the dining room at the benevolent king photo by greg rannells

5 new places to try in St. Louis in May

1. The Benevolent King
7268 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.899.0440,

The intimate space of Ben Poremba’s latest restaurant is decked out with dark walls, gilded accents and music with a Moroccan vibe. Layered, bright flavors find their way into every dish on the constantly changing, Moroccan-themed menu – like citrusy marinated olives, harissa-smoked sturgeon and a tajine of sweetbreads with preserved lemon. 

moroccan fresh cheese with cured olives from the benevolent king // photo by greg rannells

The Benevolent King has portions and beautiful plating similar to its sister restaurant, Olio. Start things off with the shareable farmer cheese plate – a house-made soft cheese spiced with dried herbs and served with crudités. A side of the house-made brown butter couscous should accompany any order. The simple but stunning dish is fluffy, nutty and topped with grilled vegetables. 

Bar manager Tony Saputo’s cocktail menu is pricey but diverse and delicious. Try the King of the Righteous: a daiquiri riff with Plantation rum and a bitter finish of Amargo-Vallet liqueur and grapefruit that will keep you sipping. Desserts are also unique, from rose-scented custard to a flan-like creme caramel.

2. J. Devoti Trattoria
5100 Daggett Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.5553,

After almost a dozen years, chef Anthony Devoti rebranded his Five Bistro on The Hill, opening J. Devoti Trattoria with an updated menu and interior. The restaurant still has a farm-to-table menu that changes daily with Italian favorites like house-made ravioli, but now also includes items like a house burger and an upscale happy hour. 

Not an all-you-can-eat wings affair, the happy hour features well cocktail specials, a trio of discounted wines (white, red and rosé), pizza by the slice and small bites like a deviled turkey egg topped with folds of house-made coppa served with pickled veggies and a dollop of grain mustard. The pizza is made with delicious, flavorful sourdough crust and a rotating selection of toppings for $7 a slice.

fish sauce-brined chicken with radishes from good fortune // photo by izaiah johnson

3. Good Fortune
1641 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.726.4666,

Good Fortune has delivered on years of hype and intense branding with its 28-seat dining room in Botanical Heights. The stylish, minimally decorated exposed brick space provides backdrop for “New American Chinese,” thoughtful small plates centered on Chinese flavors. 

Instead of beef and broccoli, you’ll find Good Fortune’s beef and brassica, a composed plate of fall-apart tender braised meat alongside al dente broccoli in a pool of savory beef jus. The piquant, salty shu mai pork dumplings are a little more straightforward, while the simply named Mushrooms dish offers complex flavors of wild ginger and stinging nettles in a puree topped by the earthy, tangled branches of whole hen of the woods. 

Beer and wine are complemented by a short, tiki-leaning cocktail menu. Order a solid mai tai or try the sweet, tart Jungle Bird made with rum, Campari and pineapple. Good Fortune is also pushing takeout and hopes to offer delivery and lunch soon.

4. Kiin Essentially Thai
550 N. Seventh St., St. Louis, 314.241.1989

Partly owned by the team behind Fork & Stix, Kiin is serving knockout Thai in a swankier downtown space. The fresh, spicy green curry and tangy khao soi (the famous, goldenrod-colored northern Thai curry soup) are as good as Fork & Stix’s originals, but take the opportunity to branch out from your regular order. 

Every meal should begin with the spicy, herbal ground chicken dish, larb gai. The hung leh is a deep, earthier curry made with incredibly tender pieces of pork shoulder and pork belly complemented by fresh ginger and crushed peanuts. Soak up all the rich, fragrant brown curry broth with the accompanying rice. Judging by the crowds, we’re not the only ones excited to welcome Kiin downtown.

5. Rush Bowls
227 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.367.2900,

Rush Bowls is a great place to appease both the angel and devil on the shoulders of health-conscious people who still want to indulge occasionally. Serving both bowls – essentially fruit blended into concrete thickness and garnished with a cornucopia of toppings – and more traditional smoothies, the offerings are more filling and less sweet than you might expect. 

Standouts include the Summit Bowl with acai, strawberry, cherry and vanilla soy or fat-free milk topped with organic granola and honey, as well as the Caught in the Rain smoothie, featuring pineapple, strawberry, shaved coconut, fat-free frozen yogurt and pineapple juice. If nothing on the robust menu suits your taste buds or dietary needs, customization is highly encouraged.