On weekends between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., a cart laden with plated dim sum rolls through Lu Lu Seafood, delivering handcrafted treats such as pork shu mai or spare ribs in black bean sauce. Patrons can also dine on regional Chinese seafood such as live lobsters with ginger and scallions or hot pots simmering with fresh scallops, washing it all back with cocktails, smoothies, and milk tea laden with pearls of tapioca. The opulent crimson-and-gold eatery also houses private karaoke rooms with bottle service where guests can sing in English, Chinese, or Korean.
Though it sits squarely in St. Louis, Broadway Oyster Bar might as well inhabit New Orleans. Even from the outside, the 150-year-old building exudes the revelry of the French Quarter, as an art-deco neon sign emblazoned with music notes joins colorful string lanterns to form an illuminated invitation for patrons to come in and live a little. Of course, inside is where the Cajun atmosphere is most apparent, especially in whiffs of dishes named the favorite Cajun/creole cuisine of the Sauce Magazine readers? poll every year since 2003. Chef Brad Hagen's acclaimed recipes include marinated alligator with homemade tartar sauce, shucked oysters topped with spinach cream sauce, and fresh-baked Gambino's bread filled with traditional po' boy fixings, such as fried catfish and shrimp. Feasts unfold in a cozy dining room or an open-air patio enclosed and heated in winter. There, local and national musicians grace the stage seven nights a week to play funk and blues tunes, just like Mom used to.
Joe Sanfilippo got his start in the food industry at age 11 when his Uncle Agostino recruited him to bus tables at his St. Louis restaurant on a particularly busy New Year’s night, according to St. Louis Magazine. Two years later, he returned to his hometown of Palermo to study and to attend culinary school at night, which ignited his passion for cooking and spurred him to open his own eatery at the tender age of 24. Today, the owner and executive chef of J.F. Sanfilippo’s Restaurant mingles his southern-Italian training with northern-Italian influences in a menu of pastas with tomato- or cream-based sauces, sautéed chicken and veal, and broiled steaks. In a recent KSDK 5 interview centering on the opening of his second location in Chesterfield, Joe confided that his 80-year-old mother still bakes the restaurant’s bread each day and divulged plans to bottle and sell J.F.’s popular vodka sauce, then ship it to Neptune.
In 2013, after more than a decade in business, the owners of Wild Horse Grill felt like they needed to shake things up. So they brought in Executive Chef Ray Carpenter, a Travel Channel-featured pro renowned for his prior work at Niche Restaurant and Prime 1000 Steakhouse. His two biggest influences on the menu have been an emphasis on using local food producers and a balance of classic and contemporary techniques and flavors.
But even the most conservative palate can embrace Carpenter's modern style. It's subtle?from the sous-vide cooking method he uses to inventive sides like the mushroom hash he pairs with Maple Leaf Farms cherry-wood-smoked duck. Still, Wild Horse's steaks remain a hugely popular draw, with Black Angus cuts aged at least 28 days before being plated as 8-ounce filets or 32-ounce bone-in rib eyes.
The restaurant is known for its quality, yet it's far from stuffy?every weekend there's Fried Chicken Sunday and on Wednesday evenings guests can bring their dogs to the patio, which was voted to the top 10 most dog-friendly patios by the Riverfront Times. Wednesday evenings are also the grill's Pups on the Patio night, where a portion of the purchases of customers with dogs is donated to animal shelters.
Flanked by celery-colored walls and guarded by flourishing green plants, diners move along a granite-style countertop, plucking seasoned chicken and heaps of lo mein from stainless-steel basins. Traditional Chinese dishes, including vegetable delight and sweet-and-sour chicken, can be ordered a la carte from the menu while a chef sears morsels on a nearby hibachi grill.
Veritas’s seasoned chef, a graduate of the prestigious New England Culinary Institute, creates seasonal dishes made from locally grown ingredients. An open kitchen and a counter that overlooks it keep cooking action in diners’ thoughts as they contemplate menus that change weekly to incorporate farmers' freshest offerings. For dinner (served Thursday through Saturday), Veritas recently offered braised Kobe beef osso buco with local cauliflower, beet chips, mixed greens, and herbs ($32), as well as pan sautéed black grouper with braised fall greens, sun-gold tomatoes, quinoa, pea sprouts, and lemon-tomato vinaigrette ($24). A remarkable amount of Veritas's items are made in-house, including condiments, jams, pastas, and ice creams. For lunch (served 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. six days a week), Veritas serves fare as light as a globe-trotting eccentric’s hot-air balloon: soups, salads, and flat-bread pizzas. Get over the mid-day hump with egg salad and olive tapenade on flaky croissants ($8) or sweet and spicy ham and cheese panini ($9).