Taste test: How 5 new barbecue joints stack up

STL post




January 25, 2013 12:00 am

By Evan S. Benn ebenn@post-dispatch.com


Beer, baseball and barbecue are three things St. Louis does well — very well, if we do say so ourselves.

And just as new breweries pop up and the Cardinals bring in fresh talent, the area’s barbecue landscape is constantly evolving.

When colleague Joe Holleman and I went hunting for the best BBQ ribs in 2009, we hit some tried-and-true classics: 17th Street, Smoki O’s, Pappy’s.

In 2011, a Pappy’s spinoff called Bogart’s opened in Soulard, drawing a raving three-star P-D review (the highest rating, as far as our records indicate, that the paper has awarded a BBQ joint).

And new barbecue shops keep on rolling. In St. Louis, it seems, if you smoke it, they will come.

Here’s a look at five local barbecue places that opened in the past year and how their smoking stacks up.


Where 15581 Manchester Road, Ballwin • Hours Lunch and dinner daily • More info 636-256-1908; bbqasap.com

Ribs A pink hue surrounds these fall-off-the-bone baby-backs, which may have seen a bit too much time in the smoker. I prefer my ribs to show some resistance.

Meat Pulled pork was pretty dry and not very smoky, but the good-size chunks were well seasoned and properly porky. ASAP’s barely spicy “hot” sauce kept things interesting.

Sides A five-bean “casserole” in a sweet, dark sauce with pork is a welcome change from usual baked beans. Warm applesauce is pretty thin, not as chunky as advertised, but as sugary as pie filling.

Special sauce ASAP (Always Smoked, Absolutely Perfect) owners Jim and Mary Randall are professional, competitive BBQers who bought out the former Mr. Harry’s Carnival Foods last year and turned it into a BBQ-only shop. A deep menu includes a pastrami Reuben sandwich, smoked turkey and chicken, and a baked — not boiled — potato salad.


Where 1227 Castillon Arcade Plaza, Creve Coeur • Hours Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, dinner Saturday • More info 314-878-5586; facebook.com/gobblestopsmokehouse

Ribs Gobble Stop bucks the BBQ trend by focusing on smoked chicken and turkey, not pork and beef. The turkey “ribs” are actually bone-in, white-meat shoulder pieces, and they may very well be the best thing I tasted on this adventure. Smoky, succulent, tender and seasoned all the way to the bone, turkey ribs are where it’s at.

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