Driving up Willamette the other day, I was greeted at the corner of 18th Avenue by the unmistakable smell of smoked meat. Now that the BBQ King has moved into a brick-and-mortar location, painting the intersection with the glorious aroma of his creations, it’s got me thinking about ribs. And once you get ribs on your mind, there’s really only one way to remedy that: a good old-fashioned rib-off!

BBQ by Tony 

630 Garfield St.: These ribs are huge. They have a noticeable smoky flavor topped with a tangy sauce (I opted for sweet, but you could also choose spicy). Nothing overpowers the meat, letting the pig do most of the talking.

Papa’s Soul Kitchen

400 Blair Blvd.: Papa’s Soul, in the heart of the Whit, is the place I think of when I think barbecue. The ribs are deliciously smoky and the sauce is hands-down the best barbecue sauce I’ve come across, sweet and tangy with just the right amount of spice.

The Smoking Pig BBQ

2260 W. 18th Ave.: Their sign says it all: ‘The Place for Ribs.’ And I’m going to hand it to this oft-forgotten, off-the-beaten-path gem — they’re right. The meat literally fell off the bone as I tore into them. Delicate and smoky, these ribs didn’t really need the sauce, but I tried it out any way: one sweet, one spicy, both delicious.

Bill & Tim’s BBQ 

201 E. 13th Ave.: The latest endeavor for the Westraunts, these ribs were a more dry variety. The sauce is unique and flavorful. The meat doesn’t retain much smoky flavor, but the sauce balances it all out.

BBQ King

1810 Willamette St.: These ribs are as good as they’ve always been. Nicely sized, they are flakey, moist, smoky and just the slightest bit spicy. On the day I arrived to pick them up, they were already sold out, so go early.