Original J's Barbecue from Mike Randolph Will Open in University City This Fall


Mike and Liz Randoply will offer Tex-Mex favorites in a casual, family-friendly environment. - SPENCER PERNIKOFF
  • Mike and Liz Randoply will offer Tex-Mex favorites in a casual, family-friendly environment.

St. Louis has another smokehouse getting ready to fire up in its thriving barbecue scene — this time from acclaimed chef Mike Randolph.

Today, Randolph and his wife, Liz, announced plans for Original J's Barbecue (7359 Forsyth Boulevard), a Tex-Mex-style barbecue restaurant that will open in University City in the former Fortel's Pizza Den. Though no specific opening date has been provided, the Randolphs estimate that their new restaurant will be open within the next few months.

Described as a "casual, family-friendly restaurant" featuring Texas-style barbecue served as tacos, platters and bowls," Original J's will be a counter-service operation that draws inspiration from the Randolphs' former restaurant, Publico, as well as their travels through Texas. In that spirit, diners can expect dishes like pulled pork nachos, brisket chimichangas, chicharrons with barbecue rub and a host of Tex-Mex side dishes.

Though Randolph acknowledges the wealth of barbecue already available in St. Louis, he doesn't see that as a problem for Original J's. In fact, he feels like it's an opportunity.

"I don't think that this is just another barbecue restaurant in St. Louis, but I also don't think a city that loves its barbecue like St. Louis has reached critical mass," Randolph says. "Look at places like Kansas City or Memphis or Nashville - there's nothing wrong with having a lot of barbecue in your town."

Randoph explains that the Original J's idea draws heavily upon Publico, but it's being presented in a more approachable manner in terms of both format and price point. He hopes the more casual style will draw families stopping in after a baseball game or for a quick bite to eat. He also hopes that the breadth of menu options will appeal to diners who like barbecue but want more than a twelve-ounce platter of meat.

"This is what Liz and I want to eat and what we are excited about at this point in our lives," Randolph says. "Liz isn't a huge fan of having a big platter of smoked meat, and she had a huge role in developing the half of the menu that we hope will appeal to a broader range of people."

As for that meat, though, Randolph emphasizes that Original J's will focus on Texas-style, slow and low cooking. Expect smoking times of sixteen hours and simple salt and pepper seasoning. The restaurant will use Myron Mixon smokers and Missouri oak for its barbecue.

"The most important thing for us is to have reverence and respect for Texas barbecue," Randolph explains. "We're not setting out to say we have the best Texas barbecue. The thing that is instilled in us is that we are dedicating ourselves to the ideal."

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.
  • Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Riverfront Times has been keeping St. Louis informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources. A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Riverfront Times. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.