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.
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.
Bathed in smoky red and blue lighting like the jazz clubs of yore, Cupids Steakhouse literally glows with a purple, royal elegance. The grand piano, surrounded by a low wall of blue-lit glass blocks, waits stoically for the touch of a performer, while the sharply dressed wait staff hustle around it. They cater fine steaks and seafood from kitchen to table, followed by the wafting aromas of filet mignon, New Zealand lamb chops, and buttery king crab legs.
With a welcoming atmosphere and a bountiful menu of hearty tavern fare, Madison's Cafe fills its guests with succulent pastas, grilled steaks, daily specials, and more. Chow down on lunchtime sandwiches such as the Missouri club, a mélange of ham, turkey, bacon, provel cheese, tomato, and lettuce bookended by toasted sourdough ($8.49). Tongues can arrange an impromptu meet-and-greet with the beef vernaise, a genteel portion of filet mignon sporting a tasteful chapeau of gulf shrimp and white wine sauce ($25.99). To fend off post-entree depression, diners are invited to revel in the welcoming tavernous maw of the bar for a digestif or polish off a satisfying meal with a sweet cheese strudel ($4.99) or scoop of spumoni ($2.99).
Purple and gold have long been the colors of royalty. At Taj Indian Cuisine, they serve as a mere backdrop to vibrant, aromatic dishes composed of fresh vegetables, meats, and spices. Crispy samosa shells crack open to reveal spicy ground meet or potatoes and peas, while prawns simmer amidst Indian spices inside a clay oven heated by state-of-the art coals. Lamb pieces mingle in spices and basmati rice with a curd mixture to compose flavorful biryani, and fresh, Indian cheese simmers on plates of saag paneer. Indian beers and mango lassi cool palates down after spicy bites.