taqueria morita in the newly constructed garden pavilion at vicia photo by michelle volansky

6 new St. Louis-area places to try this month

Taqueria Morita
Outdoor pop-up Taqueria Morita sits under a modern structure outside Vicia by Take Root Hospitality, which operates both restaurants. The starters include: Chips and salsa served with an herbal and spicy salsa verde as well as a roasted tomato salsa; green vegetable aguachile with serrano chiles, kohlrabi and cucumber; and oysters with yuzu, jicama and smoked habanero. Featuring high acid and heat, they were all light dishes to start a meal and felt effortlessly balanced. The mains are all tacos, like the carrot tinga taco that had a little sweetness and spice and the fish tempura tacos with chipotle crema and red cabbage, served in fresh, blue corn tortillas. Desserts and cocktails make lovely bookends to this meal: The tomatillo cocktail with sotol, tequila, tomatillo, green apple, cucumber and mint was a refreshing sipper, and the roasted pineapple dessert served with a cloud of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon was the unexpected winner of the night.
4260 Forest Park Ave. (outside Vicia), St. Louis, 314.553.9239, taqueriamorita.com

Blue Violet
Edwardsville-based Blue Violet is a promising addition to Michael Del Pietro’s collection of restaurants. Whereas Del Pietro’s other venues are committed to Italian cuisine, Blue Violet is more eclectic in its tastes. The kitchen uses ingredients like Tajin, Old Bay, pickled jalapeños, lime crema, nori, green curry, carrot chips and avocado to spice, brighten and complement the meat and seafood at the heart of most Blue Violet’s large plates. The Rocket Pork features tender pork belly in a coffee-cola glaze, with grits adding creamy comfort. The BV burger’s juicy grass-fed beef patty is lifted by bacon, white cheddar and poblano jam. That smoky poblano jam pops up again – to great effect – on the must-order corn bread.
6108 Shoger Drive Suite B, Edwardsville, 618.650.9003, bluevioletedwardsville.com

Spirit Wine and Craft
Spirit Wine and Craft, a new bottle shop from the folks at The Wine & Cheese Place, is a welcome addition to the Southampton neighborhood. By combining the spaces formerly occupied by Craft Beer Cellar and Ursa Minor Coffee, the shop has put together enough square footage to offer a thoughtfully curated selection of spirits, wine, craft beer and gourmet snacks, offering plenty of options in each category without leaving you overwhelmed by choice. Shelves are decorated with product descriptions to aid in your selection process, and the helpful staff will happily weigh in to make sure you leave with something you’re excited to try.
5760 Chippewa St., St. Louis, 314.786.3223, spiritwineandcraft.com

beet salad from salve osteria // photo by michelle volansky

Salve Osteria
Cafe Natasha’s closure was a loss for its loyal customers, but Natasha Bahrami and Michael Fricker’s Salve Osteria is bringing fresh ideas to South Grand. Start with its namesake Salve spritz with two different amari, yuzu, bitters and vermouth – which gives subtle sweetness – topped off with mint and natural sparkling wine. The vegetable-focused small plates shine here; chef Matt Wynn shops the farmers market each Saturday, so ingredients are fresh and may vary depending on season and availability. The grilled watermelon with red and yellow watermelon is salted to remove excess liquid and marinated in citrus juice before being grilled, cooled and served with feta, herbs and grilled fennel. The bacon fat carrots are slowly cooked in water and bacon fat; they’re served with blue cheese crema, bacon, shallots and mustard. And the beet salad with roasted beets, pickled gooseberries and kumquats and pistachio has already become a popular order amongst diners.
3200 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.771.3411, salveosteria.com

Arzola's Fajitas + Margaritas
Fans of the late Tex-Mex favorite Chuy Arzola’s in Dogtown should take note of the new incarnation from Eddie Arzola, his son Coby Arzola and their team, now open in Benton Park. The space (formerly home to Ernesto’s Wine Bar) has a fresh face, cozy interior and glowy patio nestled between brick buildings. Steak fajitas are the star of the concise menu, with super flavorful marinated and charbroiled slices of steak served with housemade guacamole, pico de gallo and crema. Margaritas dominate the cocktail menu, from the classic Zolarita made with juicy, fresh limonada, to the sweet-and-spicy Señor Serrano. The shrimp tostaditas are irresistible little corn tostadas piled high with plump shrimp, red chile sauce, guacamole, queso cotija and grilled pineapple pico. Pro tip: Sign up for their Queso Club reward program for a free bowl of classic queso and a basket of addictive, chile-dusted corn tortilla chips.
2730 McNair Ave., St. Louis, 314.226.9672, eatarzolas.com

Tre Cuori Gelateria & Acai
This Instagram-worthy storefront is tasteful and elegant. Start on the savory side with the Brazilian cheese bread, a tapioca flour breading stuffed with rich, gooey Brazilian cheese reminiscent of Monterey Jack mixed with mozzarella. We’re almost certain all the housemade creamy gelatos would be delightful, but we were partial to the pistachio, caramello salato (salted caramel), fragola (strawberry) and arrachidi (peanut butter gelato with milk chocolate and dulce de leche swirls). We also loved the smooth, lightly sweet acai bowl topped with crunchy pieces of granola, thin slices of fresh strawberry, and flakes of dried coconut.
15877 Fountain Plaza Drive, Ellisville, 636.675.0507, trecuorigelateria.com