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The 10 Hottest New Restaurants in St. Louis

Where to dig into cheffed up ramen, hipster breakfast, and classic barbecue

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Today Eater returns to St. Louis, Missouri to focus on the newish bars and restaurants that have been garnering some serious buzz. Once again, Eater has asked St. Louis Post-Dispatch restaurant critic Ian Froeb for his picks of the hottest openings of the past 12 months.

On the list: A national headline-grabbing revamp of an iconic local restaurant (Sardella, formerly known as Niche); an unassuming barbecue gem hiding in a suburban strip mall (Big Baby Q and Smokehouse); and, to the surprise of anyone tracking the Sqirl effect, a hipster breakfast joint amazingly devoid of fancy toasts or grain bowls (Yolklore). Keep an eye out for modern Mexican fare (Nixta), no-frills steakhouse dining (Twisted Tree), and cheffed up ramen (Vista).

Without further ado — and in geographic order — the Eater Heatmap to St. Louis:

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kalbi Taco Shack

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2301 Cherokee St
St Louis, MO 63118
(314) 240-5544
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Kalbi Taco Shack, which occupies a modest storefront in the city's achingly hip Cherokee Street district, puts a multigenerational spin on Korean-Mexican fusion. Owner Sue Wong-Shackelford is the daughter of chefs — her mother worked at a Chinese restaurant, her father a Polynesian one — and she and her own daughter have tweaked some of her parents' recipes for Kalbi's menu of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, rice bowls, and banh mi.

2. Vista Ramen

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2609 Cherokee St
St Louis, MO 63118
(314) 797-8250
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The ramen craze has finally reached St. Louis, but among the shops that have opened over the past year or so, six-month-old Vista Ramen has set itself apart. Chef Chris Bork didn't emulate tonkotsu or other traditional broths but built his own from dashi, ham hocks, pig's feet, chicken bones, and Granny Smith apple. Bork has also earned praise for non-ramen dishes like pork ribs encrusted with caramelized fish sauce and crab paste.

3. Nixta

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1621 Tower Grove Ave
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 899-9000
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Empire-builder Ben Poremba's eventful 2016 — he installed a new executive chef at his acclaimed flagship Elaia and opened Parigi, an Italian restaurant — continued in November with the debut of the Mexican restaurant Nixta. Executive chef Tello Carreon, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, draws on family recipes (like his grandmother's mole) as well as a more modern sensibility (as in a version of the Oaxacan dish tlayuda with burrata and a carrot-coriander salsa).

4. Kounter Kulture

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3825 Watson Rd
St Louis, MO 63109
(314) 781-4344
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Over the past few years, Christine Meyer and Mike Miller have gained fans and critical acclaim for Kitchen Kulture, a pop-up restaurant and farmers'-market stall. This summer, the duo opened Kounter Kulture, a tiny, carryout-only restaurant. The menu draws from Japanese, Chinese, and Thai traditions, but as at Kitchen Kulture, the unifying theme isn't any one cuisine so much as a focus on meticulously sourced, mostly local ingredients.

5. Sardella

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7734 Forsyth Blvd
Clayton, MO 63105
James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Gerard Craft stunned the St. Louis dining scene in June when he announced he would close his flagship restaurant Niche and replace it with the more casual, Italian-influenced Sardella. The gamble seems to have paid off: not one month after Sardella's November debut, one local publication has already declared it 2016's best new restaurant. Sardella serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a menu that ranges across the moment, from a farro bowl with kimchi and a fried egg to uni carbonara.

6. Olive + Oak

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102 W Lockwood Ave
Webster Groves, MO 63119
(314) 736-1370
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Olive + Oak opened in January in the picturesque Old Webster section of suburb Webster Groves, and it remains one of the most sought-after reservations in town, with prime tables booked weeks in advance. Executive chef Jesse Mendica serves a lengthy menu of contemporary American fare, with an emphasis on seafood (stuffed clams with lardo, blue-crab gratin with Calabrian chiles) and steaks.

