Top 3 Rib Joints in USA

On his radio show this week,  Greg Burton challenged me to name my top-3 places for ribs in the country. 

These are the Dry Ribs at Rendezvous in Memphis.  No sauce needed.  

These are the Dry Ribs at Rendezvous in Memphis.  No sauce needed.  

That’s tough because it’s a totally subjective exercise, everyone has his/her favorite rib joint, and there are so many great places.   What are your favorites?  Let me know in the comments section.


But here we go:

#3: Rendezvous, Memphis.  These are dry ribs.  And they cook ‘em fast!  It’s become as much of a tourist destination as anything else now, but all the locals go there too. The rub is totally unique.  There are plenty of great rib places in Memphis, but this place sets the standard.

The rub is a secret, but it's garlic and pepper and oregano and mustard and paprika and chili powder and who knows what else?   The wait staff claims the mix they sell at the gift shop is different than what they use on the ribs.


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#2: Montgomery Inn, Cincinnati.    I’m not sure any restaurant in the USA sells more ribs than these guys. Key fact: If the meat falls off the bone, the ribs are over cooked.  That never happens here.  They have the timing down to a science.  The big slab is $30, but worth it.  

Tip: Go light on the sauce and use the rest for the Saratoga Chips.



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#1: Leatha’s, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.   Please look the pictures. Your mouth is watering right now, isn't it?

In fact, these ribs alone will make you consider buying a second home in Southern Mississippi just so you can enjoy these tender, slow-cooked slabs of empyrean bliss.

And yes, that's really the restaurant pictured below.  Actually, Ms. Leatha Jackson, who I first met back in the 1980’s  started her restaurant in Foxworth, Mississippi before moving to Hattiesburg back in 2000. The home made sauce, a secret family recipe, makes these ribs, as one Yelp user accurately stated: “sweet and sticky,  low and slow, and tender as mother's love.”

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William Roth