Roadfood is all about restaurants we love, or at least like. We do not love Pappy’s. On the other hand, the Food Network rated its ribs among America’s top five; USA Today said it was one of the top ten foodie spots in St. Louis; crowds of locals like it enough to wait in long lines just to get a chance to eat what is billed as Memphis-style barbecue. If pale-flavored ribs, dry pulled pork, and chewy sliced brisket are Memphis-style, it must be a Memphis other than the barbecue-rich one down the Mississippi River, where succulence is a given.
Dry or wan meat can be improved by barbecue sauce, of which four kinds are arrayed on each table here: “Texas style hot”; “Jane’s Sweet” (does a good job covering the meat); “Pappy’s Original” (vinegar-peppery); and “Hoodoo” (even more peppery).
While the popular appeal of the meats is a mystery, I can say good things about the sweet and soupy baked beans, the crunchy cole slaw, the crisp and well-salted sweet potato fries, the caramelized fried corn on the cob, and the big baked potato.
Pappy’s is a fun place with a happy rustic vibe like being at a barn dance. I won’t be rushing back to eat here, given the presence of truly great barbecue elsewhere in St. Louis, but neither am I willing to write it off completely. Jane and I ate five different dinners at Pappy’s. Maybe they were just the result of an off night.