jalea chef-owner andrew cisneros photo by adam rothbarth

3 new places to try in St. Louis this month

When chef Andrew Cisneros set out to open his first restaurant, Jalea, he clearly had a vision because the space, wine list and food are laser focused and thoughtfully executed. Start with the purple potato chips with decadent onion crema or the plantain chips with a zesty aji amarillo-cilantro salsa. Crunchy and salty, they’re both great companions to the curated wine list featuring picks from Spain, Portugal and Argentina as well as New Zealand and Napa Valley. The daily catch ceviche with citrus-cured grouper, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, slivered red onion and sliced Fresno chile was a delight with plantain chips. The rich and colorful crab causa was artfully presented as a snaky ribbon of pureed potato topped with dollops of sweet crab salad with smoked roe, salsa verde, chunks of avocado and hard-boiled egg. Don’t miss dessert, especially the plantain crepes with banana dulce de leche.
323 N. Main St., St. Charles, 636.493.1100, Facebook: jalea.

grand spirits bottle co. on south grand // photo by adam rothbarth

Grand Spirits Bottle Co.
Grand Spirits Bottle Co. is a bottle shop focused on low-intervention wine, high-quality spirits and small snacks like hummus, olives and charcuterie. Michael Fricker, who’s served as executive sous chef at Cinder House and also bartended at The Gin Room, runs the show here and is on hand to recommend his favorite selections. The shop features over 120 different bottles, from French and Italian to Argentinian and Lebanese; he’d eventually like to offer up to 200. As for spirits, you can find everything from gin and whiskey to mezcal. Currently, all whiskeys in stock can be sampled either neat or with an ice cube; amaro, vermouth and wine flights are available as well. Whether you want to try a wine by the glass at the bar, pop a bottle in the lounge (for a $10 corkage fee), or grab a bottle for dinner, you will find something great here. 
3194 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.769.9933, grandspiritsco.com

south america bakery & cafe // photo courtesy of south america bakery & cafe

South America Bakery & Cafe
Luigi and Kathryn Guzman’s South America Bakery & Cafe in O’Fallon, Missouri, is a small operation offering a number of pastries and empanadas. Luigi Guzman, who attended culinary school in Peru, has a seasoned hand when it comes to working with dough. On the savory side, we loved the baked empanadas. The veggie with broccoli, cauliflower, Peruvian pepper and spinach was a favorite, as was the pork empanada that came with shredded pork, olives, Peruvian pepper and a hard-boiled egg tucked inside the flaky, house-made pastry dough. On the sweet side, the croissant with Nutella was skillfully made with beautifully laminated dough, while the alfajores with dulce de leche sandwiched between two butter cookies was spectacular.
4279 Keaton Crossing Blvd., O’Fallon, Missouri, 636.477.6688, southamericabakeryandcafe.com