17th Street Bar & Grill: Barbecue Mecca

Rubbing Buddha's Belly: The Welcoming 17th Street Piggy

We have had the honor of meeting both Mike and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party and once at Memphis in May. We have “tasted” (never more than just a few ribs) Mike Mills famous Baby Back Ribs, fresh out of the Ole Hickory Smoker in NYC at the Block Party.  We had never been to 17th Street Bar & Grill for the full experience, until last weekend when our pilgrimage brought us to BBQ Mecca.

We gathered the St. Louis BBQ crew, and met at the 17th Street Bar & Grill in O’Fallon Illinois, site of the old St. Louis classic Super Smokers and now home of the world famous Mike Mills BBQ joint. It was more than a joint, a great big restaurant with a large bar and walls lined with press clippings and photos of famous BBQ Pitmaster’s including many historical looking photos of a personal favorite of mine, Ed Mitchell.

We sat family style at a big square table in the back next to the winding staircase and started with some appetizers. First, pulled pork nachos, packed with Jalapeno peppers, cheese and topped with Mike’s tender smokey pulled pork.  Next, smoked chicken wings with a nice smokey flavor, a little heat but were so much more tender and juicy than any deep fried wing could be. Finally, the house sampler arrived, full of smoked hot links, fried pickles,  incredibly crunchy onion rings, more smoked wings and an array of dipping sauces. Fried pickles were a first for me and just awesome!

The St. Louis Family BBQ Crew

In between courses, the warm honey rolls arrived with a delicious cinnamon butter which we only sampled in order to save room for the BBQ onslaught that was coming. The meats arrived and most went with two meat combos of baby backs and brisket. Others had pork shoulder so we passed them around. First, the ribs were so delicious and rich that a half slab was plenty when combined with a second meat. All the meat comes dry, sprinkled with Mike Mills Famous Magic Dust which adds a flavor that works perfectly with the 17th Street sauce and apple smoke flavor.

Low and Slow, Apple Wood Smoked Beef Brisket in the huge Ole Hickory Pit Smoker

The sleeper of the meal, besides the awesome hush puppies and corn muffins (which became the next mornings breakfast) had to be the brisket. It was smokey and very flavorful. The brisket was so tender you could cut it with your fork and it had a smokey bark that just went perfectly with 17th Street Spicy BBQ sauce. We were not surprised at all that it was so delicious, but I went for the baby backs and fell in love with the brisket!

The meal was the kick-off to Donna’s 50th birthday weekend and so our waitress (who promised not to sing or dance) brought out dessert, and it was as good as everything else was.  We were served a delicious bread pudding and a strawberry shortcake that was passed around and enjoyed by all. Huge thanks to Amy Mills Tunnicliffe for the VIP treatment, to the Manager Sue, who took us all out back to see where the magic happens. Last but not least, our server Anna who made us feel like we were visiting family and made sure we tried some hot links!

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