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!
When St. Louis native Erica Willert and husband, Bryan, returned to the States after five years living in Shanghai, they chose University City for their new home because of its diversity and multicultural character. Bryan is executive VP of Willert Home Products and president of the company's Shanghai operations, while Erica is an agent with Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty. Sons Grant and Luke are members of the So iLL Rock Climbing team, avid snow-skiers and are keeping up on their Mandarin at St. Louis Modern Chinese School on the weekends. We asked Erica about what her family enjoys most in the neighborhood.
Seoul Taco has been one of the top food trucks in the St. Louis area for a while now. Last year, the owners opened a brick-and-mortar location in the Delmar Loop, which has proven to be every bit as popular.
Great Harvest Bread Company, which recently moved from Olivette, and La Cosecha Coffee Roasters have teamed up to provide customers with top-notch coffee and bread at 7360 Manchester Road in Maplewood. "We're sort of roommates" jokes La Cosecha co-owner JAMIE JESCHKE, since the two businesses are sharing the space and each one is operating as a separate entity. The idea, according to Jeschke, is for each company to do what it does best and complement the other. In addition to its coffee bar operation, La Cosecha also is roasting its coffee onsite.
The Crystal Cajun Cook-Off, one of the premier events leading up to the city's Mardi Gras celebration, was held Jan. 26, in the City Hall rotunda downtown. The contest featured 10 amateur and 10 professional chefs slugging it out in the kitchen for the title of best Cajun/Creole Dish. When the dust settled, Lumiere Place/River City executive chef and LN Cooks columnist JOHN JOHNSON top honors in the pro category, while chef GEORGE MACDONALD came out on top in the amateur division. Congrats to both chefs!
The new location of chef GERARD CRAFT's flagship restaurant, Niche, officially opened its doors to the public earlier this month. The restaurant is in the Centene Plaza Building in Clayton, next door to Craft's newest concept, Pastaria, which opened in September. Niche's former home on Sidney Street in Benton Park will now serve as Craft's test kitchen for culinary research and development.
Chef STEVE GONTRAM'S long-awaited burger restaurant, 5 Star Burgers, is now open for business at 8125 Maryland Ave. in Clayton. In addition to beefy burgers, the menu includes some veg-centric sandwiches like the Veggie Burger and The Portabella Stack, plus a bevy of shakes and floats. We've received some reports from the field that the Sweet Potato Fries with Salted Maple Cream are not to be missed.
Yet another food truck is opening a permanent location. We’ve been told Seoul Taco has signed a lease for a space at 571 Mehlville Ave. in the U. City Loop, the former home of Gyros In The Loop. While some truck operations are speeding up, others are pulling over and parking. Pi Pizzeria has announced it will no longer be operating its food trucks in St. Louis and Washington, D.C. The mobile eateries still will be making limited appearances at events and still will be part of Pi’s catering operations. According to a statement, the restaurant wants to focus on its brick-and-mortar operations.
Maggiano’s Little Italy and Make-A-Wish Foundation are partnering for a Casino Night event at the restaurant on Wednesday, June 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. The evening will feature dinner, casino games and prizes, and will raise funds to help a local Make-A-Wish ambassador achieve his dream of going to Hawaii. For info and tickets, call 827-2148.
Look for The Shaved Duck on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, where it will be featured later this year.
Chef ERIC BRENNER, of Moxy fame, will be heading to NYC this summer to work full-time for Bold Organics, the organic gluten- and dairy-free frozen pizza business he helped found last year. Brenner tells us he’ll be heading up the marketing effort, as well as working on product development, but he’s not leaving St. Louis behind: He’ll still be involved with Robust (where he has been serving as ‘chief culinary officer‘), including the opening of the restaurant’s new digs in the Mercantile Building downtown, as well as consulting for Isle of Capri. Good luck!
4 Hands Brewing Company will be working with several local restaurants this year on custom concoctions. The brewery is creating PiPA, an American pale ale, specifically for sale at area Pi Pizzeria locations. There are plans in the works for a collaboration with Pappy’s Smokehouse, dubbed Smoked Pigasus, which will be available around town in September. Pappy’s will be smoking the malt for this rye porter. And there will also be a collaboration on a sweet potato-based brew called Morning Glory with restaurateur DAVID BAILEY, which will be showing up in area watering holes.
Chaumette Vineyards & Winery in Ste. Genevieve has opened the Barn At Chaumette, a renovated stable that will serve as a premier event space, and will be hosting Five First Fridays to celebrate. The events will feature live music, food and drink and be held on the first Friday of the month from June through October. The owners hope to take advantage of the ‘barn wedding’ trend. More info is available at 573-747-1000.
Mobile eatery Steamroller Bagel & Deli has hit the streets, offering fresh sandwiches on steamed bagels. Fans can keep up with the truck on Twitter @SteamrollerSTL, on Facebook at SteamrollerSTL or on the company website, steamroller.com. Speaking of food trucks, local favorites Seoul Taco and Guerilla Street Food head to Chicago in July for a brief tour, showcasing the best of St. Louis street foods.
Look for Melt, a new cafe boasting coffee, specialty drinks, waffles and more to open its doors this month at 7700 Ivory Ave. in Carondelet.
Araka has debuted its new spring menu, which adds to its cocktail list as well as some new vegan and vegetarian dishes like seared tofu and chilled avocado, spinach and sorrel soup.
U. City Loop favorite Snarf’s has signed on to take space in the new Mercantile Exchange building on Washington Avenue for location No. 2, joining other local eateries Robust and Pi, which already have committed to the development. Snarf’s co-owner JODI ARONSON tells us she hopes to open the doors sometime this fall. The menu will be the same as the Loop locale with the addition of breakfast and coffee offerings. Some of the Colorado Snarf’s locations, where the chain originated, already offer breakfast, and the menu can be seen at eatsnarfs.com. Aronson also says the new place will be open seven days a week and will feature delivery and catering services, as well as beer and wine.
It’s been announced that popular artisan bread purveyor Red Guitar Bread will soon be opening a retail storefront at 3125 Cherokee Street.
Beer fans have plenty of choices for hops-related activities this weekend. Urban Chestnut Brewing Company is hosting Maifest 2012 on Saturday, May 12, from noon until 11 p.m. at its Midtown location, 3229 Washington Ave. The brewery will be debuting a special bock beer just for the occasion, and there will be food courtesy of The Block, Smoki-O’s and the St. Louis BBQ Society. The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. Also on the 12th, The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton is hosting its Beerfest 2012 from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be food from the Seoul Taco food truck, and plenty of beers from local favorites, including 4 Hands Brewing, Perennial Artisan Ales, Schlafly, Charleville and Boulevard Brewing Company, among others. Admission is $5, and reservations aren’t required.
Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar will be hosting an Old World and New World Chardonnay class on Wednesday, June 20, at 7 p.m. Guests will learn about the various styles and interpretations of this popular wine. The cost is $50 per person and includes a bottle of wine. Call 636-449-6700 or go to balabanswine.com for more info.
Purus Vodka, handled by local spirits company Pure Holdings, recently doubled its distribution. The premium spirit can now be found in Illinois, Texas, North Carolina and New Mexico. The brand has been available in Missouri, Arizona, Florida and Ohio since it was launched in 2011.
◆ New microbrewery 4 Hands Brewing Company has started brewing
its beers on a commercial scale, and will be opening its tasting
room to the public in December. Instead of running a kitchen
on-site, food will come courtesy of a rotating roster of local food
trucks. Co-owner KEVIN LEMP says so far, he’s been talking with the
Cha Cha Chow, Pi, Guerilla Street Food and Seoul Taco trucks about
bringing their wares to the tasting room. On the brewing side, look
for the company’s four core beers—Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown, Divided
Sky Rye IPA, Reprise Centennial Red and Single Speed Session—to be
available in kegs initially for restaurant and bar use, and 22-
ounce bottles shortly thereafter.
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