Photo by Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Lona's Lil Eats

Lona’s Lil Eats began life as a stall at the Soulard Farmers Market, but the brick-and-mortar version of Lona Luo and Pierce Powers’ operation has proven so popular that the duo decided last year to close the stall. The market should commemorate its spot with a plaque. Lona’s has quickly become an indispensable part of the St. Louis dining scene, with the convenience and affordability of a fast-casual restaurant, the friendly vibe of a neighborhood watering hole and, above all else, Luo’s inimitable cooking, drawn from her native village in China’s far south. I especially love Luo’s turkey: grilled, then braised, it’s so flavorful you’ll double-check the menu to make sure you did order turkey. Pair it with the invigorating lemongrass pesto or the smoky-sweet Lona-Q sauce inside the restaurant’s signature rice-paper wrap to understand what makes Lona’s Lil Eats unique and essential.

Opened: 2014

Must order: Turkey rice-paper wrap ($9.25)