Diablitos Cantina's Chef de Cuisine didn't invent the dishes he serves from scratch. Rather, he traveled to Cabo San Lucas to learn authentic Mexican cuisine, from time-honored cooking techniques to specific dishes to the tradition of using locally sourced ingredients. He brought the things he learned back to the United States, where they are the driving force in the Diablitos Cantina kitchen.
The restaurant's menu reflects authentic Mexican cuisine, ranging from pineapple-braised barbecue pork tacos and burritos to steak or veggie-filled tortas. To top it off, every ingredient is sourced from Foundations Farms in Belleville, Illinois or from Mexico. This practice replicates that fresh-from-the-farm flavor found in the street eateries of Mexico.
Amid the lively dining room atmosphere, diners can pair their food with selections from one of the most extensive tequila menus in St. Louis, with many choice varieties directly imported from Mexico. The bartender, who herself traveled to Oaxaca to better understand mescal and tequila, hosts a weekly tasting club called Tequila 101 to share the knowledge she gained.
A mural of a cowgirl riding a rocket decorates the brick fa?ade of Atomic Cowboy, a nod to the bar and restaurant's out-there origin story, which involves a missive from aliens and the implicit approval of both King Arthur and Jerry Garcia. Inside, futuristic neon lights and vintage lamps fill the dining room with a soft glow as guests tuck into inventive Mexican fusion such as a cheeseburger burrito. Offerings at the bar include Schlafly beers on tap and seasonal cocktails such as the Nuclear Sunset made with moscato, rum, and fruit. Throughout the week, Atomic Cowboy bustles with special events such as open-mic nights, DJs who only spin vinyl on Wednesdays, swing dances, and other musical performances.
A quaint combination of exposed brick, hardwood paneling, and the bright, colorful woven fabrics of Latin America, Arcelia’s Mexicana dishes up its title in more ways than one. Of course, the chefs back up the décor with a robust menu of Mexican eats both familiar and obscure. Hand-made flour tortillas wrap up classic enchiladas and empanadas. Spicy gravies add flavor to the albondigas – chicken meatballs – or the bistec ranchero, thinly slice beef with potatoes.
Inside Coco Louco Brasil’s dining room, swirls of aromatic steam dance above platters of fresh seafood and meat skewered and grilled in the traditional Brazilian churrasco style. From behind the full bar, the restaurant's mixologist tops off glasses with cocktails, including the signature Brazilian drink known as the caipirinha. Most weekend nights, a host of live musicians entertain patrons with music ranging anywhere from traditional Brazilian samba to modern pop to playing the Canadian frog xylophone.
The Over/Under Bar & Grill is only a few blocks from the stadiums where the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues play. Being located within a stone's throw of these sporting meccas is appropriate, since the bar screens the night's biggest games on 37 large-screen LCD televisions. It even shows major events outside, where a 120-inch screen helps illuminate an outdoor patio.
This atmosphere alone would've been enough to earn The Over/Under the honor of the Riverfront Times' best sports bar of 2010. But the paper lauded much more than the TVs and games, going on to gush about the spot's "impressive lineup of microbrews" and "great food." The chefs achieve this greatness by reinventing American classics with gourmet ingredients. For example, they smother their waffle fries in housemade gorgonzola sauce, create half-pound burgers with wagyu beef, and dress up drab BLTs with applewood-smoked salmon. St. Louis Magazine and Sauce Magazine have also taken notice, calling The Over/Under one of the best places to watch a game in St. Louis.
Though Tortilla Grille was borne out of an earnest Midwestern work ethic, the menu reveals influences from all over the world. The bill of food keeps taste buds guessing with eclectic offerings such as savory chicken shawarma, crispy falafel, and caribbean jerk tacos. The breakfast and lunch operation keeps health in mind too, assembling colorful salads, along with fresh, veggie-laden wraps. Early risers can explain their really interesting dream over a breakfast burrito or sunny-side up eggs, while lunch goers can enjoy grilled quesadillas, and tacos.