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Rack It Up: Toronto's Messiest, Most Delicious Ribs

By Suresh Doss
December 16, 2013

Toronto's thriving barbecue scene knows no bounds as chefs are experimenting with North African, Mediterranean, and Asian flavours to create unique plates of ribs. Read on for some of the newest and tastiest sticky ribs that we've found in the city.

  • Big Crow

    When Chef Anthony Rose opened this barbecue offshoot to Rose and Sons, his goal was to create a relaxed booze-filled atmosphere with messy, casual good food. The signature baby back ribs quickly became a sensation. The ribs are marinated in barbecue spices for 24 hours and then smoked over applewood and cherrywood for five hours. They're finished on a grill and mopped with a North Carolina-style sauce of apple cider vinegar, chili flakes and sugar. The ribs are then topped with with a sauce of pecorino cheese,  sage, roasted pears, garlic and roasted walnuts. 

    176 Dupont Street,; 647-748-3287

  • Lisa Marie

    Matt Basile's street food themed restaurant has a new menu inspired by Basile's travels while filming his "Rebel Without a Kitchen" cable TV series. Loosely inspired by a a trip to Austin, he created a beef short rib in a Moroccan style. First the beef receives a dry rub before it's roasted for six hours; then the ribs are dipped in a sauce made from ginger, molasses, onion, garlic and beer from Wellington brewery. Finished off with crushed pistachios, the rich dish is the most popular item on the menu.

    638 Queen St W,; 647-748-6822

  • Barque Smokehouse

    Since opening in 2012, chef David Neinstein has pushed the envelope for barbecue in Toronto by mixing Southern-influenced BBQ techniques with global touches. His latest hit are the lamb ribs. Loosely inspired by Memphis restaurant The Rendezvous, Neinstein treats the ribs to a Mediterranean rub of thyme, rosemary and coriander. The ribs are smoked, crisped up in the deep fryer, glazed with pomegranate molasses  and served with fresh pomegranate seeds and yogurt for dipping.

    299 Roncevalles Ave,; 416-532-7700

  • Home of the Brave

    The signature dish at this Americana-themed bar has the matter-of-fact name, "Bones in a Bucket." It's a big heaping pile of slow roasted beef and pork ribs that are coated in a Kansas City-style spice rub (garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, ginger, paprika and ground rosemary). They are cooked quickly on a hit grill to create a nice crust, then mopped in sweet and savory sauce made from the rib juices and honey.  They come with pickled carrots and housemade ranch sauce.

    589 King St W,; 416-366-2736

  • Stockyards

    Tom Davis is a Toronto  BBQ pioneer, known for his ability to produce obscenely good Southern comfort food. From the early days of Stockyards, his ribs became a cult favorite. Rightfully so, the succulent and flavourful ribs are rubbed with a house-made blend that includes sweet paprika, brown sugar, cumin and then smoked over hickory and applewood and basted with apple juice and cider vinegar.

    Note: Ribs are available only on Tue, Fri, and Sundays. 

    699 St.Clair Ave. W,; 416-658-9666

  • Indie Ale House

    Chef Todd Clarmo takes full advantage of the beers brewed at Indie Ale House and these ribs are a prime example. After a six-hour trip through the smoker, the ribs are coated in Clarmo's "Zombie Blood" barbecue sauce (which is made with the brewery's stout) as well as hoisin sauce, ginger, cilantro roots and bird's eye chilies. Before hitting the table, the ribs are tossed in toasted cashews, bird's eye chilies, cilantro and scallions. They are very sticky with bright, spicy and sweet Asian flavours. On Wednesdays, the restaurants sells  "Neat" versions of the ribs with four different housemade barbecue sauces.

    2876 Dundas St W,; 416-760-9691

  • Aft Bar

    While this tiny restaurant boasts an impressive bourbon and whisky selection, it's starting to earn a reputation for Southern comfort food as well. Only available at dinner, the meaty ribs are slow-smoked and arrive neat with cabbage slaw and the most delicious cowboy baked beans. On the side: a trio of chunky housemade hot sauces. 

    686 Queen Street E,; 647-346-1541

  • Electric Mud BBQ

    These tangy pork ribs from this popular Parkdale restaurant have been a hit since it opened in March of this year. Chef Ben Denham brines the pork for a full day before rubbing them in a spice blend that includes Latin chilies, brown sugar and paprika. The ribs are then grilled while receiving a thick coating of vinegar-heavy Carolina-style sauce. The tangy sauce cuts right through the fatty meat. 

    5 Brock Ave.; 416-516-8286

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