Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


You easily could have overlooked Ben Poremba’s Olio in last year’s inaugural STL 100. Elaia, Poremba’s adjacent flagship restaurant, dazzled its way to No. 2 on the Top 25 — it lands there again in 2016 — while Old Standard Fried Chicken was then the shiny new thing. Olio just did what it had always done, what it does now: serve affordable, flavorful food that pairs well with the excellent selection of cocktails and wines. (There’s beer, too, though the range isn’t broad.) As at Elaia, here Poremba draws mainly on his influences from around the Mediterranean and adds little touches to distinguish familiar dishes: smoked paprika, almond and pine nuts in the “King of Kings” hummus; wheatberries to provide textural contrast in the baba ghanoush. Its small, but impressive sandwich menu — Coca-Cola-glazed beef brisket; a variation on the speck and preserved lemon sandwich at Salume Beddu (where Poremba was once a partner) — means you shouldn’t overlook Olio as a lunch destination.

Opened: 2013

Must order: “King of Kings” ($8)