St Louis BBQ you must try

As a southerner, I’m no stranger to BBQ. Restaurants announce “the best BBQ” They are found all over the south. BBQ is so good here, I’m skeptical to even try it in other parts of the country. But I was shocked to see all the billboards in St Louis when I visited. “St Louis BBQ”It was so good that I decided to give it another try and compare it with southern BBQ. Turns out…pretty darn good! You might even say that I liked it more. Will they remove my southerner card for me saying that?

St Louis BBQ Style

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I didn’t even know that there was a “style”St Louis BBQ. This is generally a cooking term that means that the meat or ribs are cooked on a grill, rather than being slow-cooked over indirect heat that uses smoke.

It also depends on the cut. The most popular cut in the St Louis style BBQ line-up is the ribs. Therefore, the rib bones have to be trimmed with the ends removed so that they form a rectangle shape. St Louis style BBQ sauce is thicker and more sweet than the vinegary.

Another thing I saw frequently on menus is what’s called burnt ends. Burnt ends is a cut of meat taken from a beef-brisket. They were originally made in Kansas City, but you can find them in St Louis as well. The meat is sliced and braised in sauce until it melts.

St Louis BBQ

To be honest, I really don’t have much knowledge of what makes what a certain BBQ style. I just know that I love barbecue so I set out to eat some St Louis barbecue. In no particular order, because I liked them all, here’s what I tried.

Pappy’s Smokehouse

For me, BBQ is what you mean when you say barbecue Pappy’s is what comes to mind. It’s the big daddy, granddaddy of them all. Located in the midtown area of St Louis, don’t be surprised to find a line out the door when you go.

I was aware of how crowded it can be so I decided to go on a weeknight to beat the crowds. It was a short line, which was great because I was hungry. The line moved quickly because most of the people were locals who knew what they wanted.

After moving through the line, you will reach a counter and place your order. They will then bring your food to you.

Pappy’s BBQ Style

Interestingly, instead of St Louis style BBQ, Pappy’s serves Memphis style BBQ. Their specialty is ribs. They dry rub the ribs and then smoke them over apple and cherry wood. Pappy’s has all the other popular meats and cuts; pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, smoked chicken, sausage and burnt ends. The portions were also generous. I don’t like paying $10 to get a small portion of meat. Their pulled pork sandwich was too much.

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You can saucing the meat at your own discretion. There are three types of sauces: an Original, Sweet Baby Jane, and a Hoo Doo. I’m more of an acidic or vinegary sauce than sweet, so I preferred the Original and the Hoo Doo.

Some restaurants are so focused on the barbecue that they forget about the sides. Not Pappy’s. Their sides are the perfect accompaniment to their meats. That means they accompany – not outshine the BBQ. They offer baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw as well as sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, green bean, and apple sauce.

I enjoyed both the potato salad, and the beans. Pappy’s was a favorite and probably some of the best BBQ I’ve had ever.

A pulled pork sandwich from Pappy's Smokehouse St Louis BBQ

Sugarfire Smokehouse

Sugarfire is a a local award winning Missouri chain of restaurants with locations in St Louis and a few surrounding states. Their website describes their barbecue as “taking all the best traditions of the best BBQ cities in the USA to create a St Louis style BBQ that’s all its own”.

There were many places in the city so I decided to visit the Olive Street location west of Olivette for lunch. Even though it wasn’t as crowded as Pappy’s – and it was earlier in the day – it was still pretty busy.

Sugarfire’s BBQ Style

They offer a variety of BBQ favorites, including pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. They also serve salmon, burgers, and salads. Sugarfire has something for everyone, even those who don’t eat meat or are picky eaters. They also offer chef creations. This included specialty sandwiches at the Olive Street location. You can also get a PBLT. The P stands for pimento, which is delicious! A Meat Daddy sandwich, which appears to contain every meat they offer, piled high on a bun.

They made their sauces from the best BBQ cities. They offer a Texas Hot, an Alabama White Sauce, and a Carolina Mustard.

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Like Pappy’s, they’ve definitely put some thought into their sides. I loved their mac n cheese even though now their website doesn’t mention them having it now. Other sides they serve are hand cut French fries, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw.

My biggest regret was that I didn’t try one of their homemade milkshakes, or even a pie shake. A pie shake is a milkshake that contains one whole pie. They can also add more pie to your milkshake. I’d go back just for that.

Sugarfire Smokehouse St Louis

Bogart’s Smokehouse

Located in the vibrantly French community of Solard – I loved not only the BBQ at Bogart’s but the location and the neighborhood. Bogart’s website says they are open “until they sell out”. It’s not surprising considering the number of people there on the day I went.

The line was out of the door and down the street. What’s the best thing about waiting in line? While you wait, they offer you smoked wings. They may also offer other food, but wings was what they offered me on Sunday. Delicious, succulent wings.

Bogart’s BBQ Style

Other BBQ favorites such as pulled pork and brisket, smoked turkey, pastrami, and ribs are also available. I ordered my usual pulled pork along with something I’d never seen anywhere before, deviled egg potato salad. This salad is a huge achievement. And the baked beans were some of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. It’s thick, rich, and packed with meat.

The only and I really mean the only, down side to Bogart’s is the size of the restaurant. Like the other restaurants, you order from the counter. Because the line was so long, people were holding seats so I couldn’t even get a seat for one. I normally prefer to sit down and try all the sauces, but I was only able to try the Sweet Maegen Ann. It’s a thick, sweet and smokey sauce and was delicious. It was worth the wait and the take-out.


Salt + Smoke

Update – The last time I was in St Louis – when I first wrote this post – I ran out of time and didn’t have the chance to try Salt + Smoke like I had intended. However, I was recently on a roadtrip that took me along I-70 though St Louis. Never one to turn down an opportunity, I decided l couldn’t be that close and not try some more St Louis BBQ. So I ordered take-out from Salt + Smoke.

Salt + Smoke serves St Louis style BBQ with a big selection of bourbon and craft beer. There are five locations in St Louis. There are four locations in the city, and one in suburbs. I should have stopped at St Charles but I wanted to see downtown so I decided to go to Clark Avenue in Ballpark Village. Disclosure: being from out of town, I didn’t know this location was at Ballpark Village when I decided to go. I’m just glad there wasn’t a game or anything going on or it would have been a big delay. Bonus points to them for providing convenient, ready-to-go curbside parking.

Salt + Smoke’s BBQ Style

Salt + Smoke’s BBQ is St Louis Style and they smoke the pork and brisket over post oak wood. According to their website, this type of wood is a very intense wood that creates an intense flavor. “deep and long finish to their smoked meats”. They also offer pulled chicken and salmon smoked in cherry wood, as well as pork and brisket. They also offer wings, and fried chicken skins. Interesting.

For simplicity and comparison, I ordered my standard pork sandwich that I had ordered at all the other St Louis BBQ restaurants I’ve tried. Salt + Smoke offers a side with every sandwich. Let’s talk about their sides. There are so many options that I struggled to choose which one I wanted. The choices include fries, pit beans with bacon – they smoke their own bacon by the way – potato salad, cole slaw, creamed corn and more.

It was a cool, windy day so I ordered the white cheddar cracker mac. I thought mac n’ cheese would be perfect for a cold day. I was right. Actually the mac n cheese is so good – it’s kind of life changing. I’ve thought about it at least weekly since I’ve been home. It was even good cold. I saved half since it’s such a hardy portion and ate it later. It was still delicious. It may just be the best mac n cheese I’ve ever had.

The star of the show – the pork – was amazing as well. You can taste that rich oak smoke flavor and it’s incredibly tender. Salt + Smoke’s sandwiches are served on a lightly toasted bun with tasty pickles on the side. They also make amazing sauces. I topped my sandwich both with My Sweet Bestie and Hotangy. Perfect! Overall, I enjoyed Salt + Smoke’s food. I just need a make-over so that I can also dine in and enjoy a bourbon.

pulled pork from Salt + Smoke in St Louis, MO

Final Thoughts about St Louis BBQ

St Louis is a great city. It’s full of cool neighborhoods, unique experiencesThe best donutsIt’s also a good place to enjoy delicious barbecue. It’s turned out to be one of my favorite BBQ towns. I believe I will need to go back and try all the suggestions. Let me know what your favorite St Louis barbecue is so I can keep adding them to my must-try list.


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