Medina Mediterranean Grill
In my ideal St. Louis, Medina Mediterranean Grill would be as common as Bread Co. Ibrahim Ead's fast-casual concept was fine-tuned from the outset: excellent beef or chicken shawarma tucked into a pita (the Original Palestine) or served over salad; in a sandwich with pepper jack cheese, tomato and a chipotle tahini (the Summer in Dubai); or with onion, roasted red pepper, provolone and a pesto tahini (the Juicy Jerusalem). The key to Medina's success is that, for all its fast-casual trappings, it is a deeply personal restaurant, bringing together Ead's upbringing in St. Louis and in his family's native Palestine. Mashup culture, fusion, the melting pot — whatever you call it, it persists.
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily (closes at 5 p.m. Sunday)
Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best