February 2023 Feast Magazine

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Originallybuiltin1833,therestoredOzarkMillofferslunchanddinnerwithviewsoftherollingFinley Riverwaters.Thefamily-friendlymenufeaturesseasonaldishessourcedfromtheproperty’sfarmalong withpastasandfire-bakedgrainmillpizzas.Wearenowofferingreservationsandnewly updatedhours providingyouwithfarm-to-tablediningeverydayoftheweek.

4 feastmagazine.com / september 2022 4 feastmagazine.com / february 2023 Contents 14 CRASH COURSE: YUCA 31 FEATURE: ALEX HENRY 26 FEATURE: SIP ON SOMETHING SPECIAL PHOTO BY SEAN LOCKE / 9 / MYSTERY SHOPPER MoritaChiles / 10 / ONE ON ONE                 JolmanNunezof SueñoLatino / 11 /  CULINARY LIBRARY AinaraFariñaof BuenosAiresCaféand Gaucho’sSteakhouse / 13 / HEALTHY APPETITE ChupedePollo / 14 /  CRASH COURSE Yuca / 16 / THE MIX BizzyIzzy / 17 /   RESTAURANTS REVIEWED HighlightsfromIanFroeb / 18 / DINE & DRINK SouthAmericaBakery&Cafe / 19 /     THE DISH   ChurrascoNicafrom FritangaNicaraguanCuisine / 20 /   ONE ON ONE                 WilPellyof                 RockStarTacos / 21 / CHEROKEE STREET Wherefamily-owned LatinAmericaneateries embracecommunity ON THE COVER Diana's Bakery sells 3,000 of its traditional Mexican baked goods per day.
/ 26 / SIP ON SOMETHING SPECIAL TakeadeepdiveintoLatin Americancocktailculture / 31 / ALEX HENRY PUSHES BOUNDARIES Thechefisembracing hisYucatecorootswith SuresteMexican
5 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com 2/17 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Trivia Night Friday, Feb. 17, begins at 7 p.m.; $280 for a table of 8; Moolah Shrine Center, 12545 Fee Fee Road, St. Louis, Missouri Join the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to show off your knowledge of St. Louis. Trivia will be led by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Holleman, and a portion of the event proceeds will benefit the annual 100 Neediest Cases charitable campaign. Visit STLtoday.com/ourevents to purchase tickets. Hungry for more? Follow Feast on Facebook and Instagram @feastmag for the latest on STL's food scene. Imagineyour home,totally organized! 2018©AllRightsReserved.ClosetsbyDesign,Inc. CustomClosets GarageCabinets HomeOffices Pantries,Laundries andHobbyRooms. Pantry www.closetsbydesign.com SPECIALFINANCING forupto18Months! Withapprovedcredit.CalloraskyourDesigner fordetails.Notavailableinallareas. 40%Off Plus FREE Installation PLUSTAKEANEXTRA 15% OFF PD CallforFreeEstimate 314-310-0099 LocallyOwnedandOperated Likeusonand 40%offanyorderof$1,000ormore.30%offanyorderof$700ormore.OnanycompleteCloset,Garage,orHomeOffice.Takeanadditional 15%offonanycompletesystemorder.Notvalidwithanyotheroffer.Freeinstallationwithanycompleteunitorderof$500ormore.With incomingorder,attimeofpurchaseonly.Expires2/28/2023.


Emily Adams, emily.adams@feastmagazine.com

MANAGING EDITOR Mary Andino, mandino@feastmagazine.com


Shannon Weber, sweber@feastmagazine.com


Charlo e Renner, crenner@feastmagazine.com

ASSISTANT EDITOR Emily Standlee, estandlee@feastmagazine.com


Alecia Humphreys


Aurora Blanchard, Mabel Suen, Gaby Weir Vera, Jiana West




Kevin Hart, khart@stlpostmedia.com

MEDIA STRATEGIST Erin Wood, ewood@feastmagazine.com


ART DIRECTOR Dawn Deane, dawn.deane@feastmagazine.com

ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR Laura DeVlieger, lauradevlieger@laduenews.com


RJ Hartbeck, Christina Kling-Garre Sean Locke, Ben Nickelson, Jennifer Silverberg, Mabel Suen



To distribute Feast Magazine at your place of business, please contact Rich Hudson at rhudson@post-dispatch.com.

6 feastmagazine.com / february 2023
2023 VOLUME 13 / ISSUE 2 Inspired Local Food Culture / ST . LOUIS
Magazine, 901 N. 10th St., St. Louis, MO 63101 | 314.475.1260 | feastmagazine.com Feast Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Submissions will not be returned. All contents are copyright © 2010-2022 by Feast Magazine™. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents, without the prior wri en permission of the publisher, is strictly prohibited. Produced by Lee Enterprises. PUBLISHER
Tell us what you think! Give us your thoughts about Feast Magazine and be entered to win a $250 Visa Gi Card. Take the survey: feastmagazine.com/Survey See complete rules at: www.feastmagazine.com/SurveyRules Finda newfavorite Checkoutrecentreviews plusthelatestdiningnews fromIanFroeb STLtoday.com/dining
Ian Caso

editor’s letter

Sometimes, themes for the monthly Feast editions are conceptualized in a coffee-fueled brainstorming session in the office, after an hour (or hours) of vibrant discussion and hurried bulletpointing across the dry-erase board.

Other months come together effortlessly – inspired directly by the living, breathing entity that is the St. Louis culinary scene. When the subject of February’s theme came up, the response was a no-brainer: “Well, we have to spotlight all the incredible things happening here with Latin American cuisine.”

That sort of magazine-planning magic only happens once in a blue moon, but when you read the stories in this issue, you’ll understand why February 2023 was one of those moments.

To start, explore Cherokee Street on p. 21 with Feast editors Charlotte Renner and Emily Standlee. Known as La Calle Cherokee, find out why this local hot spot is home of one of America’s best Latin American dining districts. Next, meet Alex Henry – one of the innovating masterminds who can be found in City Foundry STL – on p. 31.

Feast digital editor Shannon Weber chats with Henry about his one-of-akind culinary concept Sureste Mexican,, which is single-handedly bringing the food of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to St. Louis.

As we all know, the rich world of Latin American cocktails extend far beyond the simple margarita. On p. 26, Feast managing editor Mary Andino shares the wide range of drinks St. Louisans can try locally, as well as expert tips for crafting them in your own kitchen.

Our survey of this thriving local food segment doesn’t stop there, of course. There are so many other Latin American culinary perspectives, styles and recipes shared in the pages of this issue – and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the exciting growth in St. Louis’ Latin American cuisine as much as we enjoyed creating the edition around it.


7 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com
314-631-24404324WeberRoadSt.Louis,MO63123www.kenricks.com Weekdays9am–6pm•Saturday8am–5pm•Sunday9am-4pm
8 feastmagazine.com / february 2023 Grasshopper, Darling? It’sadate. PlanyourGetAwayWeekend>RetroLounges,UndergroundGerman Bars,MississippiValleyWineTrail ~ ~ ~SE QUINCY.COM Explorethe2023SEEQUINCYTRAVELMAG Y


Chiles Chiles



Morita chiles are dried chile peppers that start their lives as a fresh jalapeño. Although we eat the green ones fresh, some are intentionally le on the plant to ripen to dark red – to subsequently harvest and smoke. Sound like the origin story of chipotle peppers? It is: Moritas are a type of dried chipotle pepper. However, the dried chipotles you o en see in conventional markets are tan with a dominant smoky flavor. Moritas are smoked for less time, which keeps their color and fruity flavor intact, with just enough smoky flavor and heat to give whatever you’re cooking a welcome complexity.


Treat Moritas just as you would any other dried chile pepper. Rehydrating them is a must, but once that’s done, you can blend them into just about anything. They’re perfect for spicing up sauces, soups or stews. They bring a li le smoke and heat along for the ride – but not so much that it overpowers the dish. They make a lovely smoky restaurantstyle salsa as well; pair them with fresh tomatillos to make your dish extra special. Morita chiles also work well in glazes, like the simple one shown here. Honey or maple syrup won’t dull the flavor, but it’ll quiet down some of the ho est notes from the peppers.

Morita Chile-Glazed Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

SERVES | 4 |

Not quite a one-pan meal, but close! Charring the Brussels sprouts on the stove and then adding them to the oven with the salmon gets them both done at the same time, which means you have an easy, hot meal in minutes.

9-10 driedMoritachiles(about½cup)

¹⁄3 cuphoney

3 Tbspricevinegar

2 Tbspbrownsugar

1-2 clovesgarlic,chopped

3 Tbspoliveoil,divided

1 Tbspunsaltedbu er

1 lbBrusselssprouts,stemmedandhalved,outerleavesremoved 24 ozsalmonfillet,skinned,bonesremoved, slicedinto6-ozportions


¹⁄3 cuppinenuts,dry-toasted(forserving,optional)

/ preparation – morita chile glaze / Rehydrate chiles in hot water for 20 to 25 minutes. Strain and stem chiles; roughly chop and remove seeds. Add rehydrated chiles, honey, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic to the bowl of a food processor; blend until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Set aside until ready to use.

/ preparation – salmon and sprouts / Preheat oven to 400˚F; line a small sheet pan with aluminum foil. Set salmon in pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper; brush generously with Morita chile glaze. While oven is preheating, heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining oil and bu er, then toss prepared Brussels sprouts in pan to coat; cook until charred, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons Morita chile glaze. Add salmon to one side of the oven rack; transfer pan with sprouts to the other, and roast until salmon is cooked through and sprouts are tender, 10 to 11 minutes.

/ to serve / Divide onto four plates and sprinkle Brussels sprouts with pine nuts if using; serve immediately.


Jolman Nunez / co-owner, Sueño Latino

ONE on

Why did you and your brothers decide to base the restaurant on Cherokee Street?

As many people know, Cherokee Street is a Latin American street. There was a Honduran restaurant here 10 years ago, but there hasn’t been one here since. The Honduran community has grown a lot in St. Louis. We’ve always worked in the restaurant business, and one of our main goals was to open a restaurant. So, why not here?

What do people order when they come in?

Our main customers are Honduran customers, so they know the food, but we’re trying to get into the American business. Our goal is to have more people try our food, because we know if they try it, they’re going to come back. It’s very different from Mexican food; it’s not spicy, but it is flavorful. We use more bananas, more plantains. We don’t use plain rice; our rice is usually mixed with vegetables and whole beans. We use a lot of condiments on our food, like our mayonnaise-

based dressing; it’s kind of like a chipotle but not exactly a chipotle sauce. And most of our proteins get topped with homemade barbecue sauce.

On weekends we have specials, like Honduran soups. We switch it up every weekend. In the beef soup, you get pieces of steak in your soup, with vegetables like corn, green bananas and cassava. I don’t know if you’ve had menudo, but we have one that’s the same concept but a different flavor. We use coconut with it. Same with our seafood soup – it’s different. You get a lot of seafood, and it’s also in a coconut milk base. That’s our Sunday special; people enjoy it a lot.

What’s it like owning a restaurant? Do you like working with your brothers?

Luckily, we usually handle things in the best way possible for the business. I’m 26, my younger brother is 24 and my older brother is 29. We started really young; we would always go to

Along with his brothers Jesus and Ever, Jolman Nunez opened Honduran restaurant Sueño Latino in February 2020. "[At a certain point, due to the pandemic, it became] more expensive to be open than be closed,” Nunez says. “We started doing carryout. That’s how we survived.” The brothers persevered using their shared determination and experience – they’ve been in the restaurant industry since they were teenagers. Their mother, Ana Nunez, shared her traditional family recipes; two of the brothers are married to two sisters, Kelin and Rachel Perdomo, who started selling food from home while the idea of a restaurant took shape. As the only Honduran eatery on Cherokee Street – and as Sueño Latino becomes increasingly popular – the brothers hope to show off their distinctive cuisine to all of St. Louis.

school and work. We love what we do, but it was also something we grew up doing. When you do something for so long, you want to master it. You want to be the best at it. This isn’t something I dreamed of, but this is something I’ve done since I can remember. I’ve known different types of businesses, and the restaurant business is really tough – you’re dealing with so many different people every day, and sometimes, you can’t please everybody. There’s a lot that goes [into] presenting a nice-looking dish. As a restaurant owner, I have to wait tables, cook, clean, wash dishes – whatever it is that needs to get done, [we] have to do it. It takes a lot of courage and responsibility to keep the business going. I always tell my brothers, “We survived the pandemic; we can survive anything.”

Sueño Latino, 2818 Cherokee St., Gravois Park, St. Louis, Missouri, 314-899-0777, instagram.com/suenolatino.stl

Must-Try Dishes From Sueño Latino

If you’ve never had Honduran barbecue, consider this dish your initiation. This customer favorite is meant to be shared among friends or family. It’s a mixed grill of steak and chicken, plus pork chops, cabbage salad, pickled onions, refried beans, Honduran cheese and banana chips. The meats and veggies are accompanied by housemade sauces.

BaLeada esPeciaL

A Honduran specialty, the baleadas at Sueño Latino come in three types: normal, with eggs or with meat and eggs. The third variety wraps up refried beans, eggs, meat, cheese and crema in a homemade flour tortilla. If you’re stopping in for a Margarita, this traditional appetizer makes for a standout accompaniment.

seaFood souP

This beloved special is only available on Sundays. “You get a whole blue crab, shrimp meat, mussels, tilapia and the vegetables,” Nunez says. “It’s a whole meal. In Honduras, we don’t do sides of soup. People usually come in hungover, drink the soup and get out of here brand new. I have a lot of friends who are Americans who go out drinking on Saturday night and come in on Sunday.”

10 feastmagazine.com / february 2023
La ParriLLada FamiLiar


Ainara Fariña / co-owner, Buenos Aires Café and Gaucho’s Steakhouse

Ainara Fariña, co-owner of Buenos Aires Café and Gaucho’s Steakhouse, has a deep passion for Argentinian cuisine. Born in Zaragoza, Spain, Fariña learned Argentinian cooking from her husband, who is from the province of La Pampa, Argentina. They cook Gaucho-style by seasoning meat with sal gruesa (coarse salt) or sazón (a traditional spice blend), grilling it over an open flame and finishing it with chimichurri.

“It’s all open-fire and not being scared that it’s going to be burnt because that char might change the whole flavor and make it explosive,” Fariña says.

To learn more about Argentine cuisine and culture, Fariña recommends three cookbooks by Francis Mallmann, who embraces the physical and mystical elements of open-fire cooking. Here are three of her favorites:

“Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way”

“We go back to this book because we want to show people what Argentinian food is. It’s not just a bunch of recipes. [Mallmann] introduces how he goes about it, his travels and how he cooks it, such as using la chapa. Everywhere he goes, he brings la chapa, or a piece of sheet metal, to cook on. He also uses cast iron. [He examines how] mother nature’s ingredients would be different at a mountainside than what you’d have at a riverbank.”

“Mallmann on Fire: 100 Inspired Recipes to Grill Anytime, Anywhere”

“He’ll travel to different places like Brazil, New York or Uruguay, and it will show him cooking out in the snow. This shows me in the Midwest that we can cook in the winter when we have a lot of snow. When he’s up in the mountains, a certain element is infused in his cooking because of the humidity and mistiness. That element would have its influence on the food.”

“Green Fire: Extraordinary Ways to Grill Fruits and Vegetables, from the Master of Live-Fire Cooking”

“Argentinian cuisine is usually meat, meat, meat, but this one includes fresh produce. Everything is still cooked over the fire. Though the style of cooking is cooking outdoors, you can bring it indoors. A big Argentinian thing is eggplant, sweet potatoes, corn and some other elements like cabbages. His focus is: Use what you have as a local source. What I love is roasted red peppers when the char makes it crispy on the outside.”

Buenos Aires Café, 3730 Foundry Way, City Foundry STL, Midtown, St. Louis, Missouri, 314-297-8153, buenosairescafestl.com

Gaucho’s Steakhouse, 823 Lincoln Highway, Suite 105, Fairview Heights, Illinois, 618-589-9559, gauchossteakhouseil.com





Choosing cannedbeans over driedbeans for convenience canbe tempting,butthere’s an importantdifference between the two: sodium content.Canned beans, suchaskidney, blackor pinto, are ofteninfusedwith salt to enhance theirflavorand lengthentheirshelflife. Too much sodium canincrease blood pressure and evenlead to heart disease.When cookingwith driedbeans,you can controlthe amountof saltthat goesinto them. Beansareagood source offiberandprotein.Plus, dried beansare inexpensive andthey canlast for years storedin acool, dark place.


Chickpeas(alsocalled garbanzo beans) are prized fortheir earthy taste andbutterytexture,but those qualities candiminish whenthey’recanned. Soaking driedchickpeas overnightisthe answer. Afterthat,theycanbe blendedinto hummus, mashed intofalafelor even roasted for a healthy,easy snack.Any unused soakedchickpeas canbefrozen for a month, so they’rereadyto gofornexttime. Because they contain every essentialamino acidthatthebodycan’t make on itsown,chickpeasareconsidered “complete proteins,”whichare crucial to buildingand repairing musclesand keepingthebody operatingatits best.


Althoughtheentire pea podis classifiedas a legume,thepea itselfisthepulse.Splitpeasare grown to bedried.They’reso namedbecausewhenthey’re hulled,they naturally “split” alongtheir seam.They don’t need to be soaked,andtheycook upquickly. They’re aningredient indal —eventhe word “dal” means“to split” in Sanskrit andthey’ve been a vital source ofproteinandfibersince ancient times Ifgreensplitpeasare too sweet for your taste,try the milder yellow ones


Forthousandsofyears,pulseshavebeenessential tocookingtraditionsfromAsiatotheMiddle EasttotheMediterranean—and you’reprobably eatingthemtoo,evenif youdon’trealizeit.If you’vehadhummusorblackbeansoup, you’ve hadpulses:thedriedseedthatcomesfrom thepodofalegume,suchasapeaorlentil.

Although they’resmall,pulsesarenutritional powerhouses.They’refilledwithproteinand fiber,andjustahalfacupofthembringsacache ofvitamins andminerals, including iron, folate, magnesium,potassiumandzinc.

“Whenitcomestohealthy,plant-basedfoods, it’shardtofindacategorymoreversatile ordeliciousthanpulses,”saysYikyung Park,ScD,associateprofessorofsurgeryat Siteman CancerCenter.“Pulsescanbeusedin everythingfromsmoothiesanddipstomain dishesandeventheoccasionaldessert.”

Plus,theycanjazzupho-humsnacksand meals.“Insteadofpotatochips,trychips madeofpeas,lentilorchickpeas.Tryroasting chickpeaswithafewof yourfavoritespices andmixthemwith yourmorning yogurtfor aprotein-packedmealthatwillkeep youfull wellintolunch,”Parksays.

Inmanydishes,pulsescanevenreplacered andprocessedmeats:Onecupofdrylentilsis equivalenttoonepoundofgroundbeef.Use themintacos,meatballsorstuffedpeppers —they’renutritionallysuperiorandfarmore affordable.

Parksaysthere’sevidencethatpulsescan lower yourriskofheartdiseaseandsome cancers,andthankstotheirlowglycemic index,theyareespeciallygoodforpeople whohavediabetes.Whiletheycanimprove


Like beans, peasandpeanuts, lentilsgrow inpodsandarepart ofthelegume family. Butunlike those legumes, there’s noneed tosoaklentils forhours before cookingthem.Althoughmost lentilsare brown,greenor red, hundredsof variations exist. Hearty lentilsadd someheft to soups andarea greatsub formeat in casseroles. Any preparation willbring a stackoffiber,folate andpotassium whilehelping to lowerbloodpressure and regulate blood-sugarlevels.

Lentil TortillaSoup


2 Tbsp olive oil

1small yellowonion,chopped

1 medium greenbellpepper, chopped

3 large carrots, peeledanddiced

2 Tbspminced garlic

6 cups vegetablebroth

2cans(14.5oz) fireroasted tomatoes

1¼ cup greenlentils, rinsed

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp chilepowder

2tsp garlicpowder

1tsp cayennepepper (optional)

Salt and pepper totaste

½ cupchopped cilantro

2 Tbspfresh limejuice

Cotija cheese (for garnish)

Tortillastrips (for garnish)


guthealth,theycanalsocausegas.But thereareeasywaystogetaroundthat:“Try addingtheminto yourdietslowlytogive your stomachtimetoadjust,anddrinkplentyof water,” Parkadvises.

Heatoilin a large pot over medium-highheat. Add onion,bellpepperand carrots, and sautéuntil soft,about 5 to7 minutes.Add garlicand sautéanother 2 minutes. Stir inbroth, tomatoes, lentils andall seasonings. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to simmerand cookuntillentils are done,about 45 minutes

Stirincilantro andlimejuice. Top each servingwith cotija cheese, tortillastrips and freshcilantro.

1 cup serving: 350 calories, 15g fat,20gprotein

12 feastmagazine.com / february 2023 PROMOTION PROMOTION

chupe de pollo

Chupe is a word used in South America to describe a hearty, maincourse soup. I grew up eating my mom’s comforting chupe de pollo, and the sweet smell of the sofrito cooking in butter is reminiscent of my joyful youth in Venezuela. Chupe is a cross between a corn chowder and a chicken noodle soup; like any delicious homemade soup, start out by making your own stock for the best results.

