line.
4. Texas de Brazil
Saint Louis Galleria, Richmond Heights, 314.352.8800, texasdebrazil.com
Meat is king at Texas de Brazil, but the salad bar isn’t bad either. For $43, customers can eat unlimited helpings of both. Along with the usual salad suspects, the Brazilian steakhouse chain’s buffet offers substantial options like the surprising moqueca fish stew, filled with perfectly tender fillets of cod in a coconut curry sauce. The meat comes to you churrascaria-style, on swords carried by servers who carve and serve tableside. For simple cuts, do not miss the classic picanha (sirloin cap) and flank steak – both perfectly pink and tender. The massive braised beef ribs taste like the best pot roast Grandma ever made, and though the mini sausages are supposedly Brazilian, they’d fit in at any good Texas barbecue joint. You’ll consume more than is decent, but unlike other all-you-can-eat concepts, the eagle-eyed service and festive atmosphere will make you feel classy doing it.
5. The W Karaoke
6655 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.376.4055, Facebook: The W Karaoke
Asian-style karaoke has arrived on The Loop in high style. W’s dazzling interior would be at home in Vegas or Tokyo, and offers both a public stage and private soundproof rooms for belting out your rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing.” While karaoke is the main attraction, food hasn’t been forgotten. The kitchen opened with dishes similar to those from the owner’s other business, Corner 17, but now offers a mix of sushi and bar fare. The menu ranges from fried California rolls and steamed edamame to fried ravioli, chicken wings and cheese sticks.
6. VP Square
3611 Juniata St., St. Louis, 314.833.4838, Facebook: VP Square
While you’ll recognize many dishes on VP Square’s menu, finding them all together might be surprising. If seeing ramen paired with banh mi makes you nervous, don’t worry – owner Victor Pham knows his pan-Asian. Be sure to start with the egg-encrusted shrimp wontons: wok-fried shrimp and pork dumplings form little mounds of umami in a disc of scrambled eggs with green onion. Another egg-based favorite was the crispy Vietnamese crepe filled with rich pork, shrimp and bean sprouts and served with a piquant, savory-sweet dipping sauce. If you’re sharing (or insanely hungry), try a showstopping Sichuan spicy hot pot: a caldron of flavorful broth swimming with pepper flakes served with springy noodles, greens, beech mushrooms, tofu, fresh shrimp, chicken and shavings of beef that curl enticingly when they cook in the soup. Next time you can’t decide between Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese or Korean – or boba tea! – head toward South Grand.
7. Wellspent Brewing Co.
2917 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.328.0505, wellspentbeer.com
Just in time for spring, Wellspent Brewing Co. has opened doors at its 5-barrel brewery and tasting room in Midtown. Try the Buck, a hay-hued 3.2 percent Belgian single with a subtle nuttiness. The House Saison also delivers with a refreshingly light, slightly funky palate, while the Fat of the Land golden pale ale offers a bit more heft and bitterness. A partner food program is still in the works, but patrons can snack on The Tamale Man tamales and should keep an eye out for food trucks like Balkan Treat Box and Pie Hard, which have made appearances on the weekends.
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