10 new places to try in St. Louis in January
706 Demun Ave., Clayton, 314.300.8188, louiedemun.com
Anyone who still raves about King Louie’s – 10 years after its closing – has probably dined at Louie multiple times by now. But newbies will also make plans for a return visit before their first is even finished. The latest venture from Matt McGuire, former owner of King Louie’s and a Niche Food Group alum, offers a sophisticated but laid-back vibe with low, moody lighting and plenty of Instagram-worthy design elements. (That wallpaper!) McGuire’s love for Italian wine is reflected in the extensive selection of unique offerings meant to pair with the small menu. The kitchen offers a well-chosen list of hearty salads, memorable sides (do not, under any circumstances, miss the cauliflower fritto), wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas like butternut squash-stuffed agnolotti and satisfying entrees, including a thick-cut, bone-in pork chop with shishito peppers and an herbaceous chermoula sauce. This Louie is a worthy successor to the King; we’ll be back – a lot.
2. Poke Doke
8 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.5900, Facebook: Poke Doke
With poke (the super popular Hawaiian raw fish dish) making appearances on menus all over town, it was only a matter of time before a dedicated poke-only place opened its doors. Poke Doke applies the build-your-own concept to poke with predictably tasty results. Choose a base of sushi rice, soba noodles, salad or wonton chips, then add your choice of fish, sauce, toppings and “drizzles” for a custom creation. There’s also a selection of bubble milk teas and a la carte items like crab Rangoon, miso soup and pot stickers to round things out. Do your palate a solid and say aloha to Poke Doke.
3. Frankly on Cherokee
2744 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.449.1178, franklysausages.com
Frankly Sausages food truck fans already know: This place has the best fries. The fact that these brined, double-fried, exquisitely crisp and tender fries are now available all the time in a brick-and-mortar – and on the bar-hopping mecca Cherokee Street, no less – might be a problem for us. The whole menu is worth the trip with house-made sausages from a classic hot dog and brat to a rich, savory wild boar sausage topped with bright pickled red onion and mildly sweet roasted apple. With the four walls (one of which boasts a huge black-and-white pig painting), tables and chairs, comes a sweet, honey-topped butternut squash salad, balsamic onions-studded chicken liver crostini and the promise of more shareable plates to come.
4170 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.4999, parlorstl.com
Relive your ’90s mall arcade dreams at Parlor, The Grove’s newest spot for booze, skee-ball and throwback console games. George Clinton-esque funk trumpets your arrival when you step inside and puts you in the mood to game all night. Start at the bar and order a sweet and fruity Parlor’s Cup, a mix of St. George gin, Pimm’s, lime, passion fruit and Pineapple Vess tempered with cucumber and herbal Chartreuse. Purists should opt for a simple daiquiri with Plantation Three Star, sugar and lime. Cans reign at Parlor; a beer list name drops favorites like 2nd Shift Brewing Co. and Evil Twin, while canned wines include rosés, reds and whites. Drink in hand, hit the dining room and line up for skee-ball, unleash your inner pinball wizard at one of four machines or go for the kill in “Mortal Kombat II.” Forget parking meters or laundromats; your quarters have a new purpose.
5. The Clover & The Bee
100 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, thecloverandthebee.com
Fans of sister restaurant Olive & Oak have waited impatiently for The Clover and The Bee to open since the concept was announced. Despite the whimsical name inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem, the stunning new Webster Groves breakfast and lunch spot is chic as hell. The small menu changes frequently, but always includes well-executed classics and thoughtful salads, sandwiches and entrees served in a lavish setting of emerald banquettes, gold chairs and an arresting floral mural in the back. Try the super rich chicken hand pie or the tender smoked flank steak, served over a warm potato salad tossed with hints of kale, Asiago and a Caesar dressing that affects you more than you thought a dressing could. A to-go window makes it easy to pick up coffee, grab-and-go snacks (crab dip!) and baked goods.