SERVES | 6 |

½ stickbu er,salted

4 clovesgarlic,minced

1 largesweetyellowonion,finelychopped

1 redbellpepper,finelychopped

4 greenonions,finelychopped

1 bunchofcilantro,minced,dividedinhalf

1 Tbspkoshersalt

2 largeYukonGoldpotatoes,cutintosmallcubes

1 cupsweetcornkernels

64 ozhigh-qualitychickenstock


2 cupsshredded,cookedchicken

½ lbquesofresco,mediumdiced

1 cupheavycream

/ preparation / In a large soup pot, melt bu er over low heat. Once melted, add the garlic, onion, red bell pepper, green onions and one half of the cilantro. Season with salt, and cook over low heat until fragrant. Add potatoes and corn to the pot, followed by the chicken stock. Cook until the potatoes are tender but not too so . Add the chicken and the other half of the cilantro. Serve the hot soup in bowls; once served, top each bowl with cheese and cream evenly.

13 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com MYSTERY SHOPPER / HEALTHY APPETITE /


Grown throughout Central and South America, yuca is a staple ingredient in many cuisines. After rice and corn, it is the third largest source of carbohydrates for countries in tropical climates. It has the starchiness of a potato with the nuttiness of a parsnip. Most of the yuca you’ll find in specialty grocery stores is sweet, but the plant also has bitter varieties. Andrew Cisneros, chef and co-owner of Jalea and Sanguchitos by Brasas, recommends visiting Mexican markets, such as El Morelia or Global Foods to find the plant in St. Louis.

One of the most popular ways to eat yuca is yuca frita. “My mom makes it at home all the time, and it’s a really nice, easy snack,” Cisneros says. The outside is crispy, but the inside has a chew similar to the texture of sourdough bread. At Jalea, Cisneros serves it with huancaina, a sauce made with yellow Peruvian peppers. His version includes peppers, queso fresco, evaporated milk, sour cream and Saltine crackers; he adds everything to a blender and mixes until it’s incorporated but still a bit chunky. “The flavor and consistency of a restaurant’s huancaina is how a Peruvian person will tell if a place is legit or not,” Cisneros says.

Normally, home cooks would need to peel and boil the yuca. Luckily, Cisneros has some shortcuts. Goya Foods produces partially boiled, frozen yuca strips, and Don Julio Foods takes it a step further by offering yuca that is fully ready to drop into the fryer.

Cisneros also loves yuca in a classic Peruvian street snack: “They make yuca beignets, which are amazing. They’re served just on the streets … and fried to order.” Typically, he explains, the dish is made with cassava flour and mashed yuca.

Feast recipe developer Gaby Weir Vera says yuca is also popular in Venezuelan cuisine. It’s served boiled with garlic butter or added to bulk up hearty soups and stews. You can also use cassava flour to make casabe, a cracker-like flatbread. Here, Weir Vera shares a step-by-step recipe for yuca frita with a bright, acidic mojo sauce.

Jaleayucaphoto by Mary Andino

Yuca Frita con Mojo

Yuca frita is the french fry’s hipper, Spanish-speaking cousin. The root vegetable is cut into the size of steak fries, boiled, fried and then dipped in a fresh, garlic heavy condiment: mojo. Those new to yuca might be intimidated by the textures at first, but a few more bites will guarantee this will be your new favorite side.

SERVES | 4 |


2 lbsyuca,frozenorfresh,peeled

6 cupswater,ormoreasneeded

2 Tbspkoshersalt,plusmoretotaste

1 cupvegetableoil


8 garliccloves,peeled

1 cupcilantro,stemsandleaves

½ cupparsley,stemsandleaves

¼ cupredwinevinegar

½ cuplimejuice,freshlysqueezed  ¼ cupoliveoil

1 tspsalt

/ preparation – yuca frita / Place the yuca in a medium pot, cover with water, and season with salt. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cook until the yuca is soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, and set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice the yuca into wedges. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the yuca in batches, without overcrowding the pan, turning each piece until all sides are crispy brown. Remove from the oil, and transfer to a paper towel-lined platter, salting immediately. Repeat until all of the yuca is fried. Serve hot with mojo.

/ preparation – mojo / Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and bright green.

15 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com
YUCAVS.YUCCA VS.CASSAVA Yucaandcassavaarethesame interchangeably.plant;thetermscanbeusedTheplantisalsousedtomakecassavastarch, tapioca.whichisalsoreferredtoas Yucaandcassavaarenotrelatedtoyucca,a nonedibleplant.

Bizzy Izzy


This cocktail was originally created by St. Louis bartender Thomas Bullock, the first Black American to author a cocktail book: "The Ideal Bartender." Published in 1917, it is not only considered a historical document, but it also offers useful insight into pre-Prohibition cocktail creation and drinking culture.

Bullock gained widespread a ention for his prowess behind the bar at the St. Louis Country Club. His Gille e cocktail is believed to be one of the earliest iterations of the classic Gimlet, and his Mint Julep was particularly legendary as it was part of a 1913 libel scandal involving former President Theodore Roosevelt, who felt the need to counter rumors about his drinking habits by claiming he only took two sips of Bullock's drink. In response, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed an editorial that incredulously asked, "Who was ever known to drink just a part of one of Tom's [Juleps]?"

Li le is known about Mr. Bullock's whereabouts a er Prohibition, but his influence on the cocktail industry lives on.



½ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz pineapple juice

½ oz Liber & Co. Demerara Gum Syrup

1 oz 100-proof bourbon

1¼ oz Amontillado sherry

3 oz soda water, chilled Maraschino cherries (for garnish)

/ preparation / Place first five ingredients into shaker tin with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice, top with soda water and give a gentle stir to incorporate. Garnish with cherries.

16 feastmagazine.com / february 2023

The Golden Hoosier

Ivan and Berto Garcia, owners of the prominent St. Louis real estate company Garcia Properties, made a plan to revitalize South Kingshighway. That mission started with the Golden Hoosier, a family-friendly restaurant with small touches that distinguish its compact menu.

Where The Golden Hoosier, 3707

Sando Shack

Amy Guo and Dan Jensen pivoted from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location in Tower Grove South in November 2022. Japanese chicken katsu sandwiches are the signature dish, and as delicious as Sando Shack’s take on that dish is, the restaurant serves another fried chicken sandwich that’s even better.

Where Sando Shack, 3173 Morgan Ford Road, Tower Grove South, St. Louis, Missouri • More info 314-449-1011; instagram. com/sandoshackstl • Menu Chicken katsu and other Japanese-style sandwiches • Hours Lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Bar Moro

Bar Moro is the latest venture from Ben Poremba, the chefrestaurateur behind Elaia, Olio, Nixta and the Benevolent King. His new restaurant, which occupies the former Billie-Jean space in Clayton, looks to the cuisine of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula in his inimitable style.

