The Best BBQ Restaurants in St Louis You Must Try

St Louis BBQ 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. However, I was shocked at all the billboards that were displayed in St Louis when it was my first visit. “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! It might even be said that I liked it better. Do they want to take away my southerner card?

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 a term used to describe meats or ribs that are cooked on a grill and not slow-cooked over indirect heat that uses smoking.

It also depends on the cut. The St Louis style is the most popular. The ribs top the BBQ line-up. The rib bones must be trimmed and the ends must be removed so they form a rectangle shape. St Louis BBQ sauce is thicker, sweeter, and more flavorful than the vinegary.

Another thing I saw frequently on menus is what’s called burnt ends. Burnt ends are a cut of meat that is taken from a beef-brisket. They were first made in Kansas City, but they can also be found in St Louis. The meat is sliced and then 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 know I love barbecue so I decided to try some St Louis barbecue. In no particular order, because I liked them all, here’s what I tried.

Pappy’s Smokehouse

BBQ to me is what you mean by 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 how crowded it can get so I decided that I would go on a weeknight to beat all the crowds. I was hungry so it was a short line. Because most of the people in the line were locals and knew what they wanted, the line moved quickly.

After you have moved through the line, you will eventually reach a counter where your order can be placed. The counter will then bring your food.

Pappy’s BBQ Style

Interestingly, instead of St Louis style BBQ, Pappy’s serves Memphis style BBQ. Their specialty is ribs. The ribs get a dry rub and are then smoked over apple or 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 generous. I don’t like paying $10 to get a small portion of meat. The pulled pork sandwich was too big.

You can saucing the meat at will. There are three types, an Original, Sweet Baby Jane, or 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 barbecueThey forget about the sides. Not Pappy’s. Their sides are the perfect accompaniments to their meats. That means they accompany – not outshine the BBQ. They offer baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, sweet potatoes fries, sweet potato fries as well as sweet potatoes fries, sweet potato fries green bean, and apple juice.

Both the potato salad and the beans were a hit with me. 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 area so I decided to go to Olive Street 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

You can choose from pulled pork, brisket and ribs. They also offer salmon, burgers, salads, and other delicious foods. Sugarfire has something for everyone, even those who don’t eat meat or are picky eaters. They also offer chef creations. You can also find specialty sandwiches at the Olive Street branch. A PBLT is also available. Pimento is a delicious ingredient that the P stands for. A Meat Daddy sandwich is a Meat Daddy sandwich with all the meats they offer, piled high on a bread.

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

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, or a milkshake that contains a whole pie, is referred to as a pie shake. You 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 the door and down the street. What’s the best thing about waiting in line? While you wait, they will offer you smoked wings. They may also offer other foods, but I was offered wings on Sunday. Delicious and succulent wings.

Bogart’s BBQ Style

Other BBQ favorites, such as pulled pork, 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 an incredible 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. You order at the counter, just like other restaurants. Because the line was so long, people were holding seats so I couldn’t even get a seat for one. I usually prefer to sit down and taste all the sauces, but the Sweet Maegen Ann was the only one I could try. It’s a thick, sweet and smokey sauce and was delicious. It was well worth the wait and the extra cost of 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. I was on a roadtrip recently that took me along I-70 through 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 takeout 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 St Louis, one in the suburbs. I should have stopped by St Charles, but I wanted the downtown area so I went 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. They should get bonus points for having curbside parking that is ready-to go and convenient.

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 wood creates intense flavors and is very intense. “deep and long finish to their smoked meats”. They also offer pulled chicken, salmon, and pork smoked in cherrywood. 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 provides a side with every sandwich. Let’s talk about their sides. There are so many options I couldn’t choose one. 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 cold, windy day so I ordered 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 great sauces. Hotangy and My Sweet Bestie were both added to my sandwich. Perfect! Overall, I enjoyed Salt + Smoke’s food. I just need to be able to dine in and have a bourbon.

pulled pork from Salt + Smoke in St Louis, MO

Final Thoughts on St Louis BBQ

St Louis is a great metropolis. 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’m sure I’ll be back to try all the other suggestions. Let me know your favorite St Louis barbecue so I can keep adding them on my must-try list.


Best BBQ Restaurants St Louis: You Must Try

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