Mojo Tapas Restaurant & Bar

| Scene Reporter

3117 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118
(314) 865-0500

Located in South City, Mojo Tapas Restaurant & Bar offers creative cuisine and a cool neighborhood vibe, making it worth the hassle of getting there.

I started my dinner with the soup special—roasted butternut squash with a spicy red-wine reduction. The soup was hearty, and I appreciated the skillfully done, smoothly pureed texture. While this starter was certainly a delight, it could have been improved by more of the delicious red-wine reduction.

The menu predominantly consists of small tapas plates that average around $8-9 each—and at a self-proclaimed tapas restaurant, these dishes are probably the best way to go. I chose the roasted veggie cakes with smoked tomato aioli, the sesame chicken satay with jasmine rice and spicy almond sauce, the house maple-smoked trout with fried red onions and crostini and the roasted pork empanadas with orange-oregano “mojo.” The four small plates were enough to feed two people.

The veggie cakes consisted of firm squash and zucchini; the chicken satay was perfectly cooked and very tender, and the roasted pork empanadas consisted of billows of golden-fried dough filled with tender shredded pork. The trout was not much to speak of, but it did provide a simpler, locally-inspired alternative to its more exotic counterparts.

The plates should have been served warmer, and some were drowning in sauce. But despite each dish’s shortcomings, I left with the general impression that there are likely a few standout dishes at this restaurant—it just takes some experience to know what to order. Unfortunately, I didn’t happen to order that golden assortment.

The Mexican chocolate Kahlua crème caramel dessert made up for what I imagined to be a heavy-handed saucier. This sweet flan-like chocolate custard consisted of a rich chocolate outside and creamier inside. What made this dessert unique was not the Kahlua-caramel sauce, but rather the dashes of cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the chocolate. At first, the cayenne didn’t seem to pronounce itself, suffocating under the flavor the cinnamon. But eventually, as the flavors built upon each other, I began to detect the spicy subtleties of the cayenne on the tip of my tongue. Moments like these were what made Mojo worth the trek.

While some changes in technique and service could have improved the overall dining experience, the creativity and originality made this forgivable. Since Mojo’s bar stays open until 1:30 a.m., it’s a great place for a group of friends to take a break from going out and have an enjoyable, low-key night filled with friends and food. With an extensive food and drink menu, everyone in your group should be able to have a wonderful experience—that is, if you’re open to sharing whatever you order.

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