by Bryan Peters
At SweetArt (2203 South 39th Street; 314-771-4278), you'll find that the people are among the finest you'll meet, the atmosphere is welcoming and full of good energy, and the food...well, the food is bangin'. Reine Bayoc's genius is noticeable in every aspect of the cafe, and we're always impressed by her drive and imagination.
Her most recent innovation is the vegan banh mi. Vegan. Banh. Mi. Vegetarians and vegans alike know how difficult--nay, impossible--it is to find a meatless banh mi in the Midwest, but Bayoc has come to the rescue. Literally spilling over with fresh vegetables and seitan, the sandwich is punctuated by a magical concoction of sriracha and a mystery sauce. And all of this goodness is wrapped in a warm Companion bread blanket.
For just $6.50, you get this robust sandwich and a side of Billy Goat chips or fruit. It's more than enough to tide you over until dinner (which you'll have to get elsewhere because SweetArt still doesn't serve after 6 p.m.). SweetArt's banh mi is delicious enough to make even the most carnivorous diner forget about meat for a while, making it worthy of a place at the top of your food priorities.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#91: Chicken and Dumplings at Yummies Soul Food Cafe #92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau