It's an understatement to say Doc's Smokehouse in Edwardsville serves award-winning barbecue.
Owners Susan and Dean "Doc" Richardson have won more than 300 trophies and ribbons in Midwest competitions. Their team name is "Que's Your Daddy."
"Our specialty is beef brisket," said Susan, 55, of Holiday Shores. "In 2011, we finished 14th in the country in brisket (out of more than 5,000 teams on the pro circuit)."
The couple competed seven years and catered four before opening the restaurant Feb. 23 in University Pointe Two shopping center.
They offer pulled pork, beef brisket, spare ribs, smoked chicken, turkey, sausage and burgers, as well as salads and sides such as homemade mac and cheese, baked beans and corn casserole.
"(The pulled pork is) really good," said repeat customer Shae Hileman, 42, of Edwardsville. "They don't put any sauce on it or anything. They just smoke it."
Customers can put on their own sauce: Sweet and Smoky, Hot and Spicy or Memphis Red.
Shae has won a few competitions of his own, so he's picky about barbecue. He had lunch at Doc's with Joey Garwood, a co-worker at Garwood's Heating and Cooling.
Beyond the food, they liked the restaurant's down-home hospitality.
"So far, they've had five-star service," Shae said. "They're very nice and helpful."
Also at Doc's was first-time customer Julie Mayfield and her friend, John Ciszczon.
Julie, 49, of Moro, had heard about the restaurant from her boss, who bought some brisket for the office.
"It was good," she said. "It was very tender. I thought, 'Now I don't have to drive to St. Louis (for barbecue) anymore.'"
Julie and John split a two-meat combo with pulled pork, beef brisket, creamy cole slaw and sweet potato fries.
John liked the barbecue, but his favorite part of the meal was Susan's butter rum apple pie, another award-winner.
"That was the best apple pie I've ever had," John said. "It was delicious."
Susan also is known for her coconut cream and chocolate cream pies. They're made with recipes handed down by her father, who owned a bakery.
Susan formerly worked as a corporate trainer, and Doc owned a construction company. He got his nickname by making housecalls as part of a part-time computer business.
Doc had been barbecuing at home for 20 years when friends persuaded him to enter a competition in 2007.
"The first contest, we won grand champion at the Staunton Ribfest," said Doc, 55. "We got a big check ($500) and a trophy."
That led to more competitions and awards. In some cases, the couple got help from daughter Melissa Guffey and son Nick Richardson.
In May, Nick moved back to the metro-east from Peoria to become Doc's kitchen manager.
"I came down here for their grand opening," said Nick, 24, now of Pontoon Beach. "I caught the bug, and a week later, I quit my job (as a meatcutter)."
Doc is tight-lipped about his cooking methods, but he credits his barbecue success to his original recipes for rubs and sauces.
Doc's General Manager David Sandusky, 33, of Belleville, has been impressed with the couple's ability to preserve their "competition style."
"That's difficult to do," he said. "There's a big difference between competing and running a restaurant, and they do a great job.
"They know they have an outstanding product, and they don't compromise that product."
At a glance
What: Doc's Smokehouse
Where: 1017 Century Drive in Edwardsville (University Pointe Two near Wang Gang)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Information: 618-656-6060, docssmokehouse.com or Facebook
On the menu
Doc's Signature Sandwich -- Smoked sliced brisket, provolone cheese and grilled onion on garlic buttered ciabatta, $8.50 with one side
Big Boar Sandwich -- Hand-pulled pork, bacon and smoked sausage on a ciabatta roll, $8.95 with one side
Smokehouse Burger -- 1/3 pound smoked beef patty, American cheese, pulled pork, bacon, barbecue sauce and onion ring on a toasted split-top bun, $8.75 with one side
Cobb Salad -- Romaine, red onion, egg, turkey, bacon, brisket, tomato, cheese and croutons, $8.75
Two-Meat Combo -- Choice of pork, chicken (white or dark), turkey, smoked sausage or brisket, two sides and dinner rolls, $12.25