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Where are the juicy baby back ribs in Toronto????

My boyfriend and I love Ribs..... since RibFest season is dying down, I figured it was now appropriate to explore where else we can get juicy, fall off the bone baby back ribs to sustain us through the winter months . . . . I am interested to see what other chowhounds have to say on this topic. . . Thanks for the input, cheers from TO.

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  1. It's a question that stirs up a lot debate among Toronto chowhounders. One thing we all agree on is that good ribs are a rare find in Toronto. I'll list some spots that often come up when this issue arises:

    Phil's Original BBQ, 838 College Street

    Purple Pig Famous Smokehouse, 1 Richmond Street, West

    Baton Rouge, attached to the Eaton Centre (a few other locations too).

    1. It's gotta be Phil's. They are well-smoked, fall-off-the-bone ribs and have a great spicy sauce on the side. Beans are good, too, slaw is just OK.

      Please note that these are not baby backs, but country (also known as St. Louis) cut ribs. Meatier, but they are fattier too. Most places do not serve baby backs anymore due to their high cost, or you will be getting a small portion if they do.

      Pulled pork sandwich is superb and a great value at $7.95 for a huge sammy with fries.

      The one thing they could improve upon is their rub, it needs more flavour and salt.

      BTW, Mike Love's in Barrie is probably the best BBQ in Canada. Definitely worth a chowhound day trip.

      When I was younger, I was a server at a ribs restaurant in Edmonton called "Bones", it was awesome. Especially good because we used Danish baby back ribs. Yum! We also had Flinstone-sized beef ribs, they were a bone-in short rib that was smoked. I miss them so much.

      7 Replies
      1. re: bogie

        The Danes consider back ribs to be of lesser value, and a very large percentage of the back ribs served in Canada have been Danish for decades. Today, on the open market back ribs are at around 5.00/lb from a federal wholesaler.

        $ 5 cost on a pound gives a protein cost of 33%!
        ( with no rub on the meat, or sauce to make it pull, no beans and no slaw) at the $ 14.99 price mark.

        Will you pay $ 20 for a pound of great ribs at 25% cost to the business, which can give them a fighting chance at the other 75 percent?

        The Flintstone Ribs sound great - I hope you can find a restaurant that makes them, or ask at your favorite place if they can make them. You might be surprised.

        1. re: meatheadx2

          I have no problem paying that price, but with a pound of baby back ribs yielding perhaps 6 oz. or so of pure meat, my point is that many customers do not see good value and that is why you see more St. Louis cut now.

        2. re: bogie

          Thanks for the info....I will definately be making a road trip up to Barrie to try out those ribs at Mike Love's.

          I have heard mixed reviews about Phil's but will try there as well. . . .


          1. re: bogie

            You should also point out that the country/St. Louis/side ribs are more tasty too.
            They're the only kind you find in the south.


              1. re: Davwud

                No sure what "South" you're referring to, but everywhere I've lived in the US over the past 45 years (Chicago, IL, Iowa City & Waverley, IA, Gettysburg, PA, Cleveland, OH, Lexington, KY, Merritt Island, FL, Las Cruces, NM, Durham, NC), baby backs have been the rib of choice.

                1. re: mclaugh

                  Certainly everywhere I've been in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.


            1. Tony Roma's is good too. Its Canadian locations can be found here: http://tonyromas.com/files/locations_...

              1 Reply
              1. re: mauie

                Yup, forgot about Romas. Definitely worth recommending.

              2. I second the Phil's recommendation.

                I enjoyed Dipamo's too

                3 Replies
                  1. re: Davwud

                    Dipamos' is(was) Phil's. The two were business partners and they had a nasty split up. Phil lost rights to the name "Dipamo's" and then his partner, who opened Dipamo's on Eglinton, went out of business. Apparently Phil is trying to get the name back.

                    All that said, I think Phil's is WAY over rated.

                    Ditto back ribs.

                    Good ribs at The Roxton, 97 Harbord, just east of Ossington.

                    1. re: ognir

                      Re: Roxton

                      I guess i need to go back for the burgers because we both ordered ribs and certainly would not return for them.

