Medina Mediterranean Grill Now Open Downtown

Categories: First Look

Beef-shawarma salad with romaine, spring mix, tomato, onion, pickle, cucumber, pickled turnips, chickpeas and tahini dressing. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Medina Mediterranean Grill (1327 Washington Avenue; 314-241-1356) opened on April 6, offering Middle Eastern cuisine downtown. The fast-casual restaurant fills the space formerly occupied by Gelateria Tavolini, with enough seats inside for two-dozen guests. In addition to vegetarian-friendly options including sandwiches filled with falafel or hummus, the concept features traditional shawarma as well as modern takes on the popular street-food-style plates.

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Antonio's Bistro & Market: A New Bosnian Restaurant in Southhampton

Categories: First Look

Cevapi, Bosnian flatbread with seasoned ground-beef sausages. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Cevapi, burek and doner kebab are but a few of the traditional Bosnian dishes offered at Antonio's Bistro & Market (5005 South Kingshighway Boulevard; 314-899-9885). The new family-owned, fast-casual restaurant opened in the Southhampton neighborhood on March 18 and offers these housemade specialties as well as a selection of American and Italian-style plates, a kids' menu and individual desserts.

"My mom came up with all the recipes," says Brigita Beharic, the teenage daughter of the restaurant's owner, Meho Beharic. "They're all things I grew up eating."

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A Look Inside Tony's A.M., a New Downtown Breakfast and Lunch Counter

Categories: First Look

Tony's A.M.'s hot pastrami sandwich on rye bread. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Downtown St. Louis regulars now have a new breakfast and lunch spot to consider: Tony's A.M. (10 South Broadway), which opened in early March at the intersection of South Broadway and Market Street. As reported by Gut Check earlier this year, the fast-casual concept comes from Tony's (410 Market Street; 314-231-7007), the St. Louis fine-dining classic often referred to as the best restaurant when someone else pays.

"It's a little bit out of our wheelhouse, but it'll be fun," said Tony's executive chef Vince Bommarito in the January interview.

See also: Tony's Restaurant to Add Fast-Casual Sibling, Tony's A.M.

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The Q-Shack: A New Roadside Eatery That Cooks Up Barbecue and Burritos

Categories: First Look

The "Memphis Pork" sandwich: pulled pork topped with creamy slaw. | Photos by Mabel Suen

As reported by Gut Check in January, the Q-Shack (McCausland Avenue and Manchester Road) fills the space previously occupied by BJ's BBQ, a barbecue spot between a Walgreens store and a used-car lot. Father-daughter team Larry and Angie Lampert, of Lampert's Plush Pig BBQ among other prior local businesses, gave the Q-Shack concept a trial run last fall. After some renovations that include the addition of a full deck and covered patio with forty seats, the stand reopened earlier this month, slinging smoked meats and more.

See also: Lampert's BBQ to Return, This Time in Maplewood

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Red Lotus Spa & Bistro: A New Rock Hill Business Where Beauty Meets Banh Mi

Categories: First Look

Red Lotus' grilled-pork banh mi. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Last month, critically acclaimed Mi Linh got an extreme makeover, and now its visitors can get made up there, too. On February 13, the Vietnamese restaurant re-branded and opened as Red Lotus Spa & Bistro (9737 Manchester Road; 314-918-8868), a concept that combines owner Dee Dee Tran's background in both restaurants and beauty services by offering the best of both worlds under one roof.

See also: Review: Mi Linh: The Tran family raises the bar for Vietnamese cuisine

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A Look At HandleBar's New, Revamped Menu from Chef Chris DiMercurio

Categories: First Look

"Pickle Board" with crostini, dill creme fraiche, and pickled cucumber, yellow beets, red onion, carrots and blackberries. | Photos by Mabel Suen

HandleBar recently got a tune-up. Chef Chris DiMercurio -- a veteran of local kitchens including Vino Nadoz, Elaia and Old Standard -- joined the Grove-area restaurant in February and rolled out a revamped menu on March 3. The updated offerings still highlight owner Tatyana Telnikova's Russian heritage, with fresh touches on old favorites and plenty of new plates.

