To get some perspective on criteria on our most recent ranking of America’s 35 Best Ribs, we spoke to the experts over at the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The Baron of BBQ, chef and author Paul Kirk, explained that when he judges barbecue competitions, he looks for a rib that “looks like [it’s] something I would like to taste or eat — you eat with your eyes. It should be a reddish-brown color; it should be moist and tender, with some texture — not falling off the bone. I want to taste the flavor of the pork with a little smoke.”
While we know that barbecue styles vary region by region (we hear you grumbling about Kansas City, Texans), we feel confident that these criteria are universally applicable when determining great ribs.
Texas commandeered a whopping 10 spots on the list — and the third-best can be found in Austin.
What started as a trailer in 2009 quickly became Franklin Barbecue: one of the most revered spots in all of ’cuedom, and loyalists and pilgrims all line up outside the front door for hours on end every day. No visit is complete without sampling some of the impossibly tender ribs, which are peppery and have a well-caramelized bark.
You have your choice of three sauces for slathering (espresso-based, vinegar-based, or a sweeter variety), but as is usually the case with barbecue this good, none is necessary.