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Best of Toronto

The Best Ribs in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / February 26, 2013

Best Ribs TorontoThe best ribs in Toronto are something of a mixed bag. You've got your Southern-style pork ribs, your Asian-inspired beef ribs, your sauce-coated sticky varieties and your smoke-infused dry offerings — and many that meet multiple criteria all at once. For the record, this variety is a good thing. Rib lovers tend to be an opinionated bunch, often claiming their preferred preparation method as the right one, but it need not be that way.

For my part, I tend to like a somewhat saucy St. Louis style rib, but I won't begrudge anyone their cut or cooking style of choice. The truth of the matter is that we're spoiled for choice these days. While Toronto has had its old reliable barbecue joints for years, in the last three or so, the options have increased considerably. My advice? Try them all. Go on a rib odyssey. But, to mix heroes and villains, beware the fate of the cyclops. Too many ribs can make you tired!

Here are the best ribs in Toronto.

See Also:

The best BBQ restaurants in Toronto
The best chicken wings in Toronto

Lead photo of Barque's ribs by Angie Torres

Memphis BBQ

Memphis BBQ

You'll probably be worried that Guy Fieri will pop out and start blathering to you when you enter Memphis BBQ - it really is that the type of loveable dive - but that shouldn't stop you from indulging in the pitch-perfect side ribs. If there's a perfect amount of slightly charred sauce, the barbecue masters here know the formula. Don't let the decor throw you. This is how they do it in the south. More »

Barque Smokehouse

Barque Smokehouse

The gentle waft of hickory-tinged smoke that greets patrons upon entrance to Barque sparks in me a classic Pavlovian response. Within 10 seconds, I'm practically drooling in anticipation of the meat to come. My preference? Dry rubbed baby back ribs. These might not be the brontosaurus-style ribs that some enjoy devouring, but they're loaded with layers of intense, smokey and sweet flavour. More »

The Stockyards

The Stockyards

The Stockyards is packed pretty much all the time, but it doesn't get any busier than Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays - rib and chicken nights. Get in early if you want to make sure to secure your bounty, thick and meaty pork ribs smoked to tenderness (though decidedly short of fall off the bone). They might not come out that saucy, but if it's sauce you desire, the accompanying house barbecue concoction is a bit of lip smacking deliciousness. More »

Paul and Sandy's

Paul and Sandy's

The dining room is filled with the smell of hickory smoke and the tables are typically full of heaping platters of brisket, pulled pork and ribs. It's the latter that steals the show, though. These are baby back ribs that have been infused with smokey character for over 10 hours and which are coated in a sticky Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. Too many people know about this place to call it a hidden gem, but even more could stand to try the ribs on offer here. More »

Stack Restaurant

Stack Restaurant

Smoked and fall off the bone? They won't necessarily please the folks who tour around on the competitive circuits, but for folks like you and me, that's a pretty good combination, no? Served with three varieties of sauce, my recommendation is to apply your poison of choice liberally. The servers are well trained to bring you napkins - which is what the name of the restaurant actually refers to. More »

Boneyard Grill

Boneyard Grill

Sauce fest! OK, not everyone is a fan of the mess that is saucy ribs, but if you're willing to wear a bib (or, your "rib shirt") then who cares if it looks like your hands and mouth are covered in blood? Ribs are, after all, about as carnivoristic as food comes, so embrace the inner hunter and get all Lord of the Flies on that meat! Civility is overrated. Plus, they have wet naps, so good manners are never far away. More »

Universal Grill

Universal Grill

More popular by reputation as a brunch spot, Universal Grill nevertheless serves up some of the finest dry ribs in the city. Virtually sauce-free (there's also a more traditional sauced version), these pork ribs are packed with peppery spice courtesy of the ample dry rub applied pre-cooking. You won't miss the sauce - and I say that as a sauce lover. More »

Foxley

Foxley

Finally some beef ribs! But not just any beef ribs - Foxley does something rather special with the humble rib. The process is cumbersome to be sure, but it pays off in the end. After being marinated and grilled, the meat is braised before being grilled once again. The result is a sticky and sweet mess that'll make you wonder why people think Carolina-style barbecue sauce is a better idea than the soy and ginger flavours on offer here. More »

The Westerly

The Westerly

While barbecue-style ribs are the main focus of this list, it's impossible to ignore the wonder that is wine-braised beef short ribs. A staple on many a bistro menu, the folks at the Westerly do theirs just so, with a perfectly thickened dark purple glaze to coat the rib, which falls apart almost on site. Served with mashed potatoes (but of course), this is a dish that'll warm your soul on a cold night. More »

