BBQ Rib Smackdown
Okay, a bunch of foodies got together on Sunday and did a BLIND TASTING of ribs (and only ribs) from the BBQ joints below. We used the standards of the Kansas City BBQ Society which I learned from their class to be certified as a KCBS Judge. We graded on Appearance, Taste and Tenderness on a scale of 1 - 9. We ordered the ribs with sauce on the side and judged them naked first, then spooned on the sauce. This was a rather daunting task to organize, but way too much fun to not do over again next year. I figured our fellow Chowhounds would be interested in the results. So here it is.
1st place – Mom’s
2nd Place - Woody’s
3rd Place Mr. Cecil’s which is surprising, because they do not smoke their ribs.
They were selected by recommendations from this site, Yelp and word of mouth from the 16 participants. To receive a score of “9” it had to be a rib you want to drive miles to eat. A “5” was a rib that is a block from your house and you don’t feel like cookin’. Less than that meant they were barely acceptable. None of the places were real duds. All of them were at least “good”.
See the scores below.
Mom’s BBQ Score 272
1050 W Imperial Hwy L.A. (323) 756-8405
3446 Slauson L.A (323) 294-9443
Mr Cecil’s 247
12244 W Pico Blvd, 310-442-1550
15915 S. Avalon Blvd (310) 532-1064
Adams & Crenshasw 323-292-7613
JnJ Burger Shack 223
5754 W Adams Bl (310) 532-1064
Rib Nest 218
1766 W. El Segundo Blvd. Gardena 310 329-6378
Abby was there to take photos which will be posted in a day two.
To bad you didn't include the Kansas City BBQ Company in North Hollywood. I think they blow Mr. Cecil's away. Really good burnt ends.
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I hate to quibble -- maybe I'm just jealous about being left out:
You skipped my favorite, Porky's. Also omitted JR's down on south La Cienega near Jefferson.
More important, did you test St. Louis-style spareribs or baby backs? Important distinction. And when places had a choice of sauces, did you go with the medium or the hot? Finally, I have a problem with "tenderness" as a criterion -- to me, fall-off-the-bone ribs are insipid and usually denote steamed or baked then grilled ribs rather than smoked. A rib shouldn't be tough, but it should have some bite.
We tasted St. Louis ribs, not baby backs. We used the KCBS Standard for judging. Tenderness is definitely an attribute for judging BBQ, meat, chicken or pork ribs. "Falling off the bone" is an old-time phrase. It is not necessarily considered a good thing in judging competition BBQ. Pork ribs should not pull away from the bone and leave you with a chunk of meat with cartilage and grizzle in the middle. Tenderness means being able to sink your teeth into the rib without the feeling you're chewing on a hunk of stringy leather.
J.R.’s was omitted because they didn’t make the cut. There were limitations as to how much to buy and how many places could participate and our number of judges. I wasn’t too surprised about Philip’s. Remember those ribs came from the Crenshaw location and not the original on Leimert Blvd. which is closed on Sundays.
All the 'Q was smoked on the premises with the exception of Mr. Cecil's. After all is said and done, almost all the ribs were good. However, having judged at festivals around the state, including the California Championship in Modesto, I must say that competition BBQ ribs are the best. I urge anyone who is really into ribs to go to one of the festivals and check out the offerings.
sassille, can you clarify which of these places do smoke their ribs? Was Cecil's the only one you tried that didn't?
I agree with nosh about the "tenderness" criterion -- for the same reason.
After just returning from a month-long driving trip around Texas and the South, I can tell you that if Woody's is truly number 2 in Los Angeles, we're doomed. Doomed, I say!
I greatly appreciate the efforts of Cecilia and team and hope this kind of investigation eventually helps spotlight the great BBQ that has to be lurking out there somewhere. Don't it, Gomer?