5 new St. Louis restaurants to try in April
1. The Midwestern Meat & Drink
900 Spruce St., St. Louis, 314.696.2573, midwesternstl.com
The Midwestern Meat & Drink brings together the slick design sense of the team behind The Wheelhouse and Start Bar and the flawless barbecue of Ben Welch, owner of the now-closed Big Baby Q and Smokehouse in Maryland Heights. Grab a seat at the massive wood bar and order a monthly rotating riff on a Manhattan mixed by superb beverage director Tony Saputo.
There is a short menu of toasts and sandwiches, but on your first visit, you must try the sampler platter complete with three ribs, two wings, a quarter-pound each of smoked turkey breast, pulled pork, brisket and pastrami, as well as two sides and cornbread. Welch’s poultry in particular stands out in a city filled with first-rate barbecue.
2. Cocina Latina
508 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2294, Facebook: Cocina Latina
Cocina Latina combines Peruvian, Colombian and Cuban flavors at a new eatery in the Central West End. Vibrant art by local Honduran painter José Gomez dominates the small space, and the food is just as colorful as the decor.
Classic ceviche makes a bright, fresh start to the meal; a generous portion of perfectly diced white fish is cured in lime juice with Peruvian aji limo peppers and served with shaved red onion and sweet potato. Tostones con ahogado – twice-fried plantains served with a warm tomato and green onion sauce for dipping – are also great to split among friends. But save room for the aji de gallina, a Peruvian chicken and rice dish in which shredded chicken swims in a creamy sauce that gets its golden color from aji amarillo peppers.
3. The Doghaus Soulard
1800 S. 10th St., St. Louis, 314.809.1817, thedoghaussoulard.com
The booze flows while your furry friends frolic and play at this dog-friendly bar. The cocktail menu is on theme, with drink names like Chai-huahua, Homeward Bound and our favorite, the Doghaus’ sweet version of gin and juice, Snoop Dog with Aviation gin, agave syrup, orange juice and ginger beer.
As Fido burns off some energy, refuel with Caribbean-inspired fare from Good Bowl, the latest concept from Plantain Girl Mandy Estrella. We favored rice bowls like the Regulator with citrus-braised chicken, red beans, Chihuahua cheese, pico de gallo, house-pickled jalapenos, chipotle cream and cilantro, but the Mister 305, with ropa vieja, black beans, avocado, pickled red onion and cilantro, and The Bounty Hunter with roasted pork, pineapple salsa, guava barbecue sauce, crispy wontons and green onion, are equally satisfying options.
4. Mann Meats
300 St. Ferdinand St., Florissant, 314.942.7000, mannmeats.com
Bob Mannecke turned his North County food truck into a brick-and-mortar in February without much fanfare. Now, Mann Meats is making noise with its subtly awesome food. The smoked Mann Burger – which tastes strangely like a kosher hot dog in burger form – holds its spices well, its juicy heft resting confidently under a refreshing layer of mozzarella.
We also loved the massive, peppery Fork Steak (so called because this pork steak renders knives superfluous). The smoked brisket is cut extremely thin, but still packs a ton of smokiness. Of course, like any great barbecue meal, Mann Meats’ star dishes are incomplete without an assortment of supportive side items, like the creamy potato salad and the sweet, mildly tangy baked beans.
5. Petrichor Brewing
7434 Village Center Drive, O'Fallon, Missouri, 636.265.4004, petrichorbeer.com
Buried deep in a residential neighborhood, Petrichor is a surprising suburban oasis with a strong beer game and promising food menu. It offers both pints and tasters of 11 house beers, so we tried many. Favorites included the chocolate stout, with a fulfilling, smooth chocolate flavor and a tight carbonation evoking midcentury chocolate sodas.
We also really liked the IPA, which was crisp and a little dry. The full food menu hasn't launched yet (a unique selection of arepas coming soon), but the spicy cauliflower with harissa aioli was brilliantly executed, and Petrichor's hearty skin-on natural French fries were some of the best we've had in a minute.
Heather Hughes and Catherine Klene are managing editors at Sauce Magazine. Lauren Healey is associate editor at Sauce Magazine. Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.