Tenderest Ribs 

Perry's Food for the Soul

Anyone can cook tender ribs: Just simmer them for a couple hours in a pot of water before throwing them on the grill, and the meat will drip off the bone. No matter how much sauce you pour on, though, the meat tastes like boiled pork. Making ribs tender the right way -- smoking them from start to finish -- takes patience, skill, and not a little love. Stephanie Perry made her bones on the competitive 'cue circuit, but settled down in this tiny strip-mall joint where her smoker takes up more room than the tables. The spice rub on her pork ribs is slathered on so thickly that it forms its own crust, and as you suck the meat off the bone you can feel the pepper prickle on your tongue. The smoke, just enough to perfume the meat, permeates all the way to the core, and her tomato-based sauce comes off tangy, not sugary. Perry's ribs for the soul don't stay in the pit so long that they dry into tough brown twigs. They're juicy, still fat-streaked, and as far from mush as meat should be.

Readers' Pick:
Everett & Jones Barbecue
Multiple locations

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