Vicia, Nixta, Others Put St. Louis on Zagat’s Top 30 Food Cities List
St. Louis, MO/December 24, 2017 (STL.News) – We’ve always known St. Louis was a great food city. Surrounded by Missouri and Illinois farmland, replete with ethnic diversity, as well as a rich beer and wine making history, St. Louis has always been a center for culinary achievement. This past year has seen our already thriving restaurant scene draw national attention. From James Beard Foundation awards to feature spots on popular television shows, our food makers are earning serious props. Now, national restaurant review guide Zagat has included the Gateway City in its list of the 30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017. St. Louis was 17th on the list, ahead of Kansas City (#28) and Detroit (#21), and just two spots behind New York (#15).
To develop their list of the best food cities, Zagat asked their editors around the country to weigh each city’s culinary achievements by assessing the number of exciting new restaurants, national awards earned, and national media attention. They also sought opinions from top food media moguls. This is the first time St. Louis has been included on the annual list. The editors cited three primary reasons for St. Louis’ ranking this year: a homecoming of great chefs, cleverly innovative dining experiences, and highly accessible global cuisine. At every turn, Zagat praised the exceptional quality of the food being offered here.
First, they lauded the large number of talented chefs who’ve returned to St. Louis to create great dining experiences in their hometown. They specifically mentioned chef Michael Gallina who returned to St. Louis with his wife Tara Gallina to open their concept restaurant, Vicia. The vegetable forward restaurant was named one of 20 best new restaurants in the country by USA Today; it was also one of Eater’s 12 best new restaurants; and it was a Bon Appétit best new restaurant finalist. The Zagat piece mentioned Nixta’s influence on our restaurant culture too. The Mexican restaurant from chef-owner Ben Poremba and executive chef Tello Carreon was #9 on Bon Appétit’s 10 best new restaurants list.
The Zagat editors also commended St. Louis’ innovative restaurateurs who are introducing us to whole new dining experiences. Specifically, they praised James Beard Semifinalist chef Mike Randolph (Publico) for his newest project, Privado, the event venue he created when he closed Randolfi’s. Twice a week, Chef Randolph creates an intimate dinner for 16 people. The 12-15 course tasting menu is served in the back of the otherwise closed restaurant, creating a secret supper club vibe. They also gave a nod to the underground pop-up dinners by native St. Louis chef Logan Ely called the Square 1 Project.
Another high point of St. Louis’ culinary scene, according to Zagat are the many food makers working to introduce local palates to global cuisine. That includes our “incredible food truck community” (like Balkan Treat Box and Guerrilla Street Food, both mentioned by Zagat) and restaurants like Nudo House and Nixta. A couple of our quick-serve burger joints (Hi-Pointe Drive-In and Mac’s Local Eats) garnered praise for their “high-quality bites” as well.