Hendricks BBQ has made a big impression in just two years. Customers will wait up to two hours for a table on any given Saturday evening to get their fingers on the St. Charles eatery’s popular pepper-crusted smoked brisket, and they’ll always make room for fixin’s like collard greens, baked beans with bacon and creamy mac 'n' cheese.
Wil Pelly, executive chef for In Good Company, the parent company of Hendricks BBQ, credits the plucked-straight-from-the-South ambience with setting up good vibes from the moment hungry diners step through the front door – from the rustic wood flooring to the blues-themed murals, album art and décor that’s crafted from repurposed barn wood. That and the salivation-inducing aroma from the indoor smoker.
“You get hit with the visual and the intoxicating apple and hickory smoke,” Pelly says.
On the flavor front, Pelly gives a nod to Hendricks’ chef Thomas “T.J.” Withoelter, who has taken his team’s mad skills twice to the legendary Memphis in May barbecue festival – the Hendricks team managed to crack the Top 100 in only their second year in competition this year – and brought back valuable intelligence that has served to make the young restaurant’s meat even better than before.
“Ask and learn – I can’t stress that enough,” says Pelly, who, along with Withoelter, picked the brains of any and every fellow competitor willing to divulge their secrets. “We learned to inject love into the meat. It’s more than just putting meat in a smoker or on a grill; it’s laying it at the correct angles and tending to it at the proper intervals. You’ve got to put the love into it.”
That love is also readily apparent in the pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, Southern fried catfish, housemade corned beef and sausage, and buttermilk fried chicken that fly out of the kitchen daily, and there are plenty of other warm-and-fuzzy feelings to be found in the 250-odd whiskeys (and the unique whiskey cocktails made with them) at the Moonshine Blues Bar in the lower level. All of it is served up in a manner that Pelly likes to think is a notch above the genre standard.
“The main difference between us and 98 percent of other barbecue restaurants is we seat you and serve you – there’s no waiting in a long line for someone to hand you a tray. It’s an actual restaurant and dining experience,” he says. “The atmosphere itself is so different from every other barbecue place.”
Now’s the time to test the hospitality for yourself: Hendricks BBQ has just begun rotating daily specials, featuring delectable dishes like hearty meatloaf, fried chicken, catfish and hush puppies, chicken and dumplings, and smoked chicken pot pie.
Business hours are Mon. to Wed. from 11am to 10pm, Thu. to Sat. from 11am to 11pm, and Sun. from 11am to 9pm.
Hendricks BBQ, 1200 S. Main St., St. Charles, St. Louis, Missouri, 636.724.8600, hendricksbbq.com
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