Where Bar Moro, 7610 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, Missouri

More info 314-296-3000; bengelina.com/bar-moro

Menu Spanish cuisine • Hours Dinner Tuesday to Saturday

S. Kingshighway Blvd., Southampton, St. Louis, Missouri • More info 314-354-8044; thegoldenhoosier.com • Menu Burgers, sandwiches and other bar-friendly fare • Hours Lunch and dinner daily READ MORE RESTAURANTS REVIEWED 17 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com From St. Louis Post-Dispatch Restaurant Critic Ian Froeb RESTAURANTS REVIEWED READ MORE READ MORE
Photo by Jordan
Photo by David Carson, Post-Dispatch
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South America Bakery & Cafe

In St. Charles County, a well-traveled pastry chef brings the wealth of his culinary experiences to a casual O’Fallon, Missouri, storefront that specializes in traditional South American baked goods. With South America Bakery & Cafe, chef Luigi Guzman and his wife, Kathryn, offer sweet and savory specialties, including alfajores and empanadas.

Guzman, who is Peruvian-Chilean, studied culinary arts and worked at two restaurants in his native country of Peru. He has also lived in Venezuela and Brazil and has traveled to almost every country in South America. After moving to the United States, he continued his journey in the food industry and worked his way up in kitchens.

In 2017, he and his wife began selling alfajores, or dulce de leche-filled shortbread sandwich cookies, at various farmers markets in the area. “The way they melt in your mouth makes them special,” Guzman says. He added his signature empanadas to the menu shortly thereafter. When the pandemic made business for markets more difficult in 2020, the Guzmans started hashing out plans for their first full-fledged brick-and-mortar business, which debuted in October 2021.

At South America Bakery, Luigi demonstrates the full range of his pastry prowess by whipping up buttery, crisp treats with a variety of fillings. His milhojas, for instance, feature puff pastry filled with your choice of dulce de leche or crema pastelera (pastry cream), while his apple trenza includes a slightly sweet, flaky pastry enveloping an apple filling. Guzman is also always adding new items he loves to the menu, such as leche asada, which is a flan-like dessert.

Perhaps most popular are the Guzmans’ savory empanadas. Fried varieties include a Black Forest ham empanada with gooey mozzarella cheese, while baked options include top sirloin steak, slow-cooked shredded pork and ground beef. Each includes Peruvian peppers, an olive and part of a hard-boiled egg, all wrapped in pastry.

When asked what makes an ideal empanada, Luigi replies, “Freshness is key. That has to be No. 1. Then, you need a highquality dough and a high-quality, delicious filling.”

His chicken empanada encapsulates these elements. He takes a traditional Peruvian dish called aji de gallina and puts it in a comforting handheld package filled with shredded chicken and a creamy cheese sauce. Pair it with the house chicha morada – a fruity drink made with spices and purple corn – and delicate alfajores for an exceptional South American culinary experience.

South America Bakery & Cafe, 4279 Keaton Crossing Blvd., O’Fallon, Missouri, 636-477-6688, southamericabakeryandcafe.com

Apple Trenza: Apple filling wrapped in a flaky, buttery pastry. Milhojas: Flaky pastry crust layered with creamy dulce de leche. Leche Asada: Cool, silky custard baked in a water bath.

Churrasco Nica


While growing up in Managua, Nicaragua, Hidalgo lent a hand at his father’s restaurant and dreamt of someday owning his own eatery. After moving to Miami, and subsequently to the St. Louis area, he pursued his passion for hospitality by opening Fritanga Nicaraguan Cuisine in 2007, where he proudly serves the traditional food of his childhood.

“I’m a lover of the traditional dishes; I like to rescue the food the younger people don’t like to cook anymore,” Hidalgo says. “People come to eat here and tell me that it reminds them of their mom or grandma. To me, that’s the best compliment you can have. It’s just about bringing back comforting memories from your childhood. That’s what I love and what I’m creating.”

To make the steak in his churrasco nica tender and flavorful, Hidalgo marinates it in sour oranges – a tart version of the citrus fruit that’s native to Nicaragua – as well as mojo criollo with vinegar and seasonings, including garlic, onions, parsley, oregano, pepper and cumin. The flank steak is then charbroiled and served with his signature chimichurri. According to Hidalgo, the herbaceous garlic-heavy dressing is one of his trademarks that lends a refreshing flavor to many of his dishes. For him, it’s a nostalgic flavor of his hometown that he’ll enthusiastically share with anyone willing to try it.

Fritanga Nicaraguan Cuisine, 2208 S. Jefferson Ave., Fox Park, St. Louis, Missouri, 314-664-7777, fritangastl.com

19 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com

Wil Pelly / chef-owner, Rock Star Tacos



On the walls of Rock Star Tacos hang the posters, badges and memorabilia that chef Wil Pelly and his partner Rebecca Schaaf have collected over the years – Motörhead, Alice in Chains, Tom Waits, Tool, the Foo Fighters and ZZ Top, among others. But Pelly is not your average music fan; these rock bands are, believe it or not, past catering clients.

For Pelly, music and food have always gone together. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons once famously convinced him to bottle Rock Star Dust, Pelly’s signature seasoning blend. After moving out of its St. Charles location, Rock Star Tacos is back in full force on The Hill, in the same building as the Gaslight Lounge, which happens to house a recording studio. Inside the space – right next to all the posters – hang photos of Pelly’s grandparents, Blanca and Lorenzo. They immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. His mother, Myriam Pelly, is also a Cuban immigrant who works alongside Pelly and Schaaf at Rock Star Tacos.

How does your Cuban identity inspire the cuisine at Rock Star Tacos?

I’m first generation and was raised in a Cuban household. But in my generation, there were a lot of people whose parents didn’t want you to learn Spanish because they wanted you to be “American.” My mom is an amazing cook. I have a Cuban pork taco on the menu; the tamales are called “Cuban Mama Tamales” – my family is absolutely the reason behind all of this.

When I was young, Cuban families would come over on Saturdays and make tamales. Everyone has their own version – I make my own creamed corn and mix it with the masa. That’s the Cuban twist. It’s super fluffy. Anyway, [on those Saturdays], there was a table: One person would make masa, one would make filling and one would fold aluminum foil. They’d seal it all up and put the tamales in a pressure cooker. I know it’s weird, but we ate them with ketchup.

How does your past relate to your music and food?

We’d make those tamales, and then – I don’t remember if it was “The Muppets” or “Saturday Night Live” that I was watching as a kid, but I saw Alice Cooper and KISS. [Kids] would say they wanted to be a doctor or an astronaut – I wanted to be a rock star. Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa – I wanted to be those guys.

So I started playing bass; I guess I got good enough to where people would hire me. In the ‘90s, I worked for the Department of Defense and got to go around the world and entertain troops. In the 2000s, I was in an original band, Neptune Crush, putting out records. But our record deal didn’t go through. My mom said, “You should get back into cooking.”

What’s the Rock Star Tacos origin story?

[The band I was in] was playing a show one night, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to grab some tacos when we get to New Town?” New Town was a desert at the time, but they had these 100-square-foot concrete huts – little kiosks. We turned one into the Rock Star Tacos shack.

We’re rock and roll, but we’ve always had really high standards for our food. My job in this business, as well as the music business, is to entertain you; when you come in, no matter what mood you’re in, you leave in a better one.

Rock Star Tacos, 4916 Shaw Ave., The Hill, St. Louis, Missouri, 314-571-9016, rockstartacos.com

Must-Try Dishes at Rock Star Tacos

“With this one, I make my own gyro meat; I do all beef,” Pelly says. “It gets whipped in a KitchenAid mixer with milk and all the spices, and we press it like a gyro. [It’s garnished with] tzatziki, lettuce and red onions. It’s a bestseller.” And, of course, it's a nod to the Foo Fighters.

