Missouri from The Best Food and Drink in Missouri for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Missouri for 2018 Gallery
Missouri might be the most American state in the union. It’s centrally located and draws on all surrounding food cultures. Want barbecue? It’s there. Italian? Meet me in St. Louis. And we’re honoring it all in our first-annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
The Show Me State is often derided as one of the flyover states, but there’s so much to explore. Anchored by two metropolises at either end of I-70, the state also features homey dives and friendly local spots like Lambert’s. From the patchwork suburbs of the Gateway to the West to the one of the great barbecue pilgrimages in Kansas City, the dining in the state has been growing leaps and bounds in recent years.
Christy A. / Yelp
Best Bar: Taste by Niche, St. Louis
Head mixologist Kyle Mathis and chef Gerard Craft are all about providing a mix of creative and classic cocktails with seasonal new American small plates at Taste by Niche. The cocktail menu includes 35 classics and 15 originals served in the intimate, steampunk-style speakeasy. “For me, it’s all about the foundations of bartending," says Mathis, who has been in charge of mixology here since 2013. "We honor the classics at Taste by Niche, but also offer a menu that intrigues guests to try new spirits and cocktails.” The signature cocktail, Port of Spain (an Angostura bitters-heavy drink made with rye whiskey, Allspice Dram, grenadine, egg white, and lemon), is a must-try. The bar food includes bacon-fat-fried cornbread, fried cheese curds, and a number of small and large plates.
Best Beer: Side Project’s Fuzzy
Side Project’s Fuzzy is a blonde American wild ale that’s almost as much of a wine as it is a beer. Aged in chardonnay barrels and on locally-grown white peaches, the resulting taste of this limited edition brew is perfectly tart.
Best Burger: Double Winstead, Winstead’s, Kansas City, Mo.
Winstead’s is a household name in the Kansas City area, serving diner staples and "steakburgers" for more than 70 years. These burgers are what the locals crave when they leave the city: fresh-ground Choice beef served with ketchup, mustard, pickles, and a thick slice of onion (along with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and/or bacon if you want it), served on a soft white bun. Order the double, comprising two 2-ounce patties, smashed down on the griddle until they’re essentially just crust, but retaining moisture. If this is your preferred type of burger, then you probably agree with Kansas City native Calvin Trillin, who proclaimed Winstead's burger one of the best in the world.
Yelp / Alan B
Best Chili: Dixon’s, Independence
The oldest family-owned restaurant in the Kansas City area, Dixon’s has been going strong since 1919, and counted Harry Truman among its most loyal customers. Its chili is served atop a mound of beans and is available in three varieties: “dry” is crumbly and looser than you’re probably used to, “juicy” is served with natural meat juices, and “soupy” comes with bean broth. Any way you slice it (you can add in ketchup, onion, sour cream, cheese, pickles, or jalapeño relish, or enjoy it atop tamales or spaghetti), this throwback is one heck of a chili parlor.
Daniel H. / Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: New Peking, Kansas City
This Kansas City gem has racked up accolades not only for its top-notch versions of traditional Chinese-American fare (seriously, try the General Tso’s chicken or the $14.95 four-course dinner), but also for its completely separate menu of traditional Chinese dishes.
Boulevard Brewing Company
Best Craft Brewery: Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City
Owner John McDonald first tasted Belgian beer on a trip to Europe and was hooked. After forays into art school and carpentry, he began home-brewing, eventually selling his house and cobbling together enough money to begin building what would become Boulevard Brewing Company. The first keg of Boulevard Pale Ale was delivered to a local restaurant in 1989, and the brewery’s reputation and size have been growing steadily ever since.
Michael U. / Yelp
Best Cupcake: Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café, St. Louis
If you’ve got a big appetite for cupcakes, you’ve come to the right place, friend. These gourmet cupcakes weigh nearly half a pound each — hefty enough to stand on their own against the likes of brunch. Try the pink velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese, caramel buttercream, and a German chocolate cake for a unique and flavorful cupcake experience.
Yelp/ Johanna L
Best Deep Dish Pizza: Pi, St. Louis
Converting or infecting? Either way, non-chain versions of deep-dish are spreading beyond Chicago. Such is the mystery of pizza that the style landed in St. Louis, where Pi Pizzeria (area code 314, as in pi, get it?) launched its self-described “irrationally delicious deep dish and thin cornmeal crust pizza,” introduced St. Louis' first food truck (they claim), supposedly became the best pizza President Obama has ever had, and has since become a successful mini-chain of its own (there are four other St. Louis spots and offshoots in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati).
That’s right, St. Louis-spawned Chicago-style pizza... in D.C.
There are 12 standards (six each of deep dish and thin crust). Beyond topping standards like sausage and pepperoni, Pi offers zucchini, feta, prosciutto, gorgonzola, and goat cheese. Thin-crust purists whose blood is already boiling over the fact that Pi proudly declares that “Sauce = On top” ought to look away from the signature deep dish, The Delmar, which contains mozzarella, Cheddar, barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, red and green peppers, onion, and cilantro.
