Ian Froeb's STL 100 (2018 archive)

Photo by Cristina M. Fletes (Post-Dispatch)

Blues City Deli

I could tell you which sandwich made me fall in love with Blues City Deli anew this year. But what struck me on my most recent visit, as I stood in a line that snaked out the door and around the corner, is the scope of Vince Valenza’s accomplishment. In just 14 years, he has turned a humble corner sandwich shop into a St. Louis institution — a place a future generation will mention the way we discuss Crown Candy Kitchen, Gioia’s Deli or Ted Drewes. It’s a testament to the quality of the food, Valenza’s hospitality and such memorable quirks as live music and Melo’s, the infrequently open but quite good pizzeria in the backyard.

Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday (open until 7:45 p.m. Thursday)

Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best

Opened: 2004

Must order: Seriously, you can't go wrong here.