Two Bite Saloon

Two Bite Saloon

Two bites ribs are both crispy and impossibly moist thanks to the "chicken frying" process, which gives the exterior and ever so slightly battered characteristic that serves to lock in all the moisture. Served with a Carolina-style barbecue sauce, even a generous coating can't soak these ribs into sogginess - surely a very good thing! More »

Union

Union

Union is anything but a barbecue joint, but you wouldn't know it to try their ribs. Labelled on the menu as "sticky ribs," that they are. Both smoked and braised, these things are juicier than what you'll find from the smoked-only crowd. Braising is every bit the rival to the smoking method regardless of what traditional rib masters might say. When finished on the grill - as these are - the results are nothing short of spectacular. More »

Lou Dawg's

Lou Dawg's

Lou Dawgs’ semi-subterranean storefront on King West might push their southern sandwiches, but this joint should be boasting about their full on barbeque. Their pork ribs come juicy and slathered in sweet, sticky homemade sauce. But I knew the place was good even before the first bite – both the chef and counter person had a faint ring of barbeque sauce smeared around their mouths. More »

Smoke BBQ House

Smoke BBQ House

A new player on the scene, Smoke BBQ House offers St. Louis spareribs that come a little under-sauced, but spring to tangy life when doused with the accompanying Carolina-style barbecue sauce (a Texas version is available as well). Closer to fall off the bone than what's on offer at some of the other barbecue specialists around town, these will appeal to those who think chewing is wasted effort when it comes to pork ribs. Why not just let the meat evaporate on your tongue? More »

Discussion

67 Comments

NomNom / February 26, 2013 at 01:08 pm
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For the BEST ribs probably in Ontario, its worth the drive to Whitby or Oshawa to get some Buster Rhino's.
JFS / February 26, 2013 at 01:23 pm
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This is more like a list of "where you can get ribs in Toronto" - Hadley's is hardly any good and doesn't deserve to be considered amongst the best. This is doubly true for Phil's.
johnsonstarfish / February 26, 2013 at 01:23 pm
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Went to Two Bite Saloon recently and was disappointed, big time. Ribs were chewy and way too saucy. There were really zero redeeming qualities about them that makes me want to even go back to give it another try.
Rich / February 26, 2013 at 01:25 pm
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Buster, Camp 31, ... etc... the best ribs in Ontario are not in Toronto
Francesco / February 26, 2013 at 01:31 pm
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Memphis in woodbridge are definitely the best ribs
nardl blarn / February 26, 2013 at 01:46 pm
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Where is Swiss Chalet on this list? They are at least the equal of many on this list and probably the best value and best service as well!
V / February 26, 2013 at 02:00 pm
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BlogTO actually reviewed a place in Woodbridge?! Shocking!
Brandon replying to a comment from V / February 26, 2013 at 02:25 pm
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Well Woodbridge technically isn't part of Toronto - it's part of the GTA.
Richard S / February 26, 2013 at 02:59 pm
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Any list without Buster Rhinos - in the top 3 - is a joke.
Any list that omits BR but has a place in Woodbridge? Double joke.

Foxley's pork ribs are also top 5. no idea why their beef ribs are reviewed (they're inferior)
Mario / February 26, 2013 at 03:16 pm
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Woodbridge stand up, all the downtowners who originally hail from Ottawa, Vancouver ect acting like Toronto is there city
Abid / February 26, 2013 at 03:19 pm
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Mario, your are so right. I was born and raised in Scarbrough and I just find it funny how these hipsters who come from Vancouver are trying to tell me what Toronto is, come see the real toronto the north of blood toronto
Abid / February 26, 2013 at 03:20 pm
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*north of bloor
Rick / February 26, 2013 at 03:25 pm
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SWISS CHALET ???
newbie57 / February 26, 2013 at 04:06 pm
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Two Bite ribs kick ass! Smokey, chewy, and because I prefer mine less saucy, I aksed the chef to go light on the sauce, he was only too happy to oblige.
Mikey / February 26, 2013 at 04:07 pm
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1) Everyone needs to relax with the Toronto-er-than-thou
2) Had Union's ribs incorporated into my brunch somehow once: really good, really decadent brunch but only because there happened to be RIBS in my EGGS BENNIE (which is an awesome thing to have). On their own, certainly not best-in-class.

