wright's tavern in clayton photo by michelle volansky

9 new St. Louis-area restaurants to try this month

Wright's Tavern
Bathed in golden light, the luxurious dining room at Wright’s Tavern is a welcoming sight. Party vibes abound while servers bustle about wearing jackets and ties, providing friendly service with a touch of formality. Start with the Martini and the Car, a cross between a martini with a twist and a dirty martini. It combines two kinds of vermouth, orange bitters and Ford’s gin. Served with three huge, green olives (pro tip: request the blue cheese-stuffed olives if you’re a fan) and a sidecar of extra cocktail to top off your tipple, the fun never ends. Nothing pairs with the martini better than the thick, golden Tavern onion rings.

The baked crab cake, potato-crusted halibut, raw oysters and sizzling shrimp scampi all feature seafood that is flown in almost daily . The buttermilk-herb dressed wedge salad, classic sides (melted spinach, green beans, potatoes several ways) and various cuts of premium Iowa beef signal the renewed interest in steakhouses we’ve noticed in other cities has made its way to St. Louis. Over-the-top desserts like a giant, top-it-yourself ice cream sundae or a generous slice of wedding cake make a rich finish to a decadent meal.
7624 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, 314.390.1466, Instagram: wrightsonwydown

1933 House of Bourbon
This new spot in Edwardsville is all about the bourbon. They have a growing collection (150 bourbons and counting), a cocktail list highlighting bourbon, and even lockers where diners can pay to store their bottles to enjoy when they come for dinner. If you want a little dinner with your bourbon, the menu is eclectic with starters like arancini served with a fresh tomato sauce or the wild mushroom cappuccino, a cream-based soup flavored with onions and garlic with a verdant, spicy kick from serrano peppers. A few salads and flatbreads are there to support the “main cuts,” which feature a pork chop, several steaks, pan-seared Atlantic salmon and a couple burgers. Don’t miss dessert — the popcorn crème brûlée was a salty and sweet treat, while the warm apple tart had a flaky crust and was served with housemade vanilla ice cream.
1001 Enclave Blvd., Suite D, Edwardsville, 314.898.2654, 1933hob.com

Original Family Smokehouse
Fortune Teller Bar has hosted several great food options over the years (we still dream of the pickled eggs that graced their original menu), and the all-vegan menu from Original Family Smokehouse continues the trend. The Chris-burger, made with a house-smoked Beyond burger dressed with dairy-free cheese , barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, hits all the best burger flavor and texture notes: smokiness, crunchy freshness, cheesy creaminess, crispy, savory meatiness. The C -food gumbo has both the spice level and body we look for in gumbo (the latter thanks to its use of okra ); it also features oyster mushrooms and wakame (a kind of seaweed) that add satisfying chunkiness and additional umami flavor.
2635 Cherokee St. (inside Fortune Teller Bar), St. Louis, 314.325.2332, originalfamilysmokehouse.com

nobu's in the loop // photo by michelle volansky

Nobu’s new location on the Delmar Loop takes the classic Japanese flavors you fell in love with at their previous location in University City and dials everything up a notch. The space couldn’t feel fresher, with light, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling and gleaming white quartzite countertops. Reservations are required for the intimate, 18-seat space and omakase is the name of the game; chose between three-, four- or six-course chef’s choice tasting menus. You can expect soup, a variety of sashimi and sushi, a surprising roster of amuse-bouche called tsukidashi, and small plates like buttery miso-marinated cod. A concise drink menu features sake, Japanese whisky, beer and natural wine. Don’t skip the matcha ice cream for dessert – Big Heart Tea Co. matcha is mixed in-house with Clementine’s Creamery vanilla ice cream and accompanied with a scoop of azuki (red bean) paste for the perfect last bite.
6253 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, 314.449.6628, nobustl.com

Sando Shack
Sando Shack is the latest restaurant to make the journey from food truck to brick-and-mortar with its recent move into the former Dam space in Tower Grove South. The signature dishes here are the pork and chicken katsu sandos, a Japanese innovation combining deep-fried, panko-breaded cutlets, cabbage slaw and katsu sauce between two slices of white bread. However, along with the fall-off-the-bone teriyaki pork wings, the chicken karaage sando might be the highlight, brined in sake, breaded with potato starch and served with pickled Fresno peppers on a brioche bun. All sandwiches come with crisp fries, seasoned with your choice of sea salt, curry or togarashi. Grab one of the handful of stools in the window or take your order next door to Amsterdam Tavern to enjoy it with a beer.
3173 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.449.1011, Facebook: Sando Shack

