What happens when you take good old-fashioned Texas BBQ and combine it with the high-stakes flavor of St. Louis barbecue? For Chris Armstrong and his hot new BBQ joint Navin’s, the secret is a little bit more obvious than just his sauce!
BBQ Is Part Of Armstrong’s Family History
Sometimes you get a cool out-of-left-field story that’s quite a knee slapper for how it all started. Chris Armstrong is what most people from the older generation would call a ‘Military Brat’ and like many others who had parents that were in the military forces, spent most of their life moving from town to town.
It just so happened that because his Dad needed to be stationed at a couple of different Air Force bases, much of his early life was spent in central Texas and Kansas City. And though, his Dad was always around, there wasn’t a day that they enjoyed BBQ from a handy Weber that always seems to be grilling up something tasty.
More interesting than that, an uncle to Chris also shares a love of barbecue, yet this is a bit more prestigious for the Armstrong family. His uncle had actually taken part in the American Royal for 30 years with Chris joining his BBQ team for the last 5 years. As you may already know, the
American Royal is one of the biggest BBQ cook-off competitions in the USA!
With all that Chris had learned about BBQ as a hobby from his Dad and uncle, the trial-by-fire skills he picked up by participating in such a prominent competition were vital. Although his day job working for a Texas-based craft brewery allowed him to work as a sales manager, the Pandemic nearly 2 years ago gave him plenty of time to pursue a BBQ smoking hobby that ultimately turned into a bigger opportunity for Chris.
During the initial months of the COVID-19 spread, Chris began to smoke pork butts and chicken wings with his homemade smoker. He then offered these smoked treats to friends and family at first, which then turned into small orders that began to pump out 150 chicken wings per week!
He also started to offer his BBQ products to local shops and distributors including Blood & Sand, and BeerSauce Shop. Yet, for Chris, his biggest inspiration for what would become of his BBQ dreams soon became an ironic twist of life-imitating art. He had always joked that his favorite BBQ restaurants all over central Texas and Kansas City all seemed to have a gas station vibe to them.
A feeling that always reminded him of the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” with the film’s main character Navin worked his first job as a gas station attendant. His original idea was to open a BBQ joint that used to be an old service station, but settled on the South Grand business district in St. Louis. While this building had never served as any service station, it previously housed Guerilla Street Food at 3559 Arsenal Ave.
What Kind Of BBQ Does Navin’s Serve?
Navin’s BBQ is truly a crowd-pleaser with many cross-over versions of his BBQ being offered to hungry St. Louis patrons. You’ll immediately see that they offer Texas-style brisket that also goes alongside traditional Kansas City burnt ends. For those who aren’t big on meat, there is a unique veggie Rubin that stacks collard greens, spicy Coleslaw, and Swiss cheese! Chris also gives plenty of attention to his sides with pretty uncanny precision.
Instead of loading up his potato salad, he swaps out half of the mayo with mashed potatoes so it makes his version of potato salad even creamier. One crowning achievement is a menu item called the Texas Twinkie. It looks deceivingly similar to a roasted ham hock but is actually filled with cream cheese and brisket inside a bacon-wrapped jalapeno pepper.
If you’re a fan of Texas and Kansas City BBQ, you’ll certainly enjoy this incredible mash-up of flavors. About the only thing missing from this incredible menu lineup is Pizza in a Cup’, but give Chris Armstrong and his new joint some time, we’re sure he’s got more Jerk’ inside jokes in the works.
Until then, if you’re in St. Louis anytime soon, be sure to check out his BBQ specialties and highly addictive BBBQ sandwiches. If he decides to pit his brisket anytime soon for next year’s American Royal, we’ll be very happy to cover his entries that could certainly be an important twist for a new crossover for Kansas City and Texas BBQ.