The Best Ribs in Every State
From hole-in-the-wall spots in small, countryside towns to famous BBQ joints with a queue that’s worth waiting for, here are the rstaurants and food trucks serving up some of the country’s best ribs in every state.
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Dreamland Bar-B-Que (Alabama)
In 1958, John "Big Daddy" Bishop opened the original Dreamland Bar-B-Que (called Dreamland Cafe at the time) in Tuscaloosa, next to his home, serving only ribs, white bread and barbecue sauce. Today, there are 10 locations scattered throughout Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Though the menu has expanded to serve pulled pork, sides and even desserts, the spot is best-known for ribs with their famous vinegar-based sauce with brown sugar and garlic.
Southern Smoke BBQ (North Carolina)
In the small town of Garland, Matt Register, owner of Southern Smoke BBQ, serves up some of the state’s best barbecue. "In my restaurant, I’ve adopted Memphis-style ribs," he says. "The signature flavor comes from a unique rub, featuring ingredients like oregano, celery seed and onion powder." The special spice rub sets his ribs apart and add keep hungry diners across the state coming back for more. Folks line up for lunch until Register sells out. If he does, you can attempt to recreate the flavors at his home, courtesy of his cookbook, Southern Smoke.
Mabel’s BBQ (Ohio)
At Mabel's BBQ ribs are prepared Cleveland-style, a type of barbecue invited by none other than 'cue expert Michael Symon himself, using Eastern European spices as a nod to the city’s roots. Ribs are prepared with this noteworthy spice rub, smoked over local fruitwood and slathered with a noteworthy barbecue sauce containing Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard, giving it an extra tangy kick.
Heim Barbecue (Texas)
In Texas, barbecue means beef, including with ribs. Pitmaster Travis Heim makes great ones at Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth. Heim, who's smoked since he was a 13, follows a farm-to-smoker mentality, using local beef, ideally paired with craft beers and a cobbler.
After eight years of slinging 1,000 pounds of meat a day from his Compton storefront, pitmaster Kevin Bludso closed up shop. Fortunately, the Texas native still has his fancy-booze-serving, sit-down locale in Fairfax, where guests sip barrel-aged old fashioneds while chowing down on ribs with spicy barbecue sauce. Following in his late grandmother's footsteps, Bludso seasons his meat with a special blend of spices, then smokes it low and slow for up to 14 hours with whole logs of hardwood charcoal.
17th Street BBQ (Illinois)
Owned and operated by Barbecue Hall of Famer Mike Mills, 17th Street BBQ, in Murphysboro, is responsible for some of the best 'cue in the entire state. The signature ribs are sprinkled with famous Magic Dust, slowly cooked in a pit over apple and cherry woods for six hours and topped with tangy, zesty sauces, for a platter of ribs that actually falls off the bone.
Slap's BBQ (Kansas)
Opened in 2014, Slap’s BBQ takes pride in serving high-quality, locally sourced meat. Their St. Louis-style ribs are a specialty and fall right off the bone, making them a most-popular order. Word to the wise: arrive early as the spot sells out nearly every day.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ (South Carolina)
There are many noteworthy BBQ spots throughout South Carolina, and in Charleston, but one stands out amongst the rest when it comes to ribs, and that’s Rodney Scott’s BBQ. Spare ribs are cooked over hardwood, yielding perhaps the biggest, meatiest, smokiest ribs you’ve ever witnessed. Drenched in Rodney’s BBQ sauce, the ribs come as a plate or served on white bread (that you can wipe your hands on like a napkin as you conquer the meat).
Holy Smokes BBQ (Georgia)
After winning countless competitions and awards, Gary and Dionn Lanton turned Holy Smokes BBQ, their wildly popular food truck in Dublin, Georgia, into a brick-and-mortar location. Their hickory-smoked, slow-roasted BBQ ribs have won countless competitions and awards. The tailgate special of two slabs of ribs with six large sides is a coveted order during football season.
As a native Texan, pitmaster Chris Fultz brings true Texas craft barbecue to Richmond, Virginia, at ZZQ. Fultz marries traditional flavors of Central Texas with local Virginia regional influences to create a unique barbecue style. Slow-smoked ribs are a fan favorite and often sell out. Pork ribs are available on the regular, though many meat fanatics patiently wait for social media announcements of beef ribs, available on weekends until sold out. Sides, such as buttermilk potato salad, jalapeno mac and cheese, and collards, are not to miss.
Clay’s House of Pig (Mississippi)
Located half a mile from Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Clay’s House of Pig (nicknamed C.H.O.P. by locals), serves the best ribs you'll sink your teeth into. Owner Clay Coleman keeps his family recipe secret but just know the end result is moist, bursting with flavor and super juicy. The popular rib plate entails a slab of ribs and two sides, including baked beans, coleslaw and delicious loaded potato salad, plus a slice of loaf bread. He also uses pecan wood to cook the meat, which results in a sweet, smoky flavor that fans appreciate. FYI: the restaurant sells out of ribs daily by 3 p.m., so get there early if you expect to try them.
Fabyan’s (New Hampshire)
Fabyan’s, housed in a vintage train depot, in Bretton Woods, is an ideal stop for authentic BBQ. Their heart BBW platter entails the spot’s famous house-smoked pork ribs, with a choice of sauces: Tangy Carolina, Fabyan’s House or the popular Funky Sweet & Spicy sauce (made with fermented Korean chile paste). The platter also comes with pork belly, brisket and sausage, allowing guests to get a real feel of the meat sweats in one sitting.
Pappy’s Smokehouse (Missouri)
Anyone in St. Louis will tell you to run, not walk, to Pappy’s Smokehouse for some of the best smoked meats in the city. Each day meats are slow smoked up to 24 hours over sweet apple and cherry wood to obtain the joint’s signature flavor. Tip: Arrive early to secure a place in line at its fast-casual service counter just know it’s worth the wait in the end. Order a half-slab of ribs, a couple sides and pick from house made BBQ sauces (Baby Jane, HooDoo Sauce or Original) and see what all the hype is about.
International Smoke (Florida)
Chef Michael Mina and bestselling cookbook author Ayesha Curry join forces to bring International Smoke to life in Aventura, Florida. The menu, inspired by fire, grilling and smoke, consists of many noteworthy dishes, but St. Louis-style pork ribs are the real foundation of the menu. Each rack of ribs is crafted with an artisanal spice rub, smoked low and slow for several hours and finished with a unique sauce of choice. Guests can choose from interesting flavors like American BBQ, sesame-gochujang and garlic sweet and sour, to name a few.
Moo's BBQ (Iowa)
Owned operated by Jeremy Biondi, Moo's BBQ, in Newton, is one of the most-sought-after spots for ribs in the entire state. Customers rave about everything from the beef brisket to the pulled pork, but it's the smoked ribs, that fall off the bone, that sell out on the regular.
Smoke House (Rhode Island)
Heat, smoke and time are the three key elements to Smoke House’s award-winning, BBQ. The Newport establishment slow-cooks meats in a Southern Pride Smoker for hours to ensure every bite is juicy and tender. Flavors are a byproduct of backyard memories and ribs are a standout — and best paired with a cold beer or Paloma.
Salvage BBQ (Maine)
At Salvage BBQ, in Portland, St. Louis-style ribs are prepped with a dry rub and slow-smoked over red oak in a custom-built smoker. Finished on the grill and served sans sauce, the meat is good enough to stand alone, though Texas-style BBQ sauce is available for slathering and dipping. The restaurant strives to consistently cook ribs that require a slight tug to get off the bone.
The Notorious P.I.G. (Montana)
A St. Louis native, Burke Holmes learned the ropes of proper BBQ by way of Bogart’s Smokehouse and Pappy’s Smokehouse. The Notorious P.I.G. BBQ was born as an outlet for Holmes to serve authentic BBQ out west and to bring folks together with excellent food. His Memphis-style ribs are slow-cooked to perfection. To please everyone, sauces include everything from Kansas City’s sweet and smoky version to North Carolina-style vinegar, and even mustard-based.
Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue (Arizona)
In Cave Creek, Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue is making a name for itself by way of pit master Bryan Dooley’s ribs, one succulent order at time. Slowly smoked over pecan wood for hours at a time, his ribs are coated in a rub made of over 15 spices and then brushed with a delicious, tangy BBQ sauce (that can be ordered in bulk).
