FIVE FOODIE FIXES — MY STL FAVORITES
I adore food as much as fashion (let’s be honest, probably more). My relationship with the dining scene in St. Louis has turned into a full-blown love affair. In an attempt to streamline my obsession, I’ve narrowed the list down to my five favorites (no BBQ or STL-style pizza on this highlight reel). My picks are based on consistency — always a great meal, vibe and experience. Of course the food is top-notch, but what I love about these restaurants is the connection I’ve made with the team of people behind every dish.
KATIE’S PIZZA AND PASTA: Skip the flight to Rome and make your way to this Midwest gem that modernizes regional Italian cuisine in all the right ways. Chef Katie Collier has been lauded with awards for good reason — classic favorites made beautifully with seasonal and local ingredients. Dinnertime at both @katiespizzaandpastalocations (Rock Hill and Town & Country) is slammed, so be sure to check out OpenTable or NoWait. Menu faves: Burrata with Figs and Prosciutto, Watermelon Salad with Mint and Ricotta, Little Neck Clam Pizza, Black Spaghetti with Prawns, Salmon Roe.
LOUIE: If I could create the ideal neighborhood charmer, this would be it. Fortunately, @louiedemun happens to be in my hood. The DeMun staple manages to be both special and low-key — perfect for an anniversary dinner or pizza on the patio. My mood is instantly elevated the second I see owner Matt McGuire and superstar server Jordan (top left in photo). It’s like I’m coming home — except the food is much better, no one is fighting and there’s a wine list. Menu faves: Cauliflower Fritto with Mint Aioli, Sweet Corn Ravioli with Heirloom Tomatoes, Roman Gnocco with Pork Ragu, Roast Chicken.
BILLIE JEAN: I have a major issue with @billiejeanstl — it’s way too difficult to pick the best seat in the house. The bar has a bird’s-eye view of the magic in the kitchen. The cozy dining area is perfectly designed for those unforgettable conversations over an equally unforgettable meal. And if you’re lucky, score one of the spots on the intimate patio. But my seating FOMO never takes away from the incredible experiences with restaurateur Zoe Robinson at the helm. Menu faves: Yellow Fin Tuna Crudo, Glazed Spare Ribs, Roasted Quail with Cornbread Stuffing.
BRASSERIE BY NICHE: My go-to restaurant to treat out-of-towners serves up French fare that rivals the best bistros in Paris. @brasseriestl never disappoints, delivers a swoon-worthy experience and will have you dreaming about the Roasted Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms (photo). The patio is deserving of a three-hour brunch, so don’t feel guilty. Menu faves: Frisée Salad with Bacon Lardons and Poached Egg, Wild Burgundy Escargot, Steak Frites, Brasserie Burger ($7 from 5pm-7pm Sundays-Thursdays during Cinq à Sept aka French Happy Hour) and my favorite dessert, Floating Island.
MAI LEE: My love for @maileestl runs deep and it begins with these three (plus mama who is not pictured). The family-owned spot is regarded as the first Vietnamese restaurant in St. Louis (opened in 1985). For the past seven years, I’ve tucked into a corner of the bar once a week (maybe two) for a heavy rotation of pho and conversations with the sibling duo who have made me feel like one of their own. Menu faves: Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef with noodles), Dua Hu Xa Ot (crispy tofu with lemongrass and hot chili), Canh Ga Kho Xa Ot (caramelized chicken wings with garlic).