Ian Froeb's STL 100 (2018 archive)

Photo by Roberto Rodriguez

Cardwell's at the Plaza

While we gaze, tongues lolling, upon the glut of great burgers skinny and fat across St. Louis, let us acknowledge one of the forerunners of the trend, the Burger Meister Burger at Cardwell’s at the Plaza. Or rather it’s a forerunner and still an active contender, its patty (always cooked to my preferred medium-rare temperature) topped with cheddar and Amish blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and tomato jam. Bill Cardwell anticipated much of what we now take for granted, from great burgers to wood-fired pizzas to seasonally appropriate fare, and diners continue to show their appreciation. Just try showing up without a reservation.

Hours: Lunch and dinner daily

Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best

Opened: 1994

Must order: Bill's Burger Meister Burger ($16.75)