Ray Brothers BBQ (New York)
A wait of at least 45 minutes is the norm at Ray Brothers BBQ, but no fret, the bar is a great place to kill time with friends. Opened, as the name might imply, by brothers Tucker and Colin Ray, the restaurant serves an array of meat slow-cooked over local wood for periods of 5 to 14 hours at a time, giving it a delicious, smoky flavor. Order the quarter rack or RBQ'd Ribs, pick two sides and choose the perfect sauce (Bomb sauce and Carolina gold come highly recommended).
Smok Barbecue (Colorado)
If passing through Denver, stop by Smok Barbecue and indulge in chef Bill Espiricueta’s pork spare ribs, served Texas-style. Ribs are rubbed in a special Smok rub and set into a brown sugar and salt bath until shiny and glazed. They smoke for around 4 hours. When tender, they’re wrapped in butcher paper to rest and soak up all the juices and flavors. "We watch the ribs like a hawk, for hours, making sure we get them exactly right," says Espiricueta. "Our ribs are tender and delicate, but still hold their structure and integrity – that’s the skilled part of what we do, the art of the rib, and I think what sets us apart."
Richie Z's Brickhouse BBQ & Grill (South Dakota)
Richie Z's Brickhouse BBQ & Grill, in Pierre, is best-known for its ribs. Rich (Richie) Zabel uses a slow-smoking pecan wood fire technique and his secret rib rub seasoning to concoct the award-winning ribs. Opt for naked ribs or choose from one of the special BBQ sauces made in-house. Richie and his wife, Annette, frequently travel for BBQ competitions around the country.
Duke’s Waikiki (Hawaii)
Korean sticky ribs are a popular pupu (appetizer) order at Duke’s Waikiki come dinnertime. Fresh Island pork is glazed in a spicy gochujang sauce with fresh herbs and lime, creating a nice balance of savory, sweet and spicy, in one dish. Rib fans will also appreciate the baby back pork rib dish served with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and a delicious island-style mango BBQ sauce.
Local Smoke BBQ (New Jersey)
"Our award-winning St. Louis-style ribs are hand rubbed using the finest spices, then slow-smoked at 225 degrees over cherry and maple wood until they are the perfect mahogany color," says Local Smoke BBQ’s pit master, Steve Raab. "They kiss the grill with a brush of our sweet BBQ sauce to caramelize and finish the delicious bark." The best part? There are now several locations in New Jersey to curb cravings.
Virgil's Real BBQ (Nevada)
There’s no shortage of good eateries in Sin City, but if BBQ cravings arise, there’s only one cure: Virgil's Real BBQ. Touted as one of the best BBQ spots in the country, its Memphis-style pork spare ribs that keep guests satisfied. The meat is dry-rubbed with the restaurant’s very own BBQ sauce and hickory-smoked, slow and low, for 10 hours. Trash Ribs, a bite-sized version of the Memphis-style ribs, are also a sought-after snack.
The Butcher BBQ Stand (Oklahoma)
Oklahoma takes its barbecue seriously, so there are many options when it comes to ribs. Of them all, The Butcher BBQ Stand, located in Wellston, is one of the most-popular spots. People stand in line for 45 minutes or more as they know waiting at the end of the line is epic smoked bliss that regularly sells out. The restaurant recommends arriving before 3 p.m. if their perfectly smoked St. Louis-style ribs are part of your eating agenda. Most recently, the spot was recognized as Grand Champion of the 30th annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
In Boise, locals head to Fork, a farm-to-table restaurant, for flavorsome dishes, including the coveted short ribs. The beef is slowly braised in local red wine until tender and falling off the bone status. Its accompaniments are carrot puree, horseradish cream and butter mashed Idaho potatoes topped off with Idaho "potato hay," which are sure to set you into a beautiful food coma.
Dee Jay’s BBQ Ribs & Grille (West Virginia)
You may not expect it in this tiny Northern Panhandle town not far from Pittsburgh, but the award-winning, fall-off-the-bone, sauce-kissed ribs served in an eclectic tiki bar-meets-sports bar atmosphere lure crowds from around the region. Dee Jay’s BBQ Ribs & Grille serves the ribs with smashed potatoes or cheesy, bacon-topped ’tater skins — which, come to think of it, sounds like a pretty brilliant idea.
Cou-yon's Cajun Bar-B-Q (Louisiana)
The self-proclaimed "best BBQ dive" in Louisiana, Cou-yon's Cajun Bar-B-Q, a Port Allen staple, is famous for smoked meats and homemade BBQ sauces, where South Texas meets Cajun in one bite.
