My first reaction to Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis, which is quickly becoming the go-to place for ‘que in the Gateway City, was “Man, I love a place that lives up to the hype.” For a bbq joint that hasn’t even been open two years (since February 2008), it’s developed a remarkable following. So when a respected St. Louis chef with whom I’d exchanged emails regarding StL lunch options suggested the place, and I found myself in the area, it was time to give it a shot.
You’ll probably drive past the place at first; I did. It’s located in the back of a one-story building that also houses Buffalo Brewery and a sandwich shop catering to students from Harris-Stowe University across the street. But if you make your way around the back of the structure, there you’ll find Pappy’s, with appropriately porcine signage and a stuffed parking lot. When I arrived at 11:30 Tuesday morning there were six people in line in front of me. Within minutes of ordering it had swelled to more than 30. Get there early, and not just to avoid waiting. They run out of items, refusing to hold leftovers for the next day. Rad.
Anyway, the food. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw and sweet potato fries. On a whim, I threw in a half slab of ribs. I don’t get to St. Louis every day, you know. But damn I’m glad I did. They were some of the best I’d ever had. Meaty and perfectly cooked (not tough, but not falling off the bone, either), the ample fat had not only done its job basting the meat, it was groan-inducing in its own right.
The rub was a kind of sticky glaze, peppery and sweet and salty. Not overdone in the sense that they might be covering something up, Pappy’s gets the right balance of meat and baste. Awesome.
The cole slaw too was worthy of mention, as were the crisp, earthy sweet potato fries. Only the pulled pork disappointed. While perfectly cooked and textured, the meat seemed underseasoned to me. It could have been the proximity to the aggressively-flavored ribs, but who knows. I set the sandwich aside and gave the ribs my full attention. You should too, on your next visit to St. Louis. Just promise you’ll call ahead and make sure they have the ribs.
3106 Olive Street
Saint Louis MO 63103