Zagat Gives Nods to Urban Chestnut, Strange Donuts, Blood & Sand, Sump Coffee and More

 In Food

Restaurant guidebook Zagat is calling attention to several local bars, restaurants, breweries and spots for snacks with their list of The Hottest Restaurants & Bars in St. Louis.

The Seoul Done from Strange Donuts, featuringa potato and pepper cake donut stuffed with spring mix vinaigrette, jack cheddar and Bulgogi beef and topped with a Strange Seoul chili glaze. Photo courtesy of Strange Donuts.

The Seoul Done from Strange Donuts. Photo courtesy of Strange Donuts.


For dinner, Zagat says you “simply can’t go to St. Louis without eating at Niche.” In particular, they called out dishes like Dia’s cheese bread (puffs of Brazilian bread that pull apart like fresh mozzarella) and eggshells filled with lemon custard, shiitake mushrooms and bonito caviar, as well as Chef Gerard Craft‘s five James Beard Award nominations. 7734 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, 314.773.7755

Zagat’s other pick for dinner is farm-fresh fare prepared by chef Kevin Willmann at Farmhaus. On their short list are the sweet-potato nachos piled high with Hook’s Creamery blue cheese and housemade bacon lardoons, porchetta bao and “breakfast” (roasted pork belly, maple link, cornflour blinis and butter-poached egg). 3257 Ivanhoe Ave., Lindenwood Park, 314.647.3800


For cocktails, Zagat recognized the creative cocktail list at members-only club Blood & Sand, with options like My Pen & Pad (Jamaican pot-stilled rum, four-year rum, lime juice, Averna Amaro, Angostura and chocolate bitters). 1500 St. Charles St., Downtown, 314.241.7263

Taste also grabbed attention for emphasizing food and cocktail pairings, like the Wasted Youth (Small’s gin, Petal and Thorn, Aperol, Youthberry tea-infused honey and lemon), barrel-aged Negronis and bacon-fat-fried cornbread. 4584 Laclede Ave., Central West End, 314.361.1200


In a town known for beer, two local breweries caught Zagat’s eye. Perennial Artisan Ales earned nods for their Belgian-style beers infused with delicate flavors like Midwestern peaches, blackberries and honey and menu of beer-friendly food. Zagat also looks ahead to barrel-aged beers from Side Project, a new brewery opening soon from Perennial head brewer Cory King. 8125 Michigan Ave., Downtown, 314.631.7300

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, Zagat says, is “like a museum dedicated to the art and science of craft brewing,” with its production brewery, bottling plant, taproom and restaurant. Both the American-style beers of the Revolution Series (American-style beers) and the smaller-batch European-style brews of the Reverence Series earned recognition. 3229 Washington Ave., Midtown, 314.222.0143


It’s no surprise that the “pop-culture-influenced flavors” at Strange Donuts grabbed Zagat’s spot for top snacks in St. Louis. Their weekend “Strange” creations like The Takeout (soy sauce and chicken stock donut topped with sweet-and-sour sauce, chow mein and scallions) buffalo chicken and hot dogs donuts were highlighted. 2709 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.932.5851

Scott Carey and his motley crew would be equally at home on a pirate ship as they are at Sump coffee shop, if its skull-and-crossbones-themed flag are anything to go by,” Zagat says. The destination coffee shop earned nods for its educated staff, weekly R&D days, and, of course, a fine selection of in-house roasted coffees. 3700 S. Jefferson Ave., South City, 917.412.5670

Brunch and Lunch

Ben Poremba‘s rapidly growing restaurant empire of wine bar Olio, next-door companion Elaia, French patisserie La Patisserie Chouquette, and upcoming chicken shack Old Standard led Zagat to dub him “the hottest name on St. Louis’ culinary scene.” They like brunch at Olio, with Mediterranean-inspired small plates such as beet bruschetta, egg salad tartine and chicken-fried sweetbreads with a poached egg and Belgian waffle. 1634 Tower Grove Ave., Tower Grove, 314.932.1088

For lunch, Zagat recommends Bogart’s Smokehouse, and also wisely recommends arriving early—noting that you’ll “likely be taunted by the smell of slow-cooked meat” while waiting in line even at 10:30am. Once you finally make it inside, though, “it’s a wonderland of Memphis-style ribs, pulled pork, sliced brisket and smoked pastrami.” 1627 S. 9th St., Soulard, 314.621.3107

Hotel Restaurants

Lastly, Zagat recognized a handful of hotel restaurants. Cielo at the Four Seasons is their answer for dinner with a view of the Arch, with its rooftop pool and Mississippi River vista. They like the modern Italian menu, with dishes like compressed watermelon salad with Grand Marnier, cardamom, ricotta and porchetta, as well as brunch complemented by a bottomless Bloody Mary bar. Also to note are their “unpretentious but superbly executed” cocktails with unique ingredients such as duck-fat scotch and baked-apple bitters. 999 N. 2nd St., Downtown, 314.881.5800

Basement gastropub Basso in the Cheshire Hotel was Zagat’s other pick, grabbing attention for its wood-fired pizzas, crispy meatballs and steak Fiorentina prepared by chef Patrick Connolly. Zagat also called out the hotel’s other tenants—upscale Restaurant at the Cheshire, casual cafe The Market and cocktail bar Fox & Hounds7036 Clayton Ave., Clayton, 314.932.7820

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