St. Louis has become a culinary powerhouse in recent years, thanks in large part to these fine area eateries:
10.Guerrilla Street Food: This mobile restaurant specializes in unique twists on Filipino street food, and has been nationally recognized as one of the best food trucks in the country, as well as being featured on such popular cable shows as Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Flying Pig, a decadent amalgam of slow roasted pork asado, chilis, calamansi and sriracha and topped with a one-hour egg is most definitely a must-try!
9.Cielo: Perched atop the Four Seasons Hotel downtown, the aptly named Cielo (Italian for 'sky') serves up modern Italian cuisine that ranges from the casual to the elaborate, with specialties like hand-made pasta and risotto. The stunning outdoor dining area offers gorgeous vistas that perfectly complement the fine food.
8. Libertine: This restaurant marked the return of beloved local chef Josh Galliano to the kitchen after a wandering period of sorts following the closure of his previous restaurant, Monarch. The Libertine menu is full of Galliano's tasty homages to his Southern roots and passion for quality ingredients. The restaurant also hosts a popular Sunday Supper series that frequently showcases Galliano's famous fried chicken.
7.Element: The latest from chef Brian Hardesty, who's also co-owner of the Guerrilla Street Food truck, Element takes up multiple floors of an historic building that once served as the power plant for the old City Hospital – sleek, stylish and with a continually evolving bill of fare that's as creative as it is delectable. The third-floor lounge's outdoor dining area provides one-of-a-kind views of the neighborhood as well.
6.Juniper: This cozy bistro in the Gaslight Square area of the Central West End is the place to go in town for Southern-style comfort food. Chef John Perkins and staff have created a rustic, accessible space full of raw wood and homey touches like shelves of canned preserves that perfectly complements the down-home cuisine. Best chicken and waffles in town hands down!
5.Pappy's Smokehouse: An unpretentious and utterly delicious Memphis-style BBQ joint that has become nationally renowned for its top-notch smoked meats and tasty sides. Get there early – lines frequently snake around the block, though it's not uncommon for chef/owner Mike Emerson to come around with free samples to make the wait a little more bearable.
4.Farmhaus: Blink and you'll miss this gem, tucked away in a modest space on a quiet street in South City. Chef/owner Kevin Willmann is one of the original proponents of the local farm-to-table movement, and his menus reflect the best ingredients area purveyors have to offer.
3. Planter's House: Not only is Planter's House in Lafayette Square the premier cocktail spot in the city, with two separate bars and a stunning interior replete with wood ceilings and flocked wallpaper, but the kitchen turns out a solid menu of New American fare that's the equal of the drinks and the space. It's equal parts neighborhood watering hole and high-class lounge.
2. Elaia & Olio: Chef Ben Poremba's adjacent sibling restaurants in the Botanical Heights neighborhood offer two completely different experiences. Elaia is a fine dining establishment, offering 30 seats in a rehabbed private residence that dates back to the 1890's. Next door, the Olio space is a renovated Standard Oil filling station from the 1930s, replete with salvaged garage door. With its wine bar vibe, it's the more casual of the two. For fine food and wine, neither is to be missed.
1.Niche: Arguably the premier white table cloth experience in town, if not the state, Niche is the vanguard in chef Gerard Craft's coterie of area restaurants. Craft is known for his culinary creativity and his meticulous attention to detail, both of which are on full display here. The latest incarnation of Niche offers a four-course a la carte menu as well as a more elaborate ever-changing chef's tasting menu that is the finest expression of this multiple James Beard nominee's artistry. Located in the suburb of Clayton, Niche is accessible from all major highways and has complimentary garage parking, always a plus!