Best Dive Bar: The Hideaway, St. Louis
A South City staple since 1954, The Hideaway is truly like a bar from another time. You may or may not find patrons smoking inside, but the cheap beers, friendly owners, and plenty of TVs make up for any inconvenience that may cause. If that doesn’t sound delightfully divey enough for you, on Sundays they offer a Bloody Mary bar for just $5.
Best Doughnut: The Donut Stop, St. Louis
The Donut Stop has been a St. Louis staple for more than 60 years, and there’s one offering that makes this place such a well-loved classic: the cinnamon glob. As you’d imagine from its name, this sweet treat is a giant ball of fried dough, which is crisp on the outside and dense, buttery, and packed full of cinnamon on the inside.
Courtesy of Farmer’s Market of Ozarks
Best Farmers Market: Farmers Market of the Ozarks, Springfield
This farmers market provides a home for diverse vendors from within a 150 mile radius. It is housed year round in a pavilion which is open air in the summer with roll-down doors to keep the heat in during the winter months. Vegetables, fruits, and plants are available to buy, as well as handspun yarn, stained glass vases, handmade clothing, skin care products, and other artisanal wares.
Best Food Truck: Go Gyro Go, St. Louis
Is it "jy-ro" or "year-o"? However you say it, you’ll call the rendition served by Go! Gyro! Go! "tasty." Owners Nick and Laura Cowlen bought their truck in 2011, outfitted it themselves, and set out into the streets of St. Louis with food inspired by the family recipes of Nick’s yia-yia and papou (both from the island Zakynthos off the southwest coast of Greece) and his own experiences when visiting the motherland. The menu is pretty simple: gyros. There’s the classic beef and lamb, chicken souvlaki, chicken tahini, and veggie gyro. Go with the classic: spiced beef and lamb wrapped in a freshly grilled pita with sliced tomato, red onion, feta, parsley, and homemade tzatziki.
Sweetie Pie’s Soul Food
Fried Chicken: Sweetie Pie's, St. Louis
The brainchild of longtime performer Robbie Montgomery, who was once a backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, Sweetie Pie’s has thousands of customers coming in each week who are devoted to the fried chicken, which calls for the cooks to fold and tuck the wing tips into the shoulder before deep-frying the bird.
Yelp/ Lesley S.
Best Homemade Ravioli: Lombardo’s, St. Louis
No discussion about ravioli in America is complete without a nod to one of St. Louis’ culinary treasures, fried (or “toasted” ravioli). Countless restaurants in town serve rather pedestrian versions of the dish, tossing frozen ravioli into a bread crumb mixture and then deep-frying them, but Lombardo’s does things a little differently, making the ravioli by hand, from scratch. These big ravioli are filled with beef, cheese, and spinach, fried until golden, and served with fresh marinara sauce and grated romano cheese.
Dogs ‘n Frys
Best Hot Dog: Dogs ‘n Frys, Florissant
This hip Missouri dog destination has 25 different hot dog varieties on its menu, each wilder than the last. There’s the Peanut Butter Jelly Bacon Dog, which is topped with a strip of beef bacon as well as a healthy dose of peanut butter, jelly, and caramelized onions; the Sweet and Spicy Dog, with spicy raspberry sauce, Cheddar, seared jalapeños, and sweet barbecue sauce; The Dude, bacon wrapped and topped with brown gravy, onion straws, and green onions; and the classic Chili Dog, with is kicked up with house-made chili, cheese, diced onions, sour cream, and Fritos.
Best Italian Restaurant: Trattoria Marcella, St. Louis
St. Louis has no shortage of great Italian restaurants, but ask any local what their favorites are and Trattoria Marcella will invariably be on everyone’s short list. In business since 1995, owners Steve and Jamie Komorek are serving stunning takes on traditional Italian fare like mortadella meatballs, toasted chestnut Roman-style gnocchi, toasted ravioli, chicken spiedini, pork osso buco, and braised veal tortelloni. The restaurant is homey and welcoming, the food is delicious, and nothing on the menu costs more than $24.
Best Mexican Restaurant: La Tejana Taqueria, St. Louis
Located inside an unassuming strip mall, La Tejana is a no-frills room with a handful of booths and tables, but what’s coming out of the kitchen is spectacular. The selection of meats available is also pretty outstanding: steak, carnitas, cabeza (cow head), tongue, chorizo, chicken tinga, grilled chicken, al pastor, chicharrón, and occasionally goat. If you can’t make up your mind (and even if you can), we suggest you go for the campechano, which is the best of two worlds: steak and chorizo, all mixed up on one perfect taco.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Le Fou Frog, Kansas City
Yelp/ Ren V.