I agree, this is more of a "Where to Get Ribs List" than a "Best of..."
nardl blarn replying to a comment from Rick / February 26, 2013 at 04:22 pm
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yeah, Swiss Chalet- amongst the best ribs in the city, if you can look past your hipster pretensions and bring yourself to go to a chain restaurant.
Rick replying to a comment from nardl blarn / February 26, 2013 at 04:26 pm
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Swiss Chalet ribs and sauce are very good imo.
Ribs in general are great so if I want an artisan rib experience I will go to one of these places... however I like to stick with what I know - SWISS CHALET !!!!
Me replying to a comment from nardl blarn / February 26, 2013 at 04:35 pm
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He'd probably LOVE them if they were served by some hole in the wall joint and priced 5 times higher. Yup, another vote here for Swiss chalet!! Also a great place for affordability when one has a family.
Steve / February 26, 2013 at 04:37 pm
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Yes Swiss chalet and Memphis in woodbridge are the best
Chris replying to a comment from nardl blarn / February 26, 2013 at 04:52 pm
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So let me get this straight - someone has a different opinion than you about whether Swiss Chalet has the best ribs, and that automatically makes them a hipster? Ever occur to you that they may just prefer the ribs from St. Hubert?



Steven / February 26, 2013 at 04:59 pm
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Swiss chalettttttttt
BJC / February 26, 2013 at 05:30 pm
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Memphis has other locations (also not in Toronto), under the Big Bone BBQ & Wicked Wings name.
http://www.bigbonebbq.ca/
jeff replying to a comment from nardl blarn / February 26, 2013 at 05:42 pm
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I'm not a hipster, if you think swiss chalets ribs are good/ one of the best in town, at least 1 of 4 things are true. 1)you have bad taste 2) Your too lazy to find a better place 3) You've never been down south. 4) you are so stuck up about not being seen in what you think is a "hipster neighbourhood" that you won't travel outside your small minded box. Swiss chalet is good for people who are willing to settle for half assed everything. I pay less and get better because I am not lazy.
jeff / February 26, 2013 at 05:47 pm
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We are doomed to argue about where Toronto is on these boards until the end of time. Also, Camp 31 and Buster Rhinos are less than mediocre in comparison to greasy filthy hole in the walls down south, so lets not get too proud.
Hop replying to a comment from Rick / February 26, 2013 at 06:31 pm
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Ribs based on old school smokehouse techniques is now considered hipster and artisan? LMFAO, stick to your chain restaurant swill you caker.
Ron / February 26, 2013 at 08:05 pm
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I guess no one has tried AAA Bar by st Lawrence market... It is way better then most on the list if not all.. It's the closest thing to Texas you will find IN toronto!
Lily / February 26, 2013 at 08:34 pm
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FYI, Foxley has 2 kinds of ribs. Yes, 1 kind are beef (korean style grilled short ribs), BUT the ones you describe above (the sticky ones) are PORK, yes, definitely pork, I am 100% sure. Not an issue for me but, you know, some people don't eat pork, so thought I would clear that up.
Josh replying to a comment from Brandon / February 26, 2013 at 08:34 pm
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No but all our snowplows come from Woodbridge... It's a 24hr hearty job they got to get their eats...
Sarah / February 26, 2013 at 08:44 pm
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Anyone that's ever been to woodbridge would know that it has the GTA's best Italian restaurants
Rich replying to a comment from Ron / February 26, 2013 at 09:59 pm
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Ron thanks for the heads up. Gonna check out Triple A
Steve / February 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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Rich save yourself triple A is terrible the McDonald's mcrib tastes better
Bobby replying to a comment from Steve / February 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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Not sure where you ate but Triple A is awsome... but dont take my word for it check yelp and other sites and compare thier comments to other places on this list (like Smoke) and you will see where you should go...
Ronald / February 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm
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Clearly someone on this forum owns triple a
Brad / February 27, 2013 at 12:29 am
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I clicked on this thread just to read all of the comments lol
evan / February 27, 2013 at 02:57 am
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stockyards ribs is the best meal i've ever had.
Moose / February 27, 2013 at 08:27 am
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Hmm, I'll have to try some of these places out. My brother is 2 minutes away from Memphis BBQ and keeps raving about it.

If you're in the west end and have a hankerin' for BBQ try Paul and Sandy's BBQ by Dundas & Burnhamthorpe.
Rich replying to a comment from Steve / February 27, 2013 at 08:47 am
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God dammit.... who to believe!!!
Rick replying to a comment from Hop / February 27, 2013 at 10:06 am
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Never said ribs are "hipster" .... I dont think ribs ribs could ever be a "hipster" food simply because they dont like getting sauce on their pantyhose or have their hands all stickied up - how would they use their typewriter?

Caker? Are you just simply dumb? I'm actually a visible minority who likes all kinds of ribs, just think that for a quick cheapo rib experience swiss chalet is where its at. I hear there chicken and fries are alright too.
Pete / February 27, 2013 at 11:50 am
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I had the ribs at lou dawg's last thursday, for lunch. By far the worst ribs I've ever had. If you want good ribs, go to Real Sports Bar. Their ribs are a bit small but delicious. E11even was also really good, but expensive. Way better than Lou Dawg's.

Phil's bbq was overrated. The beef brisket was their best item. Rib's were ok, nothing worthy of a recommendation.
Matt Shapiro / February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm
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Stockyards..awesome, Barque...deeelish., Hadlley...mmmmm haven't they closed down already?
Bob / February 27, 2013 at 02:31 pm
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Barque is trendy, but in my opinion really over-rated. I found it to be dry, skimpy portions of meat padded out with mediocre sides.
P / February 27, 2013 at 03:20 pm
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Wasn't overly impressed with Phil's or Smoke to be honest. Although I have gone to both towards the end of their day, but still no excuse. If you're open, you serve quality food. Wasn't a huge fan of Lou Dawgs ribs either.

Been meaning to go to Stockyards for years. Will have to get there sometime soon.
Alan / February 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm
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I agree with Swiss Chalet. They're always good you can get them any night of the week. The price is always right too...

Chicken and Rib combo is always good too..
Shana / March 1, 2013 at 06:23 pm
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Barque was very disappointing. The following week I had better ribs at Casey's. I had tried Barque on the Monday night family menu which may have been my mistake, but I'd never bother to go back after that meal.
Lisa / March 7, 2013 at 09:40 pm
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The ribs at Universal Grill are great! Really everything there is wonderful. I live around the corner and stop in all the time. The portions are really generous with the ribs, so I suggest sharing with someone and along with a lighter main or two apps. The polenta is awesome.
Anon / March 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm
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I was also disappointed in the ribs at Barque. I much preferred Stockyards. I got a half a rack of ribs once and I devoured them in minutes.
Anon / March 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm
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Thought I might clarify that the ribs at Barque weren't bad by any means. I was just expecting better.
wendy ximines / March 12, 2013 at 02:13 pm
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The best barbeque ribs in toronto is at Barque smokehouse located at 299 Roncesvalles ave. The dry roasted ribs is ridiculous. the cooking is done with wood fire. It is a small place so making reservation is the best. It gets very busy in the summer time. the long line outside
Jamie / March 12, 2013 at 06:41 pm
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Well it looks like Smoke on Harbord only lasted 3 months... They tweeted today that they are now closed but plan to reopen in a new location with a new chef... does not really surprise me that they closed given the reviews they got but damn that was quick!
deak / March 14, 2013 at 06:56 pm
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Barque was fantastic and easily the best ribs in the city. It looks like it caught up to them because went I went last weekend, the quality and quantity of everything was p. Ribs were still great, but everything else made the experience less than soso.
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Tom / March 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm
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How's Electric Mud BBQ Bar in Parkdale? Ribs any good?
Devyn / March 31, 2013 at 09:44 am
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Kilgour's on Bloor is excellent, as they fry, bake, and then grill their wings. They also make their own bleu cheese dip, which is always thick, creamy, and with real chunks of cheese.

Loons on the Roncesvalles strip offers excellent wings, rich and saucy with a great zip (their "loony" style is their suicide), but they offer a pathetic, very thin bleu cheese (or sour cream?) and milk mixture as the side dip.
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Bbq master / December 10, 2013 at 02:48 pm
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Best in the gta is stockyards in toronto and boneyard grill in thornhill. Really wished stockyards would have ribs on their menu everyday.
Luis / February 25, 2014 at 07:40 pm
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Hogtown smoke???
Terry / February 25, 2014 at 08:47 pm
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Don't forget the ribs at Marky's and Sparky's (Annette/Runnymede)
Sean / February 25, 2014 at 08:48 pm
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Memphis BBQ possibly has all the wrong info, the Memphis BBQ I know and love is at Yonge & Shepard plus you link to some other chain called Big Bone BBQ??
Kent / February 26, 2014 at 11:57 am
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Smoke House BBQ is now called Smoke Bourbon BBQ
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