C&K is a small former service station with no indoor seating (except for benches where customers wait for their take-out orders) and a single rickety table outside with two chairs. For well over thirty years, this modest shack has been a shining light of St. Louis barbecue, thanks in large part to Darryl Brantley’s exclamatory sauce – a masterful mix of spice, hot and sweet. Whatever meat you get, the sauce makes it glow; and the choice of meats is comprehensive: Of course there are ribs, rib tips, chopped pork, pork steaks, hot links, chicken, and white-meat turkey ribs, all served with soft white bread that makes a good sponge for the sauce and a scoop of extraordinary potato salad that is creamy, pickly, and soothing. These are messy meals, so even though each order is packed with napkins, we recommend getting extras.
In addition to the familiar smoke-cooked specialties, C&K offers rarer items such as snoots (pig snouts baked until crisp and bathed in sauce) and ears (yes, pig ears, cooked until butter-soft and served between two slices of white bread, with or without sauce or with mustard and onions). Ears are for connoisseurs only; we recommend first-time visitors start with a slab of ribs!
Humble as it is, C&K is a gracious establishment. Mr. Brantley and his family make outsiders feel welcome and at home.