And while St. Louis didn't take the No. 1 spot overall (that honor went to Kerlin BBQ in Austin, Texas), the city did very well indeed. Bogart's ranked No. 12 in the nation, with The Shaved Duck, Pappy's, Vernon's, The Capitalist Pig, Hendrick's and Salt + Smoke all placing in the top 100.
The Shaved Duck took home another cool prize: It won top honors for its burnt ends.
That might pass for fightin' words in Kansas City, the municipality whose style of barbecue is closely associated with burnt ends -- those oddly shaped brisket end pieces that can be deliciously moist in their best presentations.
And the Tower Grove East restaurant wasn't the only St. Louis spot to win a first place in Fugitt's reckoning. Pappy's notched honors for the best smoked turkey; the Capitalist Pig made Fugitt's favorite potato salad.
Fugitt, who is currently an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, lived in St. Louis for a number of years. To some extent, he considers it the place he's from -- at least "until someone asks where I went to high school," he jokes.
But hometown boosterism had nothing to do with his picks, he says -- they're the product of rigorous research. He was tough when he had to be: At least one much-lauded restaurant got left off the list when he caught them microwaving their ribs.
All told, Fugitt concludes, St. Louis barbecue is good, and getting better.
One reason might be the very fact that we aren't tied to any one style. People think St. Louis-style barbecue is a thing because of the existence of St. Louis-style ribs, he notes, "but this is more a cut than a style."
"St. Louis doesn't have a defined style, although the influences of Memphis are certainly the strongest," he notes. And that might be a blessing in disguise: "St. Louis restaurants have the kind of latitude to explore a variety of styles that restaurants in places like Texas, Memphis, Kansas City or North Carolina do not have."
Full disclosure: While she was working as an editor at Feast Magazine, the author of this post commissioned some freelance pieces from Fugitt and served as his editor.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
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