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My Endless Search For The Perfect Ribs

  • m

My business travels have taken me to 49 states (I have not set foot in ND) and over 40 countries. Anytime I arrive in a new city, I walk through the yellow pages or log on to Zagat or Table One and look for BBQ. I've had ribs from Bangkok to Bakersfield and all points in between. Hoogly Woogly's - Tony Roma's - Monty's - Quincy's - Willy's (in Agoura) last night, even P.F. Changs and Houstons. My quest is endless.

My appeal is to my SoCal brethren to help me locate a perfect rack of Baby Backs! The Barnyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks came close when they first opened. Carson's and The Weber Grill in Chicago also came close.

I have a friend who is a ten on the rib scale, but I can't just pop in and say "give me a half a rack with beans and slaw".
So, SoCal BBQ Brothers and Sisters - HELP!

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    1. re: Liz

      Thanks....I'm going there next week.

    2. I don't have a ton of experience in BBQ, but I really like Lucille's Smokehouse. I know you're looking for some tasty ribs (which they have plenty of) but my favorite here is their BBQ half chicken. Lucille's was rated #1 on KCAL 9's best places for BBQ in So Cal.


      2 Replies
      1. re: crystaw

        Me too! Not a frequent connoisseur of BBQ, but Lucille's is hands-down better than Tony Roma's & Houston's.

        1. re: crystaw

          i hate lucilles, it's generic and overpriced.

        2. Zeke's Smokehouse actually does a pretty good Baby Back. You most likely will not find bbq like that of texas or memphis, but their baby backs are pretty darn meaty and tasty. Their beef ribs aren't too bad either. Sides are little less mentioning, but they do a fantastic pulled pork plate.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kproq323

            I agree - I think Zeke's has great baby backs. A group of us got together last year and had a BBQ tasting. Does anyone have the list? I can't seem to locate it! I would love to see the results again! Thanks!

          2. Check out two places in the LA metro area. First (and probably the best for ribs) is JR's Barbeque at 3055 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, CA (310.837.6836). This is a great hole-in-the-wall place with great ribs and FIRE hot sauce.

            Second would be "The Pig" at 612 N La Brea Ave, LA (323.935.1116). Great Memphis style BBQ. A bit of a Hollywood place but great ribs and even better pulled pork sandwiches.

            Good eats!!

            1. Try J&J Burgers and BBQ on Adams, 2 blocks east of Fairfax or
              Phillips on Crenshaw just south of Adams

              These are 2 great places

              I have issues with most of the other places listed above, I think you should enjoy these.

              1. Your Worldwide BBQ quest might benefit from a local researcher who has 16 L.A. BBQ's under his belt (scroll down a little to see the list on one page view, the click thrus have some very good pics...):


                There are other interesting links....

                1 Reply
                1. re: JBC

                  wow, thanks. You have done a BBQ job beyond the call of duty!!

                2. The Original Texas Barbeque King
                  867 w. sunset blvd
                  la ca 90012

                  If your lucky enough to have a Costco card ... they have slammin ribs in a pinch ...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lilygirl

                    I know. My wife makes killer ribs from costco meats. We are doing a kitchen remodel now and are down until April. Costco is the BEST!

                    1. re: mjalz

                      Which ribs at Costco does she buy??

                    2. re: lilygirl

                      You bet they do! They are the meatiest I've ever found anywhere and the sauce is just right. I just wish they had beef ribs also.

                    3. Try Robins @ the top of Rosemead in Pasadena. Pretty good Q all the way around.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: otisdog

                        Go too Canyon City BBQ in Azussa instead. Robins is overrated.

                      2. Phillips is the best barbecue pit in Los Angeles, and they have added baby-backs to their menu. Everything else is commentary.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: mjalz

                            Phillip's in Leimert Park IS the best in the greater L.A. area but keep in mind that there is no seating at all, it is take-out only. I take it to a nearby park. The Red Velvet Cake is good too!