The space itself got a facelift, as well. HandleBar's reputation as one of the best dance clubs and best hipster bars in town -- thanks to regular late-night entertainment as well as events including Lunch Beat -- meant the well-tread place could use some touch-ups. Visitors will notice subtle improvements including refinished floors and booths.

See also: Juniper's Revised Menu From New Head Chef Cassy Vires

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Lucky Buddha: A New Asian-Fusion Cuisine and Craft-Cocktail Lounge in South City

Categories: First Look

"Thai Basil Smash" and "Buddha Collins" cocktails at Lucky Buddha. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Lucky Buddha (3701 South Jefferson Avenue; 314-833-4568) opened in south city on February 27 in the space previously occupied by Jefferson Bistro. The restaurant's revamped concept comes from chef Rene Cruz, whose career in hospitality includes working as a chef, corporate trainer and local restaurant consultant. His new endeavor features his contemporary take on Asian cuisine, featuring a fusion of flavors inspired by everything from traditional Thai and Japanese flavors to Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.

"I feel a little of extra added this and extra added that creates what we are. I'm trying to use as many bold flavors as I can," he says. "We're very nontraditional. We wanted to keep the basics of the food styles and flavor profiles, but we really wanted to do something unique."

See also: St. Louis Restaurant Openings & Closings: February 2015

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A Look Inside Público, Mike Randolph's Newest Concept Featuring Latin-Inspired Cuisine

Categories: First Look

An arepa, a leavened corn pancake, topped with smoked Cornish hen. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Público (6679 Delmar Boulevard; 314-833-5780), the latest concept from restaurateur Mike Randolph of Half & Half, opened on March 4 in the Delmar Loop just doors down from his Neapolitan-style pizza joint, the Good Pie. The self-proclaimed taberna features a Latin-American inspired menu of handcrafted cocktails and food, utilizing an oak-burning hearth to cook up spit-roasted meats and more. The concept takes nods from Randolph's former restaurants, MEDIAnoche and Little Country Gentleman, offering refined, artfully presented plates.

"It's a different thing. The wood, the ambiance sets us apart. We're not trying to become a turn-and-burn taco joint. We're trying to be someplace that people can come in and maybe get a good piece of meat, fish," he told Gut Check in an interview last year. "But if they do get tacos, they're going to get 'em roasted by hand, by wood in our custom hearth."

See also: Mike Randolph Talks Público, His New Mexican Restaurant

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Chaparritos Mexican Restaurant: Tex-Mex, Seafood and More on Cherokee Street

Categories: First Look

Chaparritos on Cherokee Street. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Chaparritos Mexican Restaurant (2812 Cherokee Street; 314-240-5990) opened on February 7 in south city. The concept comes from chef-owner Rafael Marcelino, who cooks up his own blend of authentic Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex every day from scratch.

"I'm always trying to combine the best of both [Mexican and American] cultures," says Marcelino, who hails from Mexico City and has cooked and managed at a local Mexican restaurant for the past eleven years. Chaparritos -- Spanish for his nickname, "Shorty" -- specializes in these hybrid dishes as well as a substantial offering of fish and shrimp. The latter is a nod at family recipes from years of selling seafood in his hometown.

See also: First Look: Tarahumara Mexican Restaurant

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A Look Inside Tarahumara Mexican Restaurant: Chihuahua-Style Gorditas, Tortas and More

Categories: First Look

"Torta Special" with shredded beef, melted cheese, ham and avocado. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Tarahumara Mexican Restaurant (2818 Cherokee Street; 314-802-7398) opened on February 1 offering traditional Northern-style Mexican cuisine, including gorditas and more, in south city. The new restaurant fills the space formerly occupied by Siete Luminarias.

The concept, named after a northwestern Mexico Native American mountain tribe, comes from husband-and-wife duo Luis Navarro and Teresa Armendirez. According to Navarro, Tarahumara Mexican Restaurant's menu is unique to the area. It features Northern Mexican cuisine from his home state of Chihuahua, unlike many of the neighboring restaurants in the area which primarily highlight dishes from the southern region, he says.

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