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Sep 11, 2010 04:46 PM

Where are the best baby back ribs?

Looking for some awesome baby backs for my bday dinner Monday night. I am in n. Scottsdale and don't want to drive downtown or to Gilbert in rush hour traffic so someplace relatively close to Scottsdale recs preferred, please.

I've read reviews of both Big Daddy's BBQ and Scottsdale BBQ Co. and both have their fair share of good and bad reviews (as will all places, I am sure). Anyone tried the ribs at either/both of these places?

Scottsdale BBQ Co
8471 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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  1. I stopped into Scottsdale BBQ Co., a couple of years ago, and sat around for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get service. I left hungry, even though I was one of only 3 or 4 parties, there. I happened to be in the neighborhood, last night, so, I drove by, just to see if they were still in business. They were, but, the parking lot was empty at 6:30 on a Saturday night. I've heard some random good reviews of the food, but, I would only try it as take-out, at this point.

    I guess the El Paso BBQ Company on Hayden is closed. My last experience there was horrible. Just stale food.

    There have been a number of interesting new BBQ joints opened in the PHX area, in the past few years, Big Daddy's among them. But, I am tired of being disappointed. I would try it with low expectations. If I need a pork fix, I think Carne Adovada or Cochinita Pibil.

    I like smoky ribs that don't need sauce, but, I also enjoyed the ribs I had at the Phoenix City Grille, a couple of months ago, which were not very smoky, and were drowned in a spicy sauce. They were very moist and meaty, and I loved the green chile cornbread. The other sides were also great, but, I substituted a vegetable for the fries. I got some heirloom variety root vegetables that were really good. I don't know how traffic would be from N. Scottsdale, probably not too bad.

    Phoenix City Grille
    5816 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    Scottsdale BBQ Co
    8471 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

    2 Replies
    1. re: johnseberg

      Scottsdale BBQ Co at the corner of granite reef and mcdonald is great.

      I always get it as take out. I have never had a problem getting service, the owner is usually in there working and is very friendly (his name isnt coming to me right now) however they have great deals on food and give you a ton

      get the spicy sauce, it is great - i would recommend the two person combo and sub out the 2 corn bread for 2 extra sides (they always do that for me, i dont partically care for their cornbread but i can see how people would like it) and throw in a half a slab of ribs or a full would get half pound of pulled pork, 4 sides, rack of ribs or half rack, and a huge chocchip cookie thing...for 25-30

      awesome deal and feeds way more than 2...and is really good

      Scottsdale BBQ Co
      8471 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

      1. re: Dapuma

        Thanks for the details. That's the place to which I was referring. I think it used to be a Sammy B's Pizza, years ago.

    2. I have tried Big Daddy's BBQ. I found it underwhelming. It wasn't bad, but the kitchen was playing it safe by scaling back on the seasoning and the sauces were rather lackluster.

      1. Thanks . . . I appreciate the input. After further research, I think we might go to Houston's. PCG sounds good and I will definitely keep it in mind for the future.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mdepsmom

          Houston's is good. Carlsbad Tavern ribs are really good and I like Wally's,but only available on Sundays.

          Carlsbad Tavern
          3313 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

          1. re: danieli10

            I just noticed on Wally's website that their ribs are available everyday. This statement was in response to a recent New Times article:

        2. Big Daddy's BBQ is as good as you're going to do. It's passable. A little pricey for what you get, but that's par for the course in your neck of the woods. My favorite part of Big Daddy's is that Sweet Republic is 3/4 mile east on Shea. There's also Notorious P.I.G. not too far (32nd Street and Thunderbird, right off the 51), but I'd do Big Daddy's over Notorious; something about Notorious doesn't seem like they have their heart into it. I mean, it's good, it's just lacking... that je ne sais quoi. Offering peach cobbler and then serving me peach crisp was not appreciated, either.

          That said, I still drive 20 miles out to Gilbert for Joe's Real BBQ. They just nail it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            I looked into Notorious P.I.G. too, there's another location @ Desert Ridge, but they, too, have gotten mixed reviews.

            I looked up Joe's website (for another time) and it looks like they have spare ribs and not baby backs.

            Anyone tried Texas Roadhouse? I know they're a loud obnoxious chain but I've heard good things about their ribs.

