the best restaurant meals i’ve eaten since moving to st. louis.

I grew up incredibly bored with the food options in my hometown, so moving to a real city in January was a delight. I’ve alway been an adventurous eater – my parents had me eating spicy Indian curry when I was not yet 2 years old, and I loved it – so the monotonous selection of fast food chains, bland and poorly run local joints, and Chinese and Mexican restaurants with menus designed to appeal to the palettes of the many Jefferson City residents who had never left Missouri were disappointing.

Now I live near St. Louis’ South Grand strip, known for its array of ethnic food options, offering everything from sushi to Somali meals. But I quickly discovered that St. Louis’ food scene runs far deeper and wider than the bounds of the neighborhood that I fell in love with.

I’ve had some excellent meals since living here, some walking distance from my apartment and some out by the city’s airport. I’m maintaining a list, currently with over 15 restaurants, of places to check out. I’m an avid Yelper (I know, I disgust myself too) and have been #grateful for the St. Louis food blogs I’ve found like Whiskey and Soba and Off the Eaten Path.

So far, these four joints have been my favorites.

Gooseberries
2754 Chippewa St, St. Louis, MO 63118, Tue.-Thurs. 9am-4pm, Fri.-Sat. 11am-3pm

Hands down, best brunch in St. Louis. Saturdays only, 11am-3pm. My mom has been visiting me most weekends this spring, and we have gone to Gooseberries’ amazing brunch buffet three or four times since the beginning of April. For $13, you get a made-to-order omelette with your choice of dozens of fillings, eggs cooked to your liking, or a tofu scramble with the same filling options as the omelettes, plus unlimited trips to their small but mighty buffet line. The buffet has options for vegans (fried tofu bar, donuts, pancakes, tofu scrambles, fruit and veggie salads, mushroom gravy), vegetarians (more pancakes, biscuits and veggie gravy, pastas, nachos with beer cheese, cookies), and carnivores (bacon wrapped chicken legs, need I say more???) alike. The omelettes take a little while to come out, so you might be stuffed on buffet food before you get to try it, but the eggs are so perfect that it’s worth it to pace yourself. There’s also hot and iced coffee, iced tea, juices, and water on the buffet line and soda cans at the counter for under a dollar. The vibes are super friendly and casual – you eat out of cardboard boats with plastic silverware – and the chef-owner is often the person re-stocking the buffet line. I haven’t checked out the menu available during non-brunch hours, but if it is at all similar to the rockin’ Saturday buffet it is totally worth it.

Fork + Stix
549 Rosedale Ave, St. Louis, MO 63112, Tue.-Thurs. 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, Fri. 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm, Sat. 12pm-3pm and 5pm-10pm, Sun. 12pm-3pm and 5pm-9pm

I read Spencer from Whiskey and Soba’s review of this place and knew I had to go. I feel about Thai food the way many do about pizza and sex: even when it’s bad, it’s still good. With faith in the recommendations of Yelpers and bloggers alike, we ordered the chicken sateh appetizer, then split the Khao Soi – a complex curry soup with a coconut milk broth, chicken, and noodles, topped with those same noodles fried to perfect crispiness – and the Hung Leh – a curried pork belly stir fry served with rice. While the sateh was delicious, it was fairly typical American Thai restaurant fair. But the two entrees were unlike any other Thai food I’ve had, and were both truly excellent. The soup had deep layered flavors but wasn’t very hot spicy (which I love, but I know can turn off many). The Hung Leh was rich and decadent like every other pork belly dish I’ve eaten, but packed a punch of tamarind. Everything I tried that night was delicious, and I would absolutely return and order the same meal again and again.

Mokabe’s
3606 Arsenal St, St. Louis, MO 63116, Mon.-Fri. 8am-12am, Sun. 9am-12am

I love living in a neighborhood with a lesbian coffee shop. I love hanging out in a space that’s explicitly anti-oppression and anti-racist. And I love brunch at Mokabe’s. Their off-the-menu food is great as well (I’m in love with their breakfast burritos), but the real magic happens at their Sunday morning brunch buffet. Offering pretty much the typical breakfast fare of biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, bacon, and some veggie meat replacement options, Mokabe’s has a solid base of options. But the real stars of the show are the French toast stuffed with walnuts and sweetened cream cheese, the fluffy and delicious vegetarian quiches (no matter what veggies and cheeses are mixed into their eggy base, they keep me coming to brunch and going through the line for second helpings), and unique dessert bars that vary from week to week. Everything I’ve eaten here has been great.

Bombay Food Junkies
3578 Adie Rd, St Ann, MO 63074, Wed., Fri, and Sun. 5pm-9pm

This place started as a food truck, then added a sit down location open only a few nights a week. The concept is Bombay style and Indo-Chinese vegetarian thali, think dim sum but Indian food. The meal is served in three courses, each composed of four dishes. After you’ve tried everything, you can ask for more servings of anything on the menu. To be honest, I don’t remember everything we ate that night, but all 12 dishes were tasty and well prepared. The standouts were a shredded carrot salad, a masala fried rice, a rolled veggie sandwich inside a roti, and a thin cracker topped with what tasted like the inside of a veggie samosa and tamarind chutney. By the time we finished our meal, we were the only people in the restaurant that weren’t part of a big, multigenerational South Asian family dining together. The only downside to this place is that it is hard to find. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps took me to the wrong address at the end of a long drive, though not terribly far off from the restaurant’s actual location. The best way to find it once you’ve gotten close is to keep an eye out for the brightly decorated food truck sitting in the parking lot.

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