The List: 8 Burners Not to Miss at Jazz & Rib Fest 2013
This year marks the 23rd official holding of the Columbus Jazz & Rib Festival, a three-day affair dedicated to smoked meats and cool jazz. On average, there are 23 rib teams in attendance every year from all across the country. With this many experienced cooks gathered in one place, all peddling what they promise are “the best ribs you’ll ever have”, it’s hard to know who to trust, and where to go, especially when the average taster of 3 bones runs around $7. Here are some of the ones you absolutely shouldn’t miss:
Hailing from West Salem, Ohio, Pigfoot BBQ lets you know that there’s good BBQ to be had in the Buckeye state. A staple at the festival for several years, Pigfoot supplies tender, juicy ribs that are usually licked bone-clean. They also offer an array of award-winning sauces. Try combining their Killer Sauce with their Applelicious brand; it’s super hot, slightly sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to the succulent pork. After all, Pigfoot BBQ has won Best Sauce the last two years running at the Texas Pete Twin City Rib Fest. For more on Pigfoot BBQ, visit www.pigfootbbq.com.
Porky ‘N’ Beans
Every year, the lines at Porky ‘N’ Beans are some of the longest at the Jazz and Rib Fest. Indeed, the wait during prime hours could be as long as 45 minutes. But it’s so worth it, as the ribs and pulled pork that these Port Saint Lucie, Florida smokers put out every year are the stuff barbecue dreams are made of: luscious meat that melts in the mouth, the kind that only requires the lightest smattering of sauce because to cover the flavor of the succulent pork would be a nightmare. Porky ‘N’ Beans is the 2010 Critic’s Choice Runner Up and the Winner of Best Sauce at our own Jazz and Rib Fest, as well as Runners Up for Best Ribs and Winner for Best Sauce at this year’s Naperville Ribfest, so be sure to stop by and taste what all the fuss is about. For a longer look at Porky ‘N’ Beans’ menu, visit www.porkynbeans.com.
If ever ribs are described as “down home comfort food”, then the description is probably about Armadillo’s, the Youngstown, Ohio smokers who’ve been causing severely overlicked lips at the Jazz & Rib fest for as long as anyone can remember. Whether you’re enjoying