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Duggan's or Buster Rhino's ribs - Please help me choose.

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So, this isn't a straightforward choice of which tastes better. Here's the thing: It's my husband's birthday, and he wants ribs. But he likes the saucy kind, not the kind that relies on artisan smokiness. Last year, we went to Stockyards, and while he did enjoy them, the ribs there were not of the saucy type he prefers. Me, well I know nothing about ribs in Toronto, as they're just not my thing.

So, if you know something about ribs, especially Duggan's and Buster Rhino's versions, as those are the two I would prefer to choose from (though I am open to other suggestions), where would you go for saucy ribs in a pleasant atmosphere, with decent service? Please also keep in mind that we live in Toronto (so Buster Rhino's would be a big drive), and convenience is worth something too.

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Buster Rhino's
2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

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  1. OK, I may get shot for this recommendation, but if saucy, fall-off-the-bone ribs are what your husband enjoys, then Baton Rouge is the place to go. Ask for a small bowl of bbq sauce on the side if he wants it really saucy. Get the fully loaded baked potato rather than the mashed potatoes (which they beat into a gluey mass). I find the ribs the best thing on the menu there, and the atmosphere and service are both nice.

    Buster Rhino's ribs are very good, but they are a dry rub style, though there are sauces at the counter you can use. However, it's a long way off, closed on the weekends (I think!) and no atmosphere for a celebration.

    I haven't been to Duggan's, so can't comment on it.

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    Buster Rhino's
    2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Baton Rouge is okay but I think Swiss Chalet has them beat when it comes to their ribs, I think I may get shot multiple times for this post.

      1. re: callitasicit

        How brave you are! My husband already mentioned he would be happy with Swiss Chalet, so he may get shot, too!! It's not really the more upmarket-type destination I was hoping for for a birthday celebration... Nonetheless, SC is a contender.

      2. re: TorontoJo

        Agreed - Buster's ribs are good, but they are probably the polar opposite of what your husband wants. They retain some of their bite, and as TorontoJo says, are the dry rub style which is a big turnoff for those expecting a gooey, saucy rack. Don't go all the way out there to disappoint a saucy rib fan.

        1. re: Wahooty

          Thank you for that. It is quite a distance to go for something that's not quite what you want!

        2. re: TorontoJo

          Thank you, TorontoJo! Baton Rouge was off my radar.

          1. re: Full tummy

            Yup, TJ is right. Baton Rouge ribs are a guilty pleasure for me.

        3. I've had Baton Rouge ribs once years ago. i remember them being surprisingly good. Not excellent, but good.

          if you want sauce, do NOT get Buster Rhino's. Saying that, BR's ribs are bloody excellent. You're tasting 2 things:

          1. Delicious cherry wood smoked perfectly into the meat
          2. the meat itself

          You smell like a lovely campfire after eating them. The flavour is excellent and the only thing overwhelming is the smoke. But after all, they are smoked/BBQed.

          Saucy ribs are nice, but I've learned to love the dry rub smoked ribs. More of an art form. If you're uninterested in your husband learning about that "art", then yes, find another option. :)

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          Buster Rhino's
          2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

          6 Replies
          1. re: atomeyes

            Yes, Buster Rhino's ribs sound divine--to me, but I'm not the rib person, and for Hubby's birthday, I have to be considerate with respect to his preferences. Thanks for the advice. It looks like it's a race between Baton Rouge and SC, unless someone pops up and recommends Duggan's!

            1. re: Full tummy

              I found the BBQ sauce on Duggan's wings to be....well no other way to say it, crud, I can't imagine the ribs are any better.

              What about Highway 61? I know they don't get much love here but I've heard some positive chatter elsewhere.

              1. re: bytepusher

                Thanks, I will give Duggan's a pass, I guess. The menu looked good tho for items for the rest of the group... But no fans are popping up, so that has to say something. I will put 61 on the list.

              2. re: Full tummy

                Ive only been to Buster Rhino's once and im dying to get back there. The ribs might not be for your husband but I guarantee he would love the Brisket Sandwich. That thing was so delicious, there was a bunch of thin cut brisket and a good amount of their homemade BBQ sauce, all tossed on a plain soft white bun, absolutely delicious. Saucy and meaty goodness, and you could see the smoke rings on the brisket, damn I want some more...

                I also tried their Smoked Wings, and they were huge, but i think they should have been crisped up in the frier, thats just my personal taste...

                I dont know if they sell their BBQ sauce, Id imagine they do, but you can also buy vaccuum sealed packages of their pulled pork and brisket, so if you make a trip out there, you can always stock up and make it worth your while.

                I also agree with what someone said earlier, Swiss Chalet has some tasty ribs, fall off the bone and great flavor.

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                Buster Rhino's
                2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

                1. re: jmarcroyal

                  The sandwich sounds divine... Something to get next time we're out that way.

