Restaurant Review – The Best Damn BBQ – Pappy’s Smokehouse



Hi my name is Emily and I have a problem. I overate last week.

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just throw all of your reservations out the window and eat whatever you want? Yeah, I had that week last week. Now, before you get your feathers all ruffled… you should know that I had a great reason for doing this—my mom was in town! This meant that I had a civil responsibility to show her all of the best places in St. Louis; including the best places to eat.

Unfortunately… all of the best places to eat aren’t exactly what you’d call “healthy;” especially a little place called Pappy’s Smokehouse located on Olive Street here in St. Louis.

Here’s a little background on Pappy’s Smokehouse. Pappy’s has been voted the best barbecue in St. Louis for three years in a row, it has been listed as one of the 101 best places to chow down in America by the Travel Channel, and (most importantly) it was deemed the BEST barbecue she’d ever had by the one and only… Gina Barlean.

Now that is high praise, ladies and gentlemen.

So here’s the set up. Imagine you’re in your car, probably jamming out to Miley Cyrus’s Party in the USA, and you’re driving down Olive street looking for a little place called Pappy’s Smokehouse. You assume that such a “big name” BBQ joint would have neon flashing lights, but you are wrong. Pappy’s is actually somewhat difficult to find on first glance! You see, when you are a big name BBQ joint, you don’t really even have to have a sign on the main road. People will find you.

So, after you pull around to the back of the building to park your car and walk in the back door, you are stopped short by the line of patrons streaming out the door and into the hallway. Like I said… when you’re a big name BBQ, people find you.

As you stand in a line that stretches around the corner, you look over the short and simple menu while listening to the hustle and bustle of the busy eatery. The line moves along slowly but surely and the visitors that sit around large picnic style tables (complete with red and white checkered table cloths) smack their lips with sweet and tangy barbecue joy. Most patrons have their sleeves rolled up and their fingers knuckle deep in sauce.

A constant stream of baskets full of sizzling ribs, chicken, and pulled pork float by you while you wait in line. This, at the time, seems to serve as a personal torture device as your stomach growls twice as hard and your mouth waters a little more each second.

When you finally get to the end of line (probably anywhere from 30-60 minutes later), you’ll find yourself at an unpretentious counter. There you place your order (one meat and two sides), grab your drink, pay, and find a table (no saving seats until you’re through the line–that’s the rule!).

Within a few moments, the waitress brings out your food and it looks just as appetizing as all the others that had passed you by—maybe even a little better, because this one is yours.

So, here’s a break down of what you have sitting in front of you (well, if you happen to order the way my mom and I did). On one plate you’ve got smoked turkey breast on a bun, baked beans, and coleslaw. On the other plate you have a half-slab of ribs, green beans, and fried corn on the cob [yes you read that right... fried corn on the cob]. Everything glimmers in the sunlight as the smoker sits on the sidewalk outside, releasing mouth watering smells into the warm summer air.

That’s right, Pappy’s smokes all of its meat low and slow (up to fourteen hours) in a smoker right outside their front doors. This smoker provides visitors with delicately dry-rubbed, Memphis Style BBQ (which frankly seems odd to me, since this is St. Louis, but whatever).

And the best part is that the smells that the smoker promises outside, totally delivers once you’re inside.

First, let’s talk turkey. Do you know how sometimes turkeys can be a little temperamental? How sometimes they can be a little too dry or lack a bit in flavor? Not this turkey. Oh no no no. This turkey is moist. This turkey is smokey. This turkey can hold it’s own. (Seriously, I abandoned the unnecessary bread and buried my face in the apple and cedar smoked meat.) I added a little bit of Pappy’s sweet bbq sauce, and it was perfect, BBQ heaven.

Then, there’s the ribs. How do I put this… Well, there’s a reason why these ribs are the house specialty. Dry rubbed with a savory (and I’m sure secret) mix of spices–basically the meat just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. And that review comes (with confidence) after I savored just ONE rib (they were my mom’s after all, and she wasn’t about to give them up. They were too good!).

Our sides were excellent as well; the coleslaw was tangy and flavorful, the baked beans had a nice smokey taste and a good texture, mom’s green beans were seasoned nicely and a little bit crispy, and the fried corn on the cob looked rather delicious (I’ll admit, I didn’t try any. Mostly because… well… I felt like sharing corn on the cob was just a little too weird.).

So, what’s the grade? Let’s make this easy. Pappy’s gets an A+. In all areas.

I mean, come on, all of our food was completely GONE by the time we left–and those helpings are not small, ladies and gentlemen. I’m not even ashamed of how much we ate that afternoon. I mean, who can resist the smell of pig fat slowly roasting, the taste of sweet, zippy barbecue sauce, and the sound of fifty happy customers munching away on their heaping helpings of “Q”…?


To sum it up.. the next time you’re 1) in St. Louis, 2) don’t care about overeating, and 3) are looking for the best BBQ in town… check out Pappy’s on Olive. I’m telling you, you won’t regret it.

Happy Eating!

PS. You may want to wear your stretchy pants, because you aren’t going to want to stop eating.

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  1. AP (Aunt Patti)

    I have those times when I overeat, I call them a “weak”. Then I do the G’pa Tom: “I gotta stop eating tomorrow.”
    Hey, a line are always a great sign, *does “the wave” alone*…at American restaurants anyway.

    Your mom looked like she was lovin’ life. Glad you chickies had a great time.

  2. Unc.Dan

    Sometimes you have to come back to reality and enjoy eating. A BBQ really makes that happen. Fried corn on the cob sounds great and something to do for a meal.

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