The Best Ribs in Toronto
The 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.
Lead photo of Barque's ribs by Angie Torres
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Phil's remains one of Toronto's go-to barbecue destinations. And why not? In addition to excellent pulled pork and brisket (the sandwiches are great), the ribs are tournament quality. These won't fall apart when poked with a fork, but that's not how the pros do them, anyway. Instead what you get is tender side ribs that come to life when a little of the homemade barbecue sauce is applied. More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
These pork back ribs differentiate themselves with a sauce that's decidedly less sweet than what you'll find at other smokehouses in the city. To be clear, that's not a criticism. There's a depth of flavour that these ribs show off - both from the meat itself and the sauce - that would almost be covered up with an overly vinegary barbecue sauce. Try them - you'll see. More »
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 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 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 »
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 »