The Top Five–St. Louis Area Restaurants

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ian Froeb has recently come up with the STL100 list of the 25 best restaurants in the area (ranked), along with another 75 great restaurants to round out the top 100 places to grab a bite to eat. This inspired me to come up with my own list…my five favorite non-chain (unless it’s a local place that has added locations over time), restaurants in the area (in no particular order), plus five honorable mentions, because I can.

  • Seamus McDaniel’s, Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis–Best burger I’ve ever had, in a really great neighborhood. Seamus will always be number one on my restaurant list!
  • Beast Craft BBQ, Belleville, IL–This is a new location on the St. Louis area restaurant scene, and it’s the place that really got me interested in BBQ. The burnt ends (an item hard to find in Belleville) are fantastic, and their “Big Sammich” series always leaves me wanting to try whatever they think up next!
  • Amighetti’s Bakery and Cafe, The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis–The Amighetti Special, made with turkey pastrami and Amighetti’s secret dressing, is the best deli sandwich I’ve ever had. They also make fantastic cannoli!
  • Olympia Kebob House and Taverna, St. Louis–Best saganaki in town!
  • Eckert’s Country Restaurant, Belleville, IL–If you’re looking for country-style food, this is the place to be. The fried chicken and chicken fried steak are both excellent, and the side dishes (available to pass family style) are just what you’d expect. If you’re still hungry after dinner (doubtful), you can walk next door and get a frozen custard for dessert (in season).

Honorable mention:

  • El Maguey, multiple┬áSt. Louis area locations–Great Mexican food on the Missouri side of the Mississippi.
  • Ted Drewes, St. Louis–Sometimes, you just want dessert, or to celebrate a Cardinals win. If so, Ted Drewes is the place to be!
  • Llywelyn’s Pub, multiple St. Louis area locations–Bonus points go to the St. Charles location, where you can actually eat in an old bank vault!
  • Schlafly Tap Room, St Louis–If the great beer selection isn’t enough of a draw, the food is also excellent. I’m partial to the schnitzel. And while you’re there, make sure to try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert!
  • Gordo’s Margaritas, Millstadt, IL (of blessed memory)–There are other restaurants named Margaritas around town, but my favorite was Gordo’s in Millstadt. The food was excellent (especially the chimichanga!), and the people who work there were great. I’m really sorry to see it closed…we’re going to miss eating there a lot!

Where are your favorite places to eat in St. Louis?

Tasty Tuesday–El Maguey

I’ve become something of a Mexican food snob. I definitely have my favorite restaurants, and favorite foods at those restaurants. My ultimate first choice was the old Chuy Arzola’s in Dogtown in St. Louis–I loved everything I ever tried there, and I had some major guacamole salad cravings thanks to them when I was pregnant with Turkey. To be fair, we haven’t tried out their new location, but in the absence of my original favorite Mexican restaurant in the area, I have a new preference, and we had the chance to eat there last month–El Maguey.

El Maguey is something of a chain here in St. Louis, although we haven’t quite figured out how they’re all related. The menus are similar at all the locations we’ve been to, (at least three of them), if not the same, and the decor is also similar. But we do have a favorite El Maguey, (located on Manchester Road in Ballwin), both because of the ambience, which even for an El Maguey is especially colorful and festively decorated, and because kids eat free there on Tuesdays.

The food is excellent. My personal favorite is the chimichanga; Ryan really likes the burritos. I’ve also had the tamales and the taquitos–also delicious. And the guacamole, which is always my standard for judging a Mexican restaurant, has just the right amount of spice–some places really overdo it, and some are too bland, but El Maguey has a great recipe.

One of my favorite things about the decor is that even though it’s a Mexican place, there are several nods to St. Louis in the design.

One of the children’s favorite things about going to this particular El Maguey, (they’re not choosy about location based on food–as long as there are chips and salsa, they’re good!), is the fountain out front. They love watching it, and always want to throw coins in it.

It’s kind of a drive to get to any El Maguey location, so we don’t get there often. Usually, we end up eating at my next favorite, (and much more local), restaurant, Margaritas. But it’s always a treat to have a chance to eat dinner, (or lunch), at El Maguey!