Trying to eat out on a budget is no easy task, especially when you're not willing to sacrifice your taste buds and the local greasy spoon just isn't your style. That's when dining off the appetizer menu can be a thrifter's best friend -- good food, low price. And the seafood-stuffed mushrooms at Zia's (5256 Wilson Avenue; 314-776-0020) don't disappoint.
These tasty morsels arrive on a hot-out-of-the-oven platter with a delicate seafood aroma wafting over the plate. Five of these babies sit plump and juicy in a bed of garlic butter, overflowing with a shrimp, crab and clam filling and topped with baked breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. They're creamy and smooth on the inside and filling and meaty on the outside.
While you're ordering, ask for a side of sesame bread. It comes from the Fazio Bakery just down the street, and it is mmm, mmm, good. Dunk into the olive oil and herb dipping sauce while sipping a glass of wine and voilà! -- a satisfying and inexpensive meal.
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 email@example.com.
#85: Legend Club at LeGrand's Market & Catering #86: City Coffeehouse & Crêperie's Nutella-Banana Crêpe #87: Raw Vegetable Lasagna at Scape #88: Quesadilla Azteca from Tower Tacos #89: The Perfect Pear at Foundation Grounds #90: Banh Mi Sandwich from Sweet Art #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