B-ACK Yard BBQ (Massachusetts)
Co-owners Fred Bisaillon and Denise Corson’s menu at B-ACK Yard BBQ, on picturesque Straight Warf, in Nantucket, gives BBQ enthusiasts a menu of different barbecue styles from around the country. Meat is smoked by way of old whiskey and rum barrels from Nantucket's Triple 8 Distillery, giving it a unique flavor profile. Heritage pork ribs are a tried-and-true favorite, best paired with a local craft beer or one of their many bourbons on the beverage menu.
Slows Bar BQ (Michigan)
Often hailed as the state’s best overall barbecue, Slows Bar BQ, in Corktown, is a mainstay for locals and tourists alike looking for real-deal barbecue. Their award-winning baby back ribs are coated in secret spices. Tip: top them with one of the popular housemade sauces, available on each table.
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ (Connecticut)
"Simply put, our baby back ribs are the best," says Jamie "The Bear" McDonald, co-owner of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ in Hartford. "We not only use a high-quality meat, but we have perfected our secret blend of spices in our Bear’s signature pork rub." Once smoked, they’re finished with a housemade honey-brown sugar glaze that perfectly caramelizes the exterior.
The Corner Stable (Maryland)
In Cockeysville, The Corner Stable has served customers fall-off-the-bone Danish baby back ribs since the early 1970s. Due to popular demand, the restaurant added a second location, in Columbia, in 2011. In true surf n' turf fashion, treat yourself with the best of both words: a fried jumb gulf shrimp and ribs entree.
Big Fatty’s BBQ (Vermont)
With a tagline of "Put Some South in Your Mouth," Big Fatty’s BBQ focuses on Southern 'cue. Once housed in a small shack, the spot has since moved into a location in Hartford’s White River Junction, making it a popular highway stop for travelers. Pair homemade Cabot mac and cheese and okra with a whole slab of smoked ribs for a true slice of meat heaven.
Blake’s BBQ (Tennessee)
Blake Stoker brings solid Texas-style BBQ to the people of Martin, Tennessee, by way of his popular food trailer, aptly named Blake’s BBQ. "I put a lot of care and passion, good clean smoke from burning oak, and a tad of salt and pepper into the ribs, always trying to make them better today than they were the day before," says Stoker. Word of mouth and continuous rave reviews, such as "best ribs I have ever put in my mouth," have put his food truck on both locals and road trippers’ radars.
Hoots BBQ (Arkansas)
"[David and I] were drinking at the beach, retired and bored, when we conjured up the idea to open Hoots BBQ," says owner Susie Powell. The full-service restaurant and bar might be off the beaten path in McGehee, Arkansas, but people travel near and far, especially when en route to the beach by way of Louisiana or Mississippi, to feast. If nearby and car windows are down, you’ll be lured in by the scent of ribs cooking in the air.
OMC Smokehouse (Minnesota)
"Minnesota isn’t known as a BBQ destination," says Louis Hanson, chef at OMC Smokehouse, in Duluth. "Most places up here sauce everything to death but we like to keep it simple: a great spice blend, a high-quality cut of ribs and Minnesota wood." The result? Ribs smoked with native Minnesota sugar maple and white oak. "It gives people a unique smoke profile — sweetness from the maple and depth from the oak — awesome flavor courtesy of the forests in Minnesota," he adds. Beef fat fries make an excellent side, as they’re fried in brisket trimmings.
Lippy’s BBQ (Nebraska)
Purist meat enthusiasts will appreciate Lippy’s BBQ’s no-sauce rule. The family-owned and run BBQ joint in Malcom encourages diners to "eat naked" to embrace the true flavor of a quality piece of slow-smoked meat.
Locale BBQ Post (Delaware)
Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington has gathered a loyal following of ribs fans since opening in 2015. Customers also praise the baked beans, potato salad and mac and cheese with smoked gouda when it comes to sides.
Mad Jack's Mountaintop Barbecue (New Mexico)
On any given day, drive by Mad Jack's Mountaintop Barbecue in Cloudcroft and you’ll probably find people lining up, starting more than an hour before the restaurant even opens, because once it’s gone, it’s gone for the day. Natives of Lockhart, Texas (aka the barbecue capital of Texas), the team serves some of the most succulent meats around, ribs included. Pork ribs are available on the regular while "Dino" Angus beef ribs are a weekend delight. Don’t miss the cobbler for dessert.
