St. Louis: In Enemy Territory, a tale of barbeque and baseball
Reported by Eric Herbach
When you think of St. Louis, Missouri, what does that town remind you of? For me, I think of three main things: The hated St. Louis Cardinals (proud Cubs fan speaking), the giant gateway called the St. Louis Arch, and, of course, St. Louis style BBQ. Now, I know what you are thinking. “Eric, why don’t you visit all three! Surely, you have the time!” Well, on our way to Kansas City on one of our previous trips, Dad and I went up the Arch and, for two guys with linebacker shoulders, it was pretty cramped on the ride up. However, we decided to go to St. Louis not only to eat BBQ, but to see one of the greatest rivalries in baseball duke it out (more on that later).
We start on Saturday with the drive down with traffic and construction galore. We end up at a place called Bogart’s Smoke House which is pretty well known in St. Louis. It is also one of the few BBQ places that had Pastrami as a selectable meat choice which is odd, but not unheard of. It is well known as well that Bogart’s is owned by the owners of Pappy’s which is highly touted as the best BBQ joint in St. Louis. So when we found this out, we had high hopes for this place. As usual we have our own rating system and it really doesn’t leave room for error. Here are the ratings: Awesome-Great-Good-Average-Sucks the Big One. One thing of note: When we say something is Average, we mean just that. It is not poor or fair, it is just what you’d expect and it wasn’t the best thing we’ve had. Our job is to look for and rate the best, not rate the worst.
|Bogart’s Smoke House||1627 S 9th St, Saint Louis, MO 63104 (314) 621-3107|
|Pulled Pork – Good||Brisket – Great (Great texture, good flavor)|
|Pastrami – Good||Beans – Great|
|BBQ Pork Skins – Average (Interesting taste)||Slaw – Good|
|Potato Salad – Good|
Al- Everything needs to be more smoked. Kinda funny how it says it is a smoke house and it wasn’t smoked enough.
Eric- Sauces did not make the meal. They were nothing special. All, except the sweet sauce, were watery sauces.
We then had some time to chill down and figure out what we wanted to do. At this point, let me tell you something about BBQ places. Times are quite skewed. If you want BBQ, plan it ahead of time because some joints are open one day and then closed the next. We’ve actually found that a lot of BBQ places are closed on Monday. So plan accordingly when looking for BBQ because on our trip, I misread some times and we had to change our schedule around, so we could visit our choices.
So now we decided to visit Roper’s BBQ that is famous for their ribs and for Steve Harvey who endorsed them wonderfully. The area around the restaurant was under heavy construction when we were there and we had to search for parking. Now this is a family business and when I say that, I mean that we met Mr. Roper and his daughter and talked to them while we waited for our BBQ. This place, again, had two things on the menu that we had never seen at a BBQ place. There was shrimp which was highly suggested, but we did not get it. If you tried this and liked it, let us know! The second thing on the menu was an item called a snoot. Now, if you never had the chance to eat a snoot, let me give you a heads up. It is pig’s snout, fried up and cooked golden brown. Now I did try some snoots and I will tell you they tasted like chewy chips and were pretty tasty. If you are looking to eat anything, you need to throw out your preconceptions about everything and just eat it. Let’s see how we rated Roper’s BBQ joint.
|Roper’s BBQ||6929 West Florissant Ave. St. Louis Mo. (314)381-6200|
|Snoots – Great||St. Louis Ribs – Great|
|Rib Tips – Great||Beans – Average|
|Potato Salad – Average|
|Beans – Average|
Eric – Snoots might have been just good but having never tasted them before, I liked them enjoyed them as an addition to my tips. Interesting flavor.
Al – We carried out and had terrible plastic ware. Bring your own if you want to cut your food if you are taking carry out. Also very messy so bring napkins too.
After our great adventure into snoots and ribs, we decided to go to a movie called Friends with Benefits. Very funny and inappropriate and that is what ended the day for us.
The next morning we left a little too early for the Plush Pig and ended up driving around the area and discovered very little that was open before noon. Granted it was Sunday, but it was kind of weird that everything was shut down. Any way we decided to get two appetizers and one starred and one flopped in our visit to the Plush Pig.
|The Plush Pig||2809 S McKnight Rd., St. Louis, MO 63119 (314) 961-8888|
|Fried Pickles – Great||Fried Pickles – Great|
|Breaded Shrooms – Average||Breaded Shrooms – Sucks the Big One|
|Pork – Good||Tips – Good|
|Potato Salad – Average||Corn – Average|
|Beans – Beans – Average|
Eric – The Fried Pickles were great as a appetizer. They gave you a lot and they offset some of the food with texture and taste.
Al – The shrooms were too hard to bite into immediately and did not have a great flavor. Just did not work with the meal.
Note: The sauces made everything better and the spicy sauce was more flavorful then expected for a spicy sauce.
We left the Plush Pig to get ready for the Cubs-Cardinals game. Now, this is my first time watching this rivalry in person and also the first time in the rival city. So I had a problem; I have only one Cubs jersey, a Theriot one, and I can’t wear it to Cubs-Cards games because he was traded to the Cards. So I wore a red shirt that had a W on it, which confused many people. When we sat down, there was a young couple in front of us. A word to the yound lady in front of us: When you text bad things about the opposing team’s fans who are behind you, please make sure they cannot see you. We were pretty quiet most of the game, just talking about sports and cheering when something went for the Cubs. However, this young lady thought, and texted so yours truly could see, that we were annoyingly loud Cubs fans and later texted that we were so bush league. I could make a joke at us actually being at Busch Stadium where the Cards play, but I bit my tongue. Right as they were about to leave early due to a 6-3 win by the Cubs, I remarked loudly to my Dad about how loud and annoying we were. The girl noticed and moved quickly away. Let that be a lesson to everyone. Why sully sports with comments like that? Because people will be people. Sure it may be my fault for looking at the phone, but it was kind of blatant. Also, the game features a streaker. What a game. Now, after the Cubs won, we left and since there were no BBQ places open that late, we went to Sonic and called it a night.
We had heard about this place where the best BBQ tends to come from called Pappy’s Smokehouse. Now, as stated before, this is the big daddy to Bogart’s Smokehouse. This one, however, is way more accredited and has an entire wall with famous signatures on it. So how did the great Pappy’s Smokehouse stand out?
|Pappy’s Smokehouse||3106 Olive Street , St. Louis, MO 63103 314-535-4340|
|Pork – Awesome||Half Slab – Awesome|
|Brisket – Awesome||Sweet Potato Fries – Great|
|Beans – Good||Corn – Awesome|
|Potato Salad – Good|
|Sweet Baby Jane||Average||Average|
Note: Three things: The sauces were not needed. The meat had enough flavor that it just was superfluous. The second thing is that there are really long lines for the BBQ and around lunch time there is a line snaking around the door. They even have waitresses who are bouncers and tell you when you can come in. The last thing is the Big Ben, one of their big menu items. Try it for a big party and you will not be disappointed.
We have traveled many places and this place was no different save for some unusual foods. It is exciting to try different kinds of BBQ and to see what each town on our journey can offer or show as their specialty. You find things that you may have cringed at before, like snoots, which you find yourself liking after the trip. We do this trip as a bonding experience, but it is also used to tell others about fantastic BBQ across the country.
Where will our next trip take us? We shall see. As always, we look forward to bringing you more delightful BBQ joints from city to city.
Al and Eric