Público: Chef Mike Randolph’s Latin-Inspired Fare

Executive chef Mike Randolph’s Latin-inspired dishes showcase simple ingredients creatively combined. Familiar Midwestern comfort foods like roast turkey, green beans and smoked brisket get a burst of exotic flavor from peanut salsa, fermented watermelon and poblano pepper jam. Even the most basic dishes—like arepas (leavened corn “pancakes”) with guacamole, queso and salsa—are satisfying complex. Público is clearly at the forefront of the restaurants that helped earn Randolph a 2018 semifinalist nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Midwest” award (his third). Público was nominated as Best New Restaurant in 2016.

Público’s central bar gives off its own glow via under-lit panels decorated with geometric designs. Behind it, bartenders move swiftly but with grace, working on craft drinks that—like the food—riff on familiar ingredients carefully chosen to enhance the Latin flair. There are the classic like margaritas and daiquiris, and alongside them, a line of conceptual drinks that let the mixologists show their skills. You may not recognize all the cocktail ingredients—or, for that matter, all the wines or beers—but this is an establishment built for adventure. Dive right in.

Wood is a unifying them across the restaurant, from the eye-catching wood-fired hearth, where meats and vegetables roast over Missouri oak, to the metal tree sculptures suspended high on the walls, to the lushly polished timber bar. The result is a space that feels both rustic and modern—very much a home for Randolph’s unique style of cuisine.

Editor’s note: On Nov. 14, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Público’s last day of operation will be Dec. 22. To read a note from restaurateur Mike Randolph regarding the closure, visit Publico’s Facebook post here. And, regarding the context of the decision to close Público, check out the P-D’s report.

This story originally appeared in GUIDED Saint Louis: The Delmar Loop, available now. View our list of stockists to see where you can pick up your complimentary copy or check out the online version here.

Photography courtesy of Carmen Troesser.

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