NoBull Smokehouse (North Dakota)
Up in Fargo, insanely good ribs exist at NoBull Smokehouse. Think Northern oak-smoked meat so juicy and tender, it may melt in your mouth, and certainly "satisfy your meat tooth." Order a half-rack of ribs, choose your favorite sauce (from original, honey mustard and spicy), order sides such as waffles, tater tots, broccoli grape salad and sweet corn, then sit down to the ultimate family-style meal.
Barbecue Company (Oregon)
Consistently rated the state’s top barbecue joint, Oregon Barbecue Company (in Lebanon and Albany) brings a little bit of Texas to the Pacific Northwest. Inspired by backyard BBQs and delicious food, expect "finger lickin' goodness" with each visit. All of the meats are noteworthy, but the candied ribs are a hot commodity.
Pokey's BBQ and Smokehouse (Wyoming)
"We start with quality raw ribs and professionally massage them with applesauce, then top them with our own blend of spices," says a rep from Pokey's BBQ and Smokehouse. "There is no gas or electric heat, as we are traditionalists and believe that cooking with hard wood from start to finish is the only way." Made from scratch, family recipes grace the menu, making it hard to pass by this Gillette establishment.
Mike's BBQ (Pennsylvania)
Taproom on 19th’s Michael Strauss brings straightforward and downright good barbecue and sides to South Philadelphia by way of Mike’s BBQ, new to the scene as of 2018. He believes in "smoking meats the old-school way" and continuously gets hype for full spare ribs, which he rubs and smokes until juicy and tender.
Pat’s Barbecue (Utah)
In Salt Lake City, tourists and visitors alike flock to Pat’s Barbecue for the best BBQ in the valley. Award-winning ribs are a frequent order and fall right off the bone they’re so tender. Folks often go sans sauce as the meat is so tasty, but several sauces await if it’s mandatory. The no-frills joint is filled with indoor picnic tables decked out with paper towel rolls for easy access to wipe off BBQ sauce and meat juice.
Bitterroot BBQ (Washington)
At Seattle's Bitterroot BBQ, chef Josef Bonneville’s baby back ribs are a hot ticket item. "We dry-rub our ribs with a brown sugar-based rub and smoke them using only Washington apple wood," he says, further noting that the ribs are cooked at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere from three-and-a-half to fivehours, depending on size. "Our smoker is an Old Hickory pit out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri," he adds. "We finish the ribs on our charbroiler with a light application of an apple cider vinegar-diluted house sweet sauce."
Shigs in Pit (Indiana)
Recently voted Indiana’s best BBQ joint, Shigs in Pit (with two locations), which has won countless competition awards over the years, has become a Fort Wayne staple for excellent BBQ. Indiana-raised pork ribs are rubbed with a special blend of seasonings and slow-smoked, St. Louis style, over local wild cherry wood. While ribs are a standout, don’t miss out on homemade side dishes like hot potato casserole, corn spoon bread and Southern green beans.
Big Daddy's BarB-Q (Alaska)
Big Daddy’s Barb-Q has plenty of ribs for meat-hungry diners in Fairbanks. Between the St. Louis spare ribs plate and the Arkansas baby ribs, there’s no shortage on the menu. The homemade mustard sauce and sought-after side dishes are also worthy of a mention.
LD's BBQ (Wisconsin)
Until recently, LD's BBQ, in East Troy, ran out of a gas station parking lot — but after being crowned the Elkhorn Ribfest Champion for three consecutive years, the owners upgraded to a brick-and-mortar spot down the road. Oak-smoked, dry-rubbed ribs are served without sauce to allow hungry diners to taste the smokiness and richness of the tender meat first.
Old Hickory Bar-B-Que (Kentucky)
Find some of the juiciest, most mouthwatering ribs at Old Hickory Bar-B-Que in Owensboro. The down-home country vibe paired with six generations of good BBQ making make a recipe for tasty success. Mutton ribs and pork ribs keep guests coming back, as do the sides and sauces. Fun fact: the city is coined the "BBQ Capital of the World" and is home to a world renowned Bar-B-Q Festival that takes place each spring, so it's evident you'll find solid 'cue in these parts.