Feast BBQ – Louisville, KY

Restaurant Name: Feast BBQ
Address: 909 E. Market Street, Suite 100, Louisville, KY 40206
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The 2019 Bang Bang BBQ Tour is here! Me and my friends Adam and Jacob are on the prowl again for some of the best BBQ around. Last year we did a “Best of St. Louis” trip and after much debate we decided to do a Best of Kentucky & Tennessee trip this year. 

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Feast BBQ is located just east of downtown Louisville in the East Market district. It’s in a really cool looking storefront with an open air, exposed ceiling, backyard patio night-time type of vibe. The black painted exposed structure and rope light bulbs provide a nice homey type atmosphere when you walk in. They have a very cool looking bar area with a wide variety of craft beers from all over the area along with BOURBON milk shakes! We didn’t partake in any of the shakes because we had a round of sporting clays to do at Indian Creek Shooting Center shortly after lunch and as responsible gun owners we don’t mix firearms and alcohol.

When it comes to the food I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of collard greens and a brisket taco on the side. Jacob ordered the pulled pork sandwich as well but had the baked beans as his side and some fried mac n cheese balls as well. Adam went with a half rack of ribs, mac n cheese, and baked beans.

My food review is going to be focusing on my specific meal. Let me start with the appearance of the food when it comes out. I liked the metal tray with butcher paper, it’s a nice step up from the plastic tray that a lot of BBQ places are notorious for. I liked the “open face” on the sandwich which highlighted some of the smoke on the pulled pork. The red onion slices had a nice color pop along with the cole slaw and green onion on top of the brisket taco.

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The pulled pork sandwich was good. It had a nice amount of smokey flavors in it and mixed with any of their three sauces was a really nice bite every time. The bark pieces were totally delightful. The pulled pork itself was moist, tender, and smokey. I wish the bun would’ve had a little bit of char on it to get some firmness as the sandwich got a little soggy at the end. 

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The brisket taco was SPOT ON ON FIRE! When I return to Feast BBQ in the future, a trio of brisket tacos are definitely coming to my taste buds. This was my favorite part of the meal. The tacos just scream “I want to eat more of these ASAP!” and I really did want to order more after finishing this first one. I did the American style taco which had cole slaw, green onion, and BBQ sauce on top of the chopped brisket and every bite was awesome. Very balanced flavors and textures. I would’ve liked to have seen sliced brisket but I do understand tacos tend to go better with chopped brisket and I typically prefer flour tortillas over corn tortillas but they doubled up the shell so it held up well.

 

I will admit that I wasn’t a big fan at all of the collard greens. They smelled really good too but sadly didn’t deliver to my flavor pallet. The greens themselves were cooked to a good doneness, but they were really salty. There was a good amount of pulled pork in the greens too which probably added to the saltiness but overall I wasn’t impressed with the greens. I would recommend the beans or the mac n cheese.

SUMMARY

Feast BBQ was a really good experience. Classic yet trendy atmosphere with legit smoked meats and scratch made sides. They had the big hole to fill of being the first stop on the 2019 Bang Bang BBQ Tour. They set the bar for the next few days worth of BBQ. We’ll see how they stack up!

Peg Leg Porker BBQ – Nashville, TN

Restaurant Name: Peg Leg Porker BBQ
Address: 903 Gleaves Street, Nashville, TN 37203
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The end of 2018 ended pretty high for me. God did some AMAZING things in many areas of my life and I got to spend a few days out of town in Nashville, TN for the Music City Bowl where my beloved Purdue Boilermakers would play (if that’s what you called it) against the Auburn Tigers. Since the game really is of nothing to discuss, I’ll focus this post on the night before the games dinner that me and my two friends, ironically both named Matt, had at the Peg Leg Porker BBQ.

Peg Leg Porker BBQ is tucked just south and west of the infamous Broadway of downtown Nashville and Peg Leg Porker BBQ is worth the walk over. The building is old-school as they call it and it fits the bill but does have some modern touches. Upper level dining area for reservations, main level dining area for first come first serve seating along with an outdoor patio that’s covered. Not a lot of flash or flare on the main level dining area but the open concept and view into the kitchen is nice. The wall decorations are of country music stars and their visits to the restaurant.

