To get some perspective on criteria when gathering nominees for out most-recent ranking of America’s 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.”
We asked Kirk, along with over 40 other ribs experts, to rank over 100 racks of ribs from around the country that we categorized by region, and we published the 35 that received the highest praise. Nine of those racks are in the Southeast, including one in St. Louis.
Bogart’s Smokehouse is helmed by the former pitmaster from Pappy’s, a St. Louis institution. The sides here are spectacular (think pit baked beans and barbecued pork skins), but make sure not to fill up, because the ribs are the main event here. They’re pleasantly sticky and caramelized due to a special treatment that they get after being removed from the grill: they’re hit with a blowtorch, a genius move if we ever saw one. They’re the 30th best ribs in the country, and the very best in St. Louis.