                        1. You've got some great suggestions here already and BBQJunkie is a great resource. I've lived in the SFV, the South Bay and now OC for 20 years and my favorite ribs are those at Tulsa Rib Company in Orange, off the 57 freeway at Tustin and Collins. Better than anything I've had in Chicago where I grew up (far better than Carson's or Weber Grill). I've been to Memphis and KC and I still think I would put Tulsa at the top for me...definitely worth a try.

                          How about a report on those you've tried so far...and let us know which other ones you try and what you think.

                          A couple of other worthy places closer to me in South OC that are worth trying are Bad to the Bone in San Juan Capistrano and RIck's Secret Spot in San Clemente, and if you liked Houston's (and Carson's in Chicago) you should probably try Wood Ranch BBQ as well. There are lots of others here in OC that I've been to, but I think you've got plenty on your plate to get started with!

                          Go try Tulsa Rib Co and report back!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: RSMBob

                            Going to Tulsa Rib next week as I have business in Orange. I'll report back

                            1. re: mjalz

                              Ok, I'm curious...did you make it to Tulsa Rib Company?

                            2. re: RSMBob

                              Wow! A barbecue place within 5 minutes of mi casa en San Clemente? Checked out Rick's website...... what's the deal with hours of 10AM to 5 or 6PM??? I know they're in a business park so lunch must be the main focus. Otherwise.... is this mostly take-out and catering?
                              What were the stand-outs on the menu? Sounds like a job for my wife as I get home at 7:30 or later and work every Saturday.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                Business park location to the max...the place is hard to find as its name implies! Not real sit down other than a couple of outdoor tables...NOT a full-service restaurant! During football season they were closing early on Mondays to do a BBQ at Swallows Inn in SJC for Monday Night Football. Weekends its closed for time off and/or catering. Got the tip from OC Weekly who proclaimed it the best BBQ in Orange County. Don't know if I'd go that far yet, but all the meats I've had (ribs, brisket, tri-tip, pork) have been VERY good...the sandwiches in particular are great...just meat, sauce and bread. The big selling point of the place to me is Rick himself, along with his wife, Lucy. Rick has a passion for what he is doing and it shows.

                                1. re: RSMBob

                                  Bob, how heavily smoked is the meat at Rick's? Would you say about the same as Tulsa Rib, or much more?

                                  1. re: Professor Salt

                                    Tulsa is pretty good for the area, but if I'm not mistaken it's not that smokey. It reminds me of what Lucille/Tony Roma's style of cue, except at Tulas it is very good. And those cottage fries are pretty addictive along with the refreshing tabbouli (yes, weird for a cue joint) and their sauce is sticky sweet. But in my opinioin better than any other cue joint in the immediate OC area.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Not smoky is right. Tulsa has good meat, but it's oven roasted. Still interested to hear if Rick's is in this style, or some other.

                                    2. re: Professor Salt

                                      Went to Rick's this past Monday, so I can answer this one. Definitely not smokey.

                                      I picked up a sampler with a pork rib and a piece of chicken. Both very good. Sides were cole slaw and beans (rather on the sweet side for me). While I was waiting they gave me an end of brisket (for their shredded beef, I guess). It didn't have the sauce all over it, and I thought it was delicious..... actually better than the others with sauce.

                                      This is really a take-out place for now (one table outside), though Rick said they will be opening an upstairs seating area soon. They're open Mon-Fri from 10 to around 5 or 6, so not dinner unless you come by early for pick-up. Highly recommended for whenever.

                              2. A report on some memorable ribs I have had:
                                Bubbas Ribs in Bakersfield
                                Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis
                                Famous Daves in Minneapolis
                                Djit Pouchana in Bangkok
                                Ricky’s Ribs in Nashville

                                Wow, you guys really stepped up to the plate on this one. I'm going to try them all. I just upped my zorcor dosage.



                                4 Replies
                                1. re: mjalz

                                  How about some more info about the grub at Bubbas Ribs in Bakersfield, I couldn't find much! TIA

                                  1. re: sel

                                    Bubbas was during my sons soccer tourney in 1996. It was great. I do nto know if it's still there. It was so good that my wife and I had a party a month later and we had Bubba cater it. We live in Encino CA nad he drove the 90 plus miles and did a bang up job. We were all in "Hog Heaven"!

