Ralph's BBQ Joint Rating Page

Where do I like to go?

And where will I NEVER go again?

Last updated: April 16,2015

I travel the USA for my job, and I'm always looking for great Q, so I began a BBQ rating web page (mostly for my own use). There's no science to the page, and there's really no rating criteria (other than whether or not I like the place). I pay as much attention to the quality and friendliness of the service as I do to the food.
One thing... I LOVE beef ribs and I LOVE fried corn-on-the-cob! If a joint has them, it will sway their rating. Note to BBQ places: please consider adding these to your menu!

I use a 0-5 rating system


See the review of this page by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Newest or Updated Reviews


H Butler's BBQ,
568-B East El Camino Real
Sunnyvale CA


This place gets a zero rating! As far as as the worst BBQ place in California and the worst BBQ place I have been in in several years! Read below to find out why.


REST IN PEACE: The Rib Spot, Dayton Ohio

Located across from the Hara Arena (at 4950 Old Barn Rd and next to Arena Dodge). I visit this place once a year in MAy when I am attending the Dayton hamvention (http://www.hamvention.org). The Hamvention is a big event and the typical fare onsite is horrible. This is one of the few nearby restaurants and is within walking distance. They also provide Hamvention parking for about 5.00 per day. The menu includes Pork ribs as well as BBQ Beef, Pork and Chicken. I really like the chicken and beef and the sauce is excellent. They do not serve Coke products, which is a MAJOR hit against them, and their iced tea is unsweetened (but after all this isn't the South). Because they don't have a fryer, they serve something called "Brew City Fries and Onion Rings", which are cooked in an air oven

REST IN PEACE: Bucky's BBQ, Marietta GA

Bucky's closed down on Sunday Feb 16, 2003. My son and I were the last customers. I have a shirt and a menu. My son has a menu and the rest room sign. (What other "cool" thing would a 10 year old want? ). Bucky's had the best garlic bread I can ever remember. Too bad he never changed his idea that a corn cobette couldn't count as one of your sides.... His Gainesville GA location had already closed a cof years prior to this.

Dick's BBQ- Noblesville Indiana

Hope to check this place out in the next couple of weeks. I'm visiting based on a friends recommendation.

One Star BBQ in Atlanta

Located on Irby Avenue in Buckhead. It used to be called Texas Rib Ranch (Not the one in Marietta). Same food, just higher prices. Sandwich, fries and tea are going to run you about $12.00 but it tastes great. Be sure to park next door and tell the anager your space number so you won't get booted. Still a great place to go, though. Very unique sauce, I think it is French's Cattleman's with chili flavoring in it.

A Brief Note About Santa Maria, CA

Although I didn't have time to visit a BBQ joint, I experienced a "Santa Maria Cook-Out at my local Office. Santa Maria is famous for its "Santa Maria Tri-Tip (another regional cut) and although it starts out rather tough- the method of cooking makes it really good. I hope to return and try some establishments that sell it.

The Red Barn BBQ- McAllen TX

A very small establishment, it appears to be family-run. It is a sort of cross between a Mexican place and a BBQ place, but they had something I have never seen before: a cut of meat called "Beef Skirts". Not sure exactly what it is, but it was quite good. Every time I visit McAllen, my friend Eloy Sanchez takes me there! It's a regular for me.

Porky's Last Stand: Naples FL (2560 39th St SW North of I-75 (Also known as Hwy 951))

This was a good local type place. It had a screen door. Lots of blue collar type lunch patrons, I could tell that this was a local favorite. If you are traveling towards Miami from S Florida on I-75, this is a great place to stop before going across the Everglades. This was a reallly reasonably priced place- A beef sandwich with 2 sides was 4.95. Iced tea was only .75 If you are into the exotic foods, they also had Frog Legs, Venison, and Gator Nuggets. Phone # 455-9400

Gordo's:Restaurant 415 Commerce, Hawthorne NY

This is an average place. A bit more barlike than I would like, and kind of smoky (the bad kind, not good BBQ smoke)

Poke E Joe's: Austin, Texas

Revisited in October 2001. Go through the line, pick your food (true Texas style)- Thumbs up (but I'm not happy about their recent discontinuance of Corn On The Cob from the menu. Also, this is one of the priciest places I have been.


