Ian Froeb's STL 100

Han Lao

Thom Chantharasy was 4 when he came to the United States as a refugee from Laos. He was thinking of his own children when he opened Han Lao, St. Louis' first Lao restaurant. “I grew up eating (Lao food),” he told me in November 2018. “I wanted to get my kids eating it more often.” At Han Lao you will find dishes both soothing (khao piak sen, chicken and rice noodles in chicken broth), and incandescent (thum muk huong, smashed green papaya with fish sauce, shrimp paste and lime juice). I will return most often for the Lao sausage with jeow bong and a side of sticky rice and for nam khao, crisp pieces of fried rice seasoned with coconut and red-curry paste with fresh herbs, dried chiles and nam noo (pickled pork).

Hours: Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday)

Last year's ranking: New this year

Opened: 2018

Many St. Louis-area restaurants are closed or limiting their dining options during the coronavirus pandemic.