                                  2. re: mjalz

                                    I know it sounds strange...but I've also had 4 of your 5 (ok, never been to Bangkok). I can't say Famous Dave's would be near the top of my list but to each is own. If the mods will allow me to post in response even though its non-SoCal, there are other legendary places to try as well -- a number in KC, plenty more in Memphis, Montgomery's in Cincy, 17th St Bar and Grill in Southern Illinois and Dreamland in the south (mainly Alabama).

                                    A lot of BBQ purists slam places like Houston's, Carson's, Famous Dave's and more for 2 reasons...1, they are chains and 2, they are not "true" BBQ. Purists be darned, it sounds like you don't care, you just want hunks of pork on a bone that taste good!

                                    1. re: RSMBob

                                      I'm a swine type of guy. I love my Hog. Chain restaurants or Hovel Shacks. I luv to clog my arteries. The Famous Dave incident was during a very long stay in Minnesota and I was having a Hog attack. It was a great fix, but I agree, it was (in retrospect) average.

                                  3. Houstons has my vote, chain or not. They have some damn good food. These ribs are fall off the bone good and come with fries and cole slaw. I don't think you'd be disappointed. And then you can even dive into that spinach and artichoke dip. Still my favorite of any in town...Happy eating!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kellydeez

                                      I love Houstons - There Ribs are great and there burgers are better.
                                      As chains go it's the best!

                                      1. re: mjalz

                                        I think Houston's is about the best high-mid chain out there...consistently good food and a nice atmosphere. In addition to the ribs and burgers, their french dip sandwich is the best of its kind and the prime rib is also VERY good. Wood Ranch is similar to Houston's in a lot of ways and is also good.

                                        1. re: RSMBob

                                          I have to admit, Houston's is one of my favorite chains. I was scared to say something, because there's always someone out there to reply and say I'm crazy and uncultured or something. But you're right. They're "fall off the bone," juicy and smokey. And I dream about their spinach dip every night.

                                    2. From what I've found, Phillips and Hogly Wogly's are the best in LA. For my taste, Carson's in Chicago are the second best I've ever had. For the best, go here:


                                      Bob Hope used to have them flown in for parties in his heyday.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: globalgourmet

                                        Wow, I love there website (Montgomery's). Have you ever had them flown in? I'd love to try them. What do you think?

                                        1. re: globalgourmet

                                          A Brief Interruption-

                                          Please do continue to discuss local sources of great ribs, but for mail or web order, please start a new discussion on the General Topics board where we discuss all national food distribution sources.


                                        2. Nick' diner on Main Street (or is it Spring?) Just across from the Cornfields, east of Chinatown has great bbq for lunch a couple of days a week.

                                          Whatever they do with pork (bacon is great, ham is very good) they do well and the bbq is right up there!

                                          Also in Chinatown Spring Street Smoke House (I think that is the name) does a good job but make sure you get the spicy sauce.

                                          1. Pretty much raised my 2 kids (now 25 and 35) on Hoggly Woggly's, but now that I'm in the OC, I'm devoted to Newport Rib Company which has a twin in the Naples Rib Company. Family owned, generous portions, and fall-off-the-bone yummy.

                                            1. My local favorite for baby back ribs is Baby Blues BBQ

                                              Baby Blues BBQ
                                              444 Lincoln Blvd
                                              Venice, CA
                                              Just south of Rose Ave.

                                              1. Burrell's BBQ in Santa Ana. I'm talking *down*home* here, sweet potato pie and the works. They do a killer sage sausage, too.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: LordOfTheGrill

                                                  How is there BBQ sauce? This place sounds great!

                                                  1. re: mjalz

                                                    Everything we've had there was outstanding! I just finished dinner and I'm getting hungry already!

                                                2. Baby back ribs are overrated. St. Louis spareribs -- that's the ticket.

                                                  I like Dr. Hogly Wogly's (but brisket better) and Baby Blues (pulled pork better). My best rib lunch the past year was at J.R. on La Cienega down south of Washington near Jefferson. Their ribs were meaty, the hot sauce was even a bit too spicy (next time half'n'half), potato salad was good and service was friendly.

