AL PASTOR TACOS AT FONDA L A POBL ANITA , P. 2 2
QUEST May 2021 SAUCE I1 S T. L O U I S ’ I N D E P E N D E N T C U L I N A R Y A U T H O R I T Y // S A U C E M A G A Z I N E . C O M saucemagazine.com // F R E E , MIAY 2 MAGAZINE 0 21
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M AY 2021 • VOLUME 21, ISSUE 3
A fried fish taco
Allyson Mace Meera Nagarajan Liz Wolfson Choco Taco! Lauren Healey Adam Rothbarth Lauren Healey Al pastor from Meera Nagarajan El Guanaco Michelle Volansky Jonathan Gayman, Virginia Harold, Izaiah Johnson, David Kovaluk, Meera Nagarajan, Greg Rannells, Carmen Troesser CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lauren Healey, Meera Nagarajan, Adam Rothbarth, Matt Sorrell, Michelle Volansky, Liz Wolfson ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER Allyson Mace ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Angie Rosenberg EVENTS COORDINATOR Amy Hyde LISTINGS EDITOR Amy Hyde INTERNS Adejoke Adanri, Zoe Butler, Sophia Daniels, Madyson Dixon, Hannah Freiberg, Blakely I miss Byrd & Gibeaut, Abie Groes, Madeline Heintz, Greta Barrel's JITB taco every day. Nagy, Matthew Rockwell, Adam Siddle
PUBLISHER EXECUTIVE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR DIGITAL EDITOR STAFF WRITER EDIBLE WEEKEND EDITOR ART DIRECTOR SENIOR DESIGNER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
What's your favorite taco?
See p. 22
Taco Circus's brisket taco on a doubled-up corn tortilla
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I really like a good lengua taco.
EDITORIAL POLICIES The Sauce Magazine mission is to provide St. Louis-area residents and visitors with unbiased, complete information on the area’s restaurant, bar and entertainment industry. Our editorial content is not influenced by who advertises with Sauce Magazine or saucemagazine.com. Our reviewers are never provided with complimentary food or drinks from the restaurants in exchange for favorable reviews, nor are their identities as reviewers made known during their visits.
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St. Louis, MO 63103 May 2021
contents M AY 2 02 1
editors' picks 9 EAT THIS Golden tacos of potatoes at Fonda La Poblanita
by adam rothbarth 10 HIT LIST 3 new places to try this month
by lauren healey, meera nagarajan and liz wolfson 12 9 REASONS TO VISIT TEQUILA MEXICAN RESTAURANT by michelle volansky 15 DRINK THIS Michelada at Nixta
18 FIXATIONS From dreamy chocolate bars to kitchen tools that make dinner prep a bit easier, here’s what we’re reaching for this month.
by lauren healey, meera nagarajan, adam rothbarth and liz wolfson
by adam rothbarth
44 WHAT I DO
THE ART OF NACHOS
Angel Jiménez-Gutiérrez of Malinche and Profundiza
Pro tips for building the ultimate nachos by liz wolfson
by liz wolfson
Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 FM this month when Sauce joins St. Louis on the Air.
COVER DETAILS TACO QUEST
Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
We encountered Fonda La Poblanita’s incredible al pastor tacos during our exploration of St. Louis’ formidable taco scene. Learn more at p. 22.
by adam rothbarth
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
chorizo tacos at la tejana taqueria p. 22
by adam rothbarth 16 ELIXIR: RAICILLA A lesser-known agave spirit is popping up on some of St. Louis’ hippest cocktail lists.
PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
by matt sorrell
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STATE WIDE OUTREACH 4 Hands Brewing Co. expands philanthropic footprint with new State Wide hazy pale ale BY LAUR EN H EALEY
After five years of immense success with City Wide pale ale, 4 Hands Brewing Co. is launching another philanthropic beer: State Wide hazy pale ale.
The nonprofit to receive a portion of proceeds from sales of the new beer is Veterans Community Project (VCP), which supports veterans in a variety of ways throughout the state, including a VCP Village slated for construction this summer in North City. The village – modeled off of one already operating in Kansas City – will feature 50 homes, along with support services to equip veterans to return to an independent life. “We love that it supports homeless veterans and gives them an opportunity to get back on their feet,” Lemp said. “Their mission alone touched our hearts, but now with two campuses in the state, especially with a St. Louis location, we decided to work with them to fund the building of a house, which costs about $50,000. We didn’t want to
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put a firm stop date, but we think it’ll take about a year to raise that much.” For every case of State Wide sold, $1 will be allocated for the nonprofit. Lemp explained that stores will purchase cases – 24-packs of 16-ounce cans – and then four-packs will be sold to customers. Cases also count as the equivalent of 24 beers sold on draft at bars and restaurants. “This isn’t just us
selling beer and writing a check,” Lemp said. “As they’re building the St. Louis campus, we’re going to be rolling up our sleeves and swinging hammers. It’s more than just the housing though. The backend resources really set them up for success after the program – everything from in-house counseling to dental and medical care.” 4 Hands and VCP will also be hosting
events and working with partners in the four major Missouri markets – St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia – to tell the story of State Wide. A locally designed T-shirt is also in the works. “We’re trying to do everything we can to spread the word on VCP and this partnership,” Lemp said. For more information, visit 4handsbrewery.com.
PHOTO BY EXPERIENCE FRESH
“We have been coddling the City Wide mission for five years, and we started thinking about how we could make a difference throughout the state,” said 4 Hands founder and CEO Kevin Lemp. “State Wide has a distinct flavor profile with a different yeast strain and Amarillo and Simco hops, which will give it nice citrus and stone fruit notes, but it holds the same mission and vision as City Wide.”
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Fonda La Poblanita’s rolled, beautifully fried golden tacos of Fonda potatoes La Poblanita are basically3830 mashed Morgan Ford Road, St.Topped Louis, 314.282.0651, potato taquitos. Facebook: Fonda La with sour cream, lettuce, Poblanita tomato and avocado (and whatever salsa you desire), this crunchy, velvety delight screams summer to us … though we’re positive it would be good anytime.
PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
Fonda La Poblanita’s rolled, beautifully fried golden tacos of potatoes are basically mashed potato taquitos. Topped with sour cream, lettuce, tomato and avocado (and whatever salsa you desire), this crunchy, velvety Fonda La Poblanita delight 3830 Morganscreams Ford Road,summer St. Louis, to us314.282.0651, … though we’re Facebook: La be good positive Fonda it would Poblanita anytime.
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3 new places to try this month
PHOTOS BY MEERA NAGARAJAN
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opposite page: the dining room at casa don alfonso; this page, clockwise, from top: 'nduja pizza at casa don alfonso, marinated red snapper veils at casa don alfonso, part of the team at casa don alfonso: from left, restaurateur mario iaccarino, chef de cuisine sergio chierego, sous chef adam roustom, sous chef travis spear and pizza chef jeffrey mandaca
CASA DON ALFONSO Walk into Casa Don Alfonso and you’ll know you’re in for something special. The restaurant’s original location, Don Alfonso 1890, is a two Michelinstarred restaurant in southern Italy’s Campania region, and the menu here is traditional Neapolitan cuisine. The baked tiny gnocchi see pillowy potato dumplings in a simple tomato sauce, topped with cheese and served in an adorable copper pot. The pizzas are not to be missed; the margherita was excellent with bubbling fior di latte cheese and a burnished crust from the wood-fire oven. While many items, like the grandma’s ziti with anchovies and cherry tomatoes, are humble dishes with classic flavors, others like the marinated red snapper veils with thin slices of snapper dotted with orange, mint yogurt and pink pepper showcase specialty ingredients. The sfogliatella dessert, made with delicate layers of phyllo dough and piped with cinnamon pastry cream, shows off great pastry skills.
