Photo by Katherine Bish


Pappy's Smokehouse

Pappy’s Smokehouse is even better than you remember. This might seem like an odd statement. After all, we’re talking about Pappy’s Smokehouse, where Mike Emerson, John Matthews and Skip Steele kicked off the apparently endless Great St. Louis Barbecue Boom eight years ago, a spot that has become as synonymous with St. Louis dining as Crown Candy Kitchen, Imo’s Pizza or Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. But that’s my point. With the wealth of great barbecue now available in the area and the food-tourist and gameday diners who crowd Pappy’s, it’s all too easy to say: “Pappy’s will be there tomorrow. I’ll go back another time.” I say that all the time, and then I finally do go back and taste those perfect pork ribs kissed with pepper and herbs or the burnt ends both blackened and luscious. Pappy’s set the standard. Pappy’s sets the standard. (A standard that extends to its 2015 spinoff in Valley Park, Dalie’s Smokehouse.) And if I’m wrong and you actually didn’t need this reminder? Well, then I’ve sent you back to Pappy’s anyway. Enjoy.

Last year's ranking: 23

Opened: 2008

Must order: Ribs (half-slab $15.99, full slab $23.99)