The first thing you need to know is that there’s a place called Little Saigon in the Central West End. So you might say “Buuut Griffin, I don’t want to drive to Tower Grove to get pho when there’s a place within walking distance …” Well, the second thing you should know is that choosing to eat at some other Vietnamese restaurant rather than pho Grand is like voluntarily choosing to eat a bowl of garbage. Pho Grand is so good I got cold sweats. Which worked out well, because it turns out pho is served really hot. Hot enough to cook the meat (at least that’s what my friend Will told me). So pony up the 12 bucks, go to Pho Grand, and order the Pho Dac Biet. But be careful how you try to pronounce that, especially if you are on a date.
— Griffin Plattner, M1
Lona’s Lil Eats
Lona’s Lil Eats is a homey little restaurant in the Fox Park neighborhood, nestled on the corner of a residential street. The food here is full of character. Huge rice paper wraps filled with beef and a super savory, smoky vinaigrette, soul-warming soups with lemony chicken and refreshing saw-toothed coriander and spicy eggplant are all highlights from the menu. What makes this place really special is its rare attention to detail. Everything I’ve eaten at Lona’s is seasoned well, balanced in flavors and cooked with care. Go here during exam weeks or the frigid winter months to thaw your cold, jaded heart with simple, delicious homemade dishes.
— Noah Wasserman, M1
If you’re looking for boba in CWE, you’re out of luck. The best (nearby) boba place I’ve tried is Corner 17, located in Delmar Loop. I’m a huge fan of the red bean milk slush, which tastes pretty close to what I’ve had in Taiwan! But just as importantly, Corner 17 has authentic Cantonese style Chinese food that will fill all your beef chow fun and braised pork belly needs. The price range is $8-$11 a dish, and dishes are meant to be shared family-style, of course. They also have beef noodle soup with hand shaved daoxiao noodles. If you come during the day, you can actually see the chef cutting up the noodles through the kitchen’s glass windows. While Corner 17 is a bit of a trek by MetroLink lightrail, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re craving something more substantial than Panda Express Chinese food.
— Jessica Kuo, M1
Tai Ke literally translates to “Taiwanese guests,” and is the place to visit if you’re craving traditional Taiwanese cuisine. The menu has all the necessities including Three Cups Chicken, pork belly buns, beef noodle soup, stinky tofu and Taiwanese sausage. All the food tastes authentically similar to the street cuisine found in Taiwan. The prices are $$, and a bit more expensive than usual Chinese food, but the quality is there. When my family visited from Los Angeles, we made sure to stop by Tai Ke, and even my parents were impressed by the flavors. The atmosphere is complete with a six-foot tall depiction of Taipei 101 on the back wall, and numerous small wood seating crammed into a small area. Located 15 minutes away in University City, Tai Ke is farther than other Chinese restaurants, but when you feel that Three Cups Chicken and green onion pancake calling your name, you know where to go.
— Jessica Kuo, M1