We took on ribs this go-round and we were a little concerned because we know there are BBQ fans out there that take this smoking ribs seriously. We brought in some help in the form of Justin Gall, Foreman at Crystal Cabinet & Supply on Douglas Avenue in Racine. Justin has been smoking meat for years and is a BBQ lover, knowledgeable about the various styles. We went to three places, suggested by our Facebook page members, and we all had the same opinion: Two of the places were great, one not so much.
Coming in at Number 3:
Southbound Saloon & Eatery, 9504 S. Chicago Road, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, 53154
Southbound serves ribs two or three days a week (Tues, Thursday and possibly Saturday.) We arrived Thursday at six pm to an empty bar.
A “Full Rack” of ribs will set you back $23.95 but it comes with two sides. We decided to get take-out.
The Full rack was actually several different pieces of ribs and the portion size was huge. The ribs were apparently braised and then placed on the grill to warm them up and grill them prior to serving.
The ribs were very inconsistent. Some of us had “fall off the bone” ribs and some of us had under-cooked (not raw just tough) ribs. The ribs could have used a good trimming because there were extra hunks of meat and fat attached to the top that made them awkward to eat (as if ribs aren’t already awkward). Some of us weren’t crazy about the sauce either. The ribs were so cold when they went on the grill that the centers of the thick hunks of meat weren’t always warm by the time they came off. Not recommended.
Now, on to the good news!
Coming in at 1 and 1A are two places that serve ribs as a specialty. The types of ribs they serve couldn’t be more different – but yet equally delicious.
Oh Dennis! Saloon & Charcoal House, 4301 Douglas Avenue, Caledonia, Wisconsin (Facebook page here)
Ask anyone where to get ribs in SE Wisconsin and this place is probably the name that will be mentioned – with good reason – the ribs are tasty. Oh Dennis! is kind of an upscale dive, dishes are served on chinet-style plastic plates and the interior is dark with no windows. Dinner is the only meal served and watch out for the Rib-vacations the owners take.
We ordered a combo which came with a small rack of ribs (normally priced at $15.95)
The place is dark so the photo does not do the ribs justice, but the ribs were on point. These ribs are not smoked, but braised and grilled. The ribs were well-trimmed and tender but not too tender, and the sauce was great with a little kick. My favorite bite was when the sauce had slightly caramelized on the grill. I can see why this place is always crowded.
Now for our final experience – and it was a great one
LD’s BBQ, 1880 County Highway Es, East Troy, Wisconsin 53120
Ok, for those of you that live in Kenosha and Racine, this is a drive, but its a pleasant one. LD’s is actually on HWY 20 so if you just take that west all the way to East Troy, you will run into this BBQ place.
LD’s is actually located inside a gas station. You order at a counter and there is some seating — but not much. Don’t worry everything on the menu works well for carry-out.
We went with the Sampler Platter, which included 1/4 chicken, 1/4 rack of ribs, brisket, smoked sausage and two sides for $22.95. PLEASE LISTEN: Unless you can handle leftovers, order this to share with two or even three people. We shared with two people and a child each time and still took home leftovers.
We LOVED this place and it was well worth the drive. The ribs are traditional southern-style smoked, rendered beautifully and tender but not too tender. We got the meat without sauce and added LD’s sauce. The sauce was unremarkable and actually unnecessary. According to Justin these ribs was as close as you can come to a Memphis dry rib (and he has made the smoked meat pilgrimage to Memphis) We devoured the smoked sausage and chicken too. Don’t miss the sweet and dense cornbread that comes on the side. LD’s also caters — instead of boneless chicken breast with a twice baked potato I would LOVE to see an LD’s truck at a wedding I was attending.
LD’s and Oh Dennis’ ribs would never be mistaken for each other, but both places are at the top of the rib game in Southeast Wisconsin.