The Hidden Gems 2014
[symple_box color="white" fade_in="false" float="center" text_align="center" width=""] La Tejana Tacqueria [/symple_box]
La Tejana occupies a small space that is half liquor store, half restaurant in an older strip mall in Bridgeton. It doesn't get much more hole in a wall than that. The unassuming exterior may lead you to think you're getting run of the mill "American Mexican" food, like Las Palmas not too far away, but you aren't. Tejana is serving up homey and authentic Mexican bites, including the best tripe tacos I've had in my life, a goat soup that will cure what ails you, and a mole sauce that would make even dog food taste pretty good. Sit down with an assortment of tacos, a monstrous horchata and enjoy.
My personal favorite when I'm feeling naughty: get a burrito and request the mole be put inside of it. You will thank me.
[symple_box color="white" fade_in="false" float="center" text_align="center" width=""] Gobble Stop Smokehouse [/symple_box]
I don't think Gobble Stop gets a fair shake. It's not that that anyone is saying anything bad about them, it's just that no one is talking about them period. They lack the social media prowess of Sugarfire and they're not a member of the Pappy's/Bogart's family. They're just a couple brothers in Creve Coeur turning out the best smoked turkey in St. Louis. This is coming from someone who hates turkey. Someone who chooses to just eat baked chicken on Thanksgiving instead... until this year when I ate Gobble Stop smoked turkey.
Every time I eat at Gobble Stop, I'm blown away. They do for turkey what Mike Emerson & the Pappy's crew do for pork. The turkey ribs are smokey, meaty, and juicy. The turkey tenderloin sandwich piles tender meat on a pretzel bun with a killer mustard BBQ sauce, crispy sautéed onions and portobello mushrooms. This is a gold mine of smoked turkey, people! And they have great chicken wings!
I beg of you: make the trek into Creve Coeur and try it. It's so worth it. Help support a local business that deserves it.
[symple_box color="white" fade_in="false" float="center" text_align="center" width=""] Fork & Stix [/symple_box]
Fork & Stix sits at the far eastern end of the Delmar Loop, past Pi, past The Pageant. Once you turn right on Rosedale, you'll see its little sign over the window lined wall. The space is small and bright, decorated simply; there's no kitschy Thai decorations or waiters in traditional Thai dress. All you're getting is the most authentic and most delicious northern Thai food in this fair city. The aromatic Sai Oua sausages and the fiery, smokey Naam Prik Nuum start the meal off right, then the rich, gravy-like Hung Leh curry and sweet and coconutty Khao Soi curry soup close it like Mariano Rivera.
Be warned: if you say you want something spicy, it's going to be spicy. It's worth the pain.
[symple_box color="white" fade_in="false" float="center" text_align="center" width=""] Kim Cheese [/symple_box]
Kim Cheese is Korean-lite, like eating Korean food on easy mode. It’s a way to introduce you to the flavors of Korea, served in a manner Americans are used to: Koreanized burgers, tacos, burritos and more. Their beef bulgogi burger reminded me of being at another famous St. Louis hole in the wall: Carl's Drive In. The crispy, sweet beef bulgogi is topped with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, cheddar, and a little bit of kimchi. The gooey cheese spreads into all the nooks and crannies, meaning ultimate cheesiness in every bite. Their spicy pork leaves you wanting more. They've just opened a second location, which may take them out of the "hole in the wall status", but for now they are relatively unknown. Check out West County's answer to Seoul Taco.
[symple_box color="white" fade_in="false" float="center" text_align="center" width=""] Salume Beddu [/symple_box]
Salume Beddu is not just a hidden gem in St. Louis, it's a hidden gem in America. It's one of the best salumerias in the whole country! Located in an unremarkable strip mall off Hampton, you probably would drive past and think nothing of it. Inside you'll find a treasure trove of cured meats, including Guanciale, Soppressata, Veneto, Lonza, chorizo and much, much more. They offer a standard lunch menu everyday comprised of sandwiches and bruschetta, but it's their Saturday specials that really take it over the top. The Saturday I went, they were serving ras-el-hanout rubbed ribs that absolutely blew me away. Recent specials have included Cannellini alla toscana, the Beddu Bahn Mi, and a Sicilian style pizza.
I consider myself lucky that I live pretty far from Salume Beddu, because if I was anywhere nearby, I'd be there every single Saturday.