Named after the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tina Turner, Pelly’s poutine appetizer pays homage to both Black women in rock and the classic Canadian dish of French fries and cheese curds. “It’s a pile of Rock Star Dust fries, cheddar cheese, chorizo gravy, onions, limes and cilantro,” Pelly says.

Bonus: The Poutina Turner can also be made vegetarian.

Cannoli – the tube-shaped Italian pastries filled with sweetened ricotta – transform with Pelly’s Rock Star treatment. “This is our spin on cannoli filling in a fried flour tortilla,” he says. “It’s topped with glacé cherries.” The dish gets its name from the Dio album and song, “Holy Diver,” released in 1983.

20 feastmagazine.com / february 2023
WRITTEN There Goes My Gyro PouTina Turner Cannoli Diver
may 2022 / feastmagazine.com


DE MAYO IN MAY. Despite its typical commercialism in the United States, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an important moment in Mexican history – the Ba le of Puebla – in which Mexico kept its independence from France. To honor this significant cultural event, Thenhaus says, the section of Cherokee Street between Nebraska and Jefferson avenues transforms into one huge party each year. “We’ve go en to the point with Cinco de Mayo on Cherokee, where, even if we don’t build it, they will come,” she says. “The festival really is an amazing time, with three main stages –each with different music and acts all day – and over 100 vendors. There’s luchador wrestling, [which makes for] the best photos.”

When Emmanuel Vazguez couldn’t sleep growing up, he would get up and walk downstairs to El Chico Bakery – where his father worked – to help him in the early morning hours. Years later, Emmanuel’s parents, Ana and Refugio, opened their own shop: Diana’s Bakery. “I remember when we were gonna open this place up, my dad pulled me to the side,” Vazguez says. “We were walking into Six Flags, [and] he tells me, ‘We’re not going to be able to celebrate your birthday this year or get you anything for Christmas. We’re gonna need your help with the bakery.’” Now, Vazguez works at Diana’s full-time, alongside his family, selling more than 3,000 baked goods – including conchas, empanadas and much more – per day.

Diana’s Bakery is just one of the many Mexican-owned businesses that make up La Calle Cherokee – the Latin American food district on Cherokee Street.

According to Cherokee Street Community Improvement District Executive Director Emily Thenhaus, Vazguez’s story isn’t unusual for La Calle. “So many of these businesses are like legacy family institutions,” she says. “For some, the younger generation is often the one running the business at this point.”

lease building, which was once a Woolworth’s.

Since the move, El Torito has expanded its offerings, with a bakery and meat market breaking up the rows of Mexican snacks, colorful leather boots and belts and household items. “It’s really awesome to see that we, as a Hispanic community, have contributed to this historic street and made it home,” Medina says.

When their a ached restaurant was forced to close its doors mid-pandemic, the Medinas opened a food stand inside El Torito to sell tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tortas – these recipes are influenced by culinary traditions from Michoacán and Mexico City. Despite its small size, the stand lives up to the family’s high expectations. “My dad always used to say that something good has to come out of a bad situation,” Medina says. “So [closing the restaurant] was actually a blessing to us. Now you can order your tacos –[wait] five minutes at most – and you’re out the door. Everything is made from scratch every single day.”

Across the street, La Manganita opened in the later stages of the pandemic, joining Cherokee’s tour

Oscar it west

The younger generation includes Oscar Medina, whose parents own Supermercado El Torito – one of the longest-standing businesses on La Calle.

Originally from the Mexican state of Michoacán, the Medinas first opened a corner store in 1998 at the juncture of Cherokee and Iowa Avenue. Medina remembers the street as it was back then: “We used to see this sign that read for sale or lease,’” he says. “My dad was kind of interested in [the building], but it was a big thing compared to what we had at the time.” Eventually, the family did move their store a block west on Cherokee Street, into that same expansive, for-

feastmagazine.com / may 2022
Carniceria Latino Americana Supermercado ElTorito, 2753CherokeeSt. Diana’s Bakery, 2843CherokeeSt. La Manganita, 2812 Cherokee St. El Chico Bakery 2634CherokeeSt. The Taco & Ice Cream Joint 2738CherokeeSt. La Vallesana 2801 Cherokee St. Love Bank Park 2851CherokeeSt. LA CALLE CHEROKEE MAP KEY (P. 21):


Taco & Ice Cream Joint owner Rico Salvador is the youngest business owner on Cherokee Street; he was finally able to add margaritas to the menu a er his 21st birthday last year. He’s also operating one of the few places on Cherokee that serves handmade Mexican ice cream, in flavors ranging from horchata to chocolate cupcake. facebook.com/tacoandicecreamjoint.


La Vallesana first opened its doors as a small ice cream shop in 2003. Today, the restaurant has expanded to include two spacious patios, indoor seating and a full food, drink and ice cream menu. Try specialty flavors, including rose, fresa leche and guanabana (an acidic tropical fruit similar to pineapple), in a cup, cone or milkshake. neverialavallesana.com

TacosatTaco&IceCreamJoint. may 2022 / feastmagazine.com

Love Bank Park began as a community project in 2015 when a basketball hoop was installed on the vacant lots at the corner of Cherokee Street and Nebraska Avenue. With the input of stakeholders, business owners and young residents, the park will soon become the improved public gathering space La Calle needs, Thenhaus says. “There [aren’t many] places on Cherokee that are made for kids and young adults,” she adds. “You know, a be er place to host events, a be er place to sit and relax and get off the street. A be er basketball court to play on.”

de force of small, family-owned businesses. The restaurant’s cozy space is warmed in the winter by a rotating spit of al pastor (grilled slices of pork) – some of the street’s best. “In July 2021, we started ge ing orders. We had four kinds of meat only and just tortas, tacos and burritos,” says Manny Garcia, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Lupe Medina de Garcia. “In September, business started picking up. This year, it’s been way be er. We feel more flexible, we have a bunch of customers, we feel like we can cook more food. Our menu is super simple because that’s what we started with, but now we can do more dishes.”

Although the menu at La Manganita might seem pared-down, it’s all the more refined and uncomplicated as a result. Lupe Medina de Garcia cra s her pozole, menudo (a traditional Mexican soup made with cow’s stomach, seasoned broth and a red chile pepper base) and birria without recipes and makes fresh tortillas

daily – a task that’s as time-consuming as it is intricate. “It’s a li le different,” Manny Garcia says. “Our pozole is spicier than other places; some places just use pork. We use the pork ribs and the pork bu , so together there’s a li le more flavor because of the bone.” The birria – a stew made with goat, beef, lamb or chicken, vinegar and dried chiles – takes notes from both Jalisco, a state in western Mexico, and Michoacán. The dish has recently gained popularity in the form of quesabirria, where the stewed beef is folded into a cheesy taco and dipped in the remaining broth.

With so many Latin American businesses assembled in one place, a competitive spirit among shop owners seems inevitable. However, Medina has a different viewpoint: “I like to see other parts of Latin America, not just Mexicans; it could be Hondurans and a lot of Venezuelans coming in. I always tell them – whatever the food is over there, go ahead and invest in that and

feastmagazine.com / may 2022

open something up. A lot of people are looking for that. When you come from those kinds of countries, you’re looking for the food or things you saw back there. You kind of miss them.”

