by Bryan Peters
Chava's (925 Geyer Avenue, Soulard; 314-241-5503) is a great place to mosey up to the bar, plop a lime in a Corona, and, until recently, light up a smoke. But it's the food that brings you back. The salsa is always exceptionally fresh, the guacamole vibrant, nutty and abundant. But what really sends us over the moon is the vegetable quesadilla.
The fact that Chava's is perpetually busy is a testament to the awesome patio seating and the good service, yes; but the inventiveness of the menu and the quality of the food is the highlight.
Ordinarily, quesadillas are stuffed with loads of cheese, a second or third ingredient, and maybe some pico de gallo. Chava's can do that, but if you want some nutrients with that cheesy tortilla, opt for the vegetable quesadilla. Literally bursting with veggies, this quesadilla delivers flavor. You'll find carrots, zucchini, green beans, onions, baby corn, red, yellow and green peppers. These aren't your ordinary quesadilla ingredients, for sure, but Chava's doesn't just slap raw veg on some cheese -- these veggies are perfectly charred. And since they're not overcooked, there's a refreshing crispness to balance out the gooey goodness of the cheese. Combined with fresh pico and guacamole on the side, this quesadilla demands your immediate attention.
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.
#78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong #80: Ba-Mee Mhoo Dang at Basil Spice #81: Catfish Platter at the Gumbo Shop #82: Shrimp & Andouille Flatbread at the Shaved Duck #83: Vegetarian Pasta at Terrene #84: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms at Zia's #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