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BBQ Nachos – tortilla chips, pulled pork, nacho cheese, jalapeños

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1/2 Rack of Ribs with french fries & smoked beans

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Half chicken with green beans and mac ‘n cheese

The two Matt’s and I shared an order of the BBQ nachos. I ordered a half rack of ribs with fries and beans, one Matt ordered a half rack of ribs with fries & coleslaw (not pictured), and the other Matt ordered the half chicken with green beans & mac ‘n cheese.

Let me start this review talking about the appearance and the plating of the food. The food comes out on plastic baskets, which if y’all followed my posts from my 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour in St. Louis, MO you know this is a turn-off, but I understand the convenience of it all. The next thing about appearance and plating is the fact that the BBQ is not sauced or dry rubbed only. I did like the look of the ribs and the chicken from an outward appearance as it is always good to be able to see some rub on the meats. The jalapeños on the nachos add some contrasting colors.

I will admit that I was a little bit nervous when the meat came out just dry rubbed and not sauced. Most places don’t do this because it is difficult to keep the meat moist during the cooking process but Peg Leg Porker BBQ did a fabulous job. The ribs and the chicken were full of flavor but also moist and not dry at all! The ribs and chicken were a bit past the tenderness that I like as I was able to tear the meat off straight from the ribs or chicken and I like a little tug in my smoked meats. The side dishes were good. Fries are crispy but a little too salt. The Mac ‘n Cheese is very creamy, but the portion that I got was small in my opinion even for a side dish. I love the choice to use shells for their noodles as it’s a nice twist to macaroni. The green beans were a little bland.

The BBQ Nachos were excellent! The main thing I liked about them…ACTUAL NACHO CHEESE! Most places that do BBQ nachos just put some shredded cheese on top and pop it in the oven to melt the cheese, but Peg Leg Porker uses free flowing nacho cheese and get’s a big thumbs up for that. 

The only negative I’d have to say about the food is the beans. Both the BBQ beans and the green beans seemed bland. Perhaps it was a bad batch or the bottom of a batch, but there just wasn’t must that really stood out about those side dishes. I think some pulled pork in both the BBQ beans the green beans would add a nice smokey depth of flavor complimentary to the smoked meats.

SUMMARY

In closing, Peg Leg Porker BBQ is an absolute MUST VISIT if you’re passing through the Music City of Nashville, TN. They’re smoking meats the right way and if you’re looking for a flavor adventure of dry rubbed meats this is the place to get it from. If you’ve got time to spend a few hours in the downtown area take a stroll through Broadway and step in a few honky tonks and listen sit back and relax to the southern and country tunes of old and some new ones. 

Beast Craft BBQ Co.

Restaurant Name: Beast Craft BBQ
Address: 20 South Belt West, Belleville, IL 6220
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The final stop of the 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour took me and my friends back across the Missouri River to Belleville, IL to Beast Craft BBQ. We made a change to this location vs. another BBQ joint because of multiple referrals from other managers and pitmasters we got to talk to at various locations over this trip.

Beast Craft BBQ Co. has a nice joint near a fairly major intersection in Belleville, IL a few miles off of the interstate. Lots of signage so you can’t miss it. Once you step inside you have a bar area to the right and a restaurant area to the left. The bar area is pretty nice, didn’t sit over there so can’t talk too much about it but it is pretty open and modern looking. The dining area has wood lined walls, storefront windows, and a really cool map of the different cuts of meat from a cow, pig, and chicken that we pitmasters cook.

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Wagyu beef brisket, pork belly, potato salad, belly brussel sprouts

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Pork steak, chicken wings, and bread pudding

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Wagyu beef brisket & candied bacon

At this point in the trip our taste buds and stomachs are pretty full and starting to get used to the flavors of BBQ. Beast Craft BBQ’s menu is pretty unique as everything is cooked a la carte. I ordered the wagyu beef brisket (yes…wagyu beef), pork belly, potato salad, and the brussel sprouts with pork belly chunks. My friends ordered the pork steak, chicken wings, bread pudding, wagyu beef brisket (yes again…wagyu beef), and candied bacon. All plates are served with warm flour tortillas.

