3 appetizer platters from St. Louis restaurants you need to try ASAP
You’re scanning a menu and overwhelmed by choice, yet keen to avoid appearing indecisive. Order the appetizer platter. This is shorthand for, “I know exactly what I want: a little bit of everything.” These starter selections give you a sampler of what a restaurant has to offer and can serve either as the warmup act for a meal or simply something to share with friends over a quick drink. Our team can’t get enough of these three platters.
The botana platter at this South City Mexican restaurant includes guacamole, flautas, tostadas, tamales and quesadillas, but the sopes are the star of the show. The thick masa cakes are fried for crispness and topped with Chihuahua cheese, diced onion and salsa. Every item can be made vegetarian, but if you’re not specific when you order, it will be chef’s choice. Pro tip: You can even order a pitcher of their sweet and citrusy margarita to go.
5127 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 314.351.9000, pueblosolisstl.com
The Vine Mediterranean Cafe
The appetizer combo here is an especially good option if you’re feeding a group of vegetarians (or even vegans). Select any four from a generous list of options ranging from dips (hummus, baba ghanoush, labneh) served with The Vine’s super fresh pita to bulkier dishes like falafel, kibbeh (beef-stuffed pastry) and makdous (cured baby eggplants stuffed with walnuts and garlic). An order of tabbouleh is a must: The finely chopped parsley laced with tomato, bulgur wheat and green onion – and dressed with lots of lemon juice – is fabulous either on its own or mixed with any of the dips for some extra heft and crunch.
3171 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.776.0991, thevinestl.com
Mayo Ketchup’s picadera platter offers a range of fried snacks to sample, regardless of whether you get the small (feeds two to three), medium (feeds four to six) or large platter (feeds eight to 10). The sorullitos (cornmeal fritters) and the maduros (fried plantains) bring sweetness, while the yuca fries and tostones con aguacate (smashed and fried green plantains topped with avocado and pickled red onions) are more crunchy and salty. The carne frita make for the perfect umami bite: The chunks of citrus- and garlic-marinated pork are deep-fried until they're crisp, but still tender inside. Finally, the cheese tequenos are a favorite, with the addictive combination of queso blanco wrapped in fried pastry dough. No matter which fried bite you go for, they're all ideal for dunking into the restaurant’s signature mayo ketchup or the fruity guava sauce.
2001 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2699, plantaingirl.com