dishes at akar photo by michelle volansky

5 new St. Louis restaurants to try in July

1. Akar
7641 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, 314.553.9914,

Akar is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small, nestled in between Bar Les Frères, Starbucks and a hair salon on the corner of Wydown Boulevard and Hanley Road. Definitely don’t blink. This new restaurant from the team behind Hiro Asian Kitchen is elegant and understated, offering cool takes on familiar dishes. 

The Manhattan-esque Shibuya cocktail was refreshing on a warm summer evening, as was the tempura soft-shell crab, served with corn and a deliciously spicy Singapore chili sauce. The short ribs literally fell off the bone, which made us grateful for the pea mash and sambal demi-glace underneath it.

2. Shiquan Wonton
6138 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.776.9207,

It seems like there’s a new restaurant in The Loop almost every week, and we hope this one sticks around. Shiquan Wonton – the second location of the popular Champaign, Illinois, eatery – now occupies the former Chinese Noodle Café location, making it prime territory for pre- or post-Pageant bites. 

The spicy, mouth-numbing soup and accompanying pork wontons were pleasantly tingly, as was the mapo tofu, a Sichuan peppercorn- and fermented black bean-laced dish that satisfied our desire for savory and spicy. On that note, we also thoroughly enjoyed the funky eggplant with fish sauce.

cocktails and snacks at bemison cocktail club // photo by meera nagarajan

3. Bemiston Cocktail Club
16 S. Bemiston Ave., Clayton,

Downtown Clayton has its share of fine dining joints and swinging nightlife, but in recent years it’s been hard to find a straight-up neighborhood bar. Enter Bemiston Cocktail Club. Located in the former Extra Brut space, the focus at Bemiston is on conviviality, tasty small bites and simple, well made drinks. 

Settle in with The Bemmy, a can of Old Milwaukee and a shot of the house whiskey blend, or maybe a bottled dirty martini, an order of onion rings and tater tots, and take a load off. And despite “Club” in the moniker, no membership is required to imbibe.

4. Beast Butcher and Block
4156 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.944.6003,

Red alert: There is now a barbecue joint in The Grove, and we love it. The second iteration of David Sandusky’s flagship Belleville spot (Beast Craft BBQ Co.) isn’t just a restaurant ­– there’s also a small butcher shop and an incredible event space with indoor wood-fired grills. 

As for the food, Sandusky has ported over some of his most beloved dishes. The no-knife-needed pork steak still rips, and we will always love Beast’s signature Brussels sprouts served with pork belly. Sandusky said to keep an eye out for new menu items, like the garlic cheddar hot links, which were a hit with the Sauce staff. 

ao&co. co-owner ben poremba // photo by meera nagarajan

5. AO&Co.
1641 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis,

AO&Co., the new boutique market from Ben Poremba (Elaia, Olio, Nixta, The Benevolent King), brings the intersection of Tower Grove and McRee avenues a little closer to becoming the best block in the world. 

With everything from a wall of cigars to Olio’s hummus and pita to coffee drinks, specialty wines, cheeses and meats, AO&Co. will become your new favorite place to shop for a dinner party, picnic or, let’s be real, just to treat yourself. 

Matt Sorrell and Adam Rothbarth are staff writers at Sauce Magazine.