AAA Bar, the winner, at front (Image: Cheol Joon Baek)
The city is awash in new southern barbecue spots — from Barque to Stack and back again. Whose Hogtown smokehouse is putting out the tastiest ribs? Chef Grant van Gameren gives us the Texas lowdown.
Triple A Bar, 138 Adelaide St. E.,
Smoked dry rub ribs, $15
“These are super simple, but very well executed,” van Gameren notes. “There’s a super amount of char. Some people might think they’re burnt, but they’re actually delicious. Someone is serious about their smoker!”
Heat for miles
Barque Smokehouse, 299 Roncesvalles Ave.,
Sweet heat baby back ribs, $19
Chef would’ve prefered a fatter rib, but commends the juice levels. The sauce rocks his boat: “It’s definitely got a spicy kick to it –– there’s this nice lingering heat.” This sauce and AAA’s ribs would’ve been a perfect pair.
Two Bite Saloon, 840 Bloor St. W.,
St. Louis side ribs, $17
“These ribs stayed on the bone a bit too well. “It’s not a bad rib,” he notes, “but the cardamom — a flavour I don’t associate with ribs –– is a bit too overpowering.”
Marky & Sparky's Smokehouse, 520 Annette St.,
Wet baby back ribs, $15
Visually, this pick wows. Chef points out his favourite part –– the cap that remains on when the pair is pulled apart. Flavour-wise, they are a tad too porky and could use a bit more char.
Universal Grill, 1071 Shaw St.,
Rajah’s dry rub baby back ribs, $25
“It’s nice when the meat falls off the bone,” chef notes, “but if it stays on the bone somewhat, it really screams low ’n’ slow.” This pick comes off too easily, but fresh chilies are a nice addition to the dry rub.
Touch of tang
Joey Don Mills, 15 O’Neill Rd.,
Backyard ribs, $21
With Southern ribs, chef notes, you can put your own twist on them with the sauce or the smoking technique. This pick is too dry, but the spicy tang to the sauce is a definite plus.
Stack, 3265 Yonge St.,
Smmmoked ribs, $18
Right off the bat, chef applauds the great quality and juiciness. “Visually they’re stunning, too.” More salt and smoke would’ve upped the pick’s standing.
Boneyard Grill, 10 Disera Dr.,
Back ribs, $17.95
This pick fails to conjure up southern BBQ for van Gameren, and the sauce could use more flavour.