The Best St Louis BBQ You Have to Try
As a southerner, I’m no stranger to BBQ. The south is full of good BBQ. It’s so good here, I’m hesitant to even try it in other parts of the country. But when I visited St Louis and found out about “St Louis BBQ”, I went searching for the best BBQ to see how it stacked up against southern BBQ. Turns out… pretty darn good. In fact, you might even say I liked it better. Will they take away my southerner card for 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” of St Louis BBQ. What’s different about it? Generally in cooking terms, this means the ribs or the meat is cooked directly on a grill as opposed to slow cooked over indirect heat that uses smoke.
Another thing that sets St Louis BBQ apart is the cut. Since ribs are the most probably the most popular cut in the St Louis style BBQ line up, the rib bones are trimmed neat with the ends cut off so they present a well formed rectangle shape.
As for sauce, St Louis style BBQ is usually sauced with a thicker, but not too sweet, sauce that has vinegar in it. In fact, that’s actually one of the only differences between St Louis BBQ and Kansas City BBQ, who’s sauce is even more thick and sweeter.
One more thing I frequently saw on St Louis menus is what’s called burnt ends. The burnt ends are a cut of meat from a beef brisket. They originate in Kansas City but you’ll find them in St Louis too. The meat is cubed and braised in sauce until it just melts in your mouth.
Where to Eat St Louis BBQ
To be honest, I really don’t have too much knowledge of what makes what a certain city’s BBQ style. I just know I like BBQ so I set out to eat some St Louis BBQ. In no particular order, because I liked them all, here’s what I tried. So far.
When you say BBQ, for me, 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.
Because I had read about how busy it is at times, I decided to go early in the evening on a week night to beat the crowd. Thank goodness there was only a short line because I was hungry. Most of the people there seemed to be locals and knew what they wanted so the line did move really fast.
After moving through the line you come to a counter, place your order, find a place to sit down and they will bring your food out to you.
Pappy’s BBQ Style
Interestingly, instead of St Louis style BBQ, Pappy’s serves Memphis style BBQ. This means the ribs, which are their specialty, are dry rubbed and then smoked 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.
I ordered a pulled pork sandwich – which is my favorite thing. I was not disappointed. Pappy’s sandwich is perfect with meat spilling off the bun. The meat was so tender and cooked just right. How you sauce your BBQ at Pappy’s is up to you. The choices include an Original traditional sauce, a Sweet Baby Jane and a hotter Hoo Doo sauce. I’m more of an acidic or vinegary sauce than sweet, so I preferred the Original and the Hoo Doo.
Some places focus so hard on the BBQ that they forget the sides. Not Pappy’s. Their sides are the perfect complement to their meats. That means they accompany – not outshine the BBQ. They serve baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, fried corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, green beans and apple sauce.
I had the baked beans and potato salad and loved them both. Pappy’s was definitely a favorite and some of the best BBQ I’ve had ever.
Sugarfire is an local award winning Missouri chain of BBQ restaurants with locations in St Louis and a few surrounding states. Their website describes their BBQ 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”.
With locations throughout the city, I decided to go to the original Olive Street location in Olivette west of town 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
In addition to BBQ standbys of ribs, pulled pork and brisket, Sugarfire serves burgers, salmon and salads. So even non meat eaters and the pickiest of kids should be able to find something they like to eat.
This time instead of a sandwich, I ordered a pulled pork plate and a couple of sides. The pork was really good. It wasn’t the best St Louis BBQ I tried but I enjoyed it. Of all the places I sampled, I will say Sugarfire served the least amount of meat. Maybe that’s not the typical experience but I found the serving to be a bit skimpy for the price.
Their mission statement about taking the best of the best BBQ cities, comes through in their their sauces too. A homemade Alabama White Sauce, a tangy Carolina Mustard and a classic Texas Hot are just few of the homemade sauces they make.
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 do serve are hand cut French fries, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. I tried the coleslaw and thought it was very well made.
My biggest regret was not trying one of their milkshakes or what they call a pie shake. The pie shake is a milk shake that has one whole piece of pie blended in. I don’t know if I’d go back for BBQ but I’d definitely go back to try a milkshake for sure.
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”. Not surprising based on the amount of people that were there the day I went.
The line was out the door and down the street. The plus side of waiting in line? They offer you smoked wings while you wait. Actually they may hand out other food as well, but on the Sunday I was there, it was wings. Smoky, tender delicious wings.
Bogart’s BBQ Style
Other BBQ classics like ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey and pastrami complete the menu. Again, I ordered my usual pulled pork and it was out of this world delicious. I like the way they pull the pork. It’s pulled but kind of chunky and not stringy. The texture was just right – tender with plenty of crispy edges.