                                                  I don't like the soft fall-off-the-bone type -- too often has sat for hours in the sauce or started out steamed rather than smoked or grilled.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                    I agree. I'm a spare rib guy. Baby Backs are good. Spare and St. Louis are the ticket. Thanks.

                                                  2. ribs should not fall off the bone.. that usually means they've been boiled. they should be firm but tender and should pull cleanly from the bone when bitten. that is a well-raised rib.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: FED

                                                      Thanks for hitting on the "fall off the bone" topic. You've nailed it on the head. Too many people think that "fall off the bone" means a good rib. Boiled is not good. The rib should fight you just a bit before it gives up it's smokey goodness.
                                                      A good rib prepared with a good rub requires no sauce!
                                                      My $.02

                                                      1. re: FED

                                                        What's the difference if the meat falls off the bone or you pull it off with your teeth as long as all the meat comes off the bone? If meat is left then the rib wasn't fully cooked.

                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                          The difference is the line between tender meat and mushy meat. Fall off the bone is mushy, pull off the bone done right is heavenly tender.

                                                          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                                            fall off the bone barbecue strikes me as effete, and i question the manhood of any guy who prefers it that way. ;)

                                                            seriously, barbecue shouldn't have the same texture as stewed or braised meats. that means it's overcooked. if it can be described as both tender and firm, you're on the right track.

                                                            1. re: raizans

                                                              My first reaction was that 'fall off the bone' was fine, but on reflection I really do agree. I used to prepare ribs by using a dry rub and wrapping them in foil then putting them in the oven for 2 to 3 hours at around 275. If that results in meat that comes off the bone by itself (as in when I lift them up to finish them on the grill) then I now feel they're done too long. Not bad but I find that the meat really needs to stay on the bone so that I can enjoy eating the ribs with my hands, not with a knife and fork.

                                                      2. Thank you all. You have given me a list of Rib Joints that will keep me and my family busy for months. To my Hog Lovin Brothers and Sisters........THANKS. If anybody has anything new to add, I'm still salivating. Thanks again.

                                                        1. I can't speak to their ribs specifically, but maybe someone else can. Boneyard BBQ on Ventura in Sherman Oaks has very tasty high-end BBQ.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Boy Lorin

                                                            The Boneyard Bistro was (and is) a very top notch BBQ House. I was there when it first opened and it was off the charts. The last few times I have been there it seemed to have missed the mark. Still real good, but lacking the pazazz of its infancy.

                                                          2. Phillips off Crenshaw, Texas BBQ King downtown - Both GREAT.
                                                            For mesquite grill, try The OutDoor Grill babyback ribs, tri-tip and chicken... Culver City at Washington Blvd and Washington Place on the corner of the Handy J Car Wash...

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rockinghamroaster

                                                              Gotta disagree about the latter two. Texas BBQ King downtown is overpriced, slow, and meager helpings of tough ribs. (The thing to get there, if anything, is their hue burger.) And with much hope, I tried the Outdoor Grill and was very disappointed. Ribs ok, the sliced pork was not succulent and rich like pulled pork but lean, flavorless slices from a loin. Most unsettling, when I asked for an extra slice of bread they wanted to charge me!

                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                i second the disappointment with Outdoor Grill ribs.

                                                            2. I have to put in a good word for Porky's in Inglewood. I've been to most of the local places mentioned here and Porky's is currently my favorite.

                                                              I also like the ribs at Houston's, which are the mushy kind, drenched in sauce, where the meats falls off the bone and you eat it mainly with a knife and fork. But if you want to try them you should know that they sometimes don't appear on the Houston's menu and you have to ask for them. I don't know how or why this is but at some Houston's at some times, the ribs are an unadvertised special.

                                                              1. Baby back ribs are fpr Yuppies -- there's no fat AND no flavor.

                                                                Stop ordering baby backs. Start ordering with sauce on the side. Stay away from the chains!

