Chef and owner Raj left his native Punjab in 1994 to earn his culinary stripes working as a cook in New York City. After a year of training and practice, he relocated to St. Louis, where his expertise in the art of Indian cooking quickly won praise in the Riverfront Times, which dubbed his eatery the city’s best vegetarian restaurant.
Laden with meat-free options, the menu entices taste buds with spiced and nutritious ingredients such as saag paneer’s spinach and fresh cheese, aloo gobi’s cauliflower and potatoes, and chana masala’s tender garbanzo beans. Chefs also throw dairy to the wayside in many dishes, including the vegan mirchi bhajia—deep-fried anaheim peppers stuffed with potatoes and spices hot enough to peel the wallpaper off a doll’s house. A catering menu provides spreads for large groups and flash mobs that rent the on-premises banquet hall.
At Black Bear Bakery, every batch of Lickhalter sourdough-rye bread, sweet pastries, and crunchy granola is made with the care of a shop owner. That’s because each staff member serves as a partial owner of the communal shop. This makes each staff member feel a personal responsibility for creating a shop they’d like their family to come to, encouraging them to use eco-friendly processes and locally sourced, organic ingredients. Along with whole-grain recipes filled with specialty ingredients such as kalamata olives and rosemary, bakers use century-old recipes passed down from the owners of Lickhalter Bakery. These recipes create hearty sourdough-rye loaves sprinkled with caraway seeds or twisted together with pumpernickel dough.
While breads are their specialty, bakers fill their ovens with more than just bread loaves. They craft handmade, boiled bagels that come sans holes, as well as cookies, baked granola, pizza crusts, and a variety of buns. On the weekends, they welcome the community for a vegetarian and vegan brunch, which features staples such as pancakes, quiche, potatoes, and bread pudding made from their loaves. These dishes can be washed down with pours of fair trade coffee, juice, tea, or pastry filling.
When Krupa and Sid Panchal moved from Bombay, what they missed most about their native city was the food. Hence, they revved up St. Louis's first Indian food truck, showcasing a menu paying homage to their traditional Indian street fare, including vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. They sizzle up easy-to-transport eats, such as vada pav?mashed potatoes deep fried in a chickpea flour batter?and dosas?thin crepes, stuffed with potatoes, cheese, or vegetables. The flavorful dishes are enhanced with dry or wet chutneys made from tamarind, cilantro, or garlic.
As a personal trainer, Jillian Marie Tedesco repeatedly heard her fitness clients lament that they wanted to eat more healthily, but didn't have the time or energy to do it. Luckily, Jillian had a few more skills under her belt, including a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and a nutritionist certification. She decided to prepare and pre-package a few meticulously planned meals to make her personal-training clients happy. It was only when she noticed them losing weight, training harder, and feeling better that she realized her pre-made meals might be something that would benefit the public at large.
At Fit-Flavors, Jillian and her team rely on nourishing, all-natural ingredients to create their menu, including in-season produce, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins that are free of hormones and syrup injections. After preparing each meal and snack in house, the team carefully portions them in eco-friendly, biodegradable containers, then makes them available for pickup at a variety of convenient locations.
The Village People aren’t the only group to put their stamp on the YMCA. At Sushi Bistro a team of master sushi chefs assemble deep-fried YMCA rolls chockfull of yellowtail, spicy mayo, crab, and avocado. The YMCA is one of more than 20 specialties, like the blend of tuna and hot chili sauce in the new Dynamite roll, an improvement over the old Dynamite roll’s tuna and gunpowder. Besides its namesake treat, Sushi Bistro specializes in plenty of other Japanese favorites, including hibachi-grilled king salmon and succulent cuts of teriyaki steak.
Fizzy's Soda Fountain & Grill invokes waves of nostalgia with its charming, old-timey decor, friendly staff behind the counter, and a menu of burgers, floats, hot dogs, and fries. Guests chow down on reuben sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and fresh salads, pairing meals with frosty glasses of chocolate soda, malts, milkshakes, and ice cream in a variety of flavors.