Hit List: 3 places you must try this April

1. Vicia: 4260 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.553.9239, viciarestaurant.com


After more than a year of anticipation, pop-ups and special events, doors have finally opened at Vicia in the Cortex Innovation Community. Veterans of New York’s acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barns, owners Michael and Tara Gallina focus on vegetable-forward, seasonally driven cuisine. To that end, the menu is flexible, letting farm-fresh ingredients dictate the day’s dishes. Take a leisurely lunch break at Vicia’s sun-drenched dining room to mix-and-match from a short list of meticulous dishes. Our tartine featured a thick slice of house-made porridge bread topped with butternut squash sofrito, marinated kale and oyster mushrooms, while the grain salad tucked a mix of wheat berries, rye and farro under shaved carrots, daikon and a rainbow of radishes with dollops of goat cheese sauce and pesto made from radish and turnip tops. Indulge with a quiche – ours included earthy shiitake mushrooms, spinach and leeks nestled in a fluffy, rich filling – but don’t forget to save room for dessert. A buttery turnover shattered at first bite, revealing sweet kumquat and ricotta. At press time, only lunch service was available, but based on that experience, we’ll eagerly make our dinner reservations.


2. Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade: 2236 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, 636.224.8626, twoplumbers.com


Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade is as simple as a place named for Mario and Luigi should be: just 10 taps and more than 30 arcade games. The 21-and-older brewery currently offers a couple of its beers (keep an eye out for Ermac Irish red IPA and Braunenmantel American brown ale) and is brewing more to add alongside taps pouring the likes of Schlafly, Founders and Crown Valley. Bring in food (or order a Dan O’s frozen pizza from the bar), grab a pour and drop some quarters to play old-school favorites like Dungeons & Dragons, Time Crisis II and, of course, Super Mario Bros.


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3. Snax Gastrobar: 3500 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.353.9463, snaxstl.com


And now for something completely different from the minds behind Robust Wine Bar. Instead of extensive wine lists and small plates, fill up with comfort food at Snax Gastrobar. Try the messy, delectable burger (two smash patties piled with cheese, bacon, a mayo-based Snax Sauce and the usual accoutrements), or pick up the Reuben, featuring a balance of house-cured smoked pastrami and sauerkraut. Prefer a knife and fork? Order the simple roasted chicken; a boned breast is seared for crisp skin and juicy, tender meat, all piled atop braised beans with rich shiitake mushrooms and bright lemon-garlic jus.