There's nothing quite like the feeling of eating fresh seafood—with a single bite, your mind is instantly transported to an ocean oasis.  So when I heard that Yellowbelly, a concept shaped around sea and spirits, was opening in the Central West End, I was ecstatic. Eager to try it out for myself, I jumped on the chance to chat with co-owner Tin Wiggins about all things Yellowbelly.

About Yellowbelly

Anika Kumar

Yellowbelly is co-owned by the same duo that brought you Retreat Gastropub—Travis Howard and Tim Wiggins. A couple years ago, they came up with the idea of a neotropical, bright space with fun, dynamic drinks and food. They noticed that St. Louis didn't really have a place that checked all of those boxes simultaneously, so the vision behind Yellowbelly was born.


Anika Kumar

Yellowbelly's interior matches the mission perfectly. The physical space has modern, island-like vibe that instantly puts you in a good mood. Geometric shapes combined with colorful, tropical designs on the walls create an crisp and refreshing look. It's a space that makes you feel like you've magically left St. Louis as soon as you walk in the door. Everyone inside is enjoying themselves, and the loud music contributes to the joyful atmosphere.

First, the sea

Anika Kumar

In a word, the food here is innovative. It's truly unlike anything I've tried in St. Louis. Each dish is beautifully crafted—a symphony of fresh, unique flavors that are intricately woven together. The menu is divided into snacks, plates, platters, and sides, and Wiggins recommends ordering a few dishes from each to share as a table, family style.

To start off, we ordered the Sea Biscuits. These are warm cheddar biscuits served with uni butter. As soon as you swipe some butter onto the biscuit, it melts and absorbs into the bread. The flavor is a rich and and addicting combination of buttery, cheesy goodness. I could've filled up on these biscuits alone and been perfectly happy.

Next, we tried the Tuna Tostada with avocado crema, seaweed, and a cabbage slaw on top. This was one of my favorite dishes—it was extremely fresh-tasting. The the crisp of the tostada paired wonderfully with the creaminess of the avocado, softness of the tuna, and crunch of the cabbage.

Anika Kumar

But here's where things get fun. Oysters are my favorite food, so I was ecstatic to try the Oysters and Pearls. This creation is the brainchild of Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais, who is known for his usage of molecular gastronomy in his dishes. So as you'd expect, this concoction was not your regular oyster on a half shell. The oysters were beautifully presented on the plate, each one topped with sauce somehow frozen into a pearl structure. As if that wasn't impressive enough, the whole dish oozed with wisps of smoke, making it more than just oysters—it was a full experience.

The Avocado Toast was another interesting science-experiment dish. The toast is topped with creamy avocado, salmon pico de gallo, and a mango yolk. I'll admit that when I first read this description, I just thought they were describing the color of an egg yolk in a creative way. But I was wrong. So what is a mango yolk, you ask? They've taken mango puree, and using science/magic/things I cannot comprehend, they've transformed it into egg yolk form. The end result looks identical to an egg yolk, and even oozes like one. And on top of this dish blowing my mind, it's also the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Lastly, I tried the Wu Tang Clams. The plate came piled high with clams and two pieces of toast on the side to soak up the excess broth. While I was growing up (and even now), every time I visit my grandmother in Taiwan she would always cook a big plate of clams for one of my first meals there. She knows they are my favorite, so eating these reminded me of my childhood in the best way.

Then, the spirits

Anika Kumar

One thing to know about Yellowbelly—the drink menu comes before the food menu. Wiggins says that this is done because the bar is equally important as the food presence. When developing the establishment, Wiggins wanted to emphasize rum in the cocktails, since not many bars in this area do so. But the best thing about this menu is that each cocktail has an illustration of what the drink looks like beside its name and description, so you know exactly what you're getting. 

These drinks aren't your typical alcoholic concoctions. Each one is a complex combination of liquor, juices, and spices. In each drink, you'll find at least one unexpected ingredient (such as soy sauce, white miso, poblano, snap pea juice), and so much more. I'll admit that I was skeptical at first—the components were just so out of the box, I didn't know how they could work. But sure enough, each cocktail comes together in a seamless symphony of flavors. You'll never want to drink a normal cocktail again.

As you can probably guess, the Yellowbelly cocktail is the most popular. It's made up of Puerto Rican and Jamaican rums, coconut, turmeric, ginger falernum, pineapple juice, and lime juice. The Hopes and Dreams is another crowd favorite, comprised of Jamaican and agricole rhums, amaro, mango, soy sauce, carrot juice, and lime juice. With so many cocktails to choose from, you can't go wrong.

Honestly, I've been raving about this place to anyone who will listen. I can't say enough good things about it—the food is fresh and innovative, the drinks are the right balance of strong and enjoyable, and everyone there is working hard to ensure that you have the best experience. Howard and Wiggins have managed to pull off another phenomenal establishment, and I can't wait to go back. Here's one last picture of the incredible food, because it was beautiful:

Anika Kumar

Now go forth and try Yellowbelly for yourself. You won't regret it.