Best Pasta Dish: Tony’s, St. Louis: Linguine with Lobster and Shrimp
This venerable St. Louis institution can trace its roots back to 1946, when it got its start as a small café run by Tony Bommarito. Today it’s run by his grandson, Vince, and it’s a high-end destination for spot-on upscale Italian fare. Make sure you try the linguine with lobster and shrimp; every component is cooked perfectly, and the tomato sauce is an old family recipe.
Yelp/ Kathy L.
Best Pizza: Imo’s, St. Louis
While the thin and unleavened crackery crust Imo’s is known for is almost like one you’ll find in a bar pie, it’s generally known to be a bit sweeter than typical bar pies, and meant more than anything else to act as a vehicle for the unique cheese topping that makes St. Louis style unlike any other slice you’ll have ever tried: Provel, a white processed cheese said to be a combination of Cheddar, Swiss, and provolone invented in the city’s Italian neighborhood shortly after World War II. Just as you’ll get different stories about who exactly invented Provel, the origin of the style is also debated. Imo’s is widely credited, but Farotto’s, which is said to have opened in 1956, eight years before Ed and Margie Imo opened Imo’s, has its own claim. Whichever story you choose to believe, you can’t deny one thing, Imo’s, with its more than 90 stores, has popularized a unique, love-it-or-hate-it pie you have to try at least once.
Photo Modified: Flickr / ctj1081 / CC BY 4.0
Best Ribs: Arthur Bryant’s, Kansas City
Kansas City can be very proud to be home to Arthur Bryant’s, arguably the most famous barbecue restaurant in America. You would be doing yourself a great disservice if you were to pay a visit to this place, which was founded in the 1920s, without trying the ribs. The secret to the barbecue here lies in the wood: The hickory and fruit wood used is of the quality more often used for making furniture than for burning. The pork ribs are pink and perfectly smoked, and when slathered with Bryant’s famous orange-red barbecue sauce (made with double-strength pickling vinegar), they’re the stuff dreams are made of.
Best Sandwich: Ruma’s Deli, St. Louis: Gerber
Popular in and around St. Louis, the Gerber is an open-faced sandwich made with a loaf of Italian or French bread that’s topped with garlic butter, ham, provel or provolone, and paprika, then toasted, and nobody does it better than the place where it was invented, family-owned Ruma’s Deli. The cheese and garlic butter melt, the whole thing gets brown and bubbly, and it’s simple and delicious.
Yelp/ Mike B.
Best Soup: The Rieger, Kansas City: The Rieger Pork Soup
The Rieger Hotel has been open since 1915, and its restaurant, now under the auspices of chef/owner Howard Hanna, has become a Kansas City must-visit. And when you visit, you must order the pork soup. It starts with a pork stock that’s loaded with roasted garlic, into which pork confit, sherry vinegar, and Angostura bitters are added. After being ladled into bowls it’s topped with crunchy house-made chicharrones and a generous layer of Gruyère before being finished off in the oven. It’s a cheesy, porky masterpiece.
Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Charlie Gitto’s, St. Louis
Charlie Gitto’s is a St. Louis institution, arguably its most famous Italian restaurant. Sure, it may be touristy, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t good; in fact, locals will tell you that there’s no better place for a big platter of Italian-American classics, especially spaghetti and meatballs. Meatballs are perfectly sized and long-simmered until tender, and they’re nestled in a bed of al dente spaghetti and topped with house-made Bolognese and a healthy dose of shredded mozzarella before being finished in the oven.
Pierpont’s at Union Station/Yelp
Under $20 Steak: Pierpont’s, Kansas City, Mo.: Lounge Menu Filet Mignon
Pierpont’s is one of Kansas City’s premier fine-dining restaurants, specializing in fresh seafood and high-end steaks — if you’re in the mood for a Kansas City strip, the $79 18-ounce dry-aged bone-in one here is the city’s best. But if you decide to dine in the lounge instead of the main dining room you can take advantage of one of the city’s best steak deals. A 10-ounce USDA Prime Kansas City strip here will only cost you $22, and a five-ounce filet mignon with your choice of a side will only set you back $16. You can top it with blue crab for $3 and still not hit the $20 mark!
Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse / Facebook
Best Steakhouse: Jess & Jim’s, Kansas City
In a town known for great steak, Jess & Jim’s stands apart from the pack, and did so even before Calvin Trillin put it on the map in 1972, when he named it one of the country’s best steakhouses in Playboy. Family owned and operated since 1938, this no-frills, casual steakhouse is no pomp and all steak. The beef is from Wichita-based Sterling Silver, and is hand cut daily (trimmings are ground into meat for world-class burgers). It’s served completely seasoning-free, all the better to taste the meat in its unadorned glory. You could go for the KC strip, a cut that this restaurant helped to popularize, but you might as well go all out and order the "Playboy Strip," named in honor of the publication that helped make this place famous: a 2-inch-thick, 25-ounce sirloin. Save room for the twice-baked potato. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.