After six years, this gig still manages to surprise me.
This week might seem like a no-brainer. On the one hand, you have the return of a beloved St. Louis restaurant: Arcelia's (1928 South 12th Street; 314-241-1378).
On the other hand, you have a chain Mexican restaurant in a shopping mall: Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina (at St. Louis Galleria, South Brentwood Boulevard & Clayton Road, Richmond Heights; 314-863-1150).
What's more, Vida has the same corporate parent as its next-door neighbor at St. Louis Galleria, Blackfinn American Grille, a restaurant I found, to be kind, aggressively underwhelming.
Funny thing, though. American's understanding of and appreciation for Mexican cuisine has evolved a great deal in recent years -- and it continues to evolve. And while Vida likely isn't a restaurant for those of you who already have a favorite taqueria and own the entire library of Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy cookbooks, for a chain restaurant in a shopping mall, it's positively progressive.
As for Arcelia's, nostalgia has a powerful hold. But is that hold enough tosustain you through a meal? Visit Gut Check tomorrow to read my review.