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Jan 30, 2009 07:48 PM

Best St. Louis Mo. Ribs - Mom & Pop or Hole in the Wall

I"m going to the NCAA Wrestling National Championships in St. Louis in Mid March. We've got a large group with some friends from the east coast.

We're from So. Cal so we only know BBQ from the Southern California area. I'm looking for some great BBQ ribs, but from Mom & Pops and Hole in the Walls preferable.

I'm not looking for nay-sayers and put downs. I'm looking for foodies with something intelligent to say.

Set us up with some lunches and dinner places.

I've been looking on this site for about an hour and can't find the answers that I'm looking for.

Any help out there?

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  1. That;s because St.L isn't really a BBQ town.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbqboy

      not a BBQ town? for established joints, maybe, but most do it at home so why go out?

      scour inner Natural Bridge and St. Charles Rock/MLK in the Wellston/Velda Village area for strip malls and empty lots looking for an old guy with an oil drum converted to a smoker. unpredictable but occasionally quite rewarding.

      ignore Tony Roma's. just google stl bbq and you'll get a number of hits, expect a bbq that's more Memphis than KC or Texas (Mississippi valley and all) so skip the brisket..

    2. The best BBQ place in St. Louis is relatively new, about to celebrate its first anniversary. It is Pappy's, at 3106 Olive near St. Louis University, where the street changes back into Olive from Lindell. Excellent baby back ribs -- nicely smoked, tender but with a bite. Their pulled pork is also very good (order it untrimmed, with the bark) and i liked the brisket. Sides are more than an afterthought there -- besides the usual cole slaw and potato salad they have fun sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon and steak fries (order well done). People there are incredibly hardworking and eager to please. Go for lunch -- they sometimes run out of meat later and close a bit early. And urge them, like I have, to expand their ribs to include a St. Louis sparerib option as well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        Beat me to it. They do nice work.

        Also, be prepared to try bbq pork steaks. It's a local thing, but they are tasty and (generally) cheap.

        Super Smokers is good too, but a but of a drive. (

        1. re: nosh

          3rd for Pappy's. I love their ribs -sort of black peppery rub.

          17th street is good in O'Fallon,Il too. Picked by Bon App├ętit as the best ribs in 2007. Mike Mills has a really good cookbook Peace, Love and Barbacue--a celebration of all kinds of que across the country.

          As for pork steaks, as common as they are in St. Louis, they are hard to find in a restaurant. They are in everyone's backyard, bars and on parking lot fundraisers during the summer. Brown Suga's has them but I have not tried them. I have had their other food and it was delicious.
 Maybe some one else will know where else you can find them now.
          Everyone has their own "best way to cook them" with some people claiming the "only way to cook them"
          I like my pork steaks slow cooked over natural charcoal and sauced with a sweet sauce, (I make it myself) until it is caramelized and maybe a little burnt with crispy edges.

          1. re: wekick

            The edges are the key. I grill as well (but over gas, 'cause I'm lazy). I cook them to about med, then start the sauce-and turn phase of the show. I go for two full cycles, First gets a longer turn on the fire to get the char. The second is 30-60 seconds, just to get a nice glaze over the whole thing.

            But there are a lot of great ways to do the job.

          1. Best BBQ in town - Ropers on Florissant just at the city limits. Yes, it's a hole in the wall. Its not really an "eat-in" spot. So Good! Go, then continue traveling up the road to Bellfontaine Cemetery. Very unique spot for a picnic.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jberendzen

              JBerendzen...what a great idea! I tend to forget about Roper's...since it is way north and I am way south. And the Bellefontaine idea is not so offbeat as it sounds. Bellefontaine and it's companion cemetery, Calvary, are historical and beautiful. Stop at the office and see if they can point you at any of the famous folks' final resting places. And then, when you are feeling good and melancholy (and hungry again from all the wandering around), go over to Crown Candy Kitchen for ice cream. You will want good directions, and obviously, if you are wandering around a cemetery, this would be a lunchtime visit...some of the neighborhoods you will be driving through are rough, although I wouldn't say necessarily dangerous.
              For dinner you should give the southside equal time...I have not yet tried Pappy's, but it seems to be will spoken of...there is a bar/restaurant on Morganford called 3Monkeys that has a nice atmosphere and good ribs. Pre-sauced, though, which is not my preference. St. Louis is not really the same kind of barbeque town that Kansas City is, but I think you will be impressed with Roper's. Have a good time in the Lou, and please, report back. If no one has mentioned this to you yet, you can find info like hours/directions on St. Louis eateries at

              1. re: tonifi

                use caution, but some of those North side neighborhoods are changing fast and for the better (still have a way to go, but...) - hell we used to go to punk shows at the old Turnverein on Hyde Park in the 80's and elsewhere when crack was king - that was scary, now there is recent townhouse development.. If you hit Roper's, check out Pietukowski's (sp?) sausage on N. Florissant near Grand.

                a picnic in a cemetery was a very popular 19th c. practice. the Wainwright tomb in Bellefontaine is a minor American Romanesque landmark and the Busch family mini-Gothic confection is amazing, but then all the robber barons built their self-tributes there and it really is astounding.

                if it matters, Bellefontaine is Protestant and Calvary Catholic. Either are a stunning spot for a (respectful) picnic.

                but if your takeout is on the Southside, Tower Grove has great pavilions and Bellerive on South Broadway has a nice location on a bluff over the river.

            2. A pretty good place is in St. Peters. Lil Mickey's. Owned by kin to the Neely's...


              1 Reply
              1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                I second Lil Mickey's. It is a bit out of the way if you are going to be downtown, but I recommend it to anyone willing to head out that way. The ribs, tips, pork, brisket, chicken and sausage are great. I have not tried it from there yet, but they do have pork steaks on the menu. The barbecue is served wet unless you request it dry. The sauce is a Memphis style sauce, which makes sense since, as FOTD mentioned, the owners are kin to the Neely's.