7. Nathaniel Reid Bakery

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11243 Manchester Rd
Kirkwood, MO 63122
(314) 858-1019
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Nathaniel Reid Bakery is the latest entry in St. Louis' small, but flourishing, community of independent artisan bakeries. The eponymous Reid has worked in luxury hotels (the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California), and some of the elegant desserts here wouldn't look out of place in a four-star restaurant. But Nathaniel Reid Bakery, tucked into a suburban strip mall, is also an everyday bakery, with croissants, chocolate-chip cookies, and brownies as well as sandwiches, quiches, and other savory fare.

8. Twisted Tree

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10701 Watson Rd
St. Louis, MO 63127
(314) 394-3366
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Few observers would have expected a restaurant attached to a Holiday Inn along a heavily trafficked suburban thoroughfare — a space previously home to a biker-themed breastaurant — to generate much buzz, but Twisted Tree Steakhouse is packing in diners with its pomp-free approach to traditional steakhouse fare. Twisted Tree's aging process is unique for the area: steaks are aged using a combination of the wet and dry methods for as many as 150 days.

9. Yolklore

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8958 Watson Rd
Crestwood, MO 63119
(314) 270-8538
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Can you open a hip breakfast restaurant in 2016 with neither toast nor grain bowls as the main attraction? Yolklore suggests it's possible. No one adjective quite captures what Yolklore serves. The menu veers from the “Nest Egg” (eggs, bacon, and cheese in a buttermilk-biscuit crust with preserved lemon and pickled red onion) to a breakfast burrito with a pancake used in place of the tortilla to a classic platter with bacon, eggs, potatoes, and a biscuit.

A photo posted by @ironstef on

10. Big Baby Q and Smokehouse

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11658 Dorsett Rd
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
(314) 801-8888
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Someday the St. Louis barbecue boom will end. That day did not occur in 2016. Of this year's crop of new barbecue restaurants, Big Baby Q and Smokehouse is the critical darling and has made a small, dowdy strip mall in the northwest suburb of Maryland Heights a culinary destination. For his first restaurant, industry veteran Ben Welch has partnered with his father, Bennie, and the duo are serving beef brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, pastrami, and other barbecue standards.

1. Kalbi Taco Shack

2301 Cherokee St, St Louis, MO 63118
Kalbi Taco Shack, which occupies a modest storefront in the city's achingly hip Cherokee Street district, puts a multigenerational spin on Korean-Mexican fusion. Owner Sue Wong-Shackelford is the daughter of chefs — her mother worked at a Chinese restaurant, her father a Polynesian one — and she and her own daughter have tweaked some of her parents' recipes for Kalbi's menu of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, rice bowls, and banh mi.
2301 Cherokee St
St Louis, MO 63118

2. Vista Ramen

2609 Cherokee St, St Louis, MO 63118
The ramen craze has finally reached St. Louis, but among the shops that have opened over the past year or so, six-month-old Vista Ramen has set itself apart. Chef Chris Bork didn't emulate tonkotsu or other traditional broths but built his own from dashi, ham hocks, pig's feet, chicken bones, and Granny Smith apple. Bork has also earned praise for non-ramen dishes like pork ribs encrusted with caramelized fish sauce and crab paste.
2609 Cherokee St
St Louis, MO 63118

3. Nixta

1621 Tower Grove Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110
Empire-builder Ben Poremba's eventful 2016 — he installed a new executive chef at his acclaimed flagship Elaia and opened Parigi, an Italian restaurant — continued in November with the debut of the Mexican restaurant Nixta. Executive chef Tello Carreon, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, draws on family recipes (like his grandmother's mole) as well as a more modern sensibility (as in a version of the Oaxacan dish tlayuda with burrata and a carrot-coriander salsa).
1621 Tower Grove Ave
St. Louis, MO 63110

