Sticky Fingers: St. Louis BBQ Worth Finding

We don't care if you call it BBQ, barbecue/que, or manna: we have some of the country's best

Feel like starting something? Just go throwing around loud opinions about how Kansas City barbecue whups Memphis barbecue, or extolling dry over wet ribs...you're bound to rile up someone nearby who's got gospel about the opposite stance. End the smoky wars, friends, and let's agree: It's. All. Good. Pull up a pulled pork sandwich and let's break bread together, with a side of sweet tea. Among our favorite local 'cue joints?

Adam's Smokehouse

In the best of BBQ-joint traditions, Adam's Smokehouse, a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood spot, has garnered a following, not least from a direct funnel from a nearby hotel whose manager sends all his guests there! Crusty, apple-butter-slathered ribs are one recommendation. 

Vernon's BBQ

Once the smoker out front is fired up at Vernon's BBQ, barely any foodstuff in the kitchen escapes its reach: corned beef, brisket, pulled pork, meaty wings, fish, and even tofu get the treatment, plus a memorable array of delicious sides from tequila-lime green beans to cheesy scalloped potatoes. Sweet tea and a selection of quirky sauces round out the menu.   

Vernon's barbecue

Pappy's Smokehouse

Considered by many to be the zany uncle of the ‘cue revival in town (and much lauded for lending expertise to upstarts); most lunchtimes at Pappy's see a line out the door, often populated with cops, EMTs and other hard-working, big-eatin’ types. Memphis-style meats and even that delicacy, Frito Pie.

Bogart's Smokehouse

Among the legacies of the aforementioned...this spot! With a blessing that we like to imagine included annointing-with-sauce, former employees of Pappy's launched their own very popular restaurant, Bogart's Smokehouse, in the Soulard neighborhood, just adjacent to the historic Soulard Farmers Market. Tri-tip sirloin, burnt ends, pastrami and more, plus the option of a N.C.-style vinegar sauce, and BBQ pork skins on the sides menu.

Smoki O's

From its origins in the late-90s as a food stall at the famed Soulard Farmers Market, to its present location in a light-industrial stretch north of downtown, Smoki O's, a well-kept secret, serves the expected (ribs, pulled pork, and chicken wings) plus a bevy of specialties that pull the crowds from miles around: BBQ spaghetti, a pork burger, and the St. Louis-famous grilled crispy snoot.   

Spare No Rib

And now for something completely different: the BBQ/taco mashup menu at both locations of this relative newcomer, Spare No Rib. On the one hand, you've got your smoked ribs, baked Northern beans, pulled pork, and cornbread. On the other, braised beef cheek tacos, chorizo and egg sopes, refried beans. Throw in a beer, tamarind Jarritos soda, or caipirinha to make the fusion complete.

Amanda Doyle
About the author

Amanda served as the St. Louis associate editor a...