Picking a restaurant is only half the battle, and not all menu items are created equal. I eat out a lot. It’s a hobby, a profession, and my favorite way to connect with people. Every month I encounter new dishes that really stick with me. Some are new discoveries at old favorites or seasonal menu items that are fleeting and require a sense of urgency to try. Here are some of my favorites for spring 2019.
-Ellen Prinzi, Founder of Olio City
Executive Chef Ben Poremba updated his roasted sweet potatoes last month, which resulted in me eating the dish three times in one week! The Olio roasted sweet potato is perfectly cooked to caramelize the potato while leaving the skin crispy and perfect. It's prepared with Urfa pepper, which for you non-spice-snobs, Urfa is a dried Turkish chili pepper with a smoky, raisin-like taste. It blends so well with the natural sweetness of the sweet potato for a nice, smoky compliment. It's topped with a perfectly spiced labneh (strained Lebanese yogurt) and peanuts.
Photo courtesy of Olio
The best complete meal I’ve had in St. Louis the past few months was at Nippon TEI. I don’t drive out to the county very often, but when I do it's for Nick Bognar and the best Japanese in St. Louis. I had the chef’s omakase on my visit, but the single dish that stood out the most was the tuna tartare. Its served with candied cashews, Thai chilis, and shiso aioli. For a complete rundown of everything you HAVE to order, check out our review.
Ah, Louie, where have you been all my life? (Now that I’ve found you, don’t ever leave me or I’ll go all Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction on you. Deal?) I’ve had everything on the menu a time or two, so I’m always excited when Owner Matt McGuire and Executive Chef Sean Turner come up with a new pasta special. All the pasta is handmade daily and the current special is the pappardelle bolognese. The perfectly prepared pappardelle pasta pairs (say that three times fast) great with the rich bolognese and a medium-bodied Italian red. My only advice is to get it before it’s gone: seasonal pasta dishes come and go and this is one not to be missed. Update: It's been added to the menu! Praise be.
Mac’s has been the darling of the St. Louis food world since it opened in 2017. I’ve eaten there approximately 567 times, but until last week had ever had the double pimento. It’s really hard to go to Mac’s and pass up the classic burger. It’s a life-changing burger experience in itself, and you never want to have buyers remorse when you have a tried-and-true menu item. BUT, throwing caution to the wind, I ordered the double pimento cheese with its two (dry aged, local, and pasture-raised) beef patties, house pimento cheese, pickled and fried green tomato, onions, and a hot sauce aioli. Not only did it not disappoint, but now it will be hard for me to go to Mac’s and *not* order the double pimento.