4. Kounter Kulture

3825 Watson Rd, St Louis, MO 63109
Over the past few years, Christine Meyer and Mike Miller have gained fans and critical acclaim for Kitchen Kulture, a pop-up restaurant and farmers'-market stall. This summer, the duo opened Kounter Kulture, a tiny, carryout-only restaurant. The menu draws from Japanese, Chinese, and Thai traditions, but as at Kitchen Kulture, the unifying theme isn't any one cuisine so much as a focus on meticulously sourced, mostly local ingredients.
3825 Watson Rd
St Louis, MO 63109

5. Sardella

7734 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, MO 63105
James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Gerard Craft stunned the St. Louis dining scene in June when he announced he would close his flagship restaurant Niche and replace it with the more casual, Italian-influenced Sardella. The gamble seems to have paid off: not one month after Sardella's November debut, one local publication has already declared it 2016's best new restaurant. Sardella serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a menu that ranges across the moment, from a farro bowl with kimchi and a fried egg to uni carbonara.
7734 Forsyth Blvd
Clayton, MO 63105

6. Olive + Oak

102 W Lockwood Ave, Webster Groves, MO 63119
Olive + Oak opened in January in the picturesque Old Webster section of suburb Webster Groves, and it remains one of the most sought-after reservations in town, with prime tables booked weeks in advance. Executive chef Jesse Mendica serves a lengthy menu of contemporary American fare, with an emphasis on seafood (stuffed clams with lardo, blue-crab gratin with Calabrian chiles) and steaks.
102 W Lockwood Ave
Webster Groves, MO 63119

7. Nathaniel Reid Bakery

11243 Manchester Rd, Kirkwood, MO 63122
Nathaniel Reid Bakery is the latest entry in St. Louis' small, but flourishing, community of independent artisan bakeries. The eponymous Reid has worked in luxury hotels (the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California), and some of the elegant desserts here wouldn't look out of place in a four-star restaurant. But Nathaniel Reid Bakery, tucked into a suburban strip mall, is also an everyday bakery, with croissants, chocolate-chip cookies, and brownies as well as sandwiches, quiches, and other savory fare.
11243 Manchester Rd
Kirkwood, MO 63122

8. Twisted Tree

10701 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63127
Few observers would have expected a restaurant attached to a Holiday Inn along a heavily trafficked suburban thoroughfare — a space previously home to a biker-themed breastaurant — to generate much buzz, but Twisted Tree Steakhouse is packing in diners with its pomp-free approach to traditional steakhouse fare. Twisted Tree's aging process is unique for the area: steaks are aged using a combination of the wet and dry methods for as many as 150 days.
10701 Watson Rd
St. Louis, MO 63127

9. Yolklore

8958 Watson Rd, Crestwood, MO 63119
Can you open a hip breakfast restaurant in 2016 with neither toast nor grain bowls as the main attraction? Yolklore suggests it's possible. No one adjective quite captures what Yolklore serves. The menu veers from the “Nest Egg” (eggs, bacon, and cheese in a buttermilk-biscuit crust with preserved lemon and pickled red onion) to a breakfast burrito with a pancake used in place of the tortilla to a classic platter with bacon, eggs, potatoes, and a biscuit.

A photo posted by @ironstef on

8958 Watson Rd
Crestwood, MO 63119

10. Big Baby Q and Smokehouse

11658 Dorsett Rd, Maryland Heights, MO 63043
Someday the St. Louis barbecue boom will end. That day did not occur in 2016. Of this year's crop of new barbecue restaurants, Big Baby Q and Smokehouse is the critical darling and has made a small, dowdy strip mall in the northwest suburb of Maryland Heights a culinary destination. For his first restaurant, industry veteran Ben Welch has partnered with his father, Bennie, and the duo are serving beef brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, pastrami, and other barbecue standards.
11658 Dorsett Rd
Maryland Heights, MO 63043

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