Short List: Pulled-pork sandwiches

Of all the piggy parts to choose from, the upper shoulder must rank among the most popular. Depending on how it’s cut and prepared, it offers us a regional barbecue titan in the form of pork steaks or, even more renowned, pulled pork. Even the most practiced backyard pit master with a gallon of Maull’s, though, should conduct research – preferably at the area’s top purveyors of pulled-pork sandwiches.

Pappy’s Smoke House
3106 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.535.4340

Pappy’s has been the golden boy of the St. Louis barbecue scene since it opened in Midtown in 2008. And even someone trying hard to find another establishment worthy of the third spot in a best-three listing has to eventually face facts: Pappy’s makes a killer pulled-pork sandwich. You can choose the Sweet Baby Jane or Original sauce to splash, drizzle or souse the towering mound of deliciously moist pulled pork. Our recommendation, though? Go with Holly’s Hot barbecue sauce. By layering the sweetness of the pork in a touch of heat and bonus sweet, it seems to bring out the natural succulence just a skosh more.

103 Chesterfield Towne Centre, Chesterfield, 636.536.1966

The best pulled-pork sandwich in the metro area, in the Chesterfield Valley? Unthinkable. Well, not quite. The meat, some of the most perfectly moist pork you may ever have, includes a soulfully cultivated bark and a deeply rosy smoke ring extending well into it. Do yourself a favor and choose to complete the perfection with the bright tang and smoldering spice of PM BBQ’s Carolina vinegar sauce. Weeks after the fact, it will still inspire awe.

Smoki O’s
1545 N. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.621.8180

If you were standing in line at a barbecue shack after ordering, and the next seven people, obvious regulars, ordered the exact same dish, you would think that foreshadowed greatness, right? Correct! Succulent pulled pork piled high in a tangy, sweet and surprisingly spicy sauce doesn’t let you taste and contemplate its fantasticosity – it grabs your tongue with porky sweetness, tweaks that spot back under your jaw and punches you in the back of the throat with smoky heat, laying forceful claim to its superiority. Superior enough to warrant a made-up word like “fantasticosity.”