By Ryan Glasspiegel
Ribs turn your typical Tuesday meal into a special occasion. When they're done right and accompanied by great sides (and an alcoholic beverage or two), they can lead to the best kind of food coma: one where you end the meal lying on the couch, finding the optimal position on your side to make having overeaten that meaty goodness comfortable.
|Slideshow: America's Best Ribs|
The best way to prepare ribs is up for debate. They can be cooked in an oven or barbecued on a smoker or grill, via wood or charcoal. And every storied restaurant across the country has its own trade secrets involving seasoning, set-up, temperatures, and sauces. So coming up with a list of the best ribs in America is no easy task.
Regardless of the methodology used to prepare ribs, they're always messy enough to require a stack of napkins or a roll of paper towels. And when ribs are truly at their best, the meat falls right off the bone. So who makes the best ribs in America?
Cities like Kansas City, Memphis and Austin point to barbecue as a tenet of civic pride -- and they should, because meticulously preparing carnal delicacies is important work. Certainly, you'll recognize some big names -- no list of America's best ribs could, after all, go without mentioning The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, or Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, Kan. But what about Bogart's in St. Louis?
The restaurants on this list differentiate themselves through overall meat quality, tasty sauces, and the manner in which the ribs are prepared. Some have historical legacies, while others are just getting started. All of them will leave you full and fulfilled.
In a city known for its barbecue, Corky's reigns supreme. Its web site describes the painstakingly delicious process that its ribs go through to reach the eater: "Born of a unique combination of place, history, and just plain knowing what great ribs and barbecue are supposed to taste like, Corky's unrivaled ribs and authentic, hand-pulled barbecue are meaty, succulent, and falling-off-the-bone-tender. Corky's barbecue is made with old-fashioned Southern tradition -- slow-cooked in pits with hickory chips and charcoal, hand-pulled to select only the best, and basted in our special blend of Corky's sauces."
While Pappy's has received extensive acclaim for having outstanding ribs, it just may be outdone by its former barbecue master Skip Steele, who opened Bogart's earlier this year. Bogart's uses a torch to caramelize the sauce on top of its ribs. Make sure not to completely fill up on the ribs, though, as the sides at Bogart's are fabulous. Feast Magazine writes, "Dill-laced deviled egg potato salad; thick, sugary baked beans; and barbecued pork skins round out your plate at this slice of carnivore heaven."
Off the Bone, a small barbecue shack located just outside of Dallas, is the type of place that you are certain is going to be exquisite before even setting foot through the front door. Named the best barbecue in Dallas by D Magazine, the restaurant is aptly named: "Our customers say you don't need no teeth to eat our meat," says meat curator and co-owner Eddie Brown.
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In naming Cooper's amongst the best barbecue in America, Details' JJ Goode writes, "Cooper's engages in two practices that some consider antithetical to the state’s trademark style: direct-heat cooking that's dangerously close to grilling, and saucing. But this cowboy-style barbecue spot breaks the rules proudly, cooking meat about two feet from mesquite coals and then finishing it over low heat ... It's all charred, pepper-flecked, and insanely good." A special part of Cooper's experience is picking out your own piece of meat off the grill.
Where are America's best ribs being made? Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, Kan. We asked Kyle Hopkins, the host of Kyle's Kitchen, for his take on Oklahoma Joe's and he happily obliged: "It's in a gas station and the line on the weekend is always through the restaurant, out the door, and winding around the gas pumps. (The one at 47th Street and Mission is the one in a gas station and the original.) Ribs are perfect KC-style ribs — sweet sauce (called Cowtown) and a spicy one you can add as well (Night of the Living Sauce), and some unreal meat. They are like rib candy. Hold their shape perfectly until you bite into them, then the meat melts in your mouth."
Click here for TheDailyMeal.com's complete slideshow of America's Best Ribs.
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