Local Chef Kitchen
That Local Chef Kitchen exists is a small miracle. Not simply a local, independent fast-casual restaurant that serves some produce grown by chef-owner Rob Uyemura, but one that occupies a drab, blink-and-you-miss-it storefront along restaurant-choked Manchester Road in Ballwin. The menu changes weekly, but the format usually offers a choice of a beef, chicken, pork, seafood or vegetarian main dish. On my most recent visit, in summer 2017, my juicy breaded, bone-in pork cutlet with simple sides of fried potatoes and perfectly al dente heirloom green beans would have passed muster — or exceeded it — at an upscale comfort-food restaurant.
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best
Must order: Menu changes frequently