Such ventures are becoming increasingly popular on La Calle, as St. Louis’ Latin American population rises. Thenhaus explains that the number of commercial vacancies on the street has decreased by more than 50 percent just in the last two years, and most of them are filled by small, family-owned businesses. But Cherokee Street isn’t the only place in the metro area where Latin American business hubs have sprouted up.

“Honestly, I would say that aspect of competition is most felt between Cherokee Street and Bevo, or Cherokee Street and North County, where there’s a growing Mexican community,” Thenhaus says. “[The question is], as the Mexican community grows in St.

Louis, generally, how do we continue to keep Cherokee Street as an anchor?”

By exploring the enigmatic nature of La Calle Cherokee, Thenhaus answers her own question: “It’s easy to paint with a broad brush and say [that] Cherokee Street is just a Mexican business district, or it’s just this predominantly Black area of South City, or it’s just white hipster bars. … A lot [is missed] by oversimplifying [Cherokee Street] in that way. I think the power, uniqueness and beauty of it is that all of these different cultures and communities are intertwined in one place –and that it doesn’t stay siloed.”

Supermercado El Torito, 2753 Cherokee St.

La Manganita, 2812 Cherokee St.

Diana’s Bakery, 2843 Cherokee St.


Located on La Calle between Nebraska and Oregon avenues, Diana’s was opened by Ana and Refugio Vazguez, aided by their son Emmanuel. Each day, Diana’s sells out of cases upon cases of so bolillo bread, churros and traditional conchas. Don’t sleep on the many variations of tamales – kept in a steaming case up front – or the dulce de leche cakes.



The oldest bakery on the street, El Chico Bakery has been open since 1998. In addition to selling its goods at farmers markets across the metro area, El Chico is always finding new ways to support and represent the La Calle community. The bakery has hosted printmakers and worked with the nearby Luminary Arts Center to host in-store art exhibitions. Customers rave about El Chico’s empanadas, as well as the staff’s kindness and a ention to detail.


march 2022
Supermercado ElTorito patio.
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11 may 2022 / feastmagazine.com Explore the Wide World of LATIN AMERICAN DRINKS
The vast array of liquor and produce from Latin America provides a rich tapestry of flavors that color far outside the lines of the ever-popular Margarita. Experts at Nixta, Sunny’s Cantina and Taqueria Morita share their favorite spirits and drinks and tell us how to recreate these stunning cocktails ourselves.

Get Spirited

Must-Have: CURAÇAO

Leila Miller says it’s imperative to have a good Curaçao; her favorite is the Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.

There are a variety of traditional base spirits and liquors made throughout Central and South America – aguardiente, for example, is produced throughout the continent. Each country has its own spin on it: in Chile, it’s made with the skins and pulp of grapes; in Colombia and Ecuador, it’s made with sugarcane; in Colombia, it’s flavored with anise seed. You can find aguardiente locally at Cocina Latina in the Central West End.

Brazilians, meanwhile, are all about cachaça, which is liquor made from fermented sugarcane juice. At Yemanja and Brasilia, you can enjoy it in the national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha: cachaça with muddled lime and sugar.

Tequila 101

For a quality, affordable tequila, Kelly Filla suggests Espolòn or Milagro.

Sotol, meanwhile, is an alcohol that comes from northern Mexico and is distilled from the plant Desert Spoon; it tends to be smoother than tequila with a distinct grassy flavor. Enjoy it in a specialty cocktail at Taqueria Morita, the newest venture from Take Root Hospitality.

The rising star on the scene is mezcal –tequila’s smoky relative. At Nixta, located in Botanical Heights, you can sample more than 40 different mezcals. Unlike tequila, which is only made with blue agave, mezcal can be made from more than 30 different agave species, each lending its own flavor to the finished product.

Which mezcal should I buy?

Ben Poremba recommends the mezcal brand Banhez.

“Sometimes [mezcal] tastes like an ashtray,” he says. “But Banhez has this line where the smoke is not the most prominent flavor profile. It’s really in the background. There’s a lot going on.”

12 feastmagazine.com / may 2022
Nixta bartenders Daniel Bulos and Kelsie Green.

Crafting Cocktails

Institutions like Nixta are using specialty spirits to take Latin-inspired cocktails in new directions.

The Nixta Spritz contains elote liqueur, amaro, lemon and seltzer. “I love the [elote] liqueur; it’s very corn-forward,” Ben Poremba, owner of Nixta and Bengelina Hospitality Group, says. “It’s kind of sweet canned corn flavor – but boozy.”

Another standout at Nixta is the Dieciséis, which includes blanco tequila, lime, serrano and mole bitters. The serrano gives it heat, while the mole bitters bring earthiness and warmth.

Nixta’s play on the Paloma – the Ocho – includes mezcal, grapefruit and ghost pepper tincture. It’s from the restaurant’s original cocktail menu, and it’s still popular seven years later. “It’s smoky, a little citrusy, it’s bitter and spicy; it’s a grown-up drink,” Poremba says.

Sunny’s Cantina in Dogtown offers a different riff on a Paloma: To ramp up the citrus, it utilizes 21 Seeds Grapefruit Hibiscus Tequila and fresh grapefruit juice. It also replaces the traditional sparkling water with Urban Chestnut’s Grapefruit Radler. Sunny’s Cantina’s general manager Kelly Filla says the beer gives it a fuller, rounder flavor and more body. Sunny’s squeezes two cases of limes a day to make sure it’s using the freshest juice possible and crafts its orange and jalapeño simple syrups in-house.

Like Nixta and Sunny’s, Taqueria Morita focuses on layering complex flavors from Latin America. It also often changes its cocktail menu to reflect changes in the seasons. Take its celeriac cocktail – a spin on a Margarita. “I took the mezcal and other spirits and infused them with celery root and pineapple core,” Take Root Hospitality bar manager Phil Ingram says. “We also use lime juice and a little bit of artichoke liqueur.” He explains that the artichoke and celery add a bitterness to the drink to help prevent the cloying sweetness that can come with some margaritas.

Another big hit at Taqueria Morita during the summer was the Tomatillo, which featured sotol, blanco tequila, tomatillo, green apple, cucumber citrus and mint. Leila Miller, Taqueria Morita’s general manager, says the drink is an example of encouraging people to think of tequila as more than something to pour in a shot glass. “We kind of push people outside their realm a little bit,” she says.

No Alcohol, No Problem

Creative, flavorful drinks, however, don’t have to contain alcohol. Taqueria Morita makes a winter horchata, which is a creamy, ricebased drink with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla.

Both Morita and Nixta also offer housemade aguas frescas that are perfect for enjoying on a patio. One of Miller’s favorite varieties uses aloe, which is a traditional ingredient. “I’d be in Mexico, and they’d just pull it out and put it in water all the time,” she says.

At Nixta, you’ll find cucumber and lime, strawberry and passion fruit aguas frescas. “It’s diluted fruit water with a little bit of sweetness and a lot of tart,” Poremba says. “So people that don’t drink still have something nice to come in and look forward to as far as a beverage.”

