Salt + Smoke shakes up the St. Louis restaurant scene

Photo+Courtesy+of+Flickr
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Salt + Smoke shakes up the St. Louis restaurant scene

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

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Recently, I went restaurant-spelunking in downtown St. Louis, and found that I had been missing out on the best cut of brisket in this city. Growing up in the diverse Creve Coeur/Ladue area, I always thought the best food places were only a short drive away. Most notably, I’ve always been a fan of Sugarfire, a popular local BBQ shop. Stocked with glorious cuts of beef, pork, and other delicious STL fare, I was completely content–until I visited Salt + Smoke in the Delmar Loop. So what makes Sugarfire fall short to its new competition?

1. Variety. Salt + Smoke’s menu is stunning me its sheer number of options. Haley Riley, the head chef, has designed a way for everybody to get what they want. Just like Sugarfire, Salt + Smoke traverses beyond basic Barbecue, as they incorporate fish into their menu. However, they take it a step further with fun twists to traditional dishes. I mean, what self-respecting BBQ restaurant serves deviled eggs, hush puppies with maple butter, fried jalapeño with cheddar bologna or fried chicken skin with honey grain mustard? By the way, the chicken skin was the best food item I’ve ordered in recent times, with the mustard adding that much more zest to a crispy appetizer. I’d also recommend the green bean and tomato salad. I was thankful for its acidity, which helped cut down on the fatty ribs I was demolishing.

2. Portion sizes. When it comes to portion size, the difference between sugar fire and Salt + Smoke is immense. With the same amount of money, I could fill myself two times over at Salt + Smoke, whereas Sugarfire would only satisfy the stomach once. I left Delmar Loop that day feeling like I had just snatched an amazing deal. Did I also mention that Salt + Smoke has waiters that serve you, unlike Sugarfire?

3. Quality. I’ll be honest, I found nothing too drastically different between the two establishments in this category. Both briskets came out with a bright red layer under the skin – a characteristic of long hours spent in the smoker. Both shops fried their potatoes with animal fat, which delivered an incredibly savory flavor to their wedges and french fries. Overall, these two places have great tasting stuff.

Of course, Sugarfire’s convenient location means that I’ll still visit it frequently–especially those moments where I’m starving and require BBQ sustenance immediately. But now that I know of Salt + Smoke, I’ll be setting aside some extra time every month for a trip downtown.