Those who live in the St. Louis metropolitan area already knew from where some of the best barbecue in the world comes. But it's nice to see others discovering it, too!
Team members of LawnStarter team, a national lawn care company with locations in 120 U.S. markets, recently compared 200 of the biggest U.S. cities based on 18 hallmarks of a true ’cue hub. Representatives indicated that they considered the number of award-winning barbecue restaurants, barbecue festivals, experience hosting “master-level” competitions and highly rated 'BBQ joints.'
Guess who landed in the top spot this year? St. Louis brings home the finger-licking gold.
2022's Best Cities for BBQ:
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Chicago, Illinois
- Springfield, Missouri
- Orlando, Florida
- Overland Park, Kansas
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Austin, Texas
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Houston, Texas
This year, the Mother of the West is also the mother of barbecue: Missouri cities filled out three of the top five spots in the LawnStarter ranking. Last year’s ’Cue Capital, Kansas City (No. 2), and Springfield (No. 4) follow closely behind, with a boost from hosting acclaimed barbecue contests in recent years. This year's winners sizzled their way to the top, beating regions with well-known barbecue styles, such as Memphis (No. 61) and the Carolinas.
What makes St. Louis barbecue sauce special, or at least different? St. Louis' traditional barbecue sauce is often tomato-based, and because it doesn't contain much sugar, it can be used to cook the meat without causing the sauce to burn. Additionally, St. Louis barbecue ribs are known for their unique cut, which is known as St. Louis-style, which is meatier since the rib tops, cartilage and sternum bone are removed.
St. Louisans would be remiss discussing barbecue sauce without referencing Charlotte's Rib Barbecue. Pat and Herb Schwarz, Charlotte Peters' (First Lady of St. Louis television) daughter and son-in-law, first opened Charlotte's Rib in Kirkwood in 1977. In 1978, they opened a new location in Ballwin, and later moved to the restaurant's current location in the Claymont Shopping Center at the intersection of Kehrs Mill and Clayton roads. The restaurant's food is traditional St. Louis barbecue, which preserves old-school, spectacular flavors, especially with the Western Blend sauce that takes on a popular KC barbecue style as mild but full-bodied, and the Spicy Southern sauce that has a kick to it but doesn’t overpower the meat.
Another popular common ingredient in preparing St. Louis-style barbecue is Maull's barbecue sauce (started in 1897). It's a rich, pungent, spicy semi-sweet, tomato-based sauce, somewhat unusual for containing anchovies and pepper pulp. Maull's eight varieties of sauce: Genuine, Sweet-N-Mild, Sweet-N-Smokey, Onion Bits, Signature Collection Sticky Sweet, Signature Collection Simmering Heat, Jalapeño and KC-style barbecue sauce.
Two other locally made barbecue sauces are: Freddie Lee’s Gourmet Sauces, 1124 Lumiere Place Blvd., St. Louis; and The Great American Barbecue Co., 8402 Pilot Court, Affton.