                      Two camps out there. Fall off the bone 'tender' and still on the bone with bite. I am not a fan of boil n bbq ribs. I don't like when the bone falls out and the meat falls apart. if you like that, you will probably like these ribs. They are very tasty. But then you also have to like eating cold sides with your bbq ribs, because I don't like that either. We received cold potato salad which was delicious and cold cabbage slaw which came directly out of the fridge. These choices made no sense especially given that they serve hot roasted potatoes with the burger. If anything we thought the burger could handle the potato salad, but not the ribs, especially for the price. The slaw tasted of nothing other than vinegar too, so we didn't even eat it.

                      Our neighours had burgers and chicken souvlaki. The burgers looked great but the souvlaki not only looked like a very small portion, but the woman complained that the rice was 'crappy' and there wasn't much chicken.

                      Back for the burger and beer because the place is very nice.

                1. Is it true that Phil's are side ribs? Side ribs are practically inedible in my opinion. I would like to try Phil's but I don't want to bother if they are side ribs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Aardvark

                    The fact that people endorse the rib-trocities served at Tony Roma's, Baton Rouge, and the Purple Pig is a testament to the fact that Canadians are truly rib-deprived.

                    It's sad.

                    Dipamo's ribs were good. Phil's are too.

                    1. re: Aardvark

                      Practically inedible? R u serious? Almost all professional BBQers and joints use St. Louis Cut side ribs because they are meatier and they have an ample amount of fat to keep moist during the long and slow smoking process.

                      IMO, you have probably been eating the rib atrocities at Romas, Montana's, Purple Pig and so on. These ribs aren't smoked at all, but are boiled and grilled with sugary sauce. Not pretty!

                    2. Turtle Jacks has great ribs. Locations through the GTA

                      1. I am certainly willing to be educated on the side ribs. I am not a fan of the sweet sugary sauces at all. I have never been a fan of the Purple Pig. I will definitely try Phil's to see how they differ from my previous experience with side ribs (fatty, gristly with little meat).

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Aardvark

                          Side ribs are a little more work. They're definately tastier though. I find that back ribs all come out tasting the same.
                          If you find you just can't eat them, don't order ribs if you're in the southern states. That's all they use.
                          Also, true southern style ribs don't fall off the bone. They're fall off the bone tender but maintain their form.
                          Camp 31 and Phil's are both the real deal. I hear the place in Kleinburg is the real thing as well. Memphis BBQ or something like that.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            Memphis is on Islington, north of number 7. They do indeed do real BBQ. The ribs are worth a small side trip if you are going up the 400 or already in Woodbridge.

                            Camp 31 is still the best I've had in an Ontario restaurant so far, but I haven't been to Mike Love's in Barrie. Phil's isn't bad, the rest mentioned so far go from bad to worse. Frankly, I'd still rather smoke'em at home.

                            Here's a link to Mike Love's menu:


                            1. re: Davwud

                              OMG, Davwud, I can't believe you said that about baby backs. I have been thinking that very same thing for a long time. No matter where you eat them, apart from sauce, the ribs have the same generic flavour. Very good observation!

                          2. TJ's makes some fine baby backs.

                            1. I always see turtle jacks at ribfest but have never seen a location in the city. . . .Whereabouts are they located?

                              Has anyone made it out to Camp 31? They also have a booth at most of the ribfests, but I never took a trip to there resto. . . I think its in london, not sure. . . .

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: pancake

                                Camp 31 is in Paris, ON. Highway 2 at Highway 5. I've been there twice. It's pretty much similar to many rib and BBQ places in the southern states. Nothing fancy but damn tasty ribs.


                                1. re: Mike from Hamilton

                                  Well that is exactly what i am looking for......Good, southern style BBQ.....I will definatley be taking the trek

                                  1. re: pancake

                                    Enjoy your outing to Camp 31. We make a point of stopping by whenever we head out that way. The cornbread is fantastic, a perfect accompaniment to the ribs and pulled pork combo. Yum! And if you're really in the mood for a drive, head down to Rochester or Syracuse next and try out Dinosaur BBQ...


                                2. re: pancake

                                  I just went there a few weeks back in August - very tasty ribs, but to be honest, they weren't quite as fall-off-the-bones as I had expected. Great service and great BBQ sauce. There is a place where you can rent kayaks / canoes close by, so it's actually worth doing a kayak / rib day. And yes, the cornbread is VERY tasty.

