Pappy’s Smokehouse Is Not Overrated

“Do you like BBQ?” someone on Twitter asked. I laughed for about five minutes before replying “Yes.”

“Of course,” I thought. Then it occurred to me that it was absolutely a valid question because some people really don’t like BBQ. These aren’t the people who typically want to hang out with me, though.

St. Louis is an incredible BBQ city and everyone has their favorites. We are far from trying all of the BBQ restaurants here, but we’ve tried a few. So far, everything has tasted good. Sure, we have liked some dishes at certain restaurants better than others, but that’s to be expected. For example, we took our family to two different restaurants and the group was split on favorites.

Recently, a local publication caused a stir when they asked readers to nominate and then vote for the community’s most overrated restaurant. Some eagerly threw out restaurant names. Others expressed concern about the publication’s intentions for such a poll and pondered what types of ramifications could result from “winning” the award. Being new to the community, I sat back and watched the debate unfold. It culminated the next day when the publication issued an apology and nixed the plan. While I think that honest and thoughtful dialogue about good and bad dining experiences can be helpful, I’m not sure what the award process would have contributed.

For a really cool list of restaurants St. Louis residents consider underrated, check out Whiskey & Soba’s post.

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Pappy’s Smokehouse is one of the BBQ giants here. They’ve appeared on the Food Network and Travel Channel and even on Yelp’s recent “Top 100 Places to Eat” list. I don’t like Yelp’s business practices so I won’t link, but the mention is just to say how well-known Pappy’s has become since opening in 2008.

Obviously, people nominated the most popular and well-known restaurants. It was just inevitable. I saw all of the popular BBQ restaurants names appear including Pappy’s. In my [not really] humble opinion, Pappy’s is not overrated.

If you don’t call ahead for take-out, you will probably wait in line. A Twitter friend invited me to meet her at Pappy’s for a late lunch. We still waited in line, but it wasn’t wrapped around the building like it’s known to do. Pappy’s is located in the same building as Southern and there’s always a line there, too. If you don’t look carefully at the signs, it’s easy to wait in the wrong one. Should this happen, you will eat delicious food either way. My thoughts on Southern.

I ordered a rack of ribs to share with Jake and chose my two sides: Sweet potato fries and coleslaw. The second half-rack is tucked underneath.

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The meat tasted smokey and flavorful. What I really appreciated was the ribs’ tenderly-toothsome texture. Some restaurants brag that their ribs are sooo tender they fall off the bone, but this not a good thing in my book. Ribs can be cooked badly to a few extremes: Chewy, rubbery, fatty / fall off the bone with any slight movement / dry & tough. This was not the case here. Pappy’s nailed this rack of ribs.

We also loved Pappy’s sweet and tangy coleslaw flecked with celery seeds. The tartness provided a pleasant contrast to the rich pork. If you order the sweet potato fries, know that they are sprinkled with sugar instead of salt. My personal preference is salted, but know that some prefer sweet. That didn’t stop us from finishing them, though. I dipped them into Pappy’s spicier BBQ sauce.

You’ll find Owner & Co-founder Mike wandering the floor and checking on guests. Once you do get through the line and seated at a table, relish in the warm hospitality and enjoy some damn good St. Louis BBQ. Next time we’ll probably call ahead:)

Pappy’s Smokehouse
3106 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63103


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Love, love, love BBQ and am definitely not sold on any one kind alone. They all appeal to me. These ribs look pretty delightful and I agree with you on the fries—if they are sweet I would expect some honey cinnamon type sauce to dip them in. I prefer mine salted as well but I am sure I would have eaten these as well.

  2. Road Tips

    I remember a time when there were very few – as in only a couple – “good” barbecue places in St. Louis. That was before Skip Steele came on the scene. He started Super Smokers, then became involved with Mike Emerson getting Pappy’s going. From there, Steele and Emerson started Bogart’s in Soulard, and Steele mentored the two guys who run Adam’s Smokehouse. Any barbecue place that has Steele’s DNA involved, they’re tough to beat. If there is one St. Louis area BBQ place that I think is overrated, it would be Sugarfire. I’ve eaten there a couple times and walked away with a full stomach, but not so impressed with the barbecue. I understand, however, the burger at Sugarfire is pretty good and I still need to stop back and try that.

    • Jeni

      That’s interesting to learn. Jake came home one day from work raving about Adam’s ribs. I’ve had good ribs from Sugarfire and OK ones too. Their pulled pork was incredible, though. And the sides are fun. Have also heard great things about their burger and their fries are also one of my favorites.

      • Road Tips

        I think the thing that gets me about Sugarfire is the “cafeteria-style” ordering – especially when it’s busy. Both times I’ve gone, I’ve waited in line for at least 10 mintues and the meat they’re cutting has been sitting out on a cutting board cooling down. I like my barbecue to have a little bit of warmth to the meat. But if the meat at Sugarfire has been on the cutting board for too long, it’s served closer to room temperature rather than oven temperature. That’s probably the main reason why I don’t care for it all that much.

        • Jeni

          10-15 minutes seems to be the average wait time we’ve experienced too. One of us needs to try their burger. Father in law gave it high remarks. And Southern! If you like spicy, I’d love to know your thoughts.

  3. Donna Hup

    Now this is my kind of place! Ribs are one of my faves (second only to wings). Looks delicious!

    • Jeni

      Me and you are on the same page.

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