So far, I have full reviews on:

Sticky Fingers: Providence, RI

Virgil's: Times Square, NY

Texas Rib Ranch: Marietta, GA

Ribs On The Run: Yonkers, NY (Revisited 5/01)

Laredo: Ardsley, NY

Montana: Providence, RI

Buster's: Stamford, CT (Revisited and Re Rated!!)

Texas Rib Ranch, Buckhead, GA - Thumbs up!

Texas Rib Ranch, Marietta, GA (Hwy 5) - Lowered to a neutral rating due to prices, portion size, and attitude. I seldom bother with them any more. This is pretty bad, since I used to be the "Duke" of this place on Yelp.







CAPSULE REVIEWS (With full reviews hopefully in the future)


Woody's BBQ - Locations around Florida.- Thumbs up. Great food, awesome garlic bread. Several have closed but I saw one in Holly Hill or Ormond Beach FL in October 2014

First Choice BBQ - Brandon, Florida - Thumbs up. I was there when they opened and they still recognize me when I visit.

Fred Fleming's Famous Bar-B-Que - Tampa Florida - Thumbs up

Love's BBQ: Many locations in Southern California - tired decor, but always thumbs up. Does annyone know if there are any left? Message me.

Wes's Rib Shack: Providence, RI - Really bad service and really bad attitude on the part of the staff. Thumbs down

Old South BBQ: Smyrna, GA - A BIG Thumbs up from me- for the past 40 years. Ask for Joy, get a hug, and check out her photo-collages of customers, I think she's got a picture of every customer that ever walked through the door. I'm on #13. Their sauce has a great taste that is different from all others.

County Line On The Lake: Austin, Texas - Good Q, but a bit expensive and kind of a tourist destination- Thumbs up

Big Al's Smokehouse on Inwood Rd: Dallas, Texas - Another place where you go through the line and pick your food - Thumbs up

Underwood's: Waco, Texas - Can't exactly describe it. Old tired 60's vinyl/glitter booths. Sort of like a BBQ equivalent of Luby's Cafeteria. If you don't know Luby's, you won't understand. But don't bother to go there just to find out. - Thumbs down (tasted like institutional BBQ)

Tennessee's: Framingham, MA - Thumbs up

Red's Backwoods BBQ: Kennesaw, GA - Thumbs down (overpriced and inconsistent quality) UPDATE 7-01 OUT OF BUSINESS!

Country's BBQ: Columbus GA, Montgomery AL, Opelika AL - Everyone else liked it (and I would have given it a thumbs up except for the onions in the sauce which then got all over the beef). But the Fried Corn On The Cob was great. Now I don't remember the onions from previous visits so it may be something new or else just at at the Montgomery location. I'd sure love to find out so I can change them back to a thumbs up.

Sonny's BBQ: Many, Many locations in the SE - Thumbs up - (Good Generic BBQ). Unfortunately many locations have closed (2015))

Fat Boy's BBQ: Many locations in Florida - Thumbs up - (More "Home Style" than Sonny's)

Golden Rule BBQ: Marietta, GA - Out of Business


 


Sticky Fingers
Providence, RI
This is probably NOT the same chain as the ones in Charleston and Chattanooga. Sticky Fingers was not impressive. The food was average, but I can't remember enough to describe it. One thing stands out: the service was horrible and the waitress has a really poor attitude. I will not go there again. My rating: 2.0



Virgil's
Times Square area (within a couple of blocks of 42nd St)
New York, New York

Who would expect to find a pit BBQ place in the center of New York City? I sure wouldn't. Virgil's was recommended by my friend Jay from Darien, CT. They do have a pit, but unfortunately it is gas fired. There are a couple of hickory logs in the pit for flavor, but something tells me that BBQ pit smoke isn't welcome in downtown New York.
I ate upstairs.
Virgils has good beef brisket, and they have about 3 types of sauce. Very similar to the places I like in Georgia.
If you are stuck in Manhattan and want some good BBQ, Virgil's is the place to go.
Visited again twice in 2012. Still awesome for being in NY. Cheese grits were a great side. My rating is 4.0

Texas Rib Ranch
Highway 5 (Canton Hwy) Exit 267A off of I-75
Marietta, GA
>>Update 6/01: Texas Rib Ranch is back to a thumbs up after being on probation due to a bad experience - see below<<

>>Update 3/15: Texas Rib Ranch has been Lowered to a neutral rating due to prices, portion size, and attitude. I seldom bother with them any more. This is pretty bad, since I used to be the "Duke" of this place on Yelp.


