With ribs, it's not just about the great taste -- it's that primal satisfaction of gnawing the meat right off the bone, getting the sauce all over your fingers, and licking up every last drop. Read on to find the best ribs American grills have to offer.
The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off
The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, held by the Nugget Casino Resort in Nevada, is the Olympics of rib cook-offs. Last year's event drew a crowd of more than half a million, who consumed more than 100 tons of ribs, prepared in every style. Annual festivities include a number of BBQ competitions, from cooking to consuming. If you've got a secret recipe of your own, enter the contest for a chance at the $7,500 first prize.
Famous Dave's BBQ
"Famous" Dave Anderson entered the rib business over 25 years ago when he perfected his own sauce. The success of his small Wisconsin BBQ shack gave Dave the courage to start his own restaurant, Famous Dave's BBQ, in 1995. The antiques and colorful murals are reminiscent of the BBQ shacks that filled the South 50 years ago. The menu, which features beef brisket, chopped pork, barbecue or roasted chicken, rib tips, sweetwater catfish and wings, has something for everyone.
New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Barbecue
In most of the country, ordering ribs means ordering pork, but in Texas, the cow is king. And to find the best of the Texan twist on ribs, head way off the beaten track to the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Here, 84-year-old Annie Mae Ward's BBQ is cooked in a smoker on the church's front lawn, and it rakes in more money than the collection plate. And in keeping with Christian generosity, it's all you can eat for just $10.
The Rendezvous Restaurant
The legend that is The Rendezvous Restaurant started in 1948 when cook Charlie Vergos discovered a coal chute in the basement beneath his diner. The coal chute provided a vent for his considerable talent over a grill, and he quickly expanded his menu to include his now-famous ribs. Rendezvous recommends starting your meal with an appetizer plate and a couple of pitchers before delving into the world-famous Rendezvous charcoal-broiled pork ribs.
New York, New York
Distinguishing themselves from American-style BBQ, Chinese spare ribs are cut from the lower portion of the pig and are traditionally served with a Cha Siu sweet and savory sauce. Pig Heaven, open since 1984, can't be beat for their killer Chinese spare ribs. Although they do have a menu full of different ways to eat a pig, their spare ribs are what put them on the New York culinary map.
Baby Blue's BBQ
At Baby Blue's, anything goes. Side by side on the menu are Memphis style ribs, baby back ribs and Texas style ribs. Located in California's Venice Beach, the restaurant attracts a younger rib-eating crowd and, like most California restaurants, the occasional celebrity. Voted best ribs in Venice by every magazine and its mother, it's the place to go for Cali BBQ.