When chef John O’Brien and his wife, Cathy, opened Three Flags Tavern, they intended to create a simple neighborhood spot. But O’Brien couldn’t help himself, and instead of simple, Three Flags turned out fantastic. As a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis restaurant business (his résumé is filled with everything from Balaban’s to the Ritz-Carlton), he knows all too well what it takes to make a place successful: a creative, yet accessible menu; a kitchen full of talent; a well-appointed, comfortable space; and, most importantly, mind-blowingly delicious food. Three Flags’ menu draws from Spanish, French and American culinary traditions with items like delicate lobster beignets, hearty posole with pork shoulder, and gooey fried Manchego cheese. The fried chicken is so crisp and juicy it would make even the most difficult-to-please Southern grandma proud; the mammoth brisket burger (see: Best Burger) is a masterpiece — it’s a “wake up in the middle of the night with a craving” sort of food. There’s not one bad item on the menu. In fact, the only problem with the place is that it has become so popular it’s difficult to get a table. Once diners are lucky enough to secure a reservation, though, they can sink into the luxe velveteen chairs and dig into a spectacular meal.