A Look at Sauce on the Side's Expanded Relocation Downtown

Categories: First Look

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Sauce on the Side's "Figgy Piggy" calzone. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Nearly a month after moving from its original downtown location into bigger digs just a few blocks away, Sauce on the Side (411 North Eighth Street; 314-241-5667) catered to a group of more than 200 nearby convention guests at once for a Friday night dinner rush. With the addition of a second production line as well as two more ovens, the kitchen staff was able to whip up 170 calzones and 40 salads -- all from scratch -- to accommodate the large party.

"We never could've done that at the old space," says co-owner Brendon Maciariello. "With the space at 903 Pine, we'd just kind of outgrown it. We were looking for a little bit more space for the guests and a kitchen to match the volume of what we were doing."

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Dalie's Smokehouse Already Has Lines Out the Door in Valley Park

Categories: First Look

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Photo by John Schoemehl
It took about an hour to get into Dalie's Smokehouse for an early lunch on Friday.

Dalie's Smokehouse, the third iteration of Mike Emerson and Skip Steele's barbecue empire, had been hoping for a quiet opening. The owners of Pappy's Smokehouse in Midtown and Bogart's Smokehouse in Soulard wanted a little time to iron out the kinks at this new restaurant in Valley Park before the crowds started coming.

But who were they kidding? This is Emerson and Steele. Crowds follow the pair whether they want them to or not -- and the very fact that Emerson was explaining his dashed dreams just days after opening to a crowd patiently waiting an hour to get through the door shows how utterly they failed in that mission.

The good news is that they haven't failed on the barbecue side. Even in its first week of operation, Dalie's Smokehouse (2951 Dougherty Ferry, Valley Park; 636-529-1898) is just as accomplished, and as tasty, as its urban older siblings.

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With Yiro/Gyro, Gyro Veterans Try a New Concept in Downtown St. Louis

Categories: First Look

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Emily McCarter
A make-your-own gyro lunch from Yiro/Gyro (750 Locust Street).

The Imamovic family knows good gyros -- and they've got two other thriving gyro restaurants to prove it. But now they're trying something new: Yiro/Gyro (750 Locust Street) offers quick gyros made-to-order and other healthy lunch options.

"We wanted to try something a little different, more customizable, some more healthier options," says co-owner Merim Imamovic.

They chose their location carefully.

"I just feel like downtown is changing, there's more residential places going up, buildings being remodeled, it's getting more vibrant," says co-owner Mirza Imamovic, who is Merim's brother. "We wanted to contribute to all the development and excitement of downtown St. Louis. We wanted to be a part of that."

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Southern Now Serving Hot Chicken and Sandwiches in Midtown

Categories: First Look

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The hot chicken plates at Southern come in four different styles, including the one pictured here: General Tso's. | Photos by Mabel Suen

At the end of the first week of service at chef Rick Lewis' new fried chicken and deli concept Southern (3108 Olive Street; 314-531-4668), Lewis finishes greeting the last customers of the day so he can instruct his staff to help silence a smoke alarm. "You can tell folks that the food is so hot here, we literally set off the smoke detectors," he says with a laugh.

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5 Things That May Surprise You About St. Louis' Ranch Dressing-Themed Restaurant, Twisted Ranch

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
Loaded fries at Twisted Ranch -- with a side of ranch, natch.

When Jim Hayden and Chad Allen announced in March their plans to open a restaurant in Soulard, the two first-time restaurateurs almost immediately garnered an unheard-of level of national attention. Within a week, and in the months that have followed, everyone from Eater to Deadspin to Food & Wine has covered the launch -- even though Twisted Ranch has yet to serve a single dish or even finalize a menu.

Apparently that's what happens when you decide your restaurant's theme is ranch dressing. America loves the stuff. Food snobs love to hate the stuff. Everybody has an opinion.

Next Tuesday the subject of all that press coverage, Twisted Ranch (1730 South Eighth Street), finally opens its doors. And after getting a sneak peek this week, we can confidently say it's not the apocalypse that food writers have been predicting. It's not going to win a James Beard Award, but it may well prove wildly popular with families looking for a spot to grab a meal before heading to a Cardinals game -- or even just Soulard drinkers trying to sober up with a huge plate of loaded fries, ranch on the side.