                                3. There's a Turtle Jacks on Hwy 10. I believe south of Derry but I could be wrong. I had heard their wings were good as well -- they're not.

                                  1. I'm not a rib connoisseur but I have equal appreciation for Phil's Original BBQ and the ribs at Banknote bar (King + Bathurst). I've also had Baton Rouge's ribs but did not like them at all - the ribs were alright but they had very little sauce and just ended up being terribly dry.

                                    Phil's ribs are of a great meaty flavor, firm texture, and a wonderfully smoky flavor. Their BBQ sauce is great, tangy and with some nice 'spice'.

                                    Banknote's ribs are more moist and tender I find and the sauce is a little more 'flat' but is sweet.

                                    I've had Banknote's ribs quite a few times while only once at Phil's but I really like Banknote's ribs if you like the more tender, moist, fall-off bone kind.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: artificialard

                                      is there anything else worth ordering at the banknote??

                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                        Hmm it's fairly typical bar food but decent. They have a decent burger, and we frequently get the mussels too. The mussels are good but more importantly the sauce is very salty and buttery but delicious with bread.

                                        Servers are always nice and oddly enough it's a good family place despite being a 'bar'. I'd say it's worth at least a visit if you just want a decent meal of bar food in a relaxed atmosphere that doesn't cost too much. It's always a good 'fallback' option for my family. If you live or work in the area then you should definitely try it!

                                        Google brought this up too, has good things to say about wings and ribs and also has pictures:

                                          1. re: artificialard

                                            I emphatically disagree on the Banknote-- maybe I've just had bad luck there, but the 2 or 3 times I've stopped by the food has been pretty dismal (including the ribs).

                                      2. (Echo) Camp 31 and Original Phil's are both excellent; if Dipamo's is really closed, count your blessing.
                                        By the way, Ribfest season isn't quite over yet: http://www.canadaslargestribfest.com/ is still to come.
                                        Keep in mind that no-one in Ontario that I have seen does proper Texas (beef) bbq; it's all from further east.
                                        I must go now; the stomach prep for Burlington begins at 2pm!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Gustatorian

                                          true enough....burlington ribfest is this weekend......the nicest one of all, near the lake, great tunes last year.....hopefully I'll make it down, I am working this weekend.....

                                          1. re: pancake

                                            Thanks for the info on Burlington, now I know what I'm doing this weekend!

                                        2. Gotta try
                                          The Rubicon Grill in Mississauga.
                                          Lakeshore Road (just east of Southdown Road)

                                          Great ribs and wings.
                                          The ribs are smoked and sauced really well.

                                          Enjoy Stewart

                                          1. Well I tried Phil's tonight and they were pretty much as I remembered side ribs to be - fatty and gristly - at least in certain sections. I would say that about 1/3 to 1/2 of the rib is inedible. However I quite enjoyed the other 1/2 to 2/3 so not a total writeoff. If Phil's decided to use back ribs as well as side ribs I think they would be much more successful and I would be there all the time.

                                            1. Toronto is a bit of ribs wasteland...so if we're talking road trip, make a run for the border and try Tunnel BBQ. It is a Windsor tradition (50 years+). They have every cut of rib available. Very delish. decor is tacky-tudor 50 year old men's club style. Apparently people from Detroit cross the border for Tunnel BBQ.

                                              They are dry-rub style with your choice dipping BBQ sauce.

                                              PS - I'm not crazy on Phil's sauce, has that fake smokey flavour.

                                              1. I heard a rumour that Phil's is closed so they can be made over for the tv show "Restaurant Makeover"

                                                I'm crossing my fingers they don't mess with the menu too much

                                                1. Phils is SO over-rated, but worse in my opinion is that people are enjoying Baton Rouge ribs. I guess compared to McDonalds Ribwich, Baton IS gourmet.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: bestandworst

                                                    BR's ribs are good. But like I say, there is a lot of places that make good ribs. So big deal!!


                                                  2. But there aren't a lot of places making good ribs in the city. That's my point. Because the bar is so low in our city, BR seems good to some people.

                                                    Went to Camp 31 last week...those are good ribs! Side only, don't order the back ribs; too dry.

                                                    1. Not sure where the best ribs are, probably Baton Rouge, but I can tell you where the worst are......Boston Pizza. Ironically they also have the worst pizza.

                                                      1 Reply