The Olio 8 is a mix of tried and true, the new class, and comfort staples. These lists are updated twice a year, with menu recommendations, and insider tips to ensure #nobadmeals.
If you meet someone in St. Louis who doesn’t like Louie, you can immediately stop trusting their opinion on food (and honestly, start questioning that friendship). This restaurant is as close to an instant classic as we’ve had in years, thanks to a killer crew, starting with owner Matt McGuire, the man behind the now defunct King Louie. Whether you’re coming in for some small plates and wine at the bar or a mountain of food to celebrate, you’re going to have a meal that leaves you craving more. The chicken might be the best chicken ever cooked on this planet. Seasonal pastas can’t be missed, nor can their pizzas. And trust us when we say you should get the prosciutto plate to start.
For the love of all things Italian and edible, Pastaria is here. James Beard award-winning Chef Gerard Craft has brilliantly merged a modern dining concept with the rich tradition of Italian cooking, and everyone’s a fan. Nothing breaks the mold here and that’s quite alright. The menu is chock full of standards like hearty minestrone, delectable pizzas, and handmade pastas, but also features left-of-center items like crispy risotto balls and roasted beet bruschetta. The full bar has got you covered, and even gluten-free diners will be well taken-care of. There’s free parking in the garage, too. Just come for high-quality Italian cuisine you can count on. If you can handle spicy, the nduja pizza is a must-order.
Imagine the best sandwich shop and bakery on Earth. Now walk into Union Loafers. It's that spot. The menu is relatively small, but it doesn't matter, because you're going to find the sandwich or salad that you love and will literally only order that for the rest of your life (sup, Little Gem with bacon + rare roast beef sandwich?). Start your meal off with their cheesy bread or pizza rossa—better yet, get both, then eat them together like a sandwich. Don't forget to grab a loaf on your way out, too.
Oh, and they have quite possibly the best (and largest) pizza available in St. Louis for dinner. Plan on never leaving.
If you're a foodie coming to town and you're looking for the spot that's going to blow you away with inventive dishes and techniques, James Beard winner Sidney Street Cafe is where you need to be. Chef Kevin Nashan's team serves up eclectic New American cuisine that is both familiar and not. Even if you're not the most adventurous eater, it's still a great choice for a date (or business dinner) thanks to an impressive wine list and one of the best steaks in town. The pro move is to order the five course tasting menu—you never know what you're going to get, but you can be sure it's the best the restaurant has to offer.
There's no reason NOT to eat here. There are solid choices for everyone, vegetarians and children included, plus some delicious craft cocktails. Come in for a light meal or go all out. Get yourself a whole chicken and a whole rack of ribs. The world's your oyster. Chef/owner Rick Lewis can often be found schmoozing with guests up front, telling you about his newest dishes (which you'll inevitably order). Our recommendations: the hot chicken, the enormous sweet tea brined turkey leg, and the ribs—which are our favorite in St. Louis.
Yeah, we said it.
Some of the all-stars of the local restaurant scene came together and had a restaurant baby and its name is Reeds American Table. It’s American cuisine with an ode to the Midwest, with locally sourced fresh ingredients and inventive cocktails to boot. If you've been in St. Louis for awhile, you'll remember chef/owner Matt Daughaday from his days running Taste Bar in the Central West End. His signature item, MF'ing bacon fat-fried cornbread, made its way over to Reeds, which you absolutely, 100% must order. It's a restaurant that we call a "Choose Your Own Adventure" spot. You could go in and just grab a burger and a beer, but you can also bring the family for a celebratory meal where you throw down with some of the best wine you've ever had and enough food to make Henry VIII dizzy.
If your artsy cousin from Brooklyn hosted a backyard barbecue in the South, it might look a little something like this trendy joint. Country knickknacks, classic red-checkered napkins, and flannel abound, so bust out your trendiest cowboy boots and dig in. If you’re looking for a barbecue joint that delivers on both food and sophistication, you’ve come to the right place. Go HAM on the meat but don’t neglect the side dishes—the white cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese with crumbled butter crackers is one of the most beloved dishes in St. Louis. Oh, and they also offer over 100 types of whiskey, including some rare stuff. Plus burnt end toasted raviolis. Goddamn.
To an outsider, Mai Lee being on this list makes little sense: a casual Vietnamese restaurant, located under a parking garage, with a 10 page menu (that means over 200 dishes). Mai Lee is an institution. If you saddle up to the bar, you'll be flanked by St. Louis' best chefs there to enjoy a bowl of pho or salt and pepper calamari. There's a reason for this: every dish is made to order and is somehow better than the last. Whether you're looking for something light and healthy or heavy and gluttonous, they've got you covered. Oh, and that guy covered in tattoos hugging everyone? That's chef/owner Qui Tran, one of the greatest human beings to ever set foot on this Earth. Tell him Olio City said hi.