DIY Inspiration

You don’t have to go out to experience these complex flavors for yourself. Keep a wellstocked bar at home and you’re well on your way to a delicious drink. All four experts emphasize the importance of fresh citrus –the more lemons, limes and grapefruits, the better. Poremba finds that spicy, bright Latin American dishes go best with drinks that are fruity and tart but not sweet. “Citrus-forward drinks are not necessarily sweet but are very fruity,” he says.

Ingram emphasizes the importance of fresh ginger and tamarind. Fresh tamarind can be hard to find, so he advises buying a concentrate to have on hand. “I like having a lot of different types of sweetness,” Ingram says. “I like a turbinado sugar … I also like – when I can get it – monk fruit, which is a natural sweetener.” To reinforce the flavors of agave-based spirits like tequila and mezcal, he notes that it’s good to keep some agave nectar behind the bar as well.

Poremba relays that home mixologists shouldn’t be afraid to experiment when making these drinks. He says to start by doing riffs and swaps with classic cocktails. “I am of the opinion that you can substitute mezcal or good quality tequila for every classic gin drink or for every classic bourbon drink,” Poremba says. To take it to the next level, look for fun bitters and tinctures in spicy and sweet flavors. And no matter what the drink is, if all else fails, give it a squeeze of lime, and it’ll turn out grand.

Nixta, bengelina.com/nixta

Sunny’s Cantina, sunnyscantina.com

Taqueria Morita, taqueriamorita.com

Caipirinha 13 may 2022 / feastmagazine.com
Ginger-Tequila-Carrot 29 february 2023 feastmagazine.com

on a


Alex Henry is making Mexican food – his way

31 february 2023 / feastmagazine.com

Tucked inside the constant hum and movement of City Foundry STL’s food hall, Alex Henry is doing something spectacular in his 500-square-foot kitchen – though you might not have noticed. It’s obvious that others have, however – because once you eat something from Sureste Mexican, you talk about it. You post photos, and dozens of micro-conversations ensue –all of them about how Henry is making some of the best food in St. Louis out of one of the tiniest spaces around. He’s highly acclaimed and under the radar at the same time, bringing the food of the Yucatán Peninsula – the food of his childhood – to St. Louis, all while challenging the idea that food from a country as large as Mexico can be confined to a set of commonly known dishes.

In Spanish, Sureste means “southeast,” which is a nod to the Yucatán peninsula in the southeastern region of Mexico – Henry’s native country. Even a er his family moved to Missouri, Henry spent summers and holidays in Mérida, Yucatán, periodically wandering through the vast open-air Lucas de Galvez Market with his abuelita, who sold clothing there. As a teenager, the self-described picky eater fell in love with food, which ultimately led him to culinary school and jobs at some of the best restaurants in the area. Chef Rob Uyemura instilled in him the importance of farm-to-table cooking and seasonality during his time at YiaYia’s in Chesterfield – a philosophy that was reinforced while working at Brasserie, Taste and Vicia and solidified during his stints as executive chef at both Nixta and Cleveland-Heath. When the pandemic hit, Henry decided to find his own path and opened Sureste inside City Foundry STL in 2021.

Although industry heavy-hi ers and dedicated repeat customers sing his praises, his cuisine is relatively unknown to a larger audience. With Sureste, Henry is delivering unfamiliar dishes with unfamiliar names. This is Yucateco cuisine, and it’s uncharted territory for many

St. Louisans. Mayan and Spanish influence is significant, with French, Dutch and Lebanese notes leaving their mark on the local cuisine. This is reflected in the popularity of Edam cheese (a semi-hard cheese from the Netherlands) and Lebanese street food. Although it can be spicy, the cuisine is more about powerful flavor built on recados – pastes made from chiles, fresh herbs, spices and sweet and sour citrus – designed to give backbone to the dishes. Sopa de Lima, a classic soup made with either chicken or turkey, uses a recado for its base flavor, while sweet limes add freshness. Cochinita pibil, a whole pig wrapped in banana leaves and slowcooked in a pit underground, is all depth, rubbed with an achiote-based recado. Habaneros bring fiery intensity to salsas, and sour orange juice lends an entirely different profile to pickled red onions. These are familiar ingredients whirled together in unexpected ways, pulling from ancient and modern techniques all at once.

“What people seem to expect as Mexican cuisine is more like what you’d find on the U.S.-Mexico border, or from Texas, like TexMex,” Henry says. He notes that one of the signature elements of Yucateco cuisine is a reliance on fresh fruit, vegetables and produce versus the dry goods prevalent in border cuisine.

Seasonality dominates the menu at Sureste, built to accommodate the natural rotation in Yucateco cuisine. Roasted fish tacos and ceviche are popular in the warmer months; warming soups and heartier fare take their place in the winter. Pork and turkey are woven throughout the menu alongside a bounty of fresh vegetables prepared in a myriad of ways to complement the proteins. Turkey – a staple in the 45712Yucatán – was a tough sell to customers at first, Henry notes: likely a result of one too many overcooked Thanksgiving feasts. In his expert hands, however, the bird is succulent, tender and, now, one of the most popular items on the menu.

But seasonality has its struggles: It can mean a constant stream of good ideas that don’t always see daylight. This year, he didn’t get to make elotes pibinales, a dish for which corn, in its milk stage, is roasted slowly in

Castacan Taco Tamale Colado

underground pits over smoldering stones and wild leaves, emerging deeply browned and sweeter than sweet. “It’s so good,” he says, “but that’s an example of something that would have a very short season here – like two weeks, maybe.” He’ll try again next year, but he does o en manage to capture lightning in a bo le. At press time, Henry had tamales de espelon on the menu, a beautiful dish made from fresh crowder peas, sourced locally and nearly identical to the cowpeas of Yucatán. The legume changes the texture and flavor of the tamale, but it too will be gone in a ma er of weeks. For some, this would be problematic; for Henry, it means he’ll think of something else based on what’s at its peak.

Even the cuisine’s foundational ingredient, corn, is selected with utmost care and chosen from locally grown and milled varietals perfectly suited to their task. A flint corn works its magic in fried masa dishes, resulting in a pronounced corn flavor and a strong crispiness, while two types of so -starch dent corn are made into Sureste’s otherworldly tortillas – so tender and yielding that they mimic flour-based ones. Tortillas are a burgeoning side business of Henry’s; he currently supplies tortillas to a handful of restaurants in the area, and that business is growing steadily. This growth is limited to the confines of 500 square feet, so he’s currently looking for the right commercial space to meet demand for the product. As a corn-based restaurant, Sureste is also a dedicated gluten-free space, providing a safe kitchen for guests who might have restrictions.

Henry says he’s stubborn, and that may be true. But behind that stubbornness is a desire to bring awareness of his culture to anyone who will stop by to try it. It’s his confidence that drives Sureste: an unflinching rotation of Yucateco cuisine designed not to assimilate but to stand out. He’s played with how the menu items are presented to make people stop and look, and he’s still learning the dynamics of the crowds that show up. However, in just over a year, he’s generated a dedicated following of fans and regulars who o en return several times per week for his food. Where does he go from here? It’s too soon to say. He likes it here, so – much like he approaches his dishes –he’ll wait until something special is available, and then he’ll create something fully his own.

Sureste Mexican, 3700 Foundry Way, Midtown, St. Louis, Missouri, instagram.com/surestemexican Salbut de Pavo
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