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Where are the Region's Best BBQ Ribs?

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What are the region’s best BBQ ribs? I want to know your opinion. Please take sides out of consideration. This is a search for pure, good ole fashioned smoked ribs.

FYI: In order go get a better feel for the flavor of the meet, in my judging, I have ordered the ribs with the sauce on the side.

On a scale from 1-10 (ten being best):

Andy Nelsons – 7 (Meat is tender, falls off the bone with ease. Get them dry, great rub);
Smokey Hollow – 6 (now closed);
Klobys BBQ – 6 (meat was very tender);
Johnny Boys Carryout - 6 (a little salty, but the sweet sauce was pretty good);
Rocklands – 5 (I had a bad cut);
Old Glory – 3 (this is being kind);
Johnny Mac Ribs - 3 (not smoked, to much fat, no taste);
Randy’s Ribs – 2 (inedible).

Still on my list to try: Dixiebones; Big Bad Wolfe BBQ; and Willard's Real Pit BBQ.

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  1. Are you ordering the same type of ribs at each place, or are you mixing baby backs, St. Louis, or other according to the stated "specialty of the house"?

    I'd also add to your list Dale's Smokehouse in Indian Head, MD, Sonny's on route 236, just a blcok or so south of where 236 splits off SW from Route 5 in Mechanicsville(?), or Bear Creek, way down Route 5 between Leonardtown and St. Mary's City. Lefty's in Waldorf might also be worth a try, though it's not among my faves. In the Baltimore area, Mr. Chelsea's on Reisterstown Road might be worth checking out. There's also Pig Picker's which share a space with Sea King Seafood, just off of Route 40, across the street from the Crab Shanty in Ellicott City(?)

    Of the ones I'm familiar with from your list, the only surprise is Randy's. Is this the Randy's in Hughesville? If so, I'm puzzled. I'm not saying they are outstanding, but in my experience, they've always been at least in the "good" range - never in the "inedible" realm. Maybe you hit them on a really bad day?

    9 Replies
    1. re: Warthog

      Before I go to each place - myself and my BBQ excursion partner do our best to research and find out their specialty, aka baby back, St. Louis, etc. Yes it was the Randy's in Hughsville. Normally, when it comes to BBQ I will clean my plate regardless of its taste. At Randy's neither one of us could finish and we each had over a half of a slab left when it was all said and done.

      1. re: dorf

        Just curious, what was the specific problem? Poor quality meat? Over or under cooked? Abysmal sauce? Cold? Partially hot and partially chilly - the infamous tell-tale of precooking and subsequent inadequate microwave skills?

        As a side note, the latter is a problem that eventually happened once too often, and stopped me going to Bare Bones in Ellicott City.

        I only ask because In all the time I've been doing similar explorations, I've only failed to finish ribs once, and as I've said, I've found Randy's to be at least "acceptable" or "worth coming back" every time I've tried them, and sometimes up to "really good".

        1. re: Warthog

          Unfortunately with Randys, the entire experience was abysmal. The meat was extremely tough and very hard to chew. It had little to no taste. Also, during this trip, we got one slab dry and the other with sauce and the one with sauce was drowned in the sauce, which overpowered the taste (what litte there was) of the ribs themselves. Lesson learned, since then we have always asked for the sauce on the side. I hope it was just an off day for them and this is not the quality of product they put out regularly, but we did not feel like it was worth the drive to give them a second chance.

      2. re: Warthog

        Sonny's is my current spot of choice. Yes, that is Mechanicsville. It's replaced Flavors of the South in Huntington (I believe), which is just off 2-4. But dorf, you might like Flavors of the South, its good I just prefer Sonny's nowadays.

        Warthog, how does Dale's compare to Sonny's? I haven't yet stopped in.

        1. re: Bonz

          Is this the "Sonny's" chain from the south?

          1. re: alkapal

            No. This Sonny's is a tumble down shack with a stack of wood in the front and a nice old feller (named "Sonny") siting inside in his white undershirt.

            1. re: Bonz

              Bonz and Warthog, this sounds like the type of BBQ place that I grew up with. (Archibalds BBQ and Dreamland BBQ in Alabama if anyone is familiar). A place where the the emphasis is on the BBQ and each rib is prepared with "love and smoke."

              1. re: dorf

                Yeah man! That's EXACTLY why Sonny's is my current #1.

        2. re: Warthog

          Gotta agree with Dale's Smokehouse down Rt. 210 in Indian Head. I was there last Sunday at around noon and the ribs were excellent. Nice dry rub crust, good smoke ring, excellent smokey flavor, and a very moist. The place was buzzing with folks eating in and carrying out.

          On a sad note though, T&J's Ribs, another local joint and strong contender, seems to have been reduced to a pile of ash some time this past summer. I hope they rebuild the cinderblock shack and start smoking again. Their smoked chicken was something to behold.

        3. you should also try the Mighty Midget in Leesburg. Ribs available only on Fri-Sat until they run out. You can call ahead to reserve a rack.

          1. Not a bad list, although I've only tried the first three. I'd put Smoke in Federal Hill on there too at a 5 or 6 -- the meat I had was a bit fatty, but the flavor was good.

            1. Adam's Ribs--Annapolis, Edgwater, Prince Frederick, Severna Park. The Edgwater location (never been to Severna Park) has the best of any of the locations, but they are all equally very good.

              http://www.adamsribs.com/

              4 Replies
              1. re: naptownlady

                Adams (at least the times I've tried them) does baby backs with a very heavy sweet sauce, and I'm guessing they're parboiled and grilled, not smoked. On the Chicago board, they have a derogatory shorthand term for this style of ribs - "Meat Jello".

                As with pizza, ribs are a matter of personal taste, and I'm fully OK with it if this is the style somebody is looking for. Not my preference, though.

                1. re: Warthog

                  I don't care what the people in Chicago call them, the baby back ribs at Adams Ribs are consistently wonderful.

                  1. re: Denise

                    Just to clarify a bit, the style of ribs that Adam's Ribs does - sweet sauce, fairly heavily applied, baby backs, probably par-boiled and grilled, rather than smoked - is the popular norm in most of the Chicago area, other than in some areas populated by the mid-1900s migration of rural southern blacks to the industrial cities of the Midwest. In those "Northern Migration" neighborhoods, one sometimes finds the more southern style of ribs.

                    The "Meat Jello" phrase was coined in exasperation by those on the Chicago board who were not from the area, and were looking for the style of ribs where they are St. Loius cut and smoked "low and slow" over a wood fire, with only a light swabbing of sauce.

                    In the end, it's just different styles, and which kind one likes is personal preference. I only mentioned the distinction in regards to Adam's Ribs because the O.P.'s rankings led me to believe that their preference may lean more toward the "smoked, St. Louis cut, easy on the sauce" style, and I felt they should know going in that they will not find that style at Adam's Ribs. That said, if they also like the other style, Adam's does do their chosen style fairly well.

                  2. re: Warthog

                    Adams does not par-boil their ribs - they're baked and then finished on the grill.

                2. The Kennedyville Inn outside of Chestertown, MD had the greatest ribs. Chef/Owners have left, although I hear they're opening up another restaurant in a converted mill in Chestertown. Can't wait. Hope they still keep those ribs!

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