Best New Restaurants: No. 3 – Grace Meat & Three

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At Grace Meat & Three, Rick and Elisa Lewis answer to no one but themselves. “Grace is about our freedom and our liberation, honestly,” Rick Lewis said.


He is a familiar bearded face in the St. Louis restaurant scene. Diners have experienced Lewis’ take on comfort food since he left fine dining to take the helm of Quincy Street Bistro, his in-laws’ pub and grill in South City, in 2012. His birds at Southern led the flock during the fried chicken fury of 2015.


“We went back and forth with what we wanted to do and probably the best option would be to keep it in the wheelhouse of what I enjoy cooking,” he said.


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Yes, Grace Meat & Three serves the classic southern fare St. Louis has come to expect from Lewis: fried green tomatoes, griddled bologna sandwiches and, of course, fried chicken. But he never settles – even lowbrow ingredients are crucial to Lewis’ success.


“You have to have Velveeta in your mac and cheese in order to make it creamy,” he said. “We’ve got $9-a-pound Gouda in there, and then we’ve got hunks of Velveeta – name brand, none of that fake stuff. It must be Velveeta, it must be Duke’s mayonnaise, and it must be Busch beer.”


Devotees will notice subtle changes to well-known dishes and unexpected additions. Burgers are a combo of house-ground brisket and bottom round; the carnival-sized turkey leg is shockingly tender from overnight brining; a hummus starter is spiced up with harissa; the seasonal salad is tossed with a charred onion vinaigrette, a name that doesn’t do justice to its complex depth.


“I feel like 90 percent of the time, no one notices but ourselves,” Lewis said. “What you do notice is people coming in … and going, ‘Man, the food just keeps getting better.’”


Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.