6. Knead Bakehouse & Provisions
3467 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 314.376.4361, kneadbakehouse.com
Farmers market fans of Knead bread can now swing by the bakery’s brick-and-mortar in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood for fresh loaves of country bread or brioche. During early visits, snag a sugary morning bun while you wait, or stop by midday for a quick lunch. All sandwiches are served hot or cold with microgreens, tomato, smoked Gouda, herb aioli, whole-grain mustard and house pickles. Opt for half a warm smoked brisket sammie served on buttered, toasted slices of country loaf. Make the other half of your pick-two meal the Kale & Kefir salad, a playful take on a Caesar with lacinato kale, puffed wheatberries, pecans and a tangy kefir-based dressing. Wash it all down with a house botanical soda like the grapefruit and juniper flavor with fresh mint.
Earthbound Beer, 2724 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.769.9576, mothershipsaintlouis.com
The kitchen team from Vista Ramen has started serving up a new menu inside the recently expanded Earthbound Beer, and we love everything about that. The menu offers plenty of smoked meats and tasty sides with that Vista touch. The potato salad is made with Kewpie mayo, the cornbread is served with gochujang honey butter, and the pork plate can be topped with five different house barbecue sauces, including a sweet Korean barbecue and super spicy pomegranate jerk. Try the surprising smoked turkey pita (fall-apart slices of turkey topped with yogurt, house pickles and sumac) with your Liquid Toast (an unexpected wheat beer from Earthbound’s constantly shifting menu).
8. Fiddlehead Fern Cafe
4066 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314.972.2637, Facebook: Fiddlehead Fern Cafe
Fiddlehead Fern Cafe is where we’ll be posting up for our next coffee meeting or long writing day. The cool, spare space, with concrete floors, bleached wood tables and stark white walls hung with floral art photography, is warmed by bulb light fixtures, bud vases on every table and super-friendly service that’s already attracting Shaw neighborhood regulars. A solid coffee program featuring Georgia-based PERC beans is supplemented by a short menu focused on loaded toasts to calm your caffeine buzz. We like the smashed chickpea toast, topped with radishes and balsamic vinegar – or go for a house-made cranberry-rosemary scone if you just need a bite to go with your cortado. Wine and local Heirloom Bottling Co. shrub cocktails are also available, if that’s how your meeting’s going.
9. Shake Shack
60 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.627.5518, shakeshack.com
ICYMI, a little burger-and-shake joint opened in the Central West End last month. Yes, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer has finally brought his internationally popular Shake Shack to his hometown, and lines of St. Louisans have snaked around the building since its debut. When you finally get to the counter, a classic ShackBurger is a must; the buttery toasted bun stands up to a seasoned, crisp-edged smash patty, gooey American cheese and house mayo-based sauce. Crunchy crinkle-cut cheese fries are also required eating for first-timers. Once you’ve checked those off your list, expand your horizons with an ultra-crispy Chick’n Shack sandwich or an indulgent Mound City Double – two smashed patties glued together with Provel cheese and topped with local Niman Ranch bacon.
10. Squatter's Café
3524 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.7556, squatterscafe.com
James Beard-nominated chef Rob Connoley will launch his much-anticipated fine dining restaurant, Bulrush, this year. Until then, diners can get a taste of his creativity at the tiny Squatter’s Café, with a small, oft-changing menu of surprising “hyper-local daytime classics.” Start your morning with a house-made English muffin crowned with a dome of butternut squash hiding a soft-cooked egg and creamy goat cheese. Or the simply billed Meat & Beans on the lunch menu, Connoley’s version of cassoulet with shredded confit chicken, sausage coins and plump cannellini beans crowned with a delectable pork gyoza. Lighter options include the Veg Marrow, hollowed out roasted carrot halves filled with beet puree served with seed crackers, greens and an English muffin. Save room for dessert; the cinnamon-brown sugar pop tart is better than any prepackaged breakfast pastry you’ll ever try.
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