100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, 314.719.1496, casadonalfonsostlouis.com
ROOT FOOD + WINE Root Food + Wine is set in a cottage in quaint downtown Augusta. But don’t let the hominess fool you – the dining experience at this upscale farm-to-table restaurant is as fine-tuned as any you’d expect to find in the big city. The duck pastrami starter presented bite-sized pieces of smoky duck breast plated with coins of pickled beet and dollops of grainy dill mustard and horseradish froth. The gnocchi with curried Buttonwood Farms chicken, snap peas and the tiniest baby carrots imparted all the freshness of spring, as did the intensely flavorful spring vegetable soup served with an anise-laced, pho-inspired vegetable consommé. The cocktail program, developed by bartender Dylan O’Hara, features twists on classic drinks like the Fizzbarb, a rhubarb-flavored take on a Ramos Gin Fizz, while the succinct wine list contains bottles from the nearby Noboleis Vineyards as well as selections from New World, Old World and even New Zealand wineries.
5525 Walnut St., Augusta, 636.544.1009, rootfoodandwine.com
OLIVER’S COFFEE + FLOWER BAR Next time you’re hungry at the Galleria, skip the food court and head to Oliver’s Coffee + Flower Bar on the second level just outside Nordstrom. In Oliver’s sweet salad, fresh greens, creamy goat cheese, tomato, onion and candied walnuts are served with a maple vinaigrette. We enjoyed the caprese sandwich, comprising fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto on a toasty ciabatta bun, as well as the Oli salami sandwich with salami and Swiss cheese and an optional side of Dijon mustard. The savory-sweet Oli’s breakfast tart was another winner with flaky crust enveloping pear, bacon, brie and pistachio topped with a generous drizzle of honey.
1155 Saint Louis Galleria Parkway, Richmond Heights, 314.239.3156, Facebook: C. Oliver Coffee + Flower Bar saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 11
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r e a s o n s t o
v i s i t
t e q u i l a m e x i c a n
r e s t a u r a n t
huddling up with friends over baskets of chips and salsa. A pitcher of margaritas is a must. Visit on a Thursday to get $3 off the usual $18 price.
SURE, YOU ENJOY THE FOOD, BUT SOMETIMES THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE OVERALL MOOD OF A RESTAURANT THAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK. TEQUILA MEXICAN RESTAURANT IN OAKVILLE IS ONE OF THOSE PLACES. JOIN ITS MANY SOUTH COUNTY REGULARS AT THE BAR OR GRAB A COZY BOOTH AND DIG IN FOR MULTIPLE PITCHERS OF MARGS. WHATEVER YOU ORDER, YOU’RE IN FOR A GOOD TIME. – MICHELLE VOLANSKY
“Tequila” isn’t just a convenient namesake. From trendy bottles of Casamigos and Clase Azul to tequila enthusiast favorite El Tesoro, the spirit selection should not be underestimated.
and shrimp in a flavorful sauce. Pro tip: Sub Mexican rice, which is delicious on its own and also absorbs the meat’s delicious juices much better, for the standard mashed potatoes side.
Many members of the friendly staff have worked there for years, giving it an undeniable Cheers vibe. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked if you want to be seated in a particular server’s section.
The people-watching is topnotch. Locals like to get a little rowdy at the bar, and karaoke isn’t unheard of.
The Skillet Pollo Mexicano entrée features grilled chicken
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We love the deep, comfortable booths that frame the large dining room. After a year of isolation, we’re dreaming of
The lively atmosphere makes everyone feel welcome, from your spirited toddler to your buddy with the embarrassingly loud laugh. Skip dessert and end your night with a frozen mango Coronarita instead. You heard us. The fizzy lager slowly seeps into the icy, tangy cocktail with an extra dose of mango sweetness that’s the perfect finale to a salty meal.
5496 Baumgartner Road, Suite 119, Oakville, 314.416.1945, tequilasrestaurant-stl.com May 2021
PHOTOS BY MICHELLE VOLANSKY
skillet pollo mexicano entrée
The unassuming strip mall location includes other gems worth visiting, like Drunken Noodles Taste of Thai and Cake House Designs, whose coconut macaroons are a Sauce staff favorite.
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drink this Savory. Citrus-y. Spicy. Quenching. Nixta’s michelada, made using server Daniel Bulos’ family’s recipe, offers an elegant take on the classic Mexican cocktail. Nixta’s iteration includes all the traditional michelada components – tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, lime and soy sauce, topped with a glug of beer – plus celery salt, garlic powder and pepper for extra kick. Mix in the accompanying Modelo as you go or, for an especially spicy punch, just finish ’em separately.
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
Nixta 1621 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9000, nixtastl.com
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Raicilla A lesser-known agave spirit is popping up on some of St. Louis’ hippest cocktail lists
By Matt Sorrell // Photo by Carmen Troesser In the realm of agave spirits, mezcal and tequila tend to get all of the love. But in recent years, other agave elixirs have started gaining ground with hip imbibers. The most recent of these is raicilla. Raicilla (which roughly translates to “little root” in Spanish) is produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco and distilled from roasted and fermented agave piñas, the heart of the agave plant. The resulting spirit has a touch of smokiness and tends to be more acidic, fruity and floral than its cousins mezcal and tequila. Raicilla has been around for hundreds of years but has only been available for the last several years locally, and recently it’s been making appearances in fine watering holes around town. “Mezonte Raicilla Japo is our favorite night now. It has these wonderful banana notes from the esters and a great minerality. It also has a great viscosity, which sometimes you don’t find in a raicilla,” said Brad Phillips, general manager and beverage director of Blood & Sand. Tim Wiggins, co-owner of Lazy Tiger, did a deep dive into agave spirits while doing cocktail research and development prior to opening the bar last year and discovered the allure of raicilla. “It was this bridge between tequila and mezcal,” Wiggins said, adding that there are a variety of flavors to be had, from the funkiness of blue cheese to sour fruitiness, in raicillas. He was so enamored with the spirit that it makes an appearance on a quarter of the Lazy Tiger cocktail menu; it’s also available in solo flights or as part of a flight of other agave spirits. These Lazy Tiger cocktails showcase the versatility of raicilla.
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ST. LOUIS CATHOLIC
Courtesy of Lazy Tiger’s Tim Wiggins This Manhattan/Negroni riff uses the bright and acidic Mexicat raicilla to full effect. 1 oz. Mexicat raicilla ½ oz. charred poblano-infused sweet vermouth ½ oz. Zucca Rabarbaro amaro ¼ oz. Cynar 70-proof ¼ oz. Providence Haitian rum 2 dashes pink peppercorn-orange bitters • Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, then strain into a rocks glass with a large cube.
