When you first pull off South Lindbergh Boulevard in search of Nubby's BBQ (11133 Lindbergh Business Court, 314-200-9123), you might think your GPS has led you astray. When it places you in front of All American Sports Mall at the very end of an industrial court, you'll be cursing Google in earnest.
However, the three massive steel smokers that sit out front of the recreation complex should be a dead giveaway that you are indeed in the right place — and as soon as you step through the front doors and smell the barbecue filling the atrium, you'll wonder why you ever questioned yourself.To many, All American Sports Mall may seem like an odd location for a new smokehouse, but owner Matt Hines didn't see it that way. The pitmaster knows the owner of the complex, and many years ago, he had even worked at the mall's bar, which is where Nubby's is now located. He'd noticed the foot traffic that went through the building on any given day — roller and ice hockey teams, aspiring baseball players — and decided that it would be a good spot to launch his barbecue project.
Hines is entirely self-taught, with no professional restaurant experience other than the fact that his parents owned a restaurant when he was a kid. A construction professional by trade, Hines owned a lawn and landscaping company, but has spent his off-hours cooking for as long back as he can remember.
About seven years ago, Hines got serious about barbecue, experimenting with different techniques in his backyard. As he gained confidence around the pit, he dreamed of opening his own barbecue restaurant, finally making that a reality this past February. Hines quite his job to focus on Nubby's full time, and has already settled on a second location that will open on the Hill sometime this year.
Hines describes his style as "backyard barbecue," meaning that he does not necessarily adhere to a particular genre, like Memphis or Texas style. He simply does what he thinks tastes the best, including dry-rubbed baby back ribs glazed with sweet and tangy housemade sauce, pulled pork, and burnt ends, dressed with his signature sweet-and-savory "beef sauce."
Hines says that what sets Nubby's apart is that he smokes the different meats over different woods, each in its own smoker. For this reason, he limits himself to preparing only two types of sauces, noting that the meat tastes differently because it is smoked over different types of wood.
He makes as much as possible in-house at Nubby's, short of items like hamburger buns and French fries. Hines prides himself in quality side dishes, like caramely baked beans, German-style potato salad and crisp green beans. Even the crab rangoon is handmade, as are the chicken- and pork-stuffed wontons called "Nubby's chorks." Pizzas, salads, and a variety of burgers are offered in addition to the classic barbecue selections.
Hines is pleased with the reception Nubby's has gotten. He's even been surprised by visitors from across the country who heard about his new smokehouse on the SmokingMeat Forums. For a little place off the beaten track, it's big buzz — and, if Hines has his way, it will only get bigger.
Nubby's is open daily from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Breakfast is served on Saturday mornings from 6 to 11 a.m. For more information on current specials, you visit the restaurant's Facebook page.
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