Lousies on the Loop
Lousies on the Loop offers tasty, affordable sandwiches that are the exception to that old saying about getting what you pay for. The “Lousies” are loose meat sandwiches: seasoned ground beef, served on a bun with grilled onions, mustard and pickles. The base sandwich is just $6, a bargain in this era of inflation. Add mayonnaise, lettuce, sliced onions and tomato for a couple extra dollars, or top your sandwich with your choice of cheese for as little as 50 cents. A vegan offering uses chopped mushrooms in place of the beef, to similarly satisfying effect. There are various combo deals on the Lousies, as well as sides like a whole roasted sweet potato with local honey butter, blue cheese coleslaw and mushroom and wild rice risotto. Breakfast Lousies, grits, oatmeal, eggs and hash browns are available all day. This is an ideal place for a quick to-go meal, but the restaurant has a few seats inside if you’d like to hang out.
567A Melville Ave., University City, 314.696.2002, Facebook: Lousies on the Loop

casa de tres reyes // photo by michelle volansky

Casa de Tres Reyes
For their new concept, the team behind Three Kings Public House wisely enlisted consulting chef Andrew Cisneros of Jalea to help develop the menu, and his mark is evident. Verdant guacamole is super fresh and seasoned to perfection with salt and lime. Don’t miss the delectable pork belly carnitas taco with pico de gallo, cilantro, crema and Cisneros’ sharp and citrus-y aji verde, one of our favorite sauces of the year. The tangy, smoky elote, topped with queso, garlic aioli and Tajin plus a sprinkling of cotija and cilantro, makes an excellent side. The hearty chicken enchilada, stuffed with chile-braised chicken, bursts with flavor. It’s served with sofrito rice and black beans laced with lime juice – a noteworthy upgrade from the standard beans and rice. Pair your dinner with one of the well-balanced beverages, like the rum-based mai tai, which was fruity and sweet without being too cloying.
1181 Colonnade Center, Des Peres, 314.394.0214, casadetresreyes.com

1929 Pizza and Wine
The pizza at 1929 Pizza and Wine in Wood River, Illinois, is really, really good. Co-owners Matt and Amy Herren previously had separately owned businesses in Edwardsville (222 Artisan Bakery and Fond Restaurant, respectively) and are bringing fresh ideas to Wood River. Matt brings his bread baking experience to 1929; he's currently using a levain (akin to sourdough starter) to make the dough, resulting in a tangy crust with a light-but-structured texture. We tried the margherita and the four cheese with housemade mozzarella, fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta; herbs added bursts of freshness. Starters shine too: The share board appetizer was served with bread, a couple of compound butters, warm olives, ricotta with honey and a head of roasted garlic so you can customize each bite. The house salad with romaine, red onion, blue cheese, parsley and a white wine vinaigrette was perfect: each ingredient was in harmony, the dressing had just the right acidity and the greens were crisp and fresh. There are cannoli in rotating flavors for dessert; the dark chocolate and hazelnut flavors were concentrated and vivid, and the shells were flaky. These are not to be missed, no matter what.
7 N. Wood River Ave., Wood River, Illinois, 618.216.2258, 1929pizzaandwine.com

Heaterz Hot Chicken
The third location of this locally owned franchise is tucked into a bustling section of Kirkwood. It’s primarily a takeout spot, although there are a few tables inside the small storefront. The spicy cheese curds pack quite a fiery bite – an invigorating way to whet your appetite. The Nashville street corn on the cob has a kick too, but creamy enough to temper some of the heat. For the main course, choose from four heat levels – plain, mild, hot and barbecue – on your chicken sandwich, tenders, drumsticks or wings. When it’s time to select your sauces, don’t sleep on the amazing garlicky Heaterz House sauce or the smooth ranch that pleased even our resident ranch connoisseur.
129 W. Jefferson Ave., Kirkwood, 314.946.5051, heaterzchicken.com