Special Issues » Restaurant Guide

11 Food Lovers' Places We Adore

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Coffee shops, butcher shops, patisseries .... these spots aren't quite restaurants, but since we love them nevertheless, it felt only right to include them in this issue. See our complete list of 40 Restaurants We Love, and consider this a supplement.

Sump Coffee: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Sump Coffee: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Sump Coffee

3700 S. Jefferson Avenue

Scott Carey is to coffee what a James Beard award-winning chef is to food. The bearded genius behind Sump Coffee is unquestionably the city's premier java master, having brought to St. Louis a coffee experience far beyond anything being served before his arrival. A lawyer who also has a master's degree in chemistry, Carey worked as a patent attorney in New York before returning to his hometown to open Sump in south city. And though it may seem as though he left his former life behind, the scientific precision Carey brings to coffee is right in line with his chemistry background. At Sump, coffee is not merely a mechanism for caffeine delivery, but a way to connect to the place from whence it came. In this sense, Carey is less a coffee preparer and more of a medium, channeling the soil of Ethiopia or Colombia through his brewing methods. You can call it "third-wave coffee," but even this description feels incomplete for someone as committed as Carey — it's more like "third-wave-plus." You may venture into Sump for a simple cup of joe, but you'll leave a better-versed coffee consumer — sort of like sitting at the chef's table in a fine restaurant.

La Patisserie Chouquette: one of the places we adore in 2017.
  • La Patisserie Chouquette: one of the places we adore in 2017.

La Patisserie Chouquette

1626 Tower Grove Avenue, 314-932-7935

In the culinary field, the word "artist" is thrown around so loosely it seems like anyone who can compose a decent plate gets the name. Simone Faure, however, deserves the title. The moment you walk into her magical shop in Botanical Heights, La Patisserie Chouquette, you are awestruck by the array of edible beauty that surrounds you. Jewel-like macarons are displayed in glass cases, cakes that double as elegant sculptures entice you from their pedestals, and edible confections shaped like fine handbags and shoes will make you do a double take. Faure is the Michelangelo of St. Louis pastry, with a portfolio that would be just as appropriate at an art gallery as a pastry shop. But what's even more impressive than the sheer beauty she produces is the fact that her masterpieces taste as wonderful as they look. Faure honed her craft as a pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton, and her luxurious creations show a mastery of both flavor and presentation — a feast for both eyes and palate.

Pint Size Bakery: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Pint Size Bakery: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Pint Size Bakery

3133 Watson Road, 314-645-7142

Christy Augustin and Nancy Boehm have created such a cool, down-home vibe at Pint Size Bakery, you almost forget for a moment that you're in a world-class pastry shop and not Grandma's kitchen. But unless your grandmother is a world-class baker, there's no way she — or any mere mortal, for that matter — is capable of producing the delectable marvels that come out of Pint Size's ovens. Every last thing produced by this south city bakery is outstanding: the cupcakes iced with farm-fresh buttercream, the melt-in-your-mouth brown sugar crumbcakes filled with seasonal fruit, the savory scones stuffed with local eggs and bacon. However, if there's one thing Pint Size does better than anywhere else, it's the salted caramel croissant, a sugar-encrusted butter pouf that is arguably the single best pastry in St. Louis. Pint Size only serves them on Saturdays, and they only make a few batches at that, so experiencing one of these beauties means dragging yourself out of bed early on a weekend — a small price to pay for edible bliss.

Nathaniel Reid Bakery: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Nathaniel Reid Bakery: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Nathaniel Reid Bakery

11243 Manchester Road, Kirkwood; 314-858-1019

Nathaniel Reid is about as big a deal as they come in the pastry world: He's a graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, an alum of some of the world's most prestigious hotel properties (the Ritz-Carlton at Dana Point, the Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon in Paris), the 2010 U.S. Pastry Chef of the Year and one of 2012's top ten pastry chefs, according to Dessert Professional Magazine. The accolades would guarantee him a fawning clientele anywhere in the world, yet you'll find him behind the counter of his neighborhood storefront, Nathaniel Reid Bakery in Kirkwood, serving espresso drinks and chatting up guests about macarons. Reid is so humble, casual and fiercely committed to providing hospitality to each and every person who walks through the door that you might forget you are in the presence of greatness. But then you try one of his offerings — an "Amber Cake" made with silken caramel and caramelized pecans, a "Spiced Pear Helene" with poached fruit and almond crumbles, an impossibly buttery almond croissant — and you realize that this is a place like no other. Even the chocolate chip cookies and brownies are otherworldly, and his savory offerings show he's just as proficient serving lunch as dessert. Reid may spend his career collecting accolades, but you're the one who will feel like an award-winner when you score one of his tasty treats.

