When I think of St. Louis, I think of BBQ. I have lived in the city for a year-and-a- half now and have tried at least five different BBQ restaurants. I’ve liked each for its s own special reason, and when I heard of The Capitalist Pig, I knew that it had to be the next place on my list. Located in the old third-district police station, it is dark and dingy, at first looking more like a holding cell than a place to eat.
But great BBQ is where you find it, and this restaurant provides its own unique perspective on the subject. Serving only meats from local farms that raise their stock on a strictly organic diet, supporting the farmers and making conscious eating easy, the Capitalist Pig doesn’t just serve food. It makes a statement.
The menu of classic BBQ meats — ribs, brisket, pulled pork, etc. — also offers a surfeit of sides, with everything from pork-belly baked beans to house-made pickles. I decide on mac & cheese and mustard coleslaw, but when I approach the counter to order, I am informed that the kitchen has just run out of mac & cheese. I am really disappointed, because I believe that mac & cheese is one of the best things that this world has to offer. Saddened, I go with pickles and sit down ready to feast.
The food comes quickly and I speedily douse my sandwich in house sauce. (Other sauce options include sweet & smoky, blackberry ancho, and jalapeno). The meat is not pre-sauced, which allows you to customize its flavoring as sweet or spicy as you like. I try a piece of brisket off my friend’s plate and find it cooked soft and falling apart the way good brisket should be. Here it is important to take advantage of the sauces, because the meat needs that extra kick of flavoring to be the best it can be. Next, I try the ribs platter, which comes with two sides and a corn muffin. These baby back ribs embody the messy deliciousness that makes ribs great, and the corn muffin is a perfect mix of buttery and crumbly. Coming back, I would go for the ribs platter just for the corn muffin.
Now, for the abundance of sides! I taste the pickles first, and am surprised by their tremendously vinegary taste… which I actually love. Baked beans are a little disappointing, but I make up for that by stealing more of the corn muffin from the ribs platter. Coleslaw offers a mustard and mayo combo with a kick, and potato salad is perfect for those who like chunkier pieces of potato. Sandwiches come with Billy Goat potato chips, which are a nice surprise and offer a crunchy option to pair with tender meats.
I thoroughly enjoy the food at the Capitalist Pig, but what equally sticks in my mind are the sustainable, traceable aspects of the meal and the wide variety of options for all diets. Two of the sauces — vinegar and sweet & smoky — are gluten free; and all sauces are free of additives and preservatives. There are seasonal and changing vegetarian options, so be sure to call ahead and see what is available. In my book, it doesn’t get much better than supporting local farmers while eating great food.
A road trip to St. Louis wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Anheuser Busch Brewery. Luckily, this fine BBQ joint is located directly across the street. It’s important to remember that The Capitalist Pig is only open for lunch and will close once they sell out. So, arrive early! Also, although the inside is a bit dark (it was a jail afterall) there is a large back patio with plenty of sunny seating for when it’s warm.