Here are the five things that most surprised us about the soon-to-open Soulard eatery.

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Taze Mediterranean Street Food Brings a Fast-Casual Option Downtown

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
A gyro bowl from Taze, including lamb-and-beef gyro meat on a bed of lettuce with tzatziki sauce, as well as carrot salad, pickles and carmelized onion hummus.

The Mercantile Exchange -- better known as the MX -- is attempting to become a hub of downtown street life in a city that has all too little of it. There's a movie theater. Soon, there will be the National Blues Museum. And there are a whole bunch of restaurants: another outpost of Chris Sommers' growing Pi empire, the second Robust Wine Bar and Cafe (the original is in Webster Groves) and a Snarf's.

And now there is also Taze Mediterranean Street Food, a new concept that's something like the Chipotle of Middle-Eastern food. There is a line with rapid assembly. There are numerous combinations of classic flavors in bowls or pitas. And, like Chipotle, the food at Taze is damn tasty.

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New Market, Organics, Now Open in Princeton Heights

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
The interior of Organics, a spacious and uncluttered store on South Kingshighway.

Frank and Meghan Ford acknowledge that they're an unconventional choice to open an organic market. His job, until recently, was as a photographer taking family portraits. She's a teacher-turned-librarian, who continues to work for a school district. Beyond that, they were never that into the organic world.

But with the birth of their older son, Frankie, almost four years ago, the Fords found themselves obsessing over the additives and pesticides in their food. "We didn't want our kids eating what we were eating," Fred Ford says. "I started researching food -- and then I got scared."

Learning about organic options was an eye-opener, one that became even more important with the birth of their second son, Vinnie, nine months ago. Vinnie has Down syndrome, which can make children even more susceptible to illness. "That really jumpstarted this and pushed us even more into organics," Fred Ford says. "I will do whatever I can to keep both my kids healthy."

"Whatever I can" ended up translating into St. Louis' newest organic market, Organics (5400 S. Kingsghighway), which quietly opened its doors in a standalone one-story building in the city's Princeton Heights neighborhood on June 5.

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Gyro Grill Now Open in the Delmar Loop

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
The Gyro Grill has opened in the old Chubbies location on Delmar.
Gyro Grill opened its doors for the first time this Wednesday, bringing a combination of Middle Eastern food and good old-fashioned American bar-and-grill fare to the Delmar Loop (6227 Delmar Boulevard; 314-899-9437).

The light-filled storefront is the second iteration of the concept for Morad Jaber, who owns the place with his parents. They opened the first Gyro Grill at Kingshighway and Chippewa Street in 2010, before closing it last month in preparation for a move to this space just west of Skinker.

The restaurant was formerly the home of Chubbies.

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Lilly's Music and Social House Now Open in Benton Park

Categories: First Look

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
The Italian Rye-der sandwiches at Lilly's.

Because St. Louis can be a small town once you get to know people, Kristen Goodman heard Luvy Duvy's was likely closing long before the news was public. As a musician, she'd played at the Benton Park breakfast and lunch spot, and she'd gotten to know the owners -- so when she heard they were looking to take a step back from the restaurant rat race and lease their space to someone else, she knew it was the opportunity she'd been waiting for.

"I'd been in the industry fifteen years," she says. "I'd always had this desire to open my own space." Suddenly the opportunity was right in front of her.

At the same time, Goodman believed there was a need she could fill. After Novak's closed, "there was a gap in the market for a space for women, LGBT women," she says.

Enter Lilly's Music and Social House.

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Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Now Open in the Central West End

Categories: First Look

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A housemade waffle cone filled with three scoops of Jeni's ice cream: raspberry sorbet, pistachio and honey, and mango lassi. | Photos by Mabel Suen

St. Louis' ice cream-driven caloric count just keeps getting higher. Our growing list of favorites includes everything from the fun flavors at I Scream Cakes and Ices Plain and Fancy to newcomer Clementine's Creamery. Add to that frozen bucket list a recent contender for the place we're most likely to get fat at this summer: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (389 Euclid Avenue; 314-367-1700), which opened the doors of its brand new Central West End shop last night for a public debut, featuring free scoops.

See also: Jeni's Will Open in the Central West End

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