Meat: 4
Sides: 4
Sauce: 4
Service:2
Atmosphere: 3

Overall: 3.5

Everything below here is old and does not reflect the new neutral rating This review is currently being rewritten to reflect the Rib Ranch's new and improved service. The revised review should be online soon The old review:

This place used to be my favorite of all BBQ joints anywhere. I have been going there for well over 10 years. I had been bringing 10-20 people there every Saturday for lunch and considered myself a pretty regular (and income producing) customer. This place was a small, homey hole in the wall ramshackle building. It appeared to have been had been haphazardly added onto several times. They even added an outside covered deck that was a nice place to kick back and enjoy some 'Q. In October of 1996, the remains of Hurricane Opal drifted through North Georgia. A mysterious fire occured during one of the storms that totally destroyed the building. Nothing happened towards reconstruction for about a year or so and then they finally rebuilt. When the place was rebuilt, it was made larger and less "homey". The acoustics were also horrible- when a crowd was in the place, you couldn't even hear the others at your own table. Another negative is that the smoking and non-smoking areas aren't very well separated. It had been so long since the fire that all of the regular, familiar help (Little Barbara) had drifted away to other jobs.

For the last year or so, I have observed the service going steadily downhill. The food began having a lot of fat in it and the management wasn't too interested in making things right when they were wrong. The prices had gone up alot, too! For a while, it seemed as though there was a new crew every week. The only thing remaining the same was a nice elderly lady and a man in the back who I think was the Manager. This Manager and I have had a couple of incidents involving poor quality food. He has never been gracious at all, and the idea of the customer ever being right sure didn't seem familiar to this guy.

My most recent experience was in early April 2000, just after arriving home from a long International flight. My Family and I were forced to wait 20 minutes to even be seated, and then ignored for another 20 minutes before ordering. The waitress (who had been serving me for at least a year) was exceedingly rude. When there was no food delivered for 20 more minutes, I asked them to make it "to go" and they did. They also gave me the food for free. I really wasn't in the mood to eat it by then, and really felt that I might not even want to eat it.

I hope this place fixes its problems before all of their business dries up. I know several others who feel the same way about the service.

Even though I think the food used to be great, I can only cautiously recommend this establishment at this time!

Update 5/01: The service has improved greatly and if it keeps improving, this bad rating will disappear

If you want to get there to try it for yourself, Take I-75 North of Atlanta to Exit 267A. Go towards Woodstock about 2-3 miles. The median will end and the Rib Ranch will be on the left. Make a safe U turn and then immediately get in the right lane to enter the parking lot.


Ribs On The Run
2215 Central Park Avenue (Rt 100)
Yonkers, NY 10710
M-Th 11A-9:30P Fr-Sa 11A-10:30P Su 12P-8:30P (914) 961-7522 04 961-4148


Meat: 5
Sides: 5
Sauce: 5
Service:3
Atmosphere: 1

Overall: 4.1

Update 4/15/15 My friend who lives in Yoonkers says it is still there and still the same Update: 5/3/01 I visited again tonight. It was about 45 minutes before closing. Same staff was there. Same menu too. I wanted to eat in, but the owner wanted me to do take-out. Eventually I talked him in to letting me eat there and I closed the place up at 9:29. Air conditioning still not evident, and it was hot! The BBQ Beef Rib plate with my sides of Fries and corn on the cob was $15.50. this was with no drink. I learned long ago to bring my own cup of ice because all they have are bottles and cans.

