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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 slab...you 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

                Interesting...to 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.

                  3. I hate to say it, as it flies in the face of everything that I stand for, but the be best baby back ribs that I have found in PHX has been at the 7th St/Bell Chili's.

                    Sorry for that, but I have just never found better, and I have tried very hard.

                    Enjoy, and happy belated birthday,


                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      There are a couple of things that Chili's does remarkably well. Another is their chicken fried steak.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        You know, I am a big, big fan of chicken fried steak, but do not recall having had theirs.

                        All of my real "favs" are no more - just memories. I keep looking, but have not found any that warm my heart. Even my lovely Southern wife, who could be a chef is she were not so good at other things, has yet to concoct a great chicken fried steak.

                        I'll have to give them a go. We do Chili's about once per year, and it's always been the baby back ribs. We have one not that far away, so what the heck?

                        Thanks for the tip, as it's greatly appreciated,


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          If you eat there this Monday, the 27th, 100% of the profit goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I'm normally not a big proponent of chain restaurant dining, but if you're gonna eat there, it's a good day to do it. And as chains go, Chili's does have some decent dishes (especially since they revamped their menu within the past year or so).

                          I got excited by the reports of good chicken fried steak but I've moved to Seattle and the only Chili's we have here is at the airport. I am NOT going to the airport just to eat at Chili's...especially since it looks like they serve only burgers, drinks and dessert. Ah well.

                          1. re: Bax

                            I woudl have to 2nd the chicken fried steak at chillis...it is very good

                            1. re: Bax

                              Welcome to Seattle, Bax! There used to be several Chili's here, but they fell victim to low guest numbers and the economy. I wouldn't go out of my way to go to one just as I wouldn't enter a Denny's.

                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                              Hunt, have you ever tried the Chicken Fried Steak at Texaz (it will always be Lonestar to me) on 16th and Bethany? It was always excellent. It been several years but I bet its still good.

                              1. re: Mytah

                                I have, and on several occasions. I was less than impressed, but it has been some years, since the last meal there. When we moved to PHX, we were just down the street (on Morten in the Hilton complex), until we bought a home in N. PHX. We dined there a few dozen times, and then after moving. Things were OK, but we both wanted more.

                                Going back to my youth, there was a great restaurant, The Hub, in the bus station in Meridian, MS, and their "chick-steaks" were the ultimate. Later, we found a place in El Reno, OK, Hensley's Family Restaurant, that was close. Both are now gone. Maybe had I not tasted those, I would be less critical of others'.

                                Will try the ones at Chili's, and try to keep an open mind - hey, I ranked their baby back ribs as #1 of those, that I have experienced in PHX, so what's the big deal. If they hit the CFS right, I will bite my tongue and will report. It's about the food, and not necessarily the source.



                        2. I only skimmed all the replies to the OP, but I simply cannot believe that the baby back ribs at Don & Charlie's haven't been mentioned. Best in town by a significant margin. Not to mention great side dishes and the best chopped liver (free, btw) in town.

                          Don & Charlie's
                          7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: ejs1492

                            Good call, they have always been a fav, totally forgot about them.

                            1. re: ejs1492

                              I have to disagree. I've had the baby backs at D&C's on a couple occasions and didn't care for them. (After the first try, I thought maybe I caught them on an off night, so I tried them again.) They were neither tender nor particularly tasty. However, I could make a meal out of the chopped liver and their fabulous rye bread, and a side of cole slaw (vinegar-based, not the mayo-based).

                                1. re: Xorox

                                  ...which, when coming from a Lettuce Entertain You outpost, means they're full-on traditional north side Chicago tavern ribs.

                                  For the record, I'm not a fan of this style, beyond what little nostalgic value they hold for me.

                              1. Don &Charlies has been a fav for years. Also Thee Pitts Again in the Arrowhead area is great. Honeybears has two locations...

                                Thee Pitts Again
                                5558 W Bell Rd, Glendale, AZ 85308

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rosiepug

                                  don & charlie's baby backs are awesome. get them "don's style" charred w/o sauce.

                                2. We just got back from trying Pork on a Fork's baby back ribs and here's my thoughts:

                                  The good:
                                  1) The ribs were EXCELLENT! Exactly the way I like them! The pulled pork was also good and served WITHOUT any sauce, so you can pick which sauce you prefer.
                                  2) Four different home made BBQ sauces - Sweet and Mild, Smoky and Tangy, Hot and zippy mustard glaze and they have just made them available to purchase by the bottle, as well.
                                  3) Very friendly and helpful staff.
                                  4) Reasonable prices, quick service, clean restrooms,
                                  5) You can order the food already smoked and cooked, but served cold in a foil baking tray to heat up at your own home at a later time or day. They recommend consuming it within 7 to 10 days which is more than reasonable and the ribs may be even better as they sit and soak up the sauce and become more tender.
                                  6) Mac and cheese side dish is delicious!

                                  The bad:
                                  1) Hard to find the restaurant - its located in an industrial park.
                                  2) Waffle fries don't taste as good as they look. I'm guessing these are not home made, but frozen from a mass manufacturer like Oreida or some such...
                                  3) Different prices on some of the same dishes on Friday's only as well as other sides available on Fridays only from 4pm to 7pm. Its a bit confusing to have a Friday Menu that has many of the same items as the regular menu at a slightly higher price. I understand items like Smoked Salmon are only available on the Friday menu, but why is the regular menu disregarded on Fridays and the prices different?
                                  4) Closes early (7pm Mon - Fri) and 3pm on Saturday.

                                  Summary - This is our new favorite place for baby backs and pulled pork. Will try the beef brisket in the near future. Highly recommended!! And,they accept debit and credit cards where many other small BBQ restaurants are cash only, which I find inconvenient. So that's a plus, as well.

                                  1. In the recent past, we have had several great "baby-back ribs" platters from Dillon's, up on N Central Ave.


                                    1. Honestly, the St. Louis ribs at Bobby Q's were great. Better than the baby back ribs, and I prefer baby back most of the time. Its off I-17 in the Glendale area, exit escapes me at the moment.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. mdepsmom, only 4 years late, but you can make the best ribs ever. Get you Baby Back ribs, put a rib rub on them and place them on an oven rack with a drip pan below them and put your oven on 200 degrees and let them stay in there for 4 hours. Remove from oven and finish on the grill with your favorite BBQ sauce. You now have the best ribs around.