Zagat, the Google-owned website that provides information on the hottest restaurants in cities across the country, published "The Ultimate Guide to American Regional Barbecue" on May 29. The lengthy article outlines which states to visit for barbecue, and then further breaks down each state by region to recommend where to try the best barbecue in each one.
Missouri was of course divided by Kansas City and St. Louis barbecue — and, no surprise, Pappy's Smokehouse (3106 Olive St., 314-535-4340) was recommended to readers as a must-try in the Gateway City, as well as its sister restaurant Bogart's Smokehouse (1627 S. 9th St., 314-621-3107) and take-out spot C&K Barbecue (4390 Jennings Station Rd., 314-385-8100).
The post summarizes St. Louis' path to finding its own barbecue style, as well the city's techniques, sauce and infatuation with pork. St. Louis is also highlighted for our love of barbecue sauce and pork steak:
St. Louis is also a big sauce city: per capita, Gateway City residents consume more barbecue sauce than any other in the country. Yet while the city has its namesake ribs and a love of sweet sauce, until recently it didn’t have much in the way of traditional St. Louis barbecue restaurants like its neighbor across the state.We're not sure where they got that part about St. Louis being one of just two areas in the country that "do" pork steaks — surely the National Pork Board knows better, and it reports robust sales from New Orleans to Grnad Rapids. But we will vouch for the part about Maull's!
“What there wasn’t was a distinctive St. Louis style of barbecue—with characteristic flavors, textures, meats, and techniques found here and nowhere else,” says Steven Raichlen, award-winning author of The Barbecue! Bible and host of Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke.
Nowadays, meats in St. Louis tend to be grilled, then sauced, rather than dry-rubbed and slowly smoked. Like Kansas City, St. Louis favors sweet tomato-based varieties in varying degrees of viscosity. Another difference between the two Missouri cities is that the latter focuses on all things pork, hailed far and wide for its namesake rib cut, but also home to baby back ribs, rib tips, pig snoots, pork shoulder and pork steaks. The latter are “Very unique to St. Louis,” says Raichlen. “There are only two areas in the country that do pork steaks.” (The other is Monroe County, Kentucky.) Shoulders are cut on a meat saw into finger thick steaks, usually grilled, then stewed in a foil pan with a sweet, tomatoey sauce, like locally-created Maull’s Genuine Barbecue Sauce.
Zagat also details the best barbecue spots in various regions of Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Hawaii.
To read the entire guide, visit zagat.com.