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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Burnt Ends at The Shaved Duck Are No. 1 in the Nation, New Book Says

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Burnt ends are a classic barbecue dish -- albeit one associated with Kansas City. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/STU SPIVACK
  • Photo courtesy of Flickr/Stu Spivack
  • Burnt ends are a classic barbecue dish -- albeit one associated with Kansas City.

Johnny Fugitt didn't take any shortcuts while researching his new book about barbecue. Over the course of a year, the Branson, Missouri, native drove 31,000 miles and visited no less than 365 barbecue joints -- and tried every last one.

With the release of his new book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America, Fugitt doesn't just name names. He ranks the restaurants he visited -- crafting a list of both the top 100 and the top 10 in numerous categories.

And while St. Louis didn't take the No. 1 spot overall (that honor went to Kerlin BBQ in Austin, Texas), the city did very well indeed. Bogart's ranked No. 12 in the nation, with The Shaved Duck, Pappy's, Vernon's, The Capitalist Pig, Hendrick's and Salt + Smoke all placing in the top 100.

The Shaved Duck took home another cool prize: It won top honors for its burnt ends.

That might pass for fightin' words in Kansas City, the municipality whose style of barbecue is closely associated with burnt ends -- those oddly shaped brisket end pieces that can be deliciously moist in their best presentations.

And the Tower Grove East restaurant wasn't the only St. Louis spot to win a first place in Fugitt's reckoning. Pappy's notched honors for the best smoked turkey; the Capitalist Pig made Fugitt's favorite potato salad.

  • Courtesy of the author
  • Johnny Fugitt

Fugitt, who is currently an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, lived in St. Louis for a number of years. To some extent, he considers it the place he's from -- at least "until someone asks where I went to high school," he jokes.

But hometown boosterism had nothing to do with his picks, he says -- they're the product of rigorous research. He was tough when he had to be: At least one much-lauded restaurant got left off the list when he caught them microwaving their ribs.


All told, Fugitt concludes, St. Louis barbecue is good, and getting better.

One reason might be the very fact that we aren't tied to any one style. People think St. Louis-style barbecue is a thing because of the existence of St. Louis-style ribs, he notes, "but this is more a cut than a style."

"St. Louis doesn't have a defined style, although the influences of Memphis are certainly the strongest," he notes. And that might be a blessing in disguise: "St. Louis restaurants have the kind of latitude to explore a variety of styles that restaurants in places like Texas, Memphis, Kansas City or North Carolina do not have."

Fugitt's book can be purchased on Amazon. See its Facebook page for additional information.

Full disclosure: While she was working as an editor at Feast Magazine, the author of this post commissioned some freelance pieces from Fugitt and served as his editor.

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at

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