from left, grace meat + three's rick lewis and perennial artisan ales' phil wymore photo by spencer pernikoff for grace meat + three

5 food and drink trends happening now in St. Louis

1. Corn Beers
Corn was commonly used in brewing for centuries, but in recent years it has been panned as a subpar ingredient. Brewers are embracing the grain’s potential once again, using heirloom varieties and different incarnations to add body and new flavors to classic styles. 

White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery in Sparta, Illinois, made a red corn saison this summer, and Perennial Artisan Ales partnered with Grace Meat + Three to create a Mexican-style lager made with Bloody Red Butcher corn, an heirloom hominy. 

Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s Mexican lager, Castaña Urbana, features blue corn, and Earthbound Beer has used masa harina for a tortilla chip-like flavor note in a Belgian amber and an upcoming Vienna lager. 

2. Fancy French Onion Dip
Chefs are taking your favorite last-minute party snack purchase to new levels. Dressel’s Public House has long offered a classic version of French onion dip, served with its house chips. The team at Cinder House has had a charred onion dip with house-made chips since day one. 

Indo chef-owner Nick Bognar makes delicate lotus chips sturdy enough to stand up to chive aioli on the lunch menu. And Mac’s Local Eats has put its own meaty spin on onion dip, topping the occasional special with a generous handful of crumbled bacon. 

sweetart chef-owner reine bayoc // photo by adam rothbarth

3. Fast Food Riffs
Are you trying to take a break from the fast food grind while staying in your comfort zone? A growing number of local eateries will make you feel safe. 

Utah Station offers not only a vegan Big Mak based on the McDonald’s classic, but also a vegan Roast Beef & Chedda that gestures to local favorite Lion’s Choice. If you missed out on the Popeye’s chicken sandwich hype but still want a taste of the action, SweetArt occasionally runs a Vegan Chickn Sandwich in response to the mania. 

Byrd & Barrel aims at a beloved Jack in the Box a la carte item with the J.I.T.B. tacos, and Grace Meat + Three steps up the classic McMuffin with the Egg Rick Muffin. During the Cardinals playoffs, Hi-Pointe Drive-In offered Left-Handed Slider Packs, its take on a White Castle Crave Case. 

4. Crab Shacks
If you’re feeling crabby, there’s a seemingly endless list of places to find catharsis. At The Mad Crab, you create a bake and bathe your crab (Dungeness, king crab, snow crab – you name it) in sauces like Rajun Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic sauce or a mix of all three. Then decide how spicy you like it. 

At Cluster Busters, a namesake entree includes snow crab leg cluster, red potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked sausage and jumbo shrimp. At Krab Kingz, choose from an assortment of platters with varying amounts of crab clusters, shrimp, sausage or lobster. 

Crawling Crab mixes it up with stuffed lobster tails, seafood nachos and dangerously buttery crab pasta, and The Kickin’ Crab offers a mix of seafood boils in bags and entrees like scampi and Alfredo pasta. All these crab shacks have opened within the past two years, so you’ll be having a pretty fresh experience.

5. Frozen Pizza Partnerships
Frozen pizzas have gone from a low-buck afterthought to a main party attraction around town thanks to a couple key culinary partnerships. Dogtown Pizza has teamed up with James Beard Award-winning Gioia’s Deli for a pie topped with Gioia’s famous hot salami. 

Meanwhile, local brewery 4 Hands Brewing Co. has collaborated with Mama Lucia’s to create seven pies utilizing spent grain from 4 Hands’ brewing process in the crust and a bevy of St. Louis-centric toppings, including Red Hot Riplets chicken, Mission Taco Joint Mexican chicken and Sugarfire barbecue chicken.

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital and Matt Sorrell and Adam Rothbarth are staff writers at Sauce Magazine.