                  1. re: jmarcroyal

                    they sell 3 types of BBQ sauce at the BR store.
                    note that there is 1 store in Whitby, 1 in Oshawa and one in Uxbridge.

              3. Tho Buster serves its ribs fairly dry with just a bit of sauce to finish,you can buy bottles of their sauce and put on as much as you like. However, it's not much of a celebration spot, more a no-frills take-out with a few plastic patio tables and chairs. No service other than counter staff and no liquor license.

                They sell the ribs vacu-packed ($15 a rack?) so you can stock up with as many as you want and celebrate back home and throw the rest in the freezer. And make sure you call them to tell them you're coming. When we got there, they were sold out and had to drive another half hour to their Oshawa location to get them. Turned into a 3 hour return trip for us.

                Have you tried Phil's on College? You'll find all sorts of hate for it on this board, but more positive feedback imo than Swiss Chalet or Baton Rouge.

                http://www.philsoriginalbbq.com/

                or Hadley's?

                http://www.hadleys.ca/

                Sauce is generally put on the ribs at the end of the process so that it doesn't burn. Wherever you go, just ask for extra sauce!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Herb

                  Heres another possibility, And I might get slack for this too. Montanas! I only ever go there when they have All-You-Can-Eat Ribs. Their ribs are decent quality, nice and saucy with a few varieties of flavors.

                  I loved their Beef Ribs, the things were absolutely huge. Ill admit they were pretty fatty, but they were nice and hot and saucy and I enjoyed em. Unfortunately the service is usually horrible, they are always slow as hell, and I find their ribs are only good for one binge a year, you get all ribbed out after a feast over there. If youve never been there you might want to give it a shot.

                  1. re: jmarcroyal

                    All you can eat may be a winning proposition, so long as the ribs are decent. Thanks!

                    1. re: Full tummy

                      Their ribs are in line with SC and BR.

                      DT

                  2. re: Herb

                    Will look into both your suggestions. Thanks!!

                  3. If you don't mind the drive up north, I would suggest Chili's in Vaughan (right off the 400 and 7 at Colossus). I know its a chain, but it's the only one in Ontario and I find the ribs nice and saucy

                    Cheers

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greenapes

                      Thanks for the suggestion! Didn't know there was one in Ontario.

                    2. VERY long drive to get there, but if you want the best saucy BBQ ribs in Ontario you'll have to go to Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario:

                      http://www.camp31.com

                      If you go cross-border shopping to Buffalo, I strongly recommend Kentucky Greg's near the airport, this place is worth the trip if you're already over that way:

                      http://kentuckygregs.com/

                      My wife is from Alabama and also prefers the sauced ribs so she definitely prefers these two places over BR.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: TexSquared

                        Well, those will come in handy if I'm out of town, hahaha! Thanks!

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          It's unfortunate nothing within the GTA can hold a candle to Camp 31 or Kentucky Greg's. If you want the best you have to be willing to travel; hey at least I'm not saying fly to Tokyo like you see in the sushi threads....

                        2. re: TexSquared

                          Just looked at the website for camp31. Is it all good? Looks like it might be a fun daytrip come summer.

                          1. re: Full tummy

                            Yes. You'll see a lot of the Ribfest haters post negative about them... I agree they're not at their best at the fests for any number of reasons (and have to overcharge like all the ribbers). Go to their restaurant and you won't be disappointed.

                            1. re: TexSquared

                              or yes you may be disappointed much like I was after the drive from TO. I have no problem telling people to avoid the drive to Paris ON to avoid the horrible meal three of us and I had. Hello Microwave.

                            2. re: Full tummy

                              Go once. Then decide if you want to return. We return every year for good reason. They serve a quality product at a fair price, and if my southern-USA-expat wife (born and raised on the Gulf Coast) says they're the best she's had up here, who am I (born-and-raised Torontonian) to argue.... be as ridiculous as me disagreeing with a Japanese expat on who makes the best sushi in the GTA....

                          2. Another suggestion - Universal Grill.
                            These 'used to' get a lot of love here, but they replaced their 'chewier' version with a fall-off-the-bone style.
                            Personally, I prefer the dry rub style, but Universal also has a wet version - my nephew (a chef) prefers those.

                            The atmosphere is definitely retro (it's a converted diner), so make a reservation if you don't want to sit at the bar (or even if you do).
                            I do like some of their other dishes too (This is NOT a BBQ place as such) but the 'cue is excellent.

                            And, on Sundays, corkage is free - so you could splurge on a bottle (actually it's $20 all other times, so that's not too bad).

                            And it's convenient to me!

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                            Universal Grill
                            1071 Shaw St, Toronto, ON M6G3N4, CA

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: estufarian

                              "fall off the bone" is a misnomer. it means that the ribs are overcooked. you actually want them to stay on the bone, not fall off. Montana's commercials have you thinking otherwise.

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                Actually, I have to say the ribs I had from Montana's were nowhere near falling off the bone. They had a good meaty texture and chew and felt very much not overcooked, though my husband did say one of his racks was a bit dry. That was the only complaint from the three with the ribs, though, so I do think they are getting it right, in general.