Courtesy of Lazy Tiger’s Tim Wiggins This Paloma riff uses La Venenosa’s Sierra Occidental raicilla, which has a sweet and sour profile similar to a watermelon Jolly Rancher, according to Wiggins. 1 oz. dehydrated raspberry-infused Cocchi Vermouth di Torino 1 oz. pink grapefruit juice ½ oz. Elvelo Blanco tequila ½ oz. La Venenosa Raicilla Sierra Occidental ¼ oz. lime juice 2 oz. grapefruit soda • Combine all ingredients except the grapefruit soda in a shaker with four ice cubes. Pour entire contents of the shaker into a Collins glass. Top with the grapefruit soda and one fresh ice cube. May 2021
PALOMA ROJO at LAZY TIGER
ST. LOU IS CATHOLIC at LAZY TIGER May 2021
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Fro m d re a my c h o co l a t e b a rs t o k i t c h e n t o o l s t h a t m a ke d i n n e r p re p a b i t e a s i e r, h e re’s w h a t we’re re a c h i n g fo r t h i s m o n t h . P H OTOS BY J O N AT H A N GAYM A N
Boulevard Brewing Co. Quirk Spiked & Sparkling Pear Yuzu While all three flavors in Boulevard’s line of Quirk hard seltzers are delicious, the pearyuzu blend is by far our favorite. The yuzu’s sharp citrus notes are perfectly rounded out by the pear’s softness. Six-pack: $10. Randall’s Wine and Spirits, 1910 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.865.0199, shoprandalls.com
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Venchi Cremino 1878 Chocolate Bar A layer of white chocolate and almond paste sandwiched between hazelnut milk chocolate makes for an Oreo-esque chocolate bar that is completely irresistible. The texture is almost like the inside of a truffle: soft, rich and decadent. $9. Pastaria Deli & Wine, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, pastariadeliwine.com
Chef’n Citrus Juicer Juicing grocery store lemons or limes can feel like trying to get blood from a stone. Save yourself the citrusangst with this simple hand-held press, whose double-gear mechanism makes it powerful enough to handle the most rock-hard produce. $25. Food52, food52.com
Fullstar Vegetable Chopper If you love veggies, but not the time it takes to chop them, this is a game-changer. Its multiple attachments allow you to dice,
julienne, spiralize and more. The blades are extremely sharp, so be sure to utilize the included cleaning brushes. $24. Amazon, amazon.com
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Meletti Amaro We have an army of amaro on our bars right now, and one of the most dependable is Meletti. Usually a digestif served after dinner, this rich, bitter, bright spirit brings a Coke-with-citrus vibe and works neat, with soda or in a cocktail. $16. The Wine and Cheese Place, 195 Lamp & Lantern Village, Town & Country, 314.447.9463, wineandcheeseplace.com
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Poderi Cellario È Grino Rosso Effervescent, fruity and utterly quaffable, this bubbly and light red (that’s almost a dark rosé) has raspberry notes and a little spice. While the versatile bottle pairs with anything, it can also stand alone; just be sure to serve it chilled. $21. Pastaria Deli & Wine, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, pastariadeliwine.com
Anderson & Son Pepper Co. Reaper Ranch Seasoning This locally made, small-batch seasoning infused with Carolina Reaper pepper powder is incredibly
versatile. We like it on everything from grilled veggies to popcorn; it’s even good mixed in with meatloaf or airfried chicken breading. $8.50. Anderson & Son Pepper Co., andersonpepperco.com
Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Cashew Milk Mozzarella This cashew-based mozzarella is as versatile as the real thing. It’s light and malleable enough to cook on a pizza but hearty enough to throw on top of a tomato with some balsamic for an easy vegan caprese. You’ll know it’s not real cheese, but you won’t care. $10.50. Local Harvest Grocery, 3108 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.865.5260, localharvestgrocery.com
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T A C O QUE
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PASTOR AND ASADA TACOS AT MI TIERRA BONITA
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
Working guys stopping in to grab lunch from King Burrito. Masked friends hanging out at the bar of Taco Circus. A family laughing over chips and beer at Fonda La Poblanita. A team of cooks enjoying a chill moment, lounging and joking at the flattop inside El Morelia Super Mercado. Some pals losing their minds over the tasting menu at Nixta. These taquerias and restaurants are not only alive and well, but are continuing to act as sanctuaries for good vibes and nourishing cuisine in an otherwise turbulent time for the industry. And at the core of it all is the humble taco. Building a great taco requires many crucial decisions, like whether you’re going with a corn or flour tortilla, which filling you choose and whether cilantro is in the mix. Sometimes you want to drench your food in hot sauce and salsa; other times, a taco’s powerful base flavors can be more than enough. When there’s meat in the game, where it’s butchered and how it’s cooked is important; if it’s a veggie taco, creativity and novelty are essential ingredients. In short, there are a ton of ways to put together a satisfying taco, and St. Louis’ vast community of great Mexican and TexMex restaurants truly offers something for everybody.
BY ADAM ROTHBARTH
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CHIPS AND CHORIZO TACOS AT LA TEJANA TAQUERIA
Starters If you’re a chips and salsa fanatic – and who isn’t? – you’re familiar with the deep joy of seeing that classic wicker basket heading in your direction. Most chips are at least good, but the chips at La Tejana Taqueria are truly next level, a high artisan achievement with a dish most restaurants take for granted. Hefty-butairy, still glistening from being freshly fried, served with a smoky salsa, these chips have few peers in town. Location information for all restaurants in this story can be found on p. 29.
TACO BUDDHA | HATCH GREEN CHILE QUESO
This play on queso is a Southwestinspired gem. I could explain why it’s
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so good, or I could just tell you that we got one order, finished it, ordered a second one, finished that, and then rounded up a third. This literally happened. The table was a chips and queso graveyard.
to the house salsa (which is made two to three times a day to ensure consistency) to spicy specials like guajillo-carrot, salsa macha, and even one using Ski soda as a base, it’s safe to say that Taco Circus is taking the salsa game very seriously.
TACO CIRCUS | SALSA
ORIGINAL J’S TEX-MEX BBQ | GUACAMOLE
Taco Circus usually has seven to 10 salsas available at a time, including a four-salsa flight that rotates based around the seasonality of different peppers and produce. “Sometimes we get in really cool stuff,” said sous chef Cesar Correa, adding that he’s always working on at least one new salsa per week. “We’re constantly tasting and tweaking until we’re happy with it.” From the show-stopping green hot sauce
The magical guacamole at Clayton Tex-Mex restaurant Original J’s is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. “Our guacamole’s very simple,” said Andrew Enrique Cisneros.* “We make it with all fresh ingredients: tomato, red onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice, salt, and that’s it. We add a little bit of jalapeno.” In his view, it’s balance that takes a guac from good
to great, and whether you’re doing it at home or in a professional kitchen, the techniques are the same. “You need the right amount of acidity and the right amount of salt throughout the guacamole,” he divulged. “Salt is very important because a lot of chefs or cooks will underseason the guacamole.” He went on to point out that tasting during preparation is perhaps the most important tool in making his guac consistent; he and his chefs taste obsessively. “We take guacamole too seriously, maybe,” he said, laughing. *At the time of the interview, Cisneros was Original J’s executive chef; while he still works at the restaurant, he has since vacated that position. May 2021
PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
LA TEJANA TAQUERIA | CHIPS
tacos FONDA LA POBLANITA | SQUASH BLOSSOM TACO OR MACHETE, AL PASTOR TACO
Not really a taco, sort of a quesadilla, the machete is a truly special dish. Basically a massive, oval-shaped tortilla filled with cheese and toothsome squash blossoms, Fonda La Poblanita’s flor de calabaza machete is airy and wonderfully botanical. If you’re passionately in taco mode and ask
nicely, they’ll do a squash blossom taco for you – both versions are awesome. Speaking of tacos, Fonda La Poblanita’s al pastor taco starts out with some of the freshest, most delicious corn tortillas we’ve had in town; atop lies succulent pork, sweet from an unusually generous presence of pineapple. It’s a sublime execution of a dish that you can get at nearly any taqueria; but at Fonda La Poblanita, it’s a must.
KING BURRITO MEXICAN CAFE | LENGUA TACO
King Burrito is off the beaten path, but once we tried the lengua taco, we knew it was worth the journey; impossibly tender, juicy and somewhat spicy, the beef tongue was delicious. If you haven’t had a lengua taco, just imagine a most tasty brisket braised in earthy spices and served on a fresh tortilla with cilantro and onions. This one will
take you to the big drip zone, so make sure you have a few napkins.
EL MEXIQUENSE | CECINA (DRIED BEEF) TACO
Imagine rolling great beef jerky in a beautiful flour tortilla, smothering it with onions and cilantro, and drizzling some hot sauce on top. If that sounds good, then this Overland spot offers the salty taco of your dreams.
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
SQUASH BLOSSOM TACOS AT FONDA LA POBLANITA
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RICOS TACOS IN EL MORELIA SUPER MERCADO
MACAKO TACOS | SHRIMP TACO
Macako Tacos owner Mario Baeza just wants to master the basics, which means bringing in fresh, high-quality meat and seafood, chargrilling it and serving it with tastefully seasoned sauces, slaws and sides. “We don’t want to cut corners,” he said. “This is food for people who really enjoy good-quality [protein].” Case in point is the shrimp taco, which sees juicy butterflied shrimp smothered in Fuego Slaw – cabbage, apples, spices and minced habanero; it’s a spicy, creamy explosion of fresh flavors that’s just damn good. Baeza is still working to secure a brick-and-mortar location, so in the meantime, place your order online.
MI TIERRA BONITA | PASTOR TACO, ASADA TACO
Mi Tierra Bonita does it all right, from the exceptional and satisfyingly spicy house salsa and rustic, hearty chips to its vast menu of classic dishes. The juicy pastor taco has minimal pineapple, keeping its delectable pork in the spotlight, and the asada taco maintains a brilliant herbycrispy-succulent balance in every bite.
LA TEJANA TAQUERIA | CHORIZO TACO
Seared to gain an umami-level spicy, oily crispiness, the chorizo just dances on its corn tortilla. It’s a match made in heaven. (If we were including entrees, I would have to mention their mole dish, but since we aren’t, I won’t say anything about it.)
RICOS TACOS IN EL MORELIA SUPER MERCADO | EVERYTHING
This taco stand set up inside Bridgteon’s El Morelia Super Mercado is mindblowing. Every taco we tried there was totally incredible, from the superbly cooked carne asada to the tender, smoky, citrus-y lengua. They have a fresh bar with three spectacular salsas, cilantro, lime, radishes and more, so you can set up every bite perfectly. In fact, everything about Ricos Tacos is perfect, including the fact that they only sell tacos on Saturdays and Sundays. The
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guys behind the counter are friendly and focused, chatting and laughing with customers who are standing around; as a result, going to Ricos Tacos feels like stopping by your friend’s house for a quick bite – if your friend happens to be the best cook in town.
EL GUANACO TAQUERIA & PUPUSERIA | CAMARON TACO
Although El Guanaco only opened last year, it became an instant classic and has infiltrated our rotation, especially when we crave pupusas. Their camaron (shrimp) taco is incredible; chopped, charred bits of shrimp mingle with fresh onion and tasty salsa on a durable corn tortilla and bind for a perfect bite that transports us out of the Midwest to a place where fresh shrimp reigns supreme.
TAQUERIA EL BRONCO | AL PASTOR TACO, CHORIZO TACO
El Bronco has something for everybody, and all of it is good. The classic choices are the al pastor and the chorizo, both
of which come on two rugged corn tortillas and are topped with onions and a ton of fresh cilantro. The al pastor is juicy and spicy-sweet, with bits of pineapple, while the chorizo is salty and seared, roping you in with waves of savory intensity. For more intrepid diners, the velvety cesos (brain) tacos are definitely worth trying.
SALINA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT | FISH TACO, TACOS DE LIERA
Hiding in the corner of a small strip mall in Chesterfield lies Salina’s Mexican Restaurant, a quiet neighborhood spot that’s absolutely worth seeking out. The fish taco was tender and crunchy at the same time, its breaded cod smothered in a sea of lettuce and an aggressive slathering of tangy, smoky sauce. It’s precisely the kind of fish taco we crave, and we were happy to drive out for it. We also loved the zesty, tomato-forward house salsa, which we dished onto every bite of our meal, including the set of delicious grilled steak tacos.
TACO CIRCUS | STREET KID
The Street Kid is exactly the kind of hearty savior that veg-heads crave after a couple shots of tequila or a margarita. Named for owner Christian Ethridge’s childhood days on the streets of Austin, Texas, looking to bean- and rice-filled tacos to fuel his antics, this one comprises beans, rice, Monterey Jack cheese and pico de gallo. For vegetarians missing meat, adding the mushroom-derived match meat – seasoned with paprika, garlic power, Mexican oregano and other spices – will take it even closer to the forbidden beefy goodness you truly desire.
MISSION TACO JOINT | PORTOBELLO TACO
Between the grilled portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, chipotle aioli and crispy onions, Mission Taco Joint’s premier veggie taco is full of engaging textures and pleasing flavors. Its smashed black beans and arugula take it to a creamy, elemental place that will have you ordering another round each time your server walks by.
PHOTOS BY GREG RANNELLS
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tacos EL TOLUCO TAQUERIA | VEGETARIAN TACO
While most taco spots have some kind of grilled veggie taco, El Toluco goes the extra mile by bringing a couple twists into the game. Theirs comes with sauteed cactus and grilled jalapeno and is topped with avocado and onion, making for an uncommon combo that will fully satisfy your palate and make you sweat a bit, especially if you add a little salsa. “The salsa tastes a little different every day, depending on the spiciness of the jalapenos and serranos,” said co-owner Maggie Pizarro. (And since it’s wrong to go to El Toluco and not get a torta, you need to also get a torta.)
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ORIGINAL J’S TEX-MEX BBQ | VEGAN CHORIZO TACO
The vegan chorizo taco at Original J’s is an ongoing project. “For the flour tortillas, we use some of the rendered beef fat from the brisket, but for the vegan tortillas, we’re exploring corn flours from around the country,” Cisneros said; currently he’s working with a blue corn flour that he expects to be around for a while. Atop the tortilla sits chorizo-spiced tofu that’s been ground up with toasted pepitas, laced with J’s “magic rub” and smoked low and slow for a few hours. The result is a hearty vegan bite with a huge punch. “It just became a permanent staple for the menu – it was ordered so often,” Cisneros explained.
NIXTA | PESCADO TACO
As one might expect, Nixta’s elegant pescado (fish) taco is beautifully plated and composed, but it’s also a robust dish that packs a serious bite. Its two formidable tortillas hold exceptionally crispy fish, a tower of cabbage and a sincerely delicious chipotle mayo, all of which meld for a major wall of flavor.
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ANTONIO GARCIA OF LA TEJANA TAQUERIA
GET TACOS HERE El Guanaco Taqueria & Pupuseria 10633 Page Ave., St. Louis, 314.473.1027, Facebook: El Guanaco taqueria y pupuseria El Mexiquense Restaurant & Grocery 9519 Lackland Road, St. Louis, 314.428.4919, elmexiquense.net El Toluco Taqueria 14234 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.686.5444, eltolucotaqueria.com Fonda La Poblanita 3830 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.282.0651, Facebook: Fonda La Poblanita King Burrito Mexican Cafe 11084 Midland Blvd., St. Louis, 314.427.5580, Facebook: King Burrito Mexican Café La Tejana Taqueria 3149 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St Ann, 314.291.8500, latejanastl.com Macako Tacos 12412 Glengate Drive, Maryland Heights, Facebook: Macako Tacos Mi Tierra Bonita 3203 Collinsville Road, Fairmont City, 618.271.7311, Facebook: Mi Tierra Bonita
PHOTOS BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
TACO SPOTLIGHT | LA TEJANA TAQUERIA On North Lindbergh Boulevard, at the intersection of Bridgeton and St. Ann, is La Tejana Taqueria, a quiet, homey restaurant that’s part of a small complex that also includes grocery store La Tienda and the Carniceria, a butcher shop. All three are owned by Brenda and Antonio Garcia, who have been serving up authentic tacos and houseprepared meats since 2008. We caught up with Brenda to learn more about their fabulous taco program.
DO THE TACOS COME ON CORN OR FLOUR TORTILLAS? “All are on corn except for our fish taco.”
WHAT’S YOUR BEST-SELLING TACO? “I would say al pastor. My husband says steak [laughs]. The cow head [cabeza] is also a customer favorite.”
YOU HAVE A FEW DIFFERENT SALSAS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THOSE? “The one that comes with the chips, we call the gringo sauce because it’s not really spicy [laughs]. I think a misconception about our green salsa is that it has tomatillos in it, but it’s a jalapeno-based salsa, a mixture of different types of peppers. The cool thing about the red salsa is dried chile de arbol; what makes it flavorful is that it’s toasted or burnt. The red one is extremely hot. It’s too crazy for me.”
DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FAVORITE? “The tinga [shredded chicken] is my favorite, but it’s my favorite on a tostada. The reason is that you have the tostada and the beans, there’s a hot and cold contrast with the lettuce and cheese, and then the chicken. I always tell people to get it like that.” May 2021
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE CHORIZO TACO? “Since we have a butcher shop, we actually make our own chorizo, and that’s the key thing. We usually case the chorizo, but for the restaurant we don’t. It’s just basically frying it and preparing it on the taco.”
AND YOU MAKE THEM DAILY? “Yes, and all of us know how to make the salsa. I can always tell which cook made the salsa. All of our cooks have been with us since we opened, and we know their cooking style, so I can say, ‘OK, so-and-so made this today.’” WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING IN FOR THE FIRST TIME? “You should always order the tacos. You can order five or six and you can try all of the meats. I think that’s the best way to try our restaurant. Try everything! Some people don’t want the tongue [lengua] taco, but I just bring out the platter and don’t even tell them. And then they love it. That’s how authentic we are – we have cow head, the tongue, goat and the tripa [tripe].” WHAT ELSE SHOULD PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT LA TEJANA? “I hate it when someone comes in and asks for ground beef [laughs]. I tell people this is not Taco Bell.”
Mission Taco Joint multiple locations, missiontacojoint.com Nixta 1621 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9000, nixtastl.com Original J’s Tex-Mex BBQ 7359 Forsyth Blvd., University City, 314.202.8335, originaljs.com Ricos Tacos inside El Morelia Super Mercado 12005 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, 314.209.0014, Facebook: El Morelia Supermercado Salina’s Mexican Restaurant 20 Clarkson Wilson Center, Chesterfield, 636.530.9010, Facebook: Salina’s Mexican Cafe Taco Buddha 7405 Pershing Ave., University City, 314.502.9951, tacobuddha.com Taco Circus 4940 Southwest Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.0061, tacocircus.com Taqueria El Bronco 2817 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.762.0691, taqueriaelbronco.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 29
How to get a Missouri medical marijuana card As medical marijuana dispensaries continue popping up throughout the St. Louis area, you may be wondering, “How do I get in on that?” It’s really quite simple: The first step is to get your medical marijuana card. Once you have that, you’re free to enter any medical cannabis dispensary in the state and purchase your state-allotted amount, which is 4 ounces of cannabis or 32 Missouri Marijuana Equivalency (MME) units per month. (A MME is equivalent to 1 gram of THC concentrate or 100 milligrams of infused product.) People who wish to purchase medical marijuana or grow their own must have a qualifying medical condition. While some of these conditions – cancer, glaucoma and intractable migraines, to name a few – are listed on the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) website, marijuana can be recommended for those with chronic, debilitating or terminal conditions. Once a physician determines you have a qualifying condition, you can then get a referral from a medical cannabis physician to submit a physician certification form to DHSS.
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Swade Dispensary – which has locations open in the Grove, St. Peters and Ellisville, and others on Delmar Boulevard and Cherokee Street coming soon – works with partner clinics that certify medical marijuana referrals: Marijuana Card Clinic, Elevate Holistic, NuggMD, Midwest Cannabinoid Clinic and MOCannaMD.
three months, proof of Missouri residency, a photo ID and a completed physician referral. Minors also need authorization from a parent or guardian. Once approved, you will receive an email from the state letting you know your card is ready to be downloaded from the same portal where you submitted your documents.
“If you come into our location without a medical card, we will suggest that you go next door to Marijuana Card Clinic,” said Swade St. Peters general manager Shannon Thompson. “They walk you through the process from start to finish.”
If you’re not sure if your medical condition qualifies, there’s no harm in setting up an appointment with a physician from one of Swade’s partner clinics. “The beauty of having a great card clinic is that they will look at your information first to see if you are qualified, and they won’t take payment unless you have what’s needed,” Thompson said. A physician referral typically ranges from $75 to $125; renewals vary but are usually less. Fees to the state are currently about $25 for a patient or caregiver and about $100 for a cultivation license. Fees may be adjusted, and all licenses and referrals must be renewed annually.
Consultations can also be completed via virtual telemedicine appointments, making it easier than ever to apply for a card. “Once the process is complete, you send your documents to the state through an online patient portal,” Thompson said. “The timeline is predicated upon how fast the state is moving, but you usually get your card within two weeks – 30 days max.” Documents that must be submitted include a clear photograph of your face taken within the last
PHOTO BY MIN + ARCHITECTURE
BY LAUR E N H E ALEY
For more information, visit swadecannabis.com. May 2021
These are challenging times for our friends in the food and beverage industry and Sauce is doing all we can to help. From keeping St. Louis updated on all the industry news through our continued editorial coverage to lending a helping hand to restaurants, bars and other local businesses through our Sauce Supports initiative. Look up your favorite restaurants to see their current offerings on our Covid-19 Restaurant Guide open dining rooms, curbside service, delivery, and more. Visit saucemagazine.com/restaurant-guide.
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BY LIZ WOLFSON // PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER Infinitely customizable and sure to please nearly anyone regardless of diet and
taste, nachos are an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen while only putting in as much work as you feel up for. If you’re looking for a weekend project, nachos are a great vehicle for slow-cooked proteins and homemade condiments of all kinds. Or keep it easy and get everything you need at the grocery store. Either way, there are some basic principles of assembly and key ingredients that should go into even the simplest batch of nachos to guarantee transcendent bites every time. Chef Ben Welch, whose barbecue nachos from his now-closed restaurant Big Baby Q and Smokehouse were a Sauce staff favorite, points out that a great plate of nachos is a play on textures. “You’re going to have your nacho chips as a base, so you’ve got your crunch factor,” he said. “And the beans are creamy and flavorful, and they provide a little bit of sauce.” Following this initial base layer of “flavor and fat,” Welch adds protein like leftover rotisserie chicken, ground beef or smoked meat or tofu; if he’s serving vegetarians, he might use fajita vegetables in place of meat. “And then you have to have your liquid cheese sauce,” he concluded firmly.
Many nacho chefs go to great lengths to eliminate any liquid from their nacho construction, shunning ingredients like salsa or juicy meat that might jeopardize a chip’s crisp. Welch, however, takes the exact opposite position. “My favorite nacho is the nacho that’s kind of soggy – you pick it up and it kind of bends,” he explained. “A soggy chip means it’s been soaked in flavor. How can you not like that?” Similarly, Diego’s Cantina chef and coowner Natasha Kwan not only layers salsa directly on Diego’s beloved sheet pan nachos but actually includes it as one of her baked components as well. “Salsa’s cooked anyway – it’s not pico de gallo,” she pointed out.
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SHEET PAN NACHOS AT DIEGO'S CANTINA
While contrasting texture is one critical
you do a cashew-based cheese, it is more like a sauce, but it’s going to cook really well in the oven.” The problem with many of the vegan cheeses in the grocery store, she explained, is “the melting point starts at 400 degrees. You can’t put it in a convection oven because it won’t melt. They’re just harder, so you’re not going to get that meltability.”
Unlike Welch, Kwan bakes her nachos (on a sheet pan, as the name suggests). However, she only bakes the chips, cheese and salsa; everything else is added after the sheet comes out of the oven. “Then your toppings. We even top our proteins – our beans, our chicken – after.” For meat, Kwan uses braised chicken, “so it’s already got that broth and spices, so it’s more moist and tender.” These warm ingredients – in the sense of both spiciness and temperature – are then topped with “cooling ingredients” like crema (Mexican sour cream) and raw vegetables and herbs like radish, tomato, onion and cilantro. These lend freshness as well as another form of crispness to the mix.
That said, sometimes you’re pressed for time and skipping the cheese is just not an option when it comes to even the most basic plate of nachos. In those cases, Kwan recommends that vegans reach for VioLife brand cheese. “Vio-Life is absolutely phenomenal,” she raved. “I use a lot of their cheese at Frida’s [Kwan’s other restaurant, which focuses on vegetarian cuisine]. Everyone who’s plant-based knows about their feta – their feta’s phenomenal.”
component of successful nachos, wellbalanced flavor is another. With each layer, Welch thinks about how he’s building and layering flavor, “building it with fat and spice, lots of acidity.” For both Welch and Kwan, lime is essential. “Never not squeeze lime on your nachos,” Kwan instructed.
“I think radish is super overlooked,” Kwan
commented. “It’s used in all Mexican cuisine.” Not only does radish offer another element of crunch, it’s spicy as well, but in a different way from the dried peppers used to flavor protein or pickled or fresh hot pepper one might use add more flavor. “When you combine the radish with everything else, it comes together,” she said. And finally, a word about cheese, arguably (besides chips) nachos’ definitive component. (The first nachos – invented by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, the maître d’ of a restaurant in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras in 1943 – are said to have used Wisconsin cheddar.) Welch prefers to use his cheese sauce as a final layer of his nacho composition, which he finishes with garnishes like candied jalapenos and fresh herbs, while Kwan points out the utility of adding the cheese to chips first. “Your cheese always acts as a barrier. In our kitchen we call it glue,” she explained. “It makes stuff stick and it makes stuff less soggy. It eliminates any sog potential.” Kwan is adamant that those on plant-based diets can enjoy their nachos just as much as an omnivore, and one way is to swap vegan cheese for dairy. But not all vegan cheeses are created equal. “I prefer a cashew cheddar or a nut-based cheese rather than what you would find in the store,” she said. “When
Using the basic principles of texture and flavor to guide you, hopefully these experts’ tips will inspire your own ideal plate of nachos, one that melds crunch and creaminess, salt, acid and fat, freshness and spiciness. Once you’ve got these foundational pieces nailed, the world – or at least the nacho pan – is truly your oyster.
Pepper JackHatch Chile Queso Courtesy of Big Baby Spice Co.’s Ben Welch 1 QUART 3 Tbsp. butter, cubed 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour ¾ Tbsp. Cajun spice ½ Tbsp. ground coriander ½ Tbsp. ground cumin ½ tsp. garlic powder ½ tsp. onion powder ¼ tsp. ground Ancho chile ½ tsp. kosher salt 1½ cups room-temperature milk 1 cup room-temperature 40% cream 1 tsp. Dijon mustard ½ cup Hatch green chiles, drained 4 oz. room-temperature pepper Jack cheese, cubed 4 oz. room-temperature sharp cheddar cheese, cubed 4 oz. room-temperature white American cheese 2 tsp. canned jalapeno juice
• Place a heavy-bottomed, large pot (one that easily holds a gallon) over mediumlow heat. Add the butter and melt. • Create a roux by adding the flour and stir well to combine. Add the Cajun spice, ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, ground Ancho chile and kosher salt. Allow to cook slowly for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. Set aside. • In another stock pot, combine the milk, cream and Dijon mustard; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat but keep warm. (At this point, you can also add both mixtures to your slow cooker and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.) • Carefully and slowly, whisk the hot liquid into the hot roux until well combined. • Simmer the sauce, stirring often and thoroughly to prevent scorching, until thickened properly. • Remove the pot from the heat and add the green chiles, cheeses and jalapeno juice. • Stir by hand or blend with an immersion blender until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, or allow to cool to warm and then blend in batches in a stand blender.
Vegan “Cheese” Sauce
Courtesy of Frida’s and Diego’s Cantina’s Natasha Kwan 4 SERVINGS 1¼ cups water (less if you want a thicker consistency) 1 cup raw cashews (macadamia nuts also work well)* 4 oz. nutritional yeast 2 oz. diced red pepper 1 oz. onion powder 1 tsp. lemon juice ½ tsp. smoked paprika Dash garlic power Dash Himalayan sea salt • Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth, up to 3 to 4 minutes, depending on your blender. * You can substitute coconut milk for cashews, but do not add water.
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Midwest wine country COMPILED BY LAUREN HEALEY
PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE HILL WINERY
s the world slowly begins to open back up, you may be feeling the urge to get out of the city and enjoy time in the country at some of the many wineries near St. Louis. Here are our top picks for getting out and about this summer.
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Located in the Augusta American Viticulture Area (AVA), the first AVA designated in the U.S. (in 1980), this winery is a vital stop for the wine connoisseur and amateur alike. The winery specializes in estate-bottled wine, meaning the entire process, from growing the grapes to bottling the blends, takes place on the property and within the Augusta AVA. Enjoy live music Saturdays and Sundays at the open-air wine and beer garden April through October. Make a weekend of it! The winery is within walking distance to many popular B&Bs and hiking and biking on the Katy Trail. Take the complimentary trolley to the three other wineries within the Hoffmann Family of Companies. 5601 High St., Augusta, 888.667.9463, augustawinery.com
Balducci Vineyards A sprawling vineyard on 76 acres of rolling hills and vistas operating for over 20 years, Balducci has been voted favorite winery for the past 14 years by a local readers poll, and the winery also boasts numerous award-winning wines featuring Missourigrown grapes. Enjoy live entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays from April to November, life-sized games and bocce ball court and plenty of room to enjoy a day outside. Plan your special events and weddings and wow your guests in the classic barn. Don’t miss the craft beer
options aplenty, along with amazing food like sandwiches, pizzas, salads and finger food like soft pretzels and famous toasted ravioli. Visit the website for hours and directions, and catch a ride on the Augusta trolley to visit the sister wineries as well. 6601 S. Hwy. 91, Augusta, 636.482.8466, balduccivineyards.com
Bella Vista Winery The name Bella Vista was inspired by the winery’s stunning scenery. Guests can sit and sip a delicious glass of wine made in Bella Vista’s own cellar while taking in the views of a lake dancing with wild waterfowl alongside a lush 12-acre vineyard. The chefs give significant thought to the details of the scrumptious menu. As much local product as possible is sourced with the belief that it is vital to support the surrounding community. The winemaker, Cory Kunkle, and grape grower, Matt Gorazd, create award-winning wines ranging from sweet to bold and dry. The Tuscan-like feel is a perfect romantic location for a ceremony by the vineyard and a party in the grand ballroom for up to 300 guests. 6633 E. Main St., Maryville, Illinois, 618.365.6280, bellavistail.com
Chandler Hill Vineyards Idyllically situated on a hilltop at the entrance to Missouri Wine Country,
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Chandler Hill is a Midwest winery like no other. From the tasting room to the 5,000-square-foot deck overlooking vineyards, a spring-fed lake, rolling hills and the inspiring Osage Valley teeming with wildlife, Chandler Hill is an enchanting year-round destination. Enjoy meals on-site, wine tastings, special festivities and events, as well as weekly live music and dinner service every Wednesday evening. (There’s a full kitchen, so no outside food and beverages.) Chandler Hill is an ideal spot to host a private party, from weddings to birthdays, accommodating groups from 10 to 300. The family-friendly establishment, open six days a week and closed on Mondays, also allows dogs outside on the deck and in the vineyards. 596 Defiance Road, Defiance, 636.798.2675, chandlerhillvineyards.com
Crown Valley Winery Crown Valley, which opened in 2003, is just an hour south of St. Louis and offers gorgeous views of rolling hills and miles of breathtaking vineyards. There’s a wide array of wines, with 27 varieties to choose from, including cabernet sauvignon and chambourcin, along with some unique options like Blackberry Bling and pink sangria. Visitors can enjoy live entertainment every Saturday from April through October. There’s spacious outdoor and indoor seating, and picnic
baskets are welcome. There are also several beautiful venues, including a pavilion and the barrel room, perfect for weddings, parties and retreats. In addition, there are lodging options for those wishing to stay overnight. 23589 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve, 573.756.9463, crownvalleywinery.com
Defiance Ridge Vineyards Nestled in 42 sprawling acres of vineyards, lush gardens and a tranquil lake just 30 minutes west of St. Louis in the hills of Historic Missouri Wine Country, Defiance Ridge offers vineyardto-table cuisine, live music and succulent estate wines, as well as exclusive varietals from the West Coast. The winery is open seven days a week year-round. Looking to host your next private event? Defiance Ridge is also the perfect spot for weddings, private parties and corporate outings. The facility offers a spacious layout featuring a wide array of options for guests of all sizes. It was also a winner of The Knot’s “Best Of” Weddings 2021. 2711 S. MO. 94, Defiance, 636.798.2288, defianceridgevineyards.com
Edg-Clif Vineyard, Winery, Brewery Pack a picnic basket and head south to this third-generation, family-owned farm, which boasts an array of award-
PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE HILL WINERY
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winning vinos along with a farmhouse brewery and plenty of craft beers. Four vintage farmhouses (all over 100 years old and furnished with family antiques) on the property are now available on Airbnb. The venue also features live music every Saturday through October, the Home Grown Farm Tour Field Dinner Aug. 28 and Grape Friends harvest events in September. Check out the website for details. 10035 Edg-Clif Drive, Potosi, 573.438.4741, edg-clif.com
Grafton Winery and Brewhaus Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, the Grafton Winery & Brewhaus features two large patios with relaxing river views. Watch the boaters go by while sipping award-winning Grafton winery wines. There’s a full menu and live music every Saturday and Sunday, offering a relaxing and memorable experience. They are the only production winery in Grafton and also make their own microbrews downstairs for the avid beer drinker. The winery is within walking distance from many amazing bed and breakfasts in Grafton if you’re looking to enjoy a fun-filled weekend. And the vineyards are just 3 miles away, boasting a 5,000-square-foot pavilion for weddings and corporate events. Located next to Eckert’s Farm in Grafton, it’s the perfect, quaint wine country experience. 300 W. Main St., Grafton, 618.786.3001, thegraftonwinery.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE HILL WINERY
Hidden Lake Winery This beautiful 92-acre, family-owned winery is a true destination spot. Along with a full restaurant, three large wedding venues for 80 to 550 guests and 10 adorable cabins, the winery is known for its amazing wines made from locally sourced grapes. The 2019 Vintage Traminette won Double Gold for its best white dry of any Illinois appellation at the State Wine Competition last year. Winemaker Cory Kunkle creates a variety of sweet to dry complex wines, offering a delicious experience for every palate. Guests can enjoy music on the patio while overlooking a beautiful tranquil setting. Stroll along the lakeside nature walk through the silent forest. Simply
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take a deep breath, relax and enjoy. 10580 County Road 400 E., Aviston, Illinois, 618.228.9111, hiddenlakewinery.com
LaChance Vineyards and LaChance Winery of Kimmswick LaChance Winery of Kimmswick and The Old House Steakhouse are the latest additions to the LaChance family, which started with LaChance Vineyards in De Soto. The Old House Steakhouse features great steaks and fresh seafood. Just 30 minutes south of the Kimmswick location is LaChance Vineyards, a family-owned
grapes, and the winery also works with local growers around the state. The Bourgeois family purchased the farm in 1974 and lived in the A-frame while their house was being constructed. The first harvest, in 1985, was five tons of grapes that made 500 gallons of red wine they called Jeunette Rouge. Jacob and Rachel Holman purchased the winery from the Bourgeois family in 2019 when Curtis, the founder’s son, wanted to retire. Jacob has been at the winery since 1999 and is the head winemaker; Rachel has been at the winery since 2005 and is the CEO. 14020 W. Hwy. BB, Rocheport, 800.690.1830, missouriwine.com
its sister wineries and activities in downtown Augusta. 201 Montelle Drive, Augusta, 636.228.4683, montelle.com
Mt. Pleasant Estates Mount Pleasant Estates is proud to have garnered from the Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) an exceptional rating of 95 points and gold medal for its Tawny Port this March. Remarking on its rating, the BTI noted the Port exhibited “medium steely amber color. Aromas of candied walnut, soy sauce, pecans and brine with a fat body and a polished, layered, medium-long white peppercorn, marzipan, sesame oil, butterscotch, and burnt honey finish with no oak flavor. A sweet, savory and nutty port…” This winner is well balanced and perfect to elevate all kinds of dessert pairings. 5634 High St., Augusta, 636.482.9463, mountpleasant.com
winery offering unique, Europeanstyle wines produced with new experimental varieties of grapes, like Crimson Cabernet and Dore, grown at LaChance and also available in Kimmswick. The DeSoto location also provides a full menu of food offerings. You can also catch live music every weekend at both locations. 12237 Peter Moore Lane, De Soto, 636.586.2777; 6035 Second St., Kimmswick, 636.223.0453, lachancevineyards.com
Les Bourgeois Vineyards Les Bourgeois Vineyards is halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis and just 15 minutes west of Columbia. There are approximately 30 acres of
Montelle Winery Situated 500 feet above the Missouri River Valley within the Augusta AVA, Montelle offers a breathtaking view of rolling hills, forests and the river valley just a few minutes down the road from its neighboring historic town, Augusta. The winery café offers daily lunches with items like fresh salads, sandwiches, wraps and pizzas, and there are dinners being planned for the summer nights. Melodies of live music dance on the Osage mountainous air on weekends April through October. The banquet room is a perfect setting for microweddings and other memorable events. Montelle, also part of the Hoffmann Family of Companies, offers a complimentary trolley to
Situated on 84 acres in the first designated AVA in the country, Noboleis Vineyards offers panoramic views of the historic, rolling hills of Augusta. Grab a bottle of one of their award-winning wines grown in the region and produced right on property. Nosh on pizza and appetizers or pack your own picnic basket to enjoy on the lawn or under the tented pavilion. Live music every Saturday and Sunday from April through October adds to the beautiful atmosphere created at Noboleis, which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Tuesdays. 100 Hemsath Road, Augusta, 636.482.4500, noboleisvineyards.com
St. James Winery St. James Winery was established in 1970 in the heart of the Missouri Highlands. Since then, the winery has grown to be Missouri's largest and most awarded winery, with nearly 185 acres of grape production. Visitors enjoy wine tastings, wine by the glass, and wine slushies made from the expansive wine list. The winery offers the opportunity to spend your afternoon in The Gardens at St. James, a beautifully landscaped outdoor space that is shared between the Public House Brewing Co. and the winery. The Gardens is the perfect place to gather and relax, and enjoy the locally inspired Public House menu with the best saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 8 saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 41
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beer and wine that Missouri has to offer. 540 State Route B, St. James, 800.280.9463, stjameswinery.com
Stone Hill Winery
PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE HILL WINERY
Stone Hill Winery, established in 1847 in Hermann, is one of the nation’s most acclaimed and historic wineries. Championing American heritage and hybrid grape varieties from 200 acres of vineyards, Stone Hill is a thirdgeneration family business devoted to producing the highest quality wines over a broad range of styles. Their hard work has paid off with wines consistently winning top awards at state, national and international competitions. The winery hosts daily wine tastings and has plenty of outdoor seating perfect for relaxing and enjoying a bottle of wine while overlooking vineyards and the quaint town. The on-property Vintage 1847 Restaurant is well known for German specialties and American favorites. From May 1 through the end of October, free live music is available every Saturday afternoon. 1110 Stone Hill Hwy., Hermann, 573.486.3479, stonehillwinery.com
Villa Antonio Winery Take a quick trip away from busy city life and head to Villa Antonio Winery in Hillsboro, only 40 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Headed by owners hailing from Italy, Villa Antonio is Italianinspired and offers guests a chance to explore gorgeous grounds featuring vineyards and a lake. There’s plenty of seating between a large tent, a pavilion, a patio and the lawn, but guests are welcome to bring chairs or a picnic
May May 2019 2021
blanket. All wines and beers are crafted on site, and guests can also indulge in classic Italian or American food with items like burgers, sandwiches, wings, salads and wood-fired pizzas. The winery is open daily with seasonal extended hours, and there’s also live music every weekend. 3660 Linhorst Road, Hillsboro, 636.475.5008, villaantoniowinery.com
Wild Sun Winery and Brewery 2020 Readers' Choice Favorite Winery Located only 30 minutes south of St. Louis, this beautiful 10-acre estate in Hillsboro with its majestic rolling hills, park-like setting and an iconic historic main house built in 1870, make Wild Sun a must-see destination. Enjoy the day relaxing with award-winning wines and beers and plenty of room for social distancing. Co-owners Ed Wagner, a 17-year Anheuser-Busch alum, and Mark Baehmann, a 37-year career winemaker, opened Wild Sun in September 2015. Choose from a variety of wines such as cabernet sauvignon and fan-favorite Radiance, a crisp dry white wine similar to a sauvignon blanc, or choose a refreshing beer including American Blonde Ale, Sunset Red Ale and Midnight Porter. Complement your drinks with delicious food from the kitchen or feel free to bring your own picnic basket. Wild Sun features live music Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons May through October. Follow on Facebook for additional events. Open year-round. 4830 Pioneer Road, Hillsboro, 636.797.8686, wildsun.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 10 43
L A S T B I T E // W H AT I D O
really passionate about the restaurant industry. But I noticed that my wife and my mom weren’t too excited about my plans, which was just to change the location and move to a different place. And I was able to respect that.”
from left: sous chef john howe, head chef maría gutiérrez molina and co-owner angel jiménez-gutiérrez
MALINCHE AND PROFUNDIZA
“I started doing restaurant consulting, which I am still doing. I only
help Mexican restaurants. My approach is how to maximize profits and how to minimize the stress within the restaurant. I help restaurants around here – Illinois, Columbia, Missouri, just within 3- to 4-hour distance.”
At Malinche, co-owner Angel Jiménez-Gutiérrez and his associates (which include his mother, head chef María Gutiérrez Molina and co-owner Alejandro Ayala) offer a restrained menu that showcases a different side of Mexican cuisine from the Tex-Mex versions most familiar to American diners. Malinche is the Gutiérrez family’s second restaurant; they closed their first, Señor Pique, in 2017, after 13 years of service. Here, Jiménez-Gutiérrez discusses his family’s decision to pivot from Tex-Mex to a more personal style of cooking and how he shares his knowledge of the industry with other Mexican restaurant owners through his consulting firm, Profundiza. – Liz Wolfson
“I’m extremely thankful for what Señor Pique meant to us. But there
was always something that I wasn’t 100% proud of [with] our menu. … My friends would come to the restaurant, and I would visit the table and ask, ‘So what did you have?’ And they would tell me, ‘Oh, I got the chicken fajitas!’ And inside I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, but you didn’t try my mom’s cooking. You got something Americanized, in a way.’” “So I said that when we came back,
I wanted to serve something that was going to make me feel proud every day of the week. It doesn’t matter what the diner chooses, I was going be able to share a story or part of my culture. Every dish that you see at Malinche is a part of our culture, a dish that I grew up with somehow, that I ate at some point in my childhood. That is our way of sharing our Mexican culture: through our menu.”
“I take care of all the administrative tasks. On the
“I try to bring a mindful approach
operational side, I am the one that usually finishes the plates. My mom, she’s the one that is in charge of the flavors, and then I just try to make them look pretty.” “When we created [Malinche’s] menu, we were trying to come up with our concept, like, how can
somebody come into our restaurant and leave with different flavors? So that’s when everything started, like, well, first of all, let’s not fill them up with chips and salsa, but also give them something, either a sopecito, which is a little appetizer, or a taco de canasta. So we’re already starting your Mexican culinary experience but in a different way.” “There is this perception that Mexican food should be cheap.
But not necessarily – not to me. I want
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to deliver a product that is not priced high just because. But we spend time on little details that give the diner a higherquality product, from presentation to the ingredients that we’re using.” “I went to college – my degree is in accounting. I moved to St. Louis in an
attempt to change my life a little bit, to have a sabbatical year and get away from the corporate life that I was starting in Mexico City.” “I got a job at Hacienda [Mexican Restaurant] and I just fell in love. That’s
where I met my wife. We were able to work and save money, and that combination is what gave my wife and I, after two years, the confidence to open our first location.”
into the administration of a restaurant. To me, everything is about being able to be clear within itself. I’m talking about the owner – what is it that he envisions? What is his concept? Document it, set it clear on a piece of paper. And then: How are we going to share this message with the rest of the team?” “‘Profundiza’ means to go deep. My
“The real school came when we opened our second location because
there was a [economic] crisis in 2008. That’s when I truly started to learn the rest of the industry, about cost and how to strategize to keep costs down just to survive.” “When we were reaching the final years of the lease, I wanted to keep
going because I’m the one that is really,
concept is to go deep in your numbers, go deep in your own person, go deep in your process. Investigate within ourselves and our company before we start pointing and blaming others.”
15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.220.8514, malinchestl.com May 2021
PHOTO BY VIRGINIA HAROLD
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L A S T B I T E // L A N D M A R K
HACIENDA MEXICAN RESTAURANT BY A DA M R OTH BA R TH
the pieces are seared,” she said; in her view, doing it that way (rather than cooking the steak whole and slicing it later) makes a huge difference in the consistency of a fajita dish.
the patio at hacienda
At his first restaurant, BB’s, a small diner off of Woodson Road in Overland, Norberto “Bob” Rodriguez served traditional American breakfast food. In 1968, after slowly introducing Mexican dishes to his menu over time – like tamales, burritos, tostadas and chicken mole – he realized customers were loving the novel dishes and decided to open the original Hacienda Mexican Restaurant down the street. “His taco salad was
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a first in St. Louis,” said Norberto’s daughter and current Hacienda owner Alex Rodriguez. “St. Louis wasn’t really familiar with Mexican food then.” Almost a decade later, in 1977, Norberto moved the restaurant to its current location in Rock Hill. Since then, not much has changed, especially the food. “With Hacienda being around so long, we’ve had so many dedicated regulars. We’re always
adjusting and tweaking, but no major changes,” Rodriguez explained. She went on to point out that the menu offers a mix of old family recipes and “some things we’ve come up with along the way,” like more Americanized Mexican dishes that modern diners expect, such as chimichangas. One of Rodriguez’s favorite dishes is the steak fajita, which features a housebutchered and marinated cut of sirloin. “It’s sliced and cooked before, so all
In Rodriguez’s view, the food is definitely a big part of Hacienda’s enduring success. “As a consumer, you might not know exactly what makes something taste better, but things like fresh shredded cheese, fresh butchered meat, they do make a difference,” she said. On the other hand, the food isn’t the only reason people keep coming back – the service and the fact that it’s a family-owned establishment also play a big role. “We have people that came when they were kids, and now they have kids, or their kids bring their kids. We’ve had proposals and weddings here,” Rodriguez said. “It means so much to us to be part of those moments with people. Our customers aren’t just another face – we really do try to get to know everyone.”
9748 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.962.7100, haciendastl.com
PHOTO BY DAVID KOVALUK
The rest of Hacienda’s menu features the same attention to detail and extra-mile technique, including quesadillas with hand-shredded Jack and cheddar cheese, a chile relleno stuffed with cheese, lightly egg battered and fried, wet burritos with house-made enchilada sauce, and an extremely popular margarita. “Our house margarita always holds true. I can’t give you the secret recipe,” Rodriguez joked, “or I’d have to kill you.” Hacienda also offers classic beverages like palomas, an assortment of mezcals and a rotating list of Mexican beers on draft.
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