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For a long time, St. Louis barbecue has been synonymous with St. Louis-style ribs. The problem is that St. Louis-style ribs don't involve a meat-cookin' genre; they're a butcher's cut. If you're in search of a style of barbecue distinct to our city — in the way that dry rub belongs to Memphis or beef brisket is the specialty of Texas — you aren't going to find one. We're a barbecue mutt. In our variation, however, lies our strength: Where there is no hard-and-fast tradition, the only expectation is good barbecue. And over the past few years, our pitmasters have met those expectations and then some. Barbecue legend Mike Mills opened a location of his 17th Street Bar & Grill in O'Fallon, Illinois. The Memphis-style barbecue at Pappy's Smokehouse was an instant smash, drawing long lines of locals and tourists who had gone out of their way to visit. Pappy's pitmaster Skip Steele then opened Bogart's Smokehouse, serving unique creations ranging from prime rib to pastrami. There is good barbecue all the way out in Chesterfield at PM BBQ and in an unassuming stretch of the Grove in Forest Park Southeast at Flavors BBQ Sports Bar & Grill. If you want to know what St. Louis barbecue is, circa 2011, well, you'll just have to try them all.

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