                            2. So, just to give everyone an update, we ended up going to Montana's for all-you-can-eat ribs. We were a group of six, and three of us ordered the ribs, me being one of them. (I am not usually a ribs person, but all-you-can-eat sounded fun!) Hubby thought the ribs were quite good. He said they didn't stand out as something incredible, not better than Swiss Chalet (not that he categorizes SC as incredible, but he thinks they're competent, too), but he definitely enjoyed them more than the ones we had from Stockyards, which were of the dry, smokey, artisan style that so many appreciate (though not Hubby). He ate all of his first large rack of pork back ribs, 9 bones, then they brought him an 8 bone piece, which he also managed to eat, followed by another smaller 4 bone piece. He said the first was somewhat dry, but the other two were juicier. I barely managed to eat my first portion of ribs, so didn't end up with any benefit from the all-you-can-eat option, and I noticed the server did not charge me for it. That was a hefty portion! The sides were fine: Coleslaw was nothing exciting, but I've had worse. The fries were actually decent for a chain, in my opinion. It was nice to be able to choose from the different sauces and dry rubs available. The environment was a bit cheesy, but at least it wasn't Swiss Chalet. My favourite thing of the evening was the mile high dessert, which consisted of layers of mocha and chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, and whipped cream. We felt the cost was quite reasonable considering the amount of food eaten.

                              Ahem, I guess I should have prefaced this somewhat favourable review with a plea to not shoot me, hahaha. Ah well, maybe too late now. But, if you're still reading, please forgive. I feel like I'm in big trouble complaining about Burgers Priest and praising Montana's all on the same day, hahaha!

                              So, thanks, everyone, for your input. There will be more birthdays in the future, to try the other places suggested.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Full tummy

                                sounds like a good experience. No you arent in trouble about complaining about Burger Priest, that was a crap experienceand you shouldnt have had that problem!

                                Sounds like this was much better. Its been a while since ive been there so its good to hear the ribs were decent. Im guessing you didnt get the massive beef ribs? Those things were great!

                                How about the service here? Everytime i went I found they were rediculously slow and they rarely came by to check on us. I also had the opposite experience with the ribs, the first order was great, juicy, saucy, tasty, but after that the ribs were dryer and maybe a little overcooked.

                                1. re: jmarcroyal

                                  Our server was good, actually, and on the ball with checking if we want more ribs. Will have to try the beef ones sometime!! Have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.

                              2. I skimmed the post, so forgive me if any of this is repetitive.

                                After 2 visits to Duggan's, I've decided that I won't be back. A $15 hamburger is fine, as long as it is very good. Theirs was dry and flavourless. An $18 grilled cheese sandwich? I can't figure this one out. IMHO the beer is not very good - nice that they brew it onsite, but really... not very good.

                                I prefer Baton Rouge to Swiss Chalet. Prefer Stockyards to either. My family seems to really enjoy ribs from The Steak Pit - I think they have huge portions and decent ribs. They are cooked in tomato sauce -which might fit his preference for next time round.

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                                Steak Pit Restaurant
                                1666 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M3Y1, CA

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mikefly

                                  Thanks! That was the first feedback I have gotten on Duggan's. The menu looks so appetizing! I was looking forward to the pork hock dinner, hahaha.

                                  And thanks for your recommendations!

                                2. I'm glad you found your venue and there'll be no shootings going on... it was your hubby's bday! FWIW Montana's, for a family style resto is decent enough. It's no Stockyards nor a Buster Rhinos when it comes to true smoked ribes, but like Swiss Chalet the ribs are flavourful and satiating. The atmosphere is festive especially if you tell them it's someones bday. Did your hubby get to wear the moose antlers? As for Baton Rouge those ribs are gooood, not like Stockyards or Buster's, but not as saucy as Swiss Chalet. Again no Stockyards or Buster Rhinos, but better than Swiss Chalet and Montanas. My wife always orders their ribs and my daughter likes to steal a rib or two from her. I myself prefer Buster Rhinos, but I live in the east almost bordering Pickering so it's not a trek. I would suggest that in the summer or whenever you've got the time to make the trek to Busters and get a bottle or two of their sauce. Order a whole mess of ribs, their brisket and pulled pork ... now I'm drooling... and feast at home. You can make your own creamy slaw and I always prefer my potatoes roasted, mashed or as a salad when I eat ribs.

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                                  Buster Rhino's
                                  2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: scarberian

                                    Thanks! We have family out by Buster Rhino's, so it may be a good excuse to try them. Baton Rouge is definitely on the radar as an option for next year, if we can give up the "all you can eat" feature at Montana's.

                                    And, no my husband didn't wear the antlers! I did see someone with them on, however, and that was quite a production. Something to keep in mind for a future visit! :9)

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                                    Buster Rhino's
                                    2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA