Party Season is in Full Swing in St. Louis

STL Restaurant News Weekly Recap April 30 – May 6, 2017

St. Louis, MO/May 7, 2017 (STL.News) – St. Louis is a foodie’s paradise, surrounded by fresh ingredients, and filled with award-winning chefs who create farm-to-table magic daily.  This is a city loaded with nationally acclaimed restaurants, top chefs (including two James Beard Best Chef winners), noteworthy breweries, and wineries.  We try to keep our readers informed about the latest openings and closings, menu trends, culinary innovations, and the inventive hospitality teams that feed this great city.  And we are a hungry lot—from Florissant to Waterloo, and Chesterfield to Edwardsville, and everywhere in between, there’s always something good cooking.

It’s our mission to arm our readers with the information they need to find that next great meal and to introduce them to culinary adventures they might not have tried yet.  This is a sampling of some of the biggest stories of the past week.  And what a week it was!  There were festivals, and new restaurants announced, and a big win for a local chef at the James Beard Foundation gala in Chicago.

The weekly recap is our look back at the week that was.  These are the stories our readers want to read.  If you have a tip for us, send it along so we can get the scoop for you!

Third Time’s a Charm for STL’s Newest James Beard Winner

We already knew the restaurant scene in St. Louis was pretty special. Now it seems that the rest of the country is catching on. Last week, a St. Louis chef, Sidney Street Cafe’s Kevin Nashan won the 2017 James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Midwest Award.  It was Nashan’s third trip to the finals. He was a finalist in 2014 and 2016 as well.  Nashan actually has two acclaimed Benton Park restaurants: Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney Street) and Peacemaker Lobster and Crab (1831 Sidney Street).  The award is in recognition of his work at Sidney Street Cafe.  Nashan is the second St. Louis Chef to win the prestigious award.  In 2015, Gerard Craft (Niche, Pastaria, Sardella) won the JBF Best Chef: Midwest Award for his work at the now-closed Niche.  Earlier this year, the James Beard Foundation also honored Gioia’s Deli (1934 Macklind Ave, St. Louis) with a 2017 America’s Classics Award.

Walnut Grill Restaurant Replacing Shuttered Sunset Hill’s Ruby Tuesday

Although some in Sunset Hills may still be lamenting the closing of their local Ruby Tuesday last year, they won’t have to look empty restaurant at 10797 Sunset Hills Plaza much longer.  Pittsburgh-based Walnut Grill Holdings has announced plans to open a new Walnut Grill restaurant in the space by mid-July.  The company is investing nearly $1.4 million to rework the 6,200-square-foot restaurant.  Walnut Grill is a casual dining restaurant designed to have the feel of a neighborhood place.  The new Sunset Hills location is expected employ 75 people by opening day.

6th Annual Restaurant Week on The Hill

With a strong Italian heritage, The Hill is one of St. Louis’ favorite places to eat out.  There are so many terrific restaurants in this one neighborhood, that it’s tough to try them all.  Fortunately, the Annual Restaurant Week on The Hill gives diners an affordable way to sample some of the restaurants they might not have tried yet.  This year’s Restaurant Week (the 6th annual), May 1–7, offered diners a specially priced three-course meal at any of a dozen participating restaurants.  For $25 each, diners could enjoy the likes of longtime favorites Anthonino’s Taverna, Cunetto’s House of Pasta, Favazza’s, and Gian-Tony’s Ristorante, along with some newer Hill residents like Five Bistro and Brazie’s Ristorante.

Cinco De Mayo 2017: A Cherokee Street Festival

It was a great weekend for a street party, and the Cinco de Mayo festival they throw along Cherokee Street in South St. Louis is one of the best in the city.  The original Mexican holiday was intended to commemorate the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, but in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has grown into a celebration of Mexican culture—the art, the music, and of course, the food!  Nowhere is that better exemplified that along Cherokee Street.  The day-long festival Saturday, May 6th was expected to draw some 50,000 revelers to a street packed with authentic food, drinks, music, art, and entertainment representing this multicultural community—more than 100 vendors in all.

The Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in St. Louis

In case you wanted to throw your own little Cinco de Mayo fiesta, we told you where to find the best Mexican restaurants in the St. Louis area.  We cast our net wide, to make sure readers all over the St. Louis area could find the best Mexican restaurants in their neck of the woods.  What we found is that there’s a lot of great Mexican food in every corner of St. Louis.  Our list of the Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in St. Louis includes a wide variety of restaurants ranging from quick service cafes specializing in Mexican street food to full service restaurants as well loved for their margaritas as they are for their carnitas.  We found that it doesn’t matter if you’re in St. Peters, Maplewood, Benton Park, Edwardsville.  Wherever you are in the metro area, there’s some great Mexican food near by.

Recent Losses in St. Louis’ Restaurant Landscape

The week’s news wasn’t all good.  We told you about plans to end the Friday-only dinner service at the St. Louis Art Museum’s beautiful Panorama Restaurant.  The move will save the museum an estimated $141,000 annually, bringing the museum’s food services closer to breaking even.  We shared the shocking news of unexpected closing of the acclaimed Southampton restaurant Grapeseed at 5400 Nottingham.  Chef Ben Anderson hasn’t said what he’ll do next, just that he’s accepting a new opportunity outside of St. Louis.  And we mourned the passing of longtime St. Louis Chef Thomas R. Elkin, CEC, AAC, who died of a heart attack April 28, 2017 at the age of 65.  After a 33 year career as Executive Chef at the Bogey Golf Club in Ladue, Chef Elkin taught culinary students at St. Louis Community College—winning the 2016 Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award (Central Region) for his efforts.  His influence and his passion will be missed.