Público's chef de cuisine Brad Bardon.
Brad Bardon, the chef de cuisine at Público (6679 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-833-5780),
expects eye rolls when he mentions the dining options in Kirkwood. "I think west county has this reputation as being just his wasteland of corporate trash and chain garbage," he says. "In the city, people know there is a lot more going on and you don't have to spend your money on that, but the fact is, there is good stuff going on out west now that is worth talking about."
Bardon, who moved to Kirkwood with his wife four years ago, has gotten to know his neighborhood by exploring places that are the off the beaten path — everything from a newly opened creamery to an unassuming Japanese spot. He's impressed with the quality and authenticity he finds in a place that sometimes gets written off as beige suburbia. For those skeptics, he has some advice.
"Dig a little deeper," Bardon entices. "Head off the main drag. A lot of the time you'll find that the people doing the good stuff isn't going to be in the shiny building on the corner lot because they can't afford to be there. Look for the little guy."
To get you started, here are Bardon's five must-visit spots in his neighborhood.
1. Comet Croissanterie & Creamery
640 W. Woodbine Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-394-1033
"When Mark [Attwood] and Stephanie [Fischer] come see us at Público, they almost always bring treats for the kitchen, so when this opened down the street from my house, I was pretty excited. I can walk there, and everything is done really well. I think that their pastry program is one of the best (and under-rated) in St. Louis. It's like three blocks from where I live, and I can ride my bike there — that counts as exercise, right?"
2. Dalie’s Smokehouse
2951 Dougherty Ferry Road, Valley Park; 636-529-1898
"This is a little outside of Kirkwood, but it’s by far the best barbecue in the area. It’s part of the Pappy’s family of restaurants, and the Reuben sandwich that they do is ridiculous."
3. Izakaya Ren
2948 Dougherty Ferry Road, Valley Park, 636-825-3737
"This is a little, independent, family-run joint. Everyone in there is just super nice, and it’s what you want out of a sushi place — quaint, clean and just really well done. There’s not a bunch of fried things dipped in mayo and showered with sriracha; it’s seasoned, nicely-cut fish in properly executed rolls. Their happy hour is awesome, and you can leave spending $20 for two people for well-executed sushi."
4. Global Foods Market
421 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood; 314-835-1112
"I think this is the best ethnic market in all of St. Louis. We do a lot of cooking at home, and we go in, pick three things that we haven’t heard of, and then go home and play around. If I’m not in there at least 3 times a week, there’s something wrong. And produce is dirt cheap. It truly is a global market. You won’t find just unique Asian ingredients; they have a huge selection from other places from around the world like British and German products."
5. Summit Produce
150 E. Argonne Drive, Kirkwood; 314-984-9496
"We don’t have to wait around until the weekend to have the best of the best from farmers markets. Summit is open almost every day in the summer and a lot in the winter. They sell some really great vegetables, but sell other things as well like eggs, meats, and other great local finds. There’s such a nice family that runs it, and it’s another example of good people doing good things in St. Louis."
We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at email@example.com.