            1. re: mdepsmom

              I was going to Texas Roadhouse on visits to my parents in the West Valley, but, they had a bad experience, and we quit going. In my experience, the ribs are moist and fall off the bone, but, not smoky. They have lots of options for sides. The warm bread is more like a sweet roll. For a chain, I like it.

              BTW, I like Houston's, too. I used to live about a mile from the Scottsdale location, and had a lot of fish there. They never screwed it up, and the vegetables were always good.

              1. re: mdepsmom

                Yes, Joe's has St. Louis style spare ribs instead of baby backs. Joe's handles them well, the main difference is that there's more meat on those bones.

                Texas Roadhouse is a very good chain. The food is consistently well prepared, with delicious steaks, truly fall-off-the-bone ribs, and side dishes that aren't afterthoughts. Service is friendly and quick. The one big downside is that they have perfected the loud obnoxious part of loud obnoxious chain, with blaring country music reflected off high ceilings and hard surfaces. Their birthday celebrations are especially annoying as well, involving getting one's picture taken straddling a sawhorse while wearing an enormous foam cowboy hat.

                Another downside for you: There isn't a Texas Roadhouse anywhere near you. You're right in between the one at Arrowhead Towne Center, and the one on Stapley and US 60. Joe's Real BBQ is just three miles farther. While you can likely tell by now I'm quite the fan of Joe's, I should mention something they don't really mention on the site: It is a quick-service casual restaurant. You order and pay at the counter, and get your own beverages and condiments. If you're looking for a full service restaurant, you'll want to go elsewhere. Big Daddy's is quick-service too. But really, it's barbecue, it's not supposed to be anything fancy, is it?

                Oh, speaking of Joe's, I remembered a good reason to brave rush hour: $10 off your meal on your birthday. Then you can go across the street to Liberty Market (also owned by Joe) and also get $10 off dessert and coffee (mmmm cortaditos).

                Liberty Market
                230 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  Yeah, I know the Texas Roadhouse closest to me is at 60/Stapley; also farther than I want to travel tonight when DS still has to get homework done. Good info re Joe's, I will keep that in mind when my son's next bday rolls around since his is on a Saturday.

            2. Update . . . I had the ribs at Houston's last night and I have to say I *loved* them. They were fall-off-the-bone, charred a little on the edges, great sauce, just all around great. My only complaint was that there weren't enough of them. I wish they offered the entree in two sizes, or I would have gladly passed on the fries and cole slaw and taken more ribs instead. I will totally go back there just for the ribs, although I definitely want to try some of the other recommendations too.

              7 Replies
              1. re: mdepsmom

       me whan a rib is, as some of you say "fall off the bone", it generally indicates the meat has been boiled or steamed (aluminum foil trick) both of which methods arent true bbq and frowned upon, at least where I'm from.

                1. re: Mytah

                  I guess it doesn't matter to me the preparation method, or whether or not it is "true bbq," as long as it tastes good, and Houston's ribs were fantastic.

                  1. re: mdepsmom

                    Not sure if you've tried Joe's BBQ in Gilbert but their ribs are pretty good. They also have a good selection of other items.

                    1. re: drewallen42

                      I haven't, but I'd like to. Although on their website it lists them as spare ribs, and I prefer baby backs. I don't get to that side of town very often, but it's on the list!

                  2. re: Mytah

                    actually you can achieve "fall-off-the-bone" without those cooking methods. Those methods just speed up the process and help keep them from drying out, but it can definitely be done without.
                    Technically, falling off the bone means it is overcooked, but many people prefer their ribs that way. You'd get killed in a bbq competition but hey if that is what you like, prepare it that way by all means!
                    And for the record, best ribs are the ones I make in my smoker. :)

                    1. re: dombey

                      Yes dombey that why I used the phrase "generally" ;)

                      And yes I agree with everything else you said. Well except the part about "your" ribs..I'll have to take your word for that!

                    2. re: Mytah

                      Not true. I am a professional Chef - CIA, New York, 2001
                      St. Louis born and raised...

                      While yes steaming ribs in a Alto Sham can have that effect. "Fall of the bone" can easily be achieved with smoking. It all about the quality of product and length of smoke.