If you’ve been to St. Louis with an appetite, chances are you have spent some time exploring the Loop and the food heaven it is. Next time you can’t decide where to eat, stop in to Salt and Smoke, a true-to-form BBQ spot with to-die-for mac and cheese.
Located on one of the busiest corners of the Loop, Salt and Smoke is always crowded, its clientele including families tucking into Sunday dinner as well as college students hankering for a meal away from campus. The cool, semi-hipster vibe of the restaurant shines through on first look with bauble-lantern lights and a fully stocked bar.
As we are seated and I begin perusing the menu, I am astounded by the “plate” option, which comes with not one, not two, but three sides along with a main meat. The sides include such classic barbecue companions as mac and cheese (made with white cheddar), pit beans, creamed corn, and coleslaw, or you can choose a more radical dish, such as BBQ sweet potato chips or brisket chili.
I go with the Bestie Combo, which means you get two meats for the price of one. Although ribs look incredibly tempting, I choose pulled pork and fatty-cut brisket. My friend orders the vegetarian option: a falafel burger. We ask for six side dishes between us and begin salivating. A quick seven minutes later, our steaming food is coming towards us. My jaw drops at the sight of my plate, which is the size of my head! I dig into the white cheddar mac, its crumbly breadcrumbs perfectly complementing the creamy, cheesy flavors and al dente curled noodles. The brisket is perfectly tender with plenty of fatty meat. (If you prefer a leaner cut, that is available, too.) Next are garlic and herb fries, which are cooked to the sweet spot between mushy and crunchy. I hear sounds of delight from the other side of my table and know that my friend is feeling the same happy feeling that I am about our food choices. I steal a sweet potato chip off of the plate and am surprised by the semi-sweet yet spicy crunch of only a single chip. The final challenge is the falafel burger, complete with sprouts and red pepper jam. The sweet jam makes for a silky finish beside the kick of the barbecue sauce.
Salt and Smoke is open from 11AM-10PM everyday. There is outdoor seating as well as a full bar, so whatever sort of dining experience you are looking for, Salt and Smoke has it. I for one will be hurrying back, and I highly recommend that if you are in the area and looking for flawless barbecue, you make it a necessary stop.