Photo by Kevin A. Roberts
Big Muddy at Sugarfire Smoke House
Sugarfire Smoke House
Relentless creativity defines Sugarfire. Specials like coffee-fennel short ribs, shrimp-and-crawfish rangoon, and addictive house-smoked pastrami send diners racing to social media to see what’s new. Multiple locations, 314-997-2301, sugarfiresmokehouse.com.
The Pappy’s Family
What did we do when craving ribs before Pappy’s Smokehouse? The line-out-the-door barbecue joint in midtown reinvented slow-smoked meats and kick-started St. Louis’ rib renaissance. At sister restaurant Bogart’s Smokehouse, glowing Yelp reviews are posted in the dining room, samples are served to waiting customers, and the best pit beans in the biz are served alongside apricot-glazed ribs. At Adam’s Smokehouse, the smoked salami and brisket melt in your mouth. All three restaurants share a humble, fervent devotion to treating customers like royalty. 3106 Olive, 314-535-4340, pappyssmokehouse.com; 1627 S. Ninth, 314-621-3107, bogartssmokehouse.com; 2819 Watson,314-875-9890, adamssmokehouse.com.
Vernon’s BBQ & Catering
With peach-based and Thai peanut barbecue sauces, Vernon’s staff does it their way. Don’t miss the grilled bologna. 6707 Vernon, 314-726-1227, vernonsbbq.com.
Spare No Rib
A dynamite rub applied liberally to the namesake ribs, a super-tangy mustard-vinegar barbecue sauce, and innovations like the spicy, smoked vegetable salsa are worth return visits. 2200 Gravois, 314-202-8244, sparenorib.com.
The standouts here are ribs with a stellar smoke-and-rub flavor, creamy mac and cheese, and baked beans suffused with smoked meat. And the restaurant’s sprawling interior is just begging to be explored. 1200 S. Main, 636-724-8600, hendricksbbq.com.
Highlights include a smoked brisket that’s sliced thin and piled high, as well as a spicy barbecue sauce that’s more subtle than the typical tongue-blasting version. 161 Long, Chesterfield, 636-536-1966, pmbbq.com.