Styles of barbecue ribs are as varied as the country’s distinct regions, and each brings out voracious local pride.
Beef ribs in Texas versus pork ribs of the American South. Big spare ribs versus baby back. Even more than the meat itself, the sauce argument is guaranteed to get heated.
In KC the sauce is a thick tomato-y, sticky, and sweet style. In St. Louis the barbecue sauce is tomato-based, but thinner and caramelized onto the meat. In the Carolinas, the sauce is more mustardy and vinegar-based. And in Memphis they prefer a dry spice rub patted into the meat with the sauce on the side. In Texas, they like ’em spicy.
Whatever your fancy, the country is brimming with rib joints that make for a supremely delicious road trip. To find the best of the best, we asked pit masters, food writers, and BBQ experts to tell us about their favorites. From an unsurprising number in Texas, stops all along the Barbecue Belt from the Mississippi Coast to Kansas City, and all the way out to Red Hook, Brooklyn, we’ve tasted a smorgasbord of ribs to present the top 15 rib joints in America.