Salt + Smoke serves saucy St. Louis barbecue.

Sink Your Teeth into St. Louis Barbecue

Friday July 14, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

Nothing beats saucy barbecue on a summer day.

While St. Louis-style ribs dominate the local barbecue scene, you can also feast on juicy pulled pork, grass-fed beef brisket, crunchy burnt ends, iconic pork steaks and more at area restaurants.

St. Louis-style barbecue often means grilled and sauced, but the Gateway City boasts dry-rubbed and slow-smoked meats, as well – plus, tantalizing sides such as pit beans with smoked bacon, sweet pepper potato salad, creamed corn and fire-and-ice pickles to round out your meal.

Dalie’s Smokehouse boasts some of the best St. Louis barbecue.
Photo courtesy of Dalie’s Smokehouse

Whichever way you choose to satisfy your cookout cravings, make sure you add at least one of these places to your itinerary. We can’t think of anywhere better to sink our teeth into St. Louis barbecue.

For the love of barbecue, Bogart’s Smokehouse puts its own spin on America’s favorite food. Located in Soulard, one of the oldest and most charming neighborhoods in St. Louis, the barbecue joint specializes in apricot-brûléed ribs, smoky beef brisket and melt-in-the-mouth pastrami.

Do you love any and all barbecue? Bootleggin’ BBQ serves Kansas City-style barbecue in St. Louis. The smoky goodness – think brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork and chicken – comes with a thick, sweet sauce made with tomatoes, brown sugar and molasses. Try the Pioneer Sloppy Joe (chopped brisket topped with creamy coleslaw on a toasted brioche bun) with fries on the side.

Dalie’s Smokehouse brings some of the best barbecue to West County. Don’t miss the weekly specials, including brisket chili, pork steak plates and seasonal desserts – peach cobbler, anyone? The casual restaurant also offers twists on traditional St. Louis barbecue such as barbecue nachos, a smoked ham-and-cheese sandwich and a smoked jackfruit sandwich for the vegans among us. Complement your meal with a visit to the National Museum of Transportation, which has one of the largest and best collections of transportation vehicles in the world.

Pappy’s Smokehouse serves barbecue ribs and sides such as corn on the cob and sweet potato fries.
Photo courtesy of Pappy’s Smokehouse

The dishes at Hendricks BBQ have a certain flair. While you can dig into barbecue platters featuring your choice of meats and fixin’s – think baby back ribs, collard greens, smoked turkey and Cheddar grits – you might also want to consider something between bread. The BLGT boasts fried green tomatoes, smoked bacon, lettuce, your choice of cheese and a mustard-based sauce, and the Smothered Sausage Hoagie features a sausage link smothered in caramelized onions, peppers and cheese, both of which are crowd-pleasers.

Although Hwy 61 Roadhouse doesn’t focus solely on St. Louis barbecue, it does serve one of our most emblematic eats: pork steak. What is a pork steak, exactly? Sometimes sold as Boston Butt or pork blade steak, a pork steak is cut from the shoulder of the pig in varying degrees of thickness. The bone-in meat has a large amount of intramuscular fat (marbling), making it especially succulent, and it has a more pronounced pork flavor than the oft-used chop. At Hwy 61 Roadhouse, the 12-ounce pork steak is grilled and then brushed with housemade barbecue sauce.

Kicking off the modern boom of St. Louis barbecue, Pappy’s Smokehouse has been named Best Ribs in America by the Food Network and Best BBQ in Missouri by Southern Living. Prepared fresh daily, the Memphis-style barbecue ranges from full slabs of dry-rubbed, slow-smoked ribs to heaping platters of pulled pork, turkey breast, beef brisket and more. The great food and good vibes at this Midtown smokehouse will have you coming back for seconds.

Sugarfire Smoke House has curated the barbecue menu at Evolution Festival.
Photo courtesy of Sugarfire Smoke House

At Salt + Smoke, barbecue is a labor of love. Dig into plates of St. Louis-style barbecue – pulled pork, brisket, rib tips, smoked wings, fried jalapeño-Cheddar bologna and more – all of which come with a bacon-Cheddar popover and two sides. The White Cheddar Cracker Mac, Beef Fat Fries and BBQ Sweet Potato Chips are downright delicious, but make sure to save room for pie. Apple, pecan, chocolate…it’s all good! Want St. Louis barbecue at home? Salt + Smoke will ship everything from whole pork butt to St. Louis-cut ribs and pimento cheese to housemade sauce to your doorstep.

The chef-driven ’cue at Sugarfire Smoke House plucks the best traditions out of U.S. cities to create St. Louis-style barbecue that’s all its own. Alongside the classics, you’ll find spicy andouille, smoked portabella, fried artichokes and cheese curds. The award-winning restaurant is also famous for its meaty mashups that defy logic – and gravity.

The slow-smoked, fall-off-the-bone, finger-licking-good barbecue at Super Smokers is utterly irresistible, and you’ll want to sop up every drop – preferably, with Texas toast. This is another place where you can try pork steak, which pairs perfectly with sides such as sweet jalapeño cornbread, barbecue beans, sweet and sour slaw and applesauce. If you’re looking for something slightly different, try the housemade mac ‘n’ cheese topped with burnt ends or the barbecue burger featuring a juicy, medium-well patty piled high with white Cheddar, pulled pork and sweet sauce.

The Pig & Whiskey Festival features St. Louis barbecue.
Photo courtesy of Schlafly Beer

Need more St. Louis barbecue? Don’t miss the Pig & Whiskey Festival. Featuring some of the area’s most beloved barbecue joints, craft cocktails, plenty of Schlafly beer and, of course, whiskey, bourbon and scotch, the annual summer festival will take over Maplewood from July 28 to 30. Local and national bands will also help set the tone for the neighborhood’s largest block party.

Pig & Whiskey is a family-friendly event, complete with interactive games for all ages, bounce houses, bull riding, a vendor village and more. Adults can also stroll down Whiskey Row or learn new recipes from local mixologists and pitmasters.