Larry Forgione's An American Place Restaurant, Terrene, Crown Candy Kitchen, and Kitchen K.

Food Finds: Louisville, Kentucky
The hearty braised pork osso buco comes in a small black skillet at Proof on Main, one of Louisville's newer hotel restaurants.

Larry Forgione's An American Place Restaurant
How refreshing to be in an unabashedly American restaurant that doesn't have a blooming onion on the menu or a halved Cadillac hanging off the wall. An American Place is swank: marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and huge flower displays. (And just to show they're still Americans, the gleaming sign outside is neon.) The menu, which changes daily to incorporate fresh local ingredients, shines brightly too. I began with roasted Blue Point oysters, firm and fresh, in an herb vinaigrette with shaved serena cheese. A dense pear-chanterelle-and-shiitake mushroom risotto was a real masterpiece--sweet, creamy, and slightly earthy. 822 Washington Avenue; or (314) 418-5800. Dinner entrées: $16-$29.

Top-Rated: Terrene
Sure, the French have their sauces. Italians toss a mean pasta and pizza. Thailand boasts noodles, and Morocco makes lamb an art form. But if you think the burger is the best thing to come out of the good old U.S.A., think again. Terrene gives American fare a new twist. Take a seat on the brick-lined patio. The professional and attentive staff will help guide you through the small but intriguing menu. Note: Chef Dave Owens cares passionately about the environment, and the menu touts that the restaurant's tables are crafted from recycled paper, the fryer oil runs a neighbor's car, and the food comes from sustainable sources. The restaurant is open for dinner only, but they do offer box lunches, and some popular lunch items appear on the dinner menu on weeknights. Begin with that great classic, the fries (or frites). They're salty, hand-cut, doused in pepper, and served with a spicy horseradish ketchup and a pickled onion mayonnaise. The menu revolves frequently, so you'll undoubtedly have different choices, but I had a stellar roast beef sandwich on a toasted roll topped with gravy and a pickled Vidalia onion. Finish with any ice cream on the menu. Dave likes his chockablock with ingredients; my butter pecan was loaded with pecans and caramel flavor. 33 North Sarah Street; or (314) 535-5100. Box lunches: $10-$13; dinner entrées: $16-$24.

Local Favorite: Crown Candy Kitchen
The tin ceiling and Coca-Cola memorabilia from the 1930s through the 1950s make this diner authentic. In fact, Crown Candy has been a tradition in St. Louis since 1913. Fancy fare it is not: Try the BLT, an egg salad sandwich, or the tangy Reuben. 1401 St. Louis Avenue; or (314) 621-9650. Sandwiches: $3.50-$6.75.

Kitchen K
This restaurant is known for its blue corn-dusted scallops--and for good reason. The pan-seared scallops wear a salty, spicy crust and come with field greens and a black bean compote. Other notables on the menu include sweet potato fries and the peanut butter pie. 1000 Washington Avenue; or (314) 241-9900. Lunch entrées: $7-$10; dinner entrées: $17-$24.

"Food Finds • St. Louis, Missouri" is from the July 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.