When it comes to barbecue styles, St. Louis is a melting pot of regional influences.
When it comes to barbecue styles, St. Louis is a melting pot of regional influences. You could say that melding regional barbecue styles, often within a single restaurant, is the city’s ultimate BBQ style—and it gives St. Louisans that much more to love.
After all, there’s lots of room for variables in the basic barbecue formula: slow heat + protein = moist, tender barbecue. Scientifically, there are two main reasons this works: Meat fibers shrink less at low cooking temperatures, and slow cooking helps connective tissues break down into gelatin. Both methods seal moisture in for the delicious, juicy cuts we know and love.
The formula’s heat-related variables include the cooking method (grilling vs. smoking) and the wood (fruit vs. hardwood), which infuses the smoky flavor. The options for protein are beef, pork and chicken. And the most variable of the variables is the sauce, usually composed of different ratios of tomato, vinegar, sugar and spices, but it can also utilize mustard or mayo as the base. Ultimately, it depends on which region’s style the barbecue joint is inspired by.
St. Louisans gravitate toward the grill, pork and a middle-of-the-road tomato-based sauce. Kansas Citians, as anyone from that side of the state will be only too happy to tell you, smoke their meats—any animal with ribs will do—with a dry rub beforehand and a molasses-sweet tomato sauce to finish the dish. For Texans, it’s all about beef, oak and tomato sauce with a vinegar tang. Memphians skew toward dry-rubbed pork ribs smoked over apple, cherry or hickory wood and served dry (that is, with the signature vinegar-tinged sauce on the side).
TEXAS STYLE [top]
Salt + Smoke Brisket Sandwich
Slabs of oak-smoked brisket, edges lined with just enough flavorful fat, are Texas-style simplicity at its best. You’ll also find Memphis and Carolinastyles influencing select dishes and sauces here.
Want more Texas tradition? The ribs from Sugarfire Smoke House and beef brisket in Texas sauce from Smoking Barrels BBQ are your tickets to the Lone Star State.
MEMPHIS STYLE [bottom]
Want more Memphis-style? Devour the pulled pork shoulder sandwich at Lil’ Mickey’s Memphis Barbeque or the tri-tip sirloin at Bogart’s.