Photo by J.B. Forbes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Sugarfire Smoke House

Last year, I placed Sugarfire Smoke House at No. 13 in the STL 100’s Top 25, making it the highest-ranked barbecue joint on the list. And eating beef brisket at the original Olivette location, I imagined it returning to that spot or somewhere close to it. Luscious with rendered fat, black-barked, it was exactly what I’d fallen in love with when Sugarfire first opened. But I’d also recently eaten at the St. Charles location, where the brisket was tough, and the pulled pork, though tender, lacked punch. With five locations in the metro area, and a sixth slated to open downtown, Sugarfire’s success is unquestioned, and the original spot merits a place on this list, but I can no longer recommend it unequivocally.

Opened: 2012

Must order: Brisket plate (6 ounces $12.99, 8 ounces $14.99)