I paired my sandwich with the deviled egg potato salad as a side. Whoever decided deviled eggs needed to be added to potato salad deserves an award. And the baked beans were some of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. Thick, rich and chunky with meat in them.
The only and I really mean the only, down side to Bogart’s is the size of the restaurant. As with the other two restaurants, you make your way to the counter to order. Because the line was so long, people were holding seats so I couldn’t even get a seat for one. Normally, I would prefer to sit and try all the sauces but I only got to try the Sweet Meagan Ann sauce. It’s a thick, sweet and smoky sauce and was delicious. Worth the wait and the carry out.
Salt + Smoke
Update – My original article only had the first three restaurants but I recently took a road trip and drove I-70 through St Louis. Even though I didn’t have much time, 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 is a local St Louis restaurant with BBQ, craft beer and a huge bourbon selection. They have five locations around the region. Four of the restaurants are in the city and one is in the suburbs. Since I was on Interstate 70, I should have stopped at the St Charles location but I really wanted to go downtown so I went to the one on Clark Avenue.
Disclosure: being from out of town, I didn’t know this location was at the busy Ballpark Village. I’m just glad there wasn’t a game or anything going on or it would have been a big delay. Bonus points to Salt + Smoke for convenient to-go curbside parking.
Salt + Smoke’s BBQ Style
Salt + Smoke’s BBQ is traditional St Louis style. They smoke the pork and brisket over post oak wood. Their website states that this kind of wood is very intense and creates a “deep and long finish to their smoked meats”. Besides pork and brisket, they serve BBQ pulled chicken and salmon smoked with cherry wood. They also have wings and something called fried chicken skins. Interesting.
For simplicity and comparison, I ordered my standard pork sandwich just like I did at all the other St Louis BBQ restaurants I’ve tried. At Salt + Smoke, the pork sandwich is served on a lightly toasted bun with tasty pickles on the side. At first bite, you can taste the rich smoky flavor from the oak. It was incredible and just fall apart tender.
The sandwiches come with a side, which was very hard to choose since they offer so many options. They have fries, pit beans with bacon – they smoke their own bacon by the way – potato salad, coleslaw, creamed corn and more.
It was kind of a cool and blustery day, so in the end, I ended up ordering the white cheddar cracker mac because I thought mac n cheese would hit the spot on a cold day. And it didn’t just hit the spot – it was so good – it’s actually kind of life changing. I’ve thought about it at least weekly since I’ve been home. It was even good cold. I saved about half since it was such a big portion. and ate it later on the road – cold – and it was still the best mac n cheese I’ve ever had.
As far as sauces go – Salt + Smoke have several to pick from. I topped my sandwich with classic My Sweet Bestie and also a bit of Hotangy. Perfect! Overall, I really really loved the food from Salt + Smoke. I just need a do-over so I can actually dine in and have a beer or bourbon.
The Best St Louis BBQ Round-Up
So, final question – does St Louis have good BBQ? 100 percent absolutely yes! And that makes me happy because I really love St Louis. It’s such a fun city. It’s full of cool neighborhoods, unique experiences, the best donuts, and as you can see, St Louis BBQ is some of the best in the United States.
It really has turned out to be one of my favorite BBQ towns and now I think I need about a month to try all the suggestions people have made. Please let me know your favorite St Louis BBQ so I can keep adding places to my must try list.
Try Smokee Mo’s in Manchester. Best brisket anywhere, and ribs to die for.
Wow, 2 comments for Smokee Mo’s. I’ll have to check it out. I’m sorry I missed your comment before. I appreciate you taking the time to make a recommendation. 🙂
I’m a big fan of all the places in your article (especially Sugarfire), but regarding “Smokee Mo’s”, I say “MEH”. I’ve had it twice, though once was enough to make a decision not to return. There’s another BBQ place not far from there which didn’t make this list and in many ways I think rivals Sugarfire and that’s Daile’s Smokehouse on Dougherty Ferry Rd in Valley Park. My only complaint about that place is their hours are way too short compared to all their rivals, and we tend to eat a little late. So we end up going to Sugarfire (44 or Olive) most of the time.
Y’all need to come check out Smokee Mos at 110 old meremac station rd. You will love the food and the Barn that’s right a Barn
Sorry I missed your comment before. I’m intrigued about the barn. I have to check it out now! Thanks so much for the suggestion. 🙂
Hogtown in dog town check it out
Darn you all….I read this at 3 am in the morning and I want BBQ…….right now!
Hahaha mission accomplished!
I loved Salt + Smoke when I was in St. Louis about a year and a half ago! Lots of locals said it was the place to go and it didn’t disappoint. Then there was the pie!!!!
Thanks for confirming it’s good! 🙂 I really hated not having time but just a reason to plan another trip to St Louis. I’ll keep the pie in mind too!
When you guys come back 5 Ace’s is definitely one you need to stop by.
Thank so much for the suggestion. I will definitely check it! 🙂
Sugar fire is one of the best.😋 we live in Chicagoland and when we come to St. Louis we always go to the original one you visited
It was tasty bbq! Thanks for weighing in on the subject 🙂 Chicago is also one of my favorite cities to visit. I’ve been visiting several times a year since 2000 although I haven’t been in 2 years 🙁 and I’ve yet to try bbq there. Cheers!
You have to try snoot from Big Mamma’s. Snoot is a true St. Louis original and Big Mamma’s does it up right. Make sure you order the sandwich to get the full experience.
Thank you so much for sharing this with me. 🙂
Awesome BBQ in Ellisville, Missouri. PM BBQ. BBQ the best and details on the sides just as good!
Thank you so much for the suggestion. Hopefully I will be back in the area and can give it a try. Gotta love those sides! 🙂
Try BeastCraft in The Grove neighborhood. A St Louis specialty you might try is porksteaks. It’s basically pork shoulder cut like a steak. It’s very tender and tasty and BeastCraft serves the most tender I’ve ever tasted. Good stuff!
Thank you so much for the suggestion. I love that it’s in The Grove too since I really enjoyed exploring that neighborhood. Putting it on my list for next time. I’m hoping to visit in October. Thanks again! 🙂
Last I heard they closed.
Thanks for the update.
Try Adams Smokehouse and Beast bbq.
Thank you! Going on my St Louis list! 🙂
If you want great hole in the wall bbq, Smokie O’s bbq norrh of downrown is the real deal.
And Shaved Duck in the Tower Grove East neighborhood is not to be missed.
Oh thank you for the suggestion. I always enjoy trying lesser known places! Putting it on my list. 🙂
If youre willing to go a bit further west, Dukes BBQ in Wentzville can stand up to anyone. The burnt end rangoon is an amazing appetizer, and their brisket is second only to Beast in the grove.
Hi James! Thank you so much for the suggestion. Burnt end rangoon sounds very interesting! Putting this on my list. 🙂
How did beastcraft not make this list
Thank you for the suggestion. I wish I had about a month to spend around St Louis to eat BBQ 🙂 I try to try something new if I’m driving though so I’ll definitely add this one to my wish list! Thanks!
When you do finally get to sit down and eat at Salt + Smoke, be sure to order a dessert. My fiancee makes them and they’re amazing.
Thank you for letting me know this. I’ll save room! 🙂
Thank you for sharing. I will definitely check them out! 🙂
Sharpshooters is good!
Thank you for the suggestion. 🙂
Super Smokers in Eureka…can’t even believe this hasn’t been mentioned. They used to have a bunch of locations around the city, but they all closed and now their food truck has had such success they opened a new brick and mortar in Affton. Their BBQ nachos are amazing. I second Shaved Duck in Tower Grove for their burnt ends and Beast (the OG is over in Belleville, IL). Glad you had Salt + Smoke. I always tell folks their Mac and cheese is life changing! I’ve never had a bad bite there for dine in.
Hi Erin! Thank you for sharing about Super Smokers. I looked them up to see where that is and hopefully I’ll have a chance to try some nachos. Sounds delicious! I have been wanting to visit the Mark Twain National Forest and drive from MO into Arkansas and this looks like a good stop. 🙂 And yes that mac n cheese from Salt + Smoke. I swear I think about it every day!
Red’s The One And Only BBQ it’s in Ferguson you have to try it when I say finger licking good it really is delicious..
Finger licking good is the best kind! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely agree with this recommendation and the sides are all homemade. The best!!!
Little Mickys in Saint Peters MO.
Hands down the best tender pulled pork with cole slaw on it.
Pulled pork is my favorite! Putting this on my list. Thank you for sharing.
Adam’s is #1…like Bogart’s, it’s part of the Pappy’s family. Shaved Duck is also top notch
Seems I’ve really missed out not going to Shaved Duck. Next time! 🙂
Dixon’s BBQ has the best burnt ends and try their signature dish (chicken tips). You will not be disappointed.
Thank you so much for the tip! I have a much longer list now with all these suggestions. 🙂
Smokie’Os I real authentic stl style BBQ won awards and featured on food network. If they aren’t on the lift you haven’t eaten real StL BBQ. Also forgot Smoking Barrels on the south side. They are hands down better than your entire list. Before you put out a best of for stl make sure you know what your talking about first.
Hey there Cousin Cheese! Sorry you don’t agree with my list. However, I never said it was a best of list. It’s simply a list of all the places I’ve tried so far and my opinion as a southerner that likes to eat BBQ. I generally don’t profess anything to be the best bc I realize that there are simply too many places I haven’t been and how could I judge if I haven’t been yet? That’s also why I asked for suggestions from people reading this article. So thank you for your tip. I’ll be sure to check it out.
You definitely forgot about “the Shaved duck”!
Several people have mentioned it so now I have to try it too! Thanks for the tip!
All them places sound great but it’s a couple of problems. 1st – A few of those places are not in the city. Second is the list of best in St.louis by who?🤣🤣 I didn’t see not one great factor on your list. Reds / Prince barbecue/Mi hungry barbecue/ Goodfellow barbecue and Mlk barbecue. .
Hey Jonathan – I’m kind of confused because all of those places are in the city. In fact Pappy’s, Bogarts and Salt+Smoke are pretty darn close to one another. All Downtown. Is Solange not considered St Louis? And Olivette is an inner ring suburb so I kind of think that counts too no? Now as to who made the list – that would be me. I’m Lori – the southerner and this is my website. 🙂 I never said my list was “the best” per se. They just happen to be the places I tried first. I def want to try more and I’m open to other suggestions so I appreciate the ones you made. Red’s definitely looks good so thanks! I will put it on my St Louis wishlist for when I’m back in town.
I read all the reviews but didn’t see a somewhat newer brick and mortar location in St Charles/St Peters on the North Outer Rd.rt off I70 HEAVY SMOKE! Started out as competitive bbq’rs has evolved in to a food truck and for the last couple years a casual dine in (plenty of room) sit down joint. I’m partial to their burnt ends and jalepeno sausage but that pulled pork will get cha! A few options on sauce but I typically go more traditional spicy and vinegar based but their spicy pineapple is straight 🔥. I hope someone else adds to my simple description. If your in the Midwest, you may as well stop in. Safe travels
Thank you so much for this suggestion. I’m not usually a fruit sauce kind of girl but based on your description it sounds delish. Anytime anyone goes from food truck to brink and mortar – that’s a good sign. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I have got to try some jalapeno sausage next! 🙂
There is a very good BBQ joint in St Charles on their cobblestone streets on Main by the river, Hendrick’s BBQ. The bbq is VERY good and they have some amazing drinks as well. It’s a bit more upscale similar to Jack Stack BBQ in KC, but still casual enough to get messy.
Thank you for that suggestion! I really want to visit St Charles next time I around St Louis. I need more time! Getting messy sounds like good BBQ. 🙂
I agree about Smokin Barrels! And ive had Pappys…amazing!!!.
Smokin Barrels going on the list! Thanks!
St. Louis Q at Goodfellow and west Florissant is the best in town. The rib tip and snoot plate is THE BEST! I am not a sauce fan but I can drink theirs by the gallon its so good.
Thank you for that suggestion!
Stellar hog is soo good! Everything on their menu is great
Thank you for the tip! 🙂
Give Hogtown Smokehouse a try in Dogtown! You will be glad that you did! It is one of our favorites!
Adding it to my list 🙂 Thanks!
Try Manns meat on Graham Rd in Ferguson, mo. A suburb of stl
Off of 270N, go N on Graham.
Thanks for the suggestion. Adding it to my huge list 🙂
Hogtown Smokehouse, in Dogtown. Great Neighborhood, great food!!!
I have to go there next time I’m in St. Louis because you aren’t the first person to recommend it so it must be really good. Thanks so much for the suggestion!
Wish we would’ve seen this while we were in St Louis this weekend. We ate at Bandanas and it was horrible. I had the bbq baked potato and I expected pulled pork to be on it. It was wet mush with a greasy cheddar cheese slice melted on top. Few bites was all I could do.
Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve seen the signs for Bandanas but haven’t ever tried it. Not so sure I want to now. No idea why they would use sliced cheese?
Beast barbecue is absolutely a winner. The pork steak is fantastic.. It comes in either platter or sandwich. They have a variety of sauces available. Also a nice selection of side dishes of which the fried brussel sprouts with pork belly is my favorite. If you go to the original location in Belleville don’t forget to try a fountain soda from a regional company that uses pure cane sugar instead of syrup.
Thank you for the suggestion! 🙂
Your picks were all top notch. I would put Beast Craft BBQ in that group, and you’ve hit up the best places.
Adams Smokehouse, Dallies, Shaved Duck, Stellar Hog, and Narvin’s are all worth checking out.
Thanks for that. Hopefully I will be back soon so I can give it a try. 🙂