Salume Beddu: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Salume Beddu: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Salume Beddu

3467 Hampton Avenue, 314-353-3100

Philosopher-turned-turned-screenwriter-turned-charcuterie-master Mark Sanfilippo got his start in Los Angeles at the hallowed Osteria Mozza. At first, he was relegated to scaling fish and peeling garlic all day, but when the cured meats position became available, he maneuvered himself into the role and found his calling. He converted the closet of his tiny L.A. apartment into a curing room and began experimenting with all things charcuterie. When he learned that Batali got his pork from southern Missouri, Sanfilippo decided to return to his native St. Louis to open a charcuterie business of his own. If the best pork in the country came from his home state, he reasoned, the best salami could be produced here, too. Salume Beddu proved his theory was correct. From his tiny Hampton Avenue storefront, Sanfilippo built what would become the city's premier cured meats company, earning a reputation for excellence with products like fiery and spreadable 'nduja, fennel-kissed finocchiona, luscious guanciale and some of the best bacon you'll ever taste. As demand for his wares outgrew the space, Sanfilippo acquired a large production facility and, next month, will move his storefront sandwich business to Parker's Table in Richmond Heights. But despite the growth, his commitment to producing the best artisanal meats remains unwavering. It's no wonder top chefs seek out Sanfilippo's products — just as the name promises, this is beautiful salami.

Ices Plain & Fancy: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Ices Plain & Fancy: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Ices Plain & Fancy

2256 South 39th Street, 314-601-3604

When you walk into Ices Plain & Fancy, you might think you've accidentally wandered into a science experiment. Plumes of liquid nitrogen rise from the hands of the mad scientists behind the counter, their work shrouded in fog. But when the nitro cloud settles, it reveals the most luscious ice cream around, created by flash-churning the ingredients at minus 321 degrees, which forms impossibly tiny ice crystals. The method makes even the simplest flavors transcendent, but you may want to branch out a little — non-dairy options like coconut milk German chocolate are a fun diversion for even staunchest devotees of milk and cream. There is little the folks at this Shaw neighborhood gem could do to improve on such edible perfection, but they give it a try by adding Sump Coffee for an ice creamy buzz. And that's not the only buzz on offer: There's also a list of ice cream cocktails that could have been cribbed from the town's top mixology programs. Clearly, Ices Plain & Fancy has sweet treats down to a science.

World's Fair Donuts: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY BRITTANI SCHLAGER
  • PHOTO BY BRITTANI SCHLAGER
  • World's Fair Donuts: one of the places we adore in 2017.

World's Fair Donuts

1904 South Vandeventer Avenue, 314-776-9975

If any one place could possibly personify the charm of St. Louis' myriad old-fashioned doughnut shops, it would be World's Fair Donuts. There's no denying the legacy of this Southwest Garden institution. There's the name, a nod to both the shop's address and the city's history. There's the screen door entrance and the weathered white paint that hasn't been touched up in years — if ever. And of course, you can't talk about World's Fair without mentioning its matriarch, Peggy Clanton, whose signature vintage 'do is as iconic as the store's vanilla-laden buttermilk cake doughnuts. It's a symbol of the old days that perfectly encapsulates Worlds Fair's old-school style, much like the weathered speed racks and mixing equipment that still churn out the store's daily offerings. Buttermilk cake doughnuts are a must, but the blueberry, chocolate long johns and simple glazed versions make it hard to choose a favorite. Thankfully, you don't have to make such difficult decisions. Just get one of each, a strawberry hand pie and a cup of Styrofoam coffee — and don't forget the cash. Clanton accepts only old-fashioned bills and coins, which she places into her vintage cash register. Would you expect anything else?

