Picture the excitement of a Mexican bullfight: A small man in a sombrero waves the red flag, the bull, frothing at the mouth, charges toward him, and the audience sits on the edge of their seats, praying that the man (and his sombrero) survive.
Things don't get quite this exciting at El Matador (17304-115 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield; 636-536-6500), but the anticipation you'll feel as the crackling, sizzling shrimp fajitas approach your table is about as close as Gut Check wants to get to that of a real bullfight.
Steaming vegetables and shrimp arrive on a hot skillet; you'll hear it approaching long before you see it. The onions, diced tomatoes and green bell peppers sizzle around a generous helping of juicy, slightly browned shrimp. Accompanying the shrimp and vegetables are three warm flour tortilla shells and a large platter with refried beans, Mexican rice and the "Mexican Flag" (guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo), all atop a bed of shredded lettuce.
St. Louis is far from the border, but Matador's shrimp fajitas allow you to sample the best of the best from our neighbor to the south. Succulent shrimp, fresh grilled vegetables and housemade guacamole will leave you satisfied. "Olé!"
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.
#77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #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