I just got back from a fantastic lunch at the 21st Annual Erie’s Wild Rib Cook Off. The cook off is held from June 1 – 4, 2011 from 11am to 11pm all four days. During the cook off, Perry Square is filled with eight portable grill kitchens as well as many other food booths, vendors and activities.
Today, I was able to sample ribs from all eight rib teams. Some I really liked, others were just okay. Here are my reviews of every location (from East to West on the block):
Mojo’s Rib Shack – Medium sized rib with good BBQ flavor. I mixed all three sauces to create a sweet and spicy combo. Bone came out clean with little pull.
Tennessee Fatbacks – Meaty rib with fantastic smoke ring. The rib had tons of flavor even without extra sauce but was made even better with a little extra dipping.
Bad Wolf Barbecue - This rib had some really good BBQ and smoke flavors, but the meat itself was on the tough side and not as trimmed as I would have liked.
Carolina Rib King - Don’t get tricked by the crowd. The line was the longest and the rib was the driest. I feel like the ribs should be served the best way possible and if you don’t ask for sauce on them, they come bone dry. The smoke and light mop sauce had some good taste, but make sure you have a drink to wash it down.
Texas Thunder – The rib was very well trimmed and covered in a sweet dry rub before being smoked. I recommend a mixture of both the spicy and the mild sauce with some extra rub sprinkled on top. The smoke ring was almost to the bone and the meat came off clean.
Armadillo’s - Heavy on the sauce, but the spicy one was delicious. Deep red in color, great smoky taste and chili flakes can be seen throughout. There was a lot of meat on the bone, though it was a little tough to pull off.
Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ - Rib had a fantastic charred bark on the outside and an almost perfectly clean bone at the end. Sauces are definitely on the hot side so be careful if you are sensitive to heat. Great flavor and good texture.
Pig Foot BBQ Co. - Middle of the road on amount of meat, but sauces are great. I got a few of the sauces on the side and dipped the meat in to try them all. My favorites were the sweet and the Applelicious sauce.
It was tough to pick a clear favorite, so I divided them into four groups:
First: Tennessee Fatbacks, Texas Thunder, Pig Foot BBQ Co.
Second: Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ, Armadillo’s
Third: Bad Wolf Barbecue (would have been in second if it were less fatty), Mojo’s Rib Shack
Last: Carolina Rib King
I hope that this gives you a good idea of where to start if you are heading downtown to eat. These are just my opinions so if you think differently, please comment and tell me. I’m going to head down at least once more and try some other things, so if you have any recommendation for pulled pork, chicken, etc., let me know. I hope you all enjoy the festival and you will probably see me around.
Until next time,
Andrew – Beard vs. Food