The Daily Meal just released its list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America, and the St. Louis mobile food scene was well represented. Cha Cha Chow came in at #94; Seoul Taco took the # 87 slot; and the Guerrilla Street Food truck made the grade at #20. Congrats to all!
The 2014 Budweiser Taste of St. Louis will be held Sept. 19 to 21. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the popular food-centric event, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Highlights include showcases by celebrity chefs TYLER FLORENCE and DUFF GOLDMAN, as well as plenty of fine food, courtesy of some of St. Louis' best chefs and restaurants. This year also is the first time the event will be held at its new location at the Chesterfield Amphitheater in Central Park and Chesterfield Village. Check out TasteSTL.com for a full listing of all participating eateries and a complete rundown of events for the weekend.
The 801 Restaurant Group, based out of Iowa, recently opened its latest steakhouse concept location, 801 Chophouse, at The Crescent in Clayton in the former Araka space. Those who bemoan the opening of yet another out-of-town chain—or another Clayton steakhouse for that matter—should take pause, because 801 definitely is a cut or two above the rest.
The love for donuts in the Lou continues unabated. The latest purveyor of these sweet treats to make the scene is the Vincent Van Doughnut food truck, which hit the streets this month. The mobile bake shop will be selling a variety of classic favorites, as well as custom creations out of Clyde, a vintage 1960 Ford Grumman Olson step van. Find out where the truck will be next via Twitter @vinvandoughnut.
We just reported last week about the closing of Araka in Clayton, and now there's already news to relate about the next resident of the space at 131 Carondelet Plaza: It’s 801 Chophouse, and it'll be the fifth location for the Des Moines-based restaurant chain, which specializes in USDA prime steaks, chops and seafood items. We'll keep you posted on an opening date.
Next stop, Clayton! STL Culinary Tours has added Clayton to its growing list of neighborhood-centric foodie excursions. On Saturday, March 9, the company will conduct a tour of some of Clayton's finest eateries. The tour will start at Bar Les Freres and will traverse the neighborhood, stopping at Extra Virgin, Oceano Bistro, Little Country Gentlemen and end up at I Fratellini. For more info and to purchase tickets, go online at StlCulinaryTours.com.
Get out this weekend and take advantage of the last few days of the 4th annual Clayton Restaurant Week, which wraps up Sunday, Jan. 27. The establishments participating this year include: Alexander’s Restaurant; Araka; Bar Napoli; Barcelona; Bocci Bar: Cardwell’s; Coastal Bistro & Bar; The Crossing; Crushed Red; J. Buck’s; Jimmy's On The Park; Mad Tomato; Oceano Bistro; Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar; Roxane; Ruth's Chris Steak House; and Tani Sushi Bistro. Participating restaurants are offering a special three-course dinner promotion for a fixed price of $25 per person, plus tax and tip. Guests also have the option of adding a $5 ‘Extra Helping’ donation to their dining bill to support Operation Food Search. More details are available at claytonrestaurantweek.net.
Surprise! That was the word of the day at Clay Elementary School in North St. Louis, the site of KIDSMART’s 11th birthday party. The organization, which equips underserved students and their classrooms with basic school items, surprised 200 students last week with backpacks filled with supplies, balloons, cupcakes, and appearances by Rampage the Ram and Louie of the St. Louis Blues.
From fine dining to quaint parks, posh hotels and designer boutiques, Clayton boasts extensive options for a relaxing and indulgent weekend.
St. Louis has an abundance of culinary destinations that offer al fresco seating options in addition to their fine food and drink. Here’s a list of some of our favorite fresh-air dining spots.
Best Local Coffee House
◆ On Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., there will be a Farmer’s Winter Market, courtesy of the good folks who bring us the Clayton Farmer’s Market. The market will be held indoors at The Center of Clayton, 50 Gay Ave., and will feature the same great farm products, as well as other artisan products.
Araka in Clayton has long been known for its delicious, inventive fare. Executive chef Michael Burnau recently took over the kitchen and has introduced a new menu that proudly carries on the Araka tradition.
CITY COFFEEHOUSE & CRÉPERIE
> The old Busch’s Grove space at 9160 Clayton Road in Ladue will soon see new life as home to another quality eatery. Local restaurateurs FRANK and CARMELO GABRIELE, owners of Il Bel Lago in Creve Coeur, and a partner, have purchased the building and plan to open a new Italian restaurant in part of it, while subleasing the rest. We’re told the menu of the as-yet-unnamed eatery will feature a variety of Italian cuisine. Part of the restaurant will be more casual and family-friendly, and there also will be a more formal dining room, comparable to Il Bel Lago, with private rooms available as well. The kitchen will boast a coal-fired oven, one of the only ones in the area. Look for a Nov. 1 opening.
> STEVEN CARAVELLI, executive chef at Araka in Clayton, has moved on. According to Caravelli, the split was a friendly one, and he’s currently searching for his next kitchen gig. Sous chef MICHAEL BURNAU has stepped up to helm the Araka kitchen.
BEST GROCERY STORE
BEST COFFEE HOUSE
> Manjelou’s Pizzeria has bowed at 8135 Forsyth Ave. in Clayton. The location was once home to Gourmet Food Works Deli, part of Gourmet Food Works Corporate Catering, which runs Bevo Mill, but co-owner MILAN MANJENCICH says the sandwich competition in the area proved too stiff. “There’s eight places within a couple of blocks,” he says, but not much in the way of pizza. Currently the restaurant offers hand-tossed pies and will soon have a Chicago-style option. The menu also features salads, sandwiches and pasta, and there’s seating for 75 inside, 25 on the patio. FYI, the name is a combination of Manjencich and partner LOUIE LAUSEVICH.
Even after three years, Araka in Clayton packs ‘em in. It doesn’t hurt that the place is snugly ensconced in one of the toniest parts of town, near the Ritz. Nonetheless, restaurants in St. Louis have to earn their stripes because diners like to try new places.
Whether you consider yourself an oenophile or you just enjoy discovering a new vintage now and then, you’ll want to ‘save the date’ this fall when In The Vineyard showcases more than 100 wines from around the world, with cuisine prepared by chefs from St. Louis’ top restaurants. The Nov. 13 event, which also includes a silent auction, benefits Edgewood Children’s Center in Webster Groves.