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Aug 20, 2009 09:17 PM

Ribs in NC (Triangle, elsewhere)?

I know that Carolina's famed for the chopped/pulled pork (which, granted, yum), but I'm a newly-christened rib fan and in search of the goods!

I usually order my ribs dry (most sauces are way too sweet), so the quality & quantity of the meat itself is paramount. Not that I don't enjoy some sauce, but it's not what makes the meal for me, so a good sauce can't make up for lousy meat.

So far I've found and tried the ribs at The Q Shack (Original & Carrboro locations), Backyard BBQ Pit at RTP & Smokey's BBQ Shack. All were enjoyable at different levels and for different reasons, though Carrboro Q Shack & Backyard were somewhat inconsistent (big, meaty, juicy ribs one visit; comparatively small & dried out on another).

I've heard bad things about the ribs at Allen & Son and Jim's in Chapel Hill, even though their proximity makes them the next logical stops - should I go, or are they seriously not worth my time?

Can anyone advise as to where I might check next that would have superlative offerings? I'm in the CH/Carrboro area and don't head east all that often, but often travel westward to Gboro/WS & occasionally Charlotte. I've heard The Pit in Raleigh is worth a stop, though.

Anywhere else?

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  1. I think the Pit is actually better known for their ribs than their pulled/chopped Q. I'm not much of a rib fan (at least not the bigger ribs) because it always seems so hard to get the meat off the bone or the meat to bone ratio was not my thing. Curious to see what others say. Are you looking for good meat or good flavor or both?

    3 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      I've had the ribs at The Pit many times and they've been excellent consistently.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        What I consider good ribs don't have any issues with getting the meat off the bone; my ideal is so soft that they're almost (but not quiiite) falling off the bone. Smokey's & Backyard have both hit this criteria before, which is part of why I rank them higher.

        While I'm looking for both good meat and good flavor, I suppose the meat itself narrowly edges out in the lead. I've had some ribs that had good smoke, but it was wasted on meat that was too lean and overcooked.

      2. Smokey's is far and away my favorite, although I wish they would use St. Louis cut ribs instead of the full slab ribs. The times I tried Allen & Son's and Jim's ribs, they were too dry, tough, and chewy from overcooking. You are spot on about the inconsistency of Q Shack's ribs. I haven't tried The Pit yet.

        By the way, have you tried the smoked wings at Smokey's? They're killer!

        3 Replies
        1. re: bbqme

          Oh man, thanks for the tip - love me some chicken wangs!

          I did try Danny's in RTP today. So so. Good portion, decent flavor (the rub was maybe a touch too sweet, but most folks probably wouldn't think so), but the meat stuck to the bones a little more than per my own personal preference. The mustard & hot BBQ sauces they have on the side aren't too shabby, though.

          "Side" note: potato salad was awesome. Green beans worthless, totally devoid of flavor.

          1. re: bbqme

            Btw, what's the rec for St. Louis cut vs. what Smokey's actually uses? I had no complaints, but I'm not exactly an aficionado...

            1. re: almondpanda

              The differences are St. Lois cut ribs are medium sized, less fatty, and has the top flap that has a lot of cartiledge cut off. If baby back ribs and full slb ribs had a baby it would be St. Louis cut ribs.

          2. Along these lines, does anyone know of anyplace in the Triangle to get good BBQ beef ribs, as opposed to pork?

            1 Reply
            1. re: durhamois

              Backyard BBQ Pit does beef ribs & brisket on Thurs&Fridays. Haven't tried yet (since I'm always swayed by the pork ribs) so I can't attest to the quality, but do intend to...eventually...

            2. Hog Heaven in Durham does "ribs" on Tuesdays, which I tried today. I say "ribs" with mockquotes because, uh...well, they're not. I suppose the meat's technically from the rib, but that's pretty much where the similarities end between what they serve up and what I think of as BBQ ribs. What I received resembled nothing so much as randomly sliced/chunked pork (with the occasional bone) which had been baked, swimming in a tray of soupy, sugary sauce. I guess it's their Lexington-style? MUCH too sweet for my tastes (though, granted, has a nice spicy kick to it). Also, served up barely lukewarm. Disappointed to say the very least. Never again! It's back to Backyard & Smokey's for me, until I can get out to The Pit.

              Sides - special side of squash & onions was awesome. Potato salad was pretty lame, too sweet and swimming in mayosauce.