The look at these plates screams flavor and BBQ. Smoke rings, well placed garnishes, and look of tender, juicy, and delicious smoked meats. The pickles and okra are nice colors additions. The wagyu beef brisket has a very nice amount of char and visible smoke ring. The chicken wings had a nice crust on the skin implying a little bit of frying took place. The pork belly had some serious bark…seriously good bark that is. The potato salad had good size chunks of potato and I really liked the dill garnish. The brussel sprouts had a very balanced amount of green and char and pork belly chunks. 

My favorite thing to eat at Beast Craft BBQ was the pork belly. It’s thick cut, smokey, tender, and juicy goodness and always an adventure for the taste buds. I really liked the potato salad as well. The perfect amount of dill garnish really enhanced the flavors. The brussel sprouts mixed with some pork belly chunks was a really good touch. The sprouts were super tender, not super fall apart soft, but not tough to bite through…exactly how I like my brussel sprouts. I had some of the candied bacon, pork steak, and bread pudding and they were all tasty too. 

I will admit that I had high expectations for the wagyu beef brisket but this batch of brisket fell a little short in my opinion. I probably should have ordered the leaner brisket as the slices I got were really fatty. I like some fat on my brisket slices but when I do a pull test on a slice of brisket and my fingers are drenched in beef fat I think it’s a bit much (perfect pull though for the brisket so it was a really good tenderness). The flavors were great but amount of fat was a turnoff.

SUMMARY

In short, Beast Craft BBQ Co. was a nice addition to the 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour. It had a tough seat being our last joint but gave it a good fight. The pitmaster has experience in fine dining and makes the transition to BBQ really well. Looking forward to visiting this place again if I’m in town.

Salt & Smoke

Restaurant Name: Salt & Smoke
Address: 6525 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130
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Day #3 of the 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour had lunch take me to the Forest Park area of St. Louis just west of downtown. Tucked in the middle of Delmar Blvd, Salt & Smoke is fixed at the corner next to a statue of Chuck Berry!

Salt & Smoke was a really neat and trendy place. Outside it’s a typical storefront look with a bright yellow canopy so it stands out some. Inside it’s a modernized and contemporary restaurant. Wood floors and an array of wall coverings from painted plaster/drywall, chalk board paint, cedar planks, and a really cool crate storage wall structure. The lighting was alright…we went on a very sunny day so it was very well lit inside. When some clouds would get in the way of the sun it got a little dark but nothing too crazy. A very nice selection of bourbons and wines were on a very cool looking shelf above the bar.

The menu at Salt & Smoke is a very well balanced menu with a big emphasis on BBQ and smoked meats. I ordered a 2 meat plate with two sides and ordered the brisket burnt ends and pulled pork with sides of baked beans and mac n cheese. My friends ordered a pulled pork plate with the same sides and a 2 meat plate of chicken wings and ribs with the same sides as me. Each entree came with a bacon & cheddar roll or “popover” as they call it. We also ordered an appetizer of deep fried chicken skins with a side of honey mustard.

We finally found a BBQ joint that delivered the food on actual plates!!!!! I think the very first thing you notice when the entrees come out is the size of the popover. It’s huge! Typically put in the middle of the plate it does tend to hide the rest of the contents of the plate. A simple move to the left or right and you get a beautiful plate of smoked meats and side dishes (sides also in actual dishes and not styrofoam cups). The pulled pork and the burn ends had a nicely noticeable smoke ring. The baked beans were lighter in color than the last few places we visited and had a fairly unique flavor. The mac n cheese is actually shells and white cheddar cheese vs. yellow cheddar. It also has a breadcrumb crust which I think is some of the popover remnants.

Flavor wise, let me first start with the deep fried chicken skins. FLAT…OUT…AWESOME! Pretty much the number one thing my mom told me not to eat growing up when we ordered fried chicken is the very thing that Salt & Smoke drops into the fryer and pairs it with a tangy and sweet honey mustard sauce. Fried to a crisp, these guys have the texture you want from something fried and the tasty flavors that comes with chicken skins.

Let me talk about the meats now. The pulled pork was really great. Definitely one of the best pulled porks I’ve ever had. I never needed to sauce the pulled pork. The meat was tender, moist, and juicy. Very balanced smoke flavor and subtle hints of sweet, heat, and savory. The burnt ends were juicy and tender. A little larger cuts than expected but each cut was jam packed full of flavor. 

