by Ian Froeb
The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
Gut Check's most trusted operative sidled up to my side the other day: "I know you like La Tejana Taqueria (3149 North Lindbergh Boulevard, Bridgeton; 314-291-8500)." He didn't include the parenthetical information, of course, though he would have told me that too, if I'd needed it. That's why he's Gut Check's most trusted operative.
"Have you had the goat soup?"
"I have not."
"You like goat?"
"You should have the goat soup."
So I did.
The goat soup is new to the menu since I reviewed La Tejana Taqueria two years ago. In fact, the Garcia family has spruced up the entire restaurant since my previous visits, though you are still very much sitting in a no-frills taqueria that shares space with a liquor store.
La Tejana's goat soup is not birria, the fiery stew that is likely the best known Mexican goat dish here in the states. It has only a mild heat. (If you want to spike it, there are dried chiles among the garnishments, and squeeze bottles of the restaurant's red and green salsas are also available.)
The flavor is rich and unmistakably goaty. Even a spoonful of the broth, minus any of the tender meat that swims in it, has quite the punch. I understood why once I asked what cut of goat the kitchen used. Owner Brenda Garcia, translating for one of the cooks, told me La Tejana employs a whole goat in each batch of soup, and the broth soaks up whatever juices drip from the meat.
You won't receive an entire goat in your order of the soup ($8.99), but the bowl is quite big, and you also get several warmed corn tortillas and the aforementioned plate of garnishes (the dried chiles, lime wedges, and chopped onion and cilantro). You can dip the tortillas in the broth or stuff them with the goat meat to make tacos. Either way, you'll still find it a challenge -- a delicious, delicious challenge -- to get every last morsel of goat and drop of broth out of that bowl.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!