#56: Cafe Natasha's Beef Shish Kebab

A platter of Cafe Natasha's beef and chicken shish kebabs. | Jennifer Silverberg

When Behshid Bahrami came to the United States in the late 1970s, he was culinarily dismayed. He simply could not find lamb that tasted like what he had in his native Iran. American lamb, Bahrami will tell you, has a gamey taste compared to its mild Persian counterpart. Rather than swearing it off altogether, he developed a marinade that he hoped would soften the meat's flavor. What he ended up developing is the ambrosial nectar that turned out to be perfect for Cafe Natasha's (3200 South Grand Boulevard; 314-771-3411) beef shish kebob.

See Also: Chef Chat: Hamishe Bahrami is Cafe Natasha's Persian Cowgirl

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#57: The Maine-Style Lobster Roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

The Maine-style lobster roll at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. | Nancy Stiles

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.
(1831 Sidney Street; 314-772-8858) was the most anticipated restaurant opening this year, with so much hype it was the St. Louis equivalent of a Hollywood premiere. No one doubted that chef Kevin Nashan could pull off a classic lobster and crab shack in the middle of America, but just how well he has done it proves there is substance behind the sensation.

See Also: Review: Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. Is a Delicious, Transportive Experience

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#58: Panorama's Croque-Madame

The croque-madame sandwich at Panorama. | Jennifer Silverberg

When chef Ivy Magruder took over the kitchen at Panorama (1 Fine Arts Drive; 314-655-5490), the restaurant was -- to put it kindly -- not doing so well. Plagued by a series of bad reviews, financial troubles and guest complaints, the Saint Louis Art Museum knew it had to completely reinvent its less than year-old restaurant if it was to become the dining destination it was intended to be.

See Also: SLAM Dunk: The St. Louis Art Museum's Restaurant Revamp is a Success

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#59: The Italian Beef Sandwich at Vinnie's Italian Beef & Gyros

The Italian beef sandwich at Vinnie's Italian Beef & Gyros. | Corey Woodruff

Matthew "Vinnie" Mulholland was such a die-hard football fan that he would regularly travel to Chicago to catch Bears games after the football Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona. Little did he know, these trips would inspire him to bring a little bit of Chicago cuisine back home.

See Also: Vinnie's Italian Beef and Gyros Brings Chicago-Sized Flavor to St. Louis

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#60: The Egg Rolls at Bek-Hee Chinese Restaurant

Bek-Hee's handmade egg rolls. | Jennifer Silverberg

I'd driven by Bek-Hee (10200 Page Avenue, Overland; 314-426-4773) hundreds of times without giving the place a second glance -- the hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant looks like just another Overland chop suey dive. Then I got a tip from a trusted colleague that the restaurant is under new ownership and that the family now in charge is churning out delicious handmade cuisine. He said their egg rolls are the best he's had in town -- a bold statement from a man with a discerning palate.

See Also: Bek-Hee Brings Sha County Chinese Cuisine to St. Louis: Review

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#61: Pumpkin Maple Latte at Kaldi's Coffee

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The pumpkin maple latte at Kaldi's Coffee. | Zoe Klein

This time of year, pumpkin spice lattes are about as ubiquitous as falling leaves and decorative gourds. There's something about that first chill in the air that whips folks into a squash-guzzling frenzy -- and everyone from beer brewers to dog-biscuit manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon.

See Also: The Five Best Pumpkin Spice Lattes in St. Louis

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#62: Casconcelli at Giovanni's Kitchen

Giovanni's Kitchen's casconcelli. | Mabel Suen

"Luxurious" is the word that kept coming to mind as I savored bite after bite of the casconcelli at Giovanni's Kitchen (8831 Ladue Road, Ladue; 314-721-4100). Chef Alessandro Bozzatto's handmade half-moon-shaped pasta is like edible silk -- good enough to be enjoyed on its own, but positively decadent when he tosses in a treasure trove of goodies.

See Also: Giovanni's Kitchen has all the quality of the Hill without the bill

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#63: Athlete Eats' Bibimbap Bowl

The bibimbap bowl at Atlhete Eats. | Jennifer Silverberg

Simon and Angelica Lusky have a sacred responsibility: feeding the St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that ever since Mr. Lusky came on the scene as their nutritionist, the Redbirds have been on a tear. (OK, they have always been winners, but Lusky has kept up the streak.) Could Atlhete Eats' (2837 Cherokee Street; 314-932-5566) bibimbap bowl be the key to their success?

See Also: Athlete Eats: The Cardinals' nutritionist brings health food to Cherokee Street

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#64: Salt + Smoke's Beef Brisket

The beef brisket at Salt + Smoke. | Jennifer Silverberg

St. Louis barbecue is a crowded field: It seems a new smokehouse opens every week, each one as delicious as the last. Just when the market seemed to be saturated, restaurateur Tom Schmidt decided to get into the game, turning his Mediterranean restaurant Nico into Salt +Smoke (6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-0200), a temple of smoked meat.

See Also: Review: Salt + Smoke Distinguishes Itself in the Crowd of New St. Louis Barbecue

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#65: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites at Lulu's Local Eatery

Buffalo cauliflower bites at Lulu's Local Eatery. | Jennifer Silverberg

Lulu's Local Eatery (3201 South Grand Boulevard; 314-357-7717) is vegan, and by extension healthy, nutritious and light -- the kind of place one visits, and afterwards considers signing up for a half marathon and home brewing kombucha. That's all fine and good, but what happens when the devil on the other shoulder begs for some guilt-inducing deep-fried fare?

See Also: Lulu's Local Eatery sets down roots and flourishes

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