The mac n cheese was hands down one of the best I’ve ever had. I liked the move to use shells vs. standard macaroni noodles. It was also really awesome to use white cheddar vs. traditional yellow cheddar. The dish was super creamy. Paired with the breadcrumbs on top with some char to them provided a really great texture in every bite. Something gritty to start, creamy in the middle, and soft/tender in between. Deliciousness in every single bite.

The baked beans weren’t as dark as other baked beans we’ve had on this trip and they had a very distinct taste. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one that really jumped out as good in my opinion. It was almost like the beans were trying to be every single flavor possible. There were hints of savory, lots of sweet, lots of smoke, and it felt very unbalanced. Could’ve just been a bad batch or just something my taste buds didn’t enjoy. 

SUMMARY

Overall, Salt & Smoke is a mighty tasty joint in a very modernized and trendy part of the city. Great smoked meats that are juicy, tender, and flavorful. Sides, for the most part, that are excellent. A place that goes above the traditional and merges it with a modern yet classical feel. A must visit if in the St. Louis, MO area.

Pappy’s Smokehouse

Restaurant Name: Pappy’s Smokehouse
Address: 3106 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63103
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Day #2 of the 2018 Bang Bang BBQ Tour had lunch return me to the champion of the very first BBQ Tour I did back in 2014…Pappy’s Smokehouse! Pappy’s was the baby back rib champion in the 2014 BBQ Tour, let’s see how they’ll stack up for their overall experience.

Located just north of downtown St. Louis and near St. Louis University, Pappy’s Smokehouse has been featured on Food Network and in many BBQ magazines and online articles as one of the best BBQ places in the country. The restaurant sits at a corner and is easily seen from the street. ARRIVE EARLY! A line will form very quickly, but it is worth the wait. We were fortunate to only have about 40 people ahead of us. We reviewed the menu and were thinking of getting a bunch of individual stuff but it was recommended to us to order the “Adam Bomb”. The combo meal included a full rack of baby back ribs, a 1/4 chicken, a pulled pork sandwich, a burnt end sandwich, three ears of deep fried corn on the cob, a side of BBQ baked beans, and a dish called the Frito Pie with hot link sausage. 

The food is served once again on a plastic basket with wax paper. A typical staple for a BBQ joint, but I’d still like something a little classier but I digress again. First look at this meal is yet again “LOOK AT ALL THIS MEAT!”. The ribs and chicken look amazing. You could see moisture and the juiciness of the meats from the very beginning. The deep fried corn on the cob had that charred look and was coated with a nice amount of butter and salt. The Frito Pie with the hot link sausage looked the absolute best. It was a great presentation with the very balanced layers of Frito corn chips, bbq baked beans, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced red onions. This dish had some serious pop and eye appeal and looked absolutely DELICIOUS!

A quick rundown of all this delicious food. The baby back ribs were as I remembered from 5 years ago. Smokey, tender, and tasty. Near perfect competition style tenderness. A very visible smoke ring on the meat. Didn’t really need sauce as it had a thin coating on it already. The two sandwiches (pulled pork & burnt ends) were very well sized. The pulled pork did get a little bit dry but it was most likely due to waiting when to eat it as we had so many decisions and it’s so difficult where to start. The burnt ends were a little larger than expected but super tender and flavorful. The deep fried corn on the cob has a very unique texture. Party crispy yet juicy and buttery and salty all in one bite. The beans were good too. Too small of a sample to really get in depth with it though. 

The Frito Pie with the Hot Link Sausage is gonna get its own paragraph. This dish was the highlight of the meal. It was just awesome. BBQ, salty, sweet, tangy, and a super wide array of flavors in every bite. I think the red onion was a super smart choice as it added some sweetness to the dish and some really eye catching color to the plate.

Once again the plastic basket and wax paper presentation was tough to see but was easily overlooked as the food was awesome. I would’ve liked to have seen the buns for the sandwiches have a little bit of toasting to them as they got a little soggy. The pulled pork was surprisingly a little dry so it needed some sauce.

SUMMARY

Overall, Pappy’s Smokehouse exceeded my last visit and will continue to be a staple place to eat at everytime I’m in St. Louis or when friends ask me where to go in St. Louis to get good BBQ. For only being in business 10 years they’ve grown into a local staple with national notoriety. 

 

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