Oct 7, 2011

A pit stop at the Rib Shack in Saint Louis

One of the reasons I decided to blog was to have a journal of sorts of my observations from various trips and travel experiences.  So, my recent shortage of blogs is in direct correlation to the fact that I simply haven’t had that much to blog about lately. 
My favorite Gypsy, on the other hand, recently hitched her wagon to an American airlines flight to Paris to spend a week drinking wine, eating fine food, enjoying music and shopping at the flea markets.  And as much as I’d love this blog to be about Paris (and you’d probably prefer that, too), you’ll have to settle for a blog about my ongoing search for great barbecue in off-the-beaten-path places.   
That brings me to the Rib Shack, conveniently located on Natural Bridge Road in Saint Louis, not far from Lambert International Airport.  Before I drove Gypsy to the airport, I researched possible places to have lunch in Saint Louis on two websites I recommend – Roadfood  and Urbanspoon.  On the barbecue front, I narrowed my choices to the Rib Shack and Pappy’s Smokehouse, which has been featured numerous times on the Travel Channel but would have taken more time to find.  Since Gypsies tend to not favor barbecue, I decided I would only dine at one of the locations if we were running late and did not have a lot of time for lunch. 

Well, you can probably guess the odds of that happening were pretty favorable, so as fate would have it, I found myself tracking down the Rib Shack by the time her flight left.  And I’m glad I did. 
From the smokers in the back to the old white and red diner-style building, you could tell this is the real deal when it comes to great barbecue dives.  The menu offered a wide variety for the carnivore, ranging from the ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket you’d expect to smoked turkey legs, snoots and occasionally even a tripe sandwich.  Apparently, little goes to waste here.  They also offer soul food dinners that, if you have a Southern background like me, make you drool just reading it.  Classic side dishes range from yams, string beans, corn on the cob and collard greens to the expected slaw and potato salad.     
I settled for something familiar – a combo dinner of rib tips and beef brisket with cabbage and sweet potato fries.  The meat was smothered with their signature sauce, which blended sweet, tangy and smoky very well. The meat itself was very tender and the brisket, frankly, was some of the best I’ve ever had.  The cabbage was as good as my grandmother’s (which is saying something) and the sweet potato fries were just as delicious, sprinkled with just enough cinnamon sugar that it complemented them without being overly sweet.
The employees were also very friendly and welcoming and encouraged me to spread the word, so I am.  Here’s their Facebook page, and here’s the menu. 
As a side note, I had a nice conversation with one of the employees there who confessed that she knew I must be Caucasian when I ordered the sweet potato fries instead of the yams.  I like yams, too, but it was still interesting to hear her perspective.  And, of course, she was proven right. 
Yes, the neighborhood can appear … iffy … but trust me, if you love barbecue or soul food, you’ll love it here.  And there’s a drive-thru if you’re on the go.     
I’ll try to be more regular with my posts, even if I don’t have new travels to discuss.  Perhaps I’ll think of some more things from the past to ruminate on, or maybe I’ll expand the subject matter some.  I do have another trip to New Orleans for my birthday to get geared up for, too.

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