For all we go on about brisket, the pork rib has a beauty all its own. Beloved in greater swathes of the country than brisket, it's nevertheless shunned across the Lone Star state as an not so worthy of barbecue. Well, if Kevin Spacey on House of Cards is constantly eating them, they're good enough for us too.
The thing is, it's very difficult to get a great brisket and a great rib going at the same time. Lots of places have a good to great one or the other, and the same is true with this list, as all the places here have average to non-existent brisket. Nevertheless, the art form of the perfectly smoked rib deserves a category all of its own, so here's to the perfect rib, which is smoky, tender, falling but not plummeting off the bone, and not skimping with the meat.
Off the Bone (pictured above) A recent revisiting of this Dairy Queen-turned rib factory confirms my original suspicions -- these are some of the best ribs in Texas. The consistency, the smokiness, the sheer number of ribs you get served in what you assume will be a small helping: Everything is perfect. There's a long line of cars trying to get to the drive-thru window for a reason. Oh, and get there before 7 unless you want to spend your time longingly staring through a locked door at people eating ribs. It's open till 8 but for some reason they lock it at 7. I'm not arguing if their ribs are this good.
Cousin's BBQ The delicious, tangy rub is what makes these ribs so special. Perfectly cooked, they leave the ribs just a little undersmoked so the citrusy, almost sour rub can conquer your mouth. It's so zesty and fresh that it makes for a unique pork rib, and you won't be able to resisting scarfing down the entire batch.
Baby Back Shak This lovely little find in southern Dallas can be a bugger to get into if you're not a weekday lunch guy, because the weekend line can be a bit overwhelming. If you do make it you'll be treated to some of Dallas' finest smoked meats, and their pork ribs are a well-rubbed delight. These ones will give you a spicy mouth-punch that you're not ready for, and then crumble off the bone in a most appealing fashion. Top marks.
Fatman's BBQ So much smoke. Just the smokiest. I could eat these ribs for days. They have that tender chewiness that's so appealing and that dissolves in your mouth into pork candy. They also come laden with a sweet sticky sauce that's not overwhelming but does just enough to make the transfer from spicy sweetness to porky smokiness just one of the best things I've eaten in Dallas. Get the rib tips. They are outstanding.
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Odom's BBQ The ribs at Odom's are a more straightforward proposition. What they do is they get the rib, they smoke it until it's tender with no rub, and then they just put the whole thing in a huge vat of sauce. I would recommend asking for the sauce on the side. Learn from my mistakes. Even if you do get them in a vat of what is admittedly very delicious sauce, you will soon learn that Odom's, a countryside-vibe barbecue place hidden discretely near the restaurant theme park of Trinity Groves, makes some fine-ass barbecue.