Piccione Pastry: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Piccione Pastry: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Piccione Pastry

6197 Delmar Boulevard, 314-932-1355

If you ask around about where to grab some amaretto-flavored Italian cookies or an authentic Sicilian-style cannoli, chances are you'll be directed to the Hill. In this town, it's easy to assume that the south city neighborhood has a monopoly on Italian food. Piccione Pastry begs to differ. This corner bakery, which sits on the northeast corner of Skinker in the Loop, may not boast the right zip code, but the Italian pastries coming out of its ovens are every bit as authentic and delicious. And authenticity isn't the only thing that makes Piccione so special. The bakery creates an array of classic Italian delicacies — a decadent, espresso-soaked tiramisu, a luscious sfogliatella riccia — with a refined hand, elevating them to a level usually associated with elegant French pastries. At Piccione, you have permission to devour these goodies for breakfast, though you may want to resist that temptation in favor of another: Savory offerings, including a frittata or flatbread rustica, are just as delectable. Piccione started as a way for Richard Nix to honor his grandmother, who owned a theater on the Loop. It's fitting that he'd celebrate her legacy in her neighborhood, making this little slice of Delmar Italian through and through.

Bolyard's: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
  • PHOTO BY COREY WOODRUFF
  • Bolyard's: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Bolyard's Meat & Provisions

2810 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-647-2567

Chris Bolyard will ruin you on eating meat. Not in the sense that he'll make you become a vegetarian — far from it. His Maplewood butcher shop will leave even the most adamant plant-eater salivating. No, Bolyard's Meat & Provisions will ruin you in that, once you've feasted on his wares, there's no going back to the sad, shrink-wrapped meat you've been picking up at the grocery store all these years. Whether it's a real-deal pork chop from Bolyard's (so vibrant pink and beautifully marbled, you'll have to dodge flames when you throw it on the grill), a melt-in-the-mouth grass-fed strip steak or even a succulent whole roasted chicken, you'll be shocked by how different his meat is from everything else that gets passed off as such. And it's no accident that his meat is the best around; that's what happens when you personally vet every farm and purveyor you deal with, as Bolyard does, to ensure that it lives up to the highest standards. The meats he selects are pasture-raised on small-scale farms without hormones or antibiotics, so customers know they're getting the best possible product. It may cost a little more, but meat this good is priceless.

Side Project Cellar: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Side Project Cellar: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Side Project Cellar

7373 Marietta Avenue, Maplewood; 314-224-5211

If you've yet to be initiated into the club of craft beer, Side Project Cellar may seem intimidating. After all, this is Cory and Karen King's place — an establishment that serves Cory's Side Project Brewing barrel-aged beers with the reverence they deserve. It's a place where you know you'll run into the city's beer intelligentsia, making it impossible to fake your way through a tasting, and a place that was nominated in 2016 as the James Beard Foundation's best bar program, for goodness' sake. This is sacred ground for beer lovers. But then you walk into the Cellar, and you are greeted by hospitable employees who see themselves less as bartenders and more as craft beer sherpas, there to guide you as you feel your way around Cory's creations. Sure, you will enjoy your beer out of the perfect glass, served at the ideal temperature, but more importantly, you will get to drink some of the city's best beers without judgment. And did we mention they taste pretty darn outstanding, too?

Comet Coffee & Microbakery: one of the places we adore in 2017. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Comet Coffee & Microbakery: one of the places we adore in 2017.

Comet Coffee & Microbakery

5708 Oakland Avenue, 314-932-7770

At Comet Coffee & Microbakery, owners Mark Attwood and Stephanie Fischer source the best coffee from the country's premier roasters, brew it to exacting specifications and serve it up with so much geeky information about the beans, your head will spin. This alone makes Comet worthy of distinction. But Fischer's baking prowess also earns the place status as a must-visit food destination. Quite simply, Fischer is a pastry genius who quietly produces some of the best sweet treats around. Her riff on Momofuku's "Birthday Cake" is simply stunning, her blueberry muffins dazzle, and her croissants and pain au chocolat are so flaky and buttery, you won't find a better representation of the form outside France. However, if there is one thing you must try at this tiny bakery, it's Fischer's legendary chocolate chip cookies — thick discs of pure bliss that could quite possibly be the best chocolate chip cookies ever made. The exteriors are crisp and lightly browned, with the interiors slightly softer, and somehow she manages to make the flat, dark chocolate rounds stay molten. A few sea salt flakes sprinkled on top are all you need to enjoy these pieces of perfection — well, a cup of coffee on the side wouldn't be a bad pairing either.

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