                                                                In LA it's really all about Phillips and Woody's.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                                                    I second that. Woodys for ribs, Phillips for sliced beef, Baby Blues for beef ribs.

                                                                  2. phillip's is the best, but only with the hot sauce.

                                                                    1. For ribs with an island kick...try Bora Bora in Manhattan Beach. Incredible although not your typical smokey ribs or dry like Rendevous (I dream of those 30+ years later)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: amela

                                                                        Bora Bora ribs are amazing. You can also order them to go as well.

                                                                      2. Well, my friend who I mentioned in my orginal posting, invited me for lunch today at his place of business. He obviously read this entire topic as he made me a wet smoked rib and a dry rub rib. Both were beyond great. I told him we could make a fortune with these ribs. He told me he cooks for fun not profit and keep on eating and shut up. So I did. They were the "perfect" rib.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: mjalz

                                                                          "How Much for One rib? I Sure am Hungry!" Chris Rock in the Movie "I'm Gonna get You Suckah"

                                                                        2. "A rib"? That sound sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, unless the words "rack of" are in between the 2 words along with an "s" on the end! Hey, if he's a friend of yours then he's a friend of ours...Ribfest 2007 for all of us at your friend's house is the price you must pay to have gotten all this advice!

                                                                          1. Actually Claim Jumper has excellent baby back ribs and they have a smaller cheaper portion during their lunch hour.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: chitowngirl


                                                                              Get real!

                                                                              I think you can buy them frozen at Von's! What a deal...

                                                                            2. Thanks so much for starting this thread - I've been searching for good BBQ since moving to LA and now have some places to try. When/if you're in North Carolina, please go to Lexington BBQ....

                                                                              1. Check in with the SD thread too... because Phil's and OB BBQ are really tasty too.
                                                                                In LA I agree that The Pig is very good. And in Burbank, somebody mentioned Ribs USA.
                                                                                I'm still looking for the best BBQ in Long Beach - 'cause Lucilles doesn't do it for me.

                                                                                1. The BBQ Beef Ribs at Cheesecake Factory are pretty good. Very fatty, like all beef ribs, but tasty.

                                                                                  1. I just had awesome ribs at Baby Blue's BBQ in Venice on Lincoln near Rose. The baby back ribs were perfect fall of the bone tender, great bit of char. Totally Fab. The beef ribs were the best I've ever had. No gristle or fat, just beautiful big ribs with a thick portions of meet attached, succulent, smokey, nice char. Perfect.

                                                                                    1. Tulsa Rib Company, Orange CA

                                                                                      1. I have not seen Jaybee's mentioned.

                                                                                        Solid beef ribs. Better pork ribs around, but when they get it just right they are tops.

                                                                                        Jaybee's BBBQ
                                                                                        15915 S. Avalon Blvd (just north of Alondra)
                                                                                        Los Angeles

                                                                                        1. I can't believe that anyone would select Lucille's as having the best ribs...I think they are awful. They are not the best in the world, but for pretty reliably good ribs at convenient locations, we go to Houston's. Sure there are better ribs in Kansas City, but for Orange County, Houston's is my choice.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                            I'd say Tusla though not great is the best in Orange County of the places I've been to, of course.

                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                              My favorite Orange County BBQ is Blake's, but their ribs are not at the same high level as their brisket and pulled pork. Come to think of it, I can't name any OC ribs that I really like -- certainly not Lucille's, where I go for fried catfish, or Johnny Rebs', which has outstanding hushpuppies and greens. The Ubergeek recommended Scottie's recently, but I haven't had a chance to stop by.


                                                                                              1. re: Harry Niletti

                                                                                                You are right on! Blake's has outstanding brisket and pulled pork. Also, we always keep a bottle or two of their excellent BBQ sauce at home. For tender, pretty good (not great) ribs, we've not found any better than those at Houston's.

                                                                                            2. I would recommend LBQ in Long Beach - tiny spot without any seating, but some good, smoky meat.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: SoCalMuncher

                                                                                                tell me more, i've never even heard of this joint.