Thrillist Crowns BEAST Craft BBQ One of Nation's Top Barbecue Restaurants

Aug 23, 2019 at 8:26 am
The ribs at BEAST Craft BBQ are just one of the dishes that dazzle barbecue lovers from across the country. - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
The ribs at BEAST Craft BBQ are just one of the dishes that dazzle barbecue lovers from across the country.

When Dave Sandusky opened BEAST Craft BBQ (20 Belt W, Belleville, IL; 618-257-9000) in 2014, he did so with an ambitious goal: To serve the best barbecue in the area, if not the country. For the second consecutive year, he's getting the validation that his hard work has paid off.

That recognition comes from Thrillist, which named BEAST Craft BBQ one of the "33 Best BBQ Joints in America" for 2019. It's an honor that leaves Sandusky feeling both justified and lucky.

"There are probably a hundred other restaurants that should have made this list and didn't," Sandusky says. "We feel very fortunate to be on it, and we don't take it lightly."

Sandusky and his wife Meggan opened the acclaimed barbecue restaurant at the end of 2014 in Belleville based on the belief that top-tier barbecue comes from using only the highest quality proteins. Over the years, they have dialed in on exactly what that means, settling on Wagyu beef for brisket and Duroc pork from Compart Family Farms.

For Sandusky, however, the product is only part of the equation. The other secret to BEAST's success is a never-ending commitment to put out the best food he and his team can on every single plate — something that seems obvious in theory but can be grueling to execute day in and day out.

"What does it take? I can tell you what we do differently," Sandusky says. "It's a dedication to being more than consistent. It's about putting out literally the best product in every single category all the time on every plate every day. It's expensive, time-consuming and maddening at times, but we chose to put our heads down and take care of the plate before everything else."

That work only intensified over the summer when the Sanduskys opened their ambitious venture, BEAST Butcher & Block (4156 Manchester Avenue, 314-944-6003), in the Grove. The restaurant, basically a shrine to barbecue, is part smokehouse, part butchery and prepared foods store, and it will soon include a live-action cooking theater called the Skullery.

"It's one of those things where I will never be satisfied with my work," Sandusky explains. "It doesn't matter how good we are or how many lists we get on. We may have changed flavor profiles and procedures along the way, but one thing we haven't changed is that we will never stop growing and changing to be better."

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