Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dining Diva Review: Pappy's Smokehouse Barbecue St. Louis Missouri

Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ is the best BBQ place I have tried in St. Louis to date. For a town that has a reputation as a serious barbecue destination, I have not been very impressed with the 'cue in the Archtropolis. Before I went to Pappy's, I had read a poll that named Bandana's BBQ as the best in the area which was somewhat depressing since I consider Bandana's to be only about one step above Sonny's BBQ which is pretty much garbage. Pappy's is an unpretentious place with an enormous collection of barbecue sauces lining a shelf that circles the top of the restaurant. A life-size ceramic pig named "Barney" greets you as you approach the counter to place your order to the friendly cashier who takes your name and money and gives you a cup to go to the drink station and help yourself to some really good iced tea that comes unsweetened or tooth-cracking sweet and the usual selection of sodas. On my first visit, I sampled the pulled pork and ribs and took a sample of turkey, beef, pork and ribs home to share with my better half. The pulled pork is my favorite with a wonderful rich smoked flavor and tender as butter. The brisket had good flavor but was a little bit chewy as were the ribs--another couple of hours in the smoker would make all the difference in the world on the beef and ribs. The turkey was also juicy and meltingly tender. They have three table sauces, a regular, a spicy and one called Sweet Baby Jane named for the proprietor's granddaughter. One of the main reasons for the success of the restaurant is the owner who mingles with the customers and works the dining room like a politician at a fundraiser--smiling and chatting with everyone as if they were having barbeque in his backyard at home. It's a nice touch that would bring people back even if the best barbecue in town WASN'T being served inside. He is one of the nicest and most genuinely warm people I have ever met in this business. I understand from him that there will be another sauce soon as he is expecting another grandchild, and his daughter told him the news by telling him he was going to have to come up with another sauce, which was a very sweet story. This was on my first visit and he was as warm and friendly as if he'd known me forever. We chatted about barbecue and to my delight he was familiar with some other barbecue places I have dined in around this great country, namely Troy's in South Florida and Interstate BBQ on I-55 in Memphis where I stopped to eat on my way home from Louisiana. The lunch line is long but it moves quickly and the tables are basically picnic tables and a few high-tops with plastic red-and-white checkered tablecloths and they fill quickly. There is a staff member that circulates through the dining area picking up trays and keeping the tables tidy which keeps the tables turning and the crowd moving smoothly. The restaurant opens at 11 am and closes when they are sold out as they do not reheat their products, so arrive early to avoid being disappointed.
Food: 4 stars
Service: No table service but the counter service is 4-star quality.

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