Somewhere around July-August 1998: Late one night after working late in the White Plains area, I was driving all over the place looking for supper. I wandered down towards Yonkers (not knowing the area's seedy reputation) and happened upon a strip center full of little eateries. There were a couple of Italian places, A Chinese place, I think, a pizza joint, and a place called Ribs on The Run. Figuring that a place advertising Ribs just might have some beef, I decided to give them a try. Going inside, I saw that it was mostly a take-out and delivery style establishment with a counter, a drink cooler, and about 4 small tables in the waiting area. The air conditioning was broken, and the July heat had the interior of the place feeling a bit like the Sahara. The proprietor (Mike, I think) had the Atlanta Braves on the TV and was glad to show me what was on the menu.

They serve Beef plates and sandwiches, Pork, Chicken, and a good selection of seafood. The clientele appears to be residents of the local area (there is a project-type housing development across the street). Many times the food in these areas is very good. Probably due to the Soul-Food roots. An interesting side note- in 2003, several years after this review was written, I received an email from some employees of the Planning Department of the City of Yonkers. They were seemed insulted that I called the neighborhood across the street a "project-type development". That's what we call them where I come from and nothing bad was intended by it. I actually find it interesting that they stumbled across this little spot on the web.

When I asked about Beef Ribs, Mike told me that there was an unlisted item: a Beef Rib Plate. I immediately ordered one. After waiting about 10 minutes, I was presented with a styrofoam take-out container containing my meal. Because of the air-conditioner problem, I retired to a different location (a Burger King with Fountain Cokes) to eat the meal.

Wow! This turned out to be a great meal. It consisted of about 6 Beef Bones, Cole Slaw, Home Fries, and Corn Bread. I had ordered a side of Corn-On-The-Cob ($1.25 extra (now $1.50) but well worth it). The meat was falling off the bones, and the sauce was excellent. The corn was fresh and tasted great. The fries were average.

My only suggestion would be to add an ice machine and fountain drinks. I realize that this is not really feasible for a take-out place, but I can at least wish ;-). I personally don't like drinking bottled and canned drinks with meals. Now when I go back (and I have visited 4 or 5 more times), I bring my own 2 liter Coke and a bag of ice.

Give this place a try! However, if you're a little wary of seedy neighborhoods after dark, though- take a friend. I should try going there in the daytime sometime. Also- the atmosphere is not really wonderful. You would probably not want to bring a date here. Remember it is actually a take-out place.

I'll bet a catered BBQ event would be a hit for a Company function. Mike told me that they have catered BBQ for the Yankees Clubhouse before.

To get there, take 100 South from White Plains about 5 miles, or get off I-87 or the Sprain Parkway at Jackson Avenue, go East to Central Park, then South. Ribs on The Run is on the West (right hand) side of the street up on a small hill. There's a CVS across the street.

Tell them you saw it here. And remember You ARE in New York!




Buster's
US Hwy 1 (I think) I-95 exit 9
Stamford, CT


Meat: 4
Sides: 3
Sauce: 4
Service: 3.5
Atmosphere: 4

Overall: 3.75

5/3/01: This place may be gone now. I can't find it in the phone book My Comments: (see update after review)
2/20/98
As a Georgia Boy starving for Q in New York, I visited this place with a friend who had been recommending it. He had Beef Ribs, and I had Brisket and something called "Honey-Lemon Chicken". The pit was out back and had plenty of real wood stacked beside it, I think it was Hickory. Ordering was Texas-Style: you go through a line and pick out your meal. There are one, two, three, and four meat platters. Unfortunately, this establishment does not consider Beef Ribs to be a "meat", because it isn't allowed to be used as a choice. It costs extra. So do French fries, (not considered a side) but there were lots of other sides available, including sliced cooked apples.

The sauce was a ketchup based mild sauce which tasted fine. My brisket tasted fine, My Friend Jay's Beef Ribs were nothing to write home about- he said they were very fatty. As I have found very few BBQ places in this part of the Country, I would have to keep this one on my list to visit again! It is located in East Stamford CT. on East Main Street (which is also US Highway 1). Take exit 9 off I-95. Go NW toward US 1, Then take a right (East) at the next traffic signal. Go two blocks and it is on your left, by the river bridge. There's a sort of "Biker Bar" upstairs. Buster's is below, so you want the entrance on the left side, in the rear.

UPDATE (August/September 1998):

I decided to give Buster's another try. This time I liked it so well that I returned about four more times. Jay and I went back once too, as well as Kirk (from the Montana review) and our friend Anthony.

This time, the food was much better. They still haven't got the right idea about side orders (Fries should always be a side), and they only have beef ribs on the weekends.

One time I had the "Texas" portion 3 meat plate. It had Honey-Lime chicken, Beef Brisket, and Beef Ribs and was more than even I could eat! Next time, I had exactly the same thing but a "Regular" sized portion.

There were at least two sauces, Hot and Mild. I enjoyed the mild, but Kirk liked the hot.

I would definitely keep this on my regular list or Q joints in the North East and plan to visit again whenever I'm in the NY/CT area.


Laredo
875 Saw Mill River Rd
Ardsley, NY
914-693-1111

Meat  1
Sides  1
Sauce  1
Service  3
Atmosphere  3

Overall  2

Reviewer's Comments: What drew me to this place was their ad in the "Official Westchester Visitor's Guide" touting them as having "Texas Style BBQ Ribs and Brisket". I should have known better!

The only BBQ on their menu was either Pork Ribs, or a combination plate. Since I don't like pork, I decided on the Chicken and Beef Brisket Plate. I figured that for $14.95, it had to be good.

The service was slow and when the food finally arrived, it was obvious that the "sauce" (tasted like canned tomato paste) was merely poured over pre-cooked chicken breast filets and beef brisket.

I couldn't taste the meat very well because of this horrible sauce.

My side order was roasted potatoes, which appeared to really be hash browns.  They were laced with onions, whose flavor permeated the meat as well.

A Coca-Cola cost me $1.95 extra. They did not have any iced tea. Oh yeah- they haven't heard of free refills in New York, either.

All I could think of was how to get out quickly, so I ate what I could and got the hell out of Dodge ... err Laredo!

The place was very difficult to find, as there is no Southbound exit for Ardsley. I had to get off I-87 at Tuckahoe Rd (Where's Maude?) and drive up 9A for 5 miles. It also cost me two tolls for that little maneuver. I'm sure that if you knew the local roads, you could get there from Elmsford.


Montana's
Reported to be out of business 2001 272 Thayer Street (upstairs)
Providence, RI
401-273-RIBS
Reviewed 2/98

Meat  4
Sides  4
Sauce  4.5
Service  5
Atmosphere  3

Overall  4.5

Reviewer's Comments:  Providence, Rhode Island is an unlikely place to find good Q, but I finally found a worthy spot! My friend, Kirk Lee, and I have been to Montana's twice since December 1997 and we have found the service and food to be great both times. I wonder if Amy Carter ever ate there when she was going to Brown University.

Each time, I had the "Montana Beef Ribs" and found them to be tender and meaty. Kirk had the "Hoof and Leg", which was a combination of Baby Back Pork Ribs and Chicken Legs.  He reports that his meal was also excellent.  There is no BBQ Beef offering other than the Ribs.

The sauce was tangy but not "hot" and the sides included French Fries, Baked Potatoes, Cornbread (excellent), as well as most of the other standards. They serve Coca-Cola products to drink, and are one of the few spots in Rhode Island where I have found Iced Tea to be "in season".

We finished up the meal with a large bowl of tasty Apple Crisp topped with Vanilla Ice Cream. 

On my first visit, I was feeling a bit down because of bad Q experiences in Rhode Island.  It was sure a pleasure to find a place like Montana with its great customer service.  Our waitress from the first visit, Margaret, is originally from Chicago.  She made us feel right at home and was SO friendly and accomodating.  On tonight's visit, Margaret was tending bar and her friend was our waiter. She still found the time to stop by and welcome us back.

I am not even going to try to describe how to find Montana.  The best method is to call and ask directions.  All I remember is that it is a bit difficult to find. It is North Of I-195 and East of I-95, on Thayer Avenue.  This is smack dab in the center of the Brown University Campus.  If you find yourself near Providence, Rhode Island- VISIT THIS PLACE!



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