2015 was an excellent year for new restaurants in St. Louis.

Which means assembling this year’s STL 100 was a pain in my barbecue-cushioned butt.

But after much eating, thinking, nursing of bourbon and a little more eating, here are the 100 restaurants that best represent St. Louis dining circa 2016 — the restaurants that are setting the standards, pushing us forward, introducing us to important new voices and reminding us about the voices we might have forgotten.

This is the 2016 STL 100.

Closed
#1

Niche

#2

Elaia

#3

Sidney Street Cafe

#4

Farmhaus

#5

Stone Soup Cottage

#6

Público

#7

Cleveland-Heath

#8

The Crossing

#9

Tony's

#10

Pastaria

#11

Randolfi's Italian Kitchen

#12

Veritas

#13

Five Bistro

#14

Juniper

#15

Guerrilla Street Food

#16

Brasserie by Niche

#17

Annie Gunn's

#18

Taste

#19

Acero

#20

Pappy's Smokehouse

#21

Fork & Stix

#22

Quincy Street Bistro

#23

Bogart's Smokehouse

#24

Mai Lee

#25

Three Flags Tavern

The Rest of the Best

in alphabetical order

801 Chophouse

Adam's Smokehouse

Asian Kitchen

Baileys' Range

Bar Les Frères

Basso

Beast Craft BBQ Co.

Blood & Sand

Blues City Deli

Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar

Byrd & Barrel

Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet Restaurant

Cielo Restaurant & Bar

Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery

Comet Coffee & Microbakery

Death in the Afternoon

Diner's Delight

Dressel's Public House

Closed

Ferguson Burger Bar & More

Five Star Burgers

Gallagher's

Gioia's Deli

Grapeseed

HandleBar

Hiro Asian Kitchen

Ices Plain & Fancy

J McArthur's

Kaslik Mediterranean Cuisine

Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria

Kitchen Kulture

The Kitchen Sink

La Patisserie Chouquette

La Tejana Taqueria

La Vallesana

The Libertine

Closed

Linh Mi Gia

Lona's Lil Eats

Medina Mediterranean Grill

Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant

Milagro Modern Mexican

Milque Toast Bar

Mission Taco Joint

Olio

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

Pho Long

Pi Pizzeria

Pint Size Bakery

Closed

A Pizza Story

Pizzeoli

Private Kitchen

Reeds American Table

Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar

Retreat Gastropub

Rice Thai Bistro

Salt + Smoke

Salume Beddu

Sauce on the Side

Schlafly Tap Room

The Shaved Duck

Signature India

Sister Cities Cajun and BBQ

Smoki O's

Southern

Southwest Diner

Spare No Rib

Sugarfire Smoke House

Taco Circus

Tai Ke

Taqueria Durango

The Tavern Kitchen & Bar

Tree House

Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery

Urban Chestnut Brewery & Bierhall

Vincent Van Doughnut

The Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market

A few important notes:

  1. The STL 100 is divided into the Top 25 and the Rest of the Best. No great gap exists between the two sections. Determining what distinguishes No. 50 from No. 51 from No. 52, etc., would be infinitesimal hairsplitting.
  2. Though you’ll find several expensive restaurants clustered at the beginning of the Top 25, the STL 100 is, in general, an egalitarian exercise, with representatives from inexpensive everyday eats to once-a-year splurges.
  3. As with my weekly restaurant reviews, I make every effort not to announce my presence at a restaurant (e.g., reservations under false names). However, after writing about St. Louis dining for a decade now, I'm recognized by many chefs, especially those who run or have run multiple venues.
  4. Though I want the STL 100 to be as current as possible, I also can't chase down every new restaurant right up to my final deadline. Restaurants that opened after Oct. 31, 2015, weren't eligible for the 2016 STL 100.