8 new places to try in St. Louis this August
1641 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9333, Facebook: Indo - STL
With a raft of raves from local and national press and high-end accolades like his semifinalist nod for the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year, chef Nick Bognar could have easily coasted for a while. Instead, he decided to ramp things up and open his solo venture: Indo. The restaurant showcases influences from areas in Indochina (hence the name) and Japan.
Fans of Bognar’s work at Nippon Tei can still get his signature nigiri, but the Indo menu also serves hot and cool creations like meaty, spicy chili prawns, shrimp toast (on neighboring Union Loafers bread) and larger, shareable plates like the fried madai, a whole fish preparation (toothy grin and all) accented with mango sweet chili sauce and papaya salad.
2. Chateau Maplewood
7326 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.899.0105, Facebook: Chateau Maplewood
Maplewood’s newest wine bar is also one of St. Louis’ most affordable bottle shops. Chateau Maplewood offers a dozen or so wines by the glass and a handful of bar snacks like hummus and crackers or a cheese board.
Sample several with its Choose Your Own Adventure wine flight: three 3-ounce pours of any bottle behind the bar for $15. The selection rotates often, but keep your eye out for Xarmant from Txakoli, Spain, or the Cardwell Hill pinot noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Both are light, refreshing options perfect for hot summer days. If you find a new favorite, you’re in luck – all bottles are available for retail purchase, many for less than $25.
3. The Last Kitchen
The Last Hotel, 1501 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.390.2500, thelasthotelstl.com
We would love to furnish our dining room with The Last Kitchen’s midcentury chairs and marble-topped tables. Located in downtown’s new Last Hotel, it’s equal parts grand and comfortable – as is the menu. Dinner entrees include classic dishes like a roasted half chicken with gnocchi and broccolini in beurre blanc, salmon with green beans and mustard cream sauce and sirloin with potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
If you opt for the all-day bar menu in the dining room, order the steak sandwich. Rather than a sliced flank steak, you’ll be greeted by succulent strips of roast soaked in house giardiniera and topped with havarti and creme fraiche.
Executive chef Evy Swoboda brought everything she learned about pasta from her time at Pastaria. We couldn't choose a favorite between the torcino in pesto with Calabrian chili and goat cheese and the Grown Up Garlic Noodles, made with tagliatelle in a fermented black garlic sauce.
4. Ursa Minor Coffee
5760 Chippewa St., St. Louis, 314.222.0333, Facebook: Ursa Minor Coffee
Fans of Living Room will appreciate the continuity of its shuttered second location and the new Ursa Minor, owned by former Living Room barista Ben Hoelzer. Look for the same solid pour-overs and espresso drinks, along with some well-researched curveballs Hoelzer has brought to the shop.
We particularly enjoyed the iced banana milk latte – sweet, but nicely balanced and perfect for Missouri’s tropical weather. The misugaru latte was also strange but good, a Korean grain powder that brought more texture and bold oat flavor than oat milk.
5. Alta Calle
3131 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.282.0840, Facebook: Alta Calle
An affordable menu of high-end Mexican cuisine is everything we want, so we’re quite excited former Nixta chef Tello Carreón is back in a restaurant kitchen at Alta Calle. Everything from the guacamole (incorporating pickled shallot and topped with mint) to the tomato ensalada (topped with burrata) showcases Carreón’s skill with unexpected ingredients and flower-strewn presentation.
Order Los Cuatro tacos to try masterful examples of carne asada (still pink inside), carnitas (moist with a crispy crust), crispy tofu (super flavorful with charred veggies) and al pastor (tender and rich with chunks of pineapple). If you visit during lunch, do not miss the pollo pipián: a juicy grilled chicken breast blanketed in an incredible, rich green mole pipián sauce (made with roasted veggies and herbs), surrounded by rice and beans.
571 Melville Ave., University City, 314.659.8439, Instagram: Bobqstl
We love a short menu, and, in St. Louis, there aren’t many shorter than Bob.Q’s. The Korean rice bowl spot is right to be confident in its focused offerings. We recommend going with a friend so you can each get a half-and-half bowl and try all four protein options. The bowls come simply with rice, greens and your choice of beef bulgogi, spicy chicken, spicy pork or tofu – all of which were worth coming back for a quick, satisfying lunch. If you don’t like a rice bowl, miso soup or dumplings, don’t go to Bob.Q.
7. Up-Down St. Louis
405 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.449.1742, updownarcadebar.com
One of five arcade bars in the Midwest-based chain, Up-Down STL lives up to the hype – and the more than two-year struggle it took to get into the Central West End. More than 80 ’80s and ’90s arcade games, pinball machines and Skee-ball lanes make up a colorful, crowded maze.
The smart design isn’t just seen in clever neon signs, throwback Britney Spears pop art and the living wall out back. The space is set up so that no matter how packed the two-story nightlife attraction gets, you can always order a drink at three strategically placed bars in the main room, downstairs and on the patio. Games cost 25 cents, solid slices of New York-style pizza cost $4, and there are daily drink specials. So, we’ll see you at Dance Dance Revolution often.
8. La Bamba
1101 Lucas Ave., Suite 200, St. Louis, 314.833.3211, Facebook: La Bamba Mexican Restaurant
If you’re walking the streets of downtown and are looking for a place to hunker down with some warm chips, a cool drink and a platter of comforting Mexican food, go to La Bamba. From the fresh, slightly spicy salsa to the refreshing margaritas, this colorful, fun sister restaurant to Central West End’s El Burro Loco will satisfy. We loved the flavor of the grilled vegetables in the veggie fajitas, and found the chicken chimichanga smothered in rich cheese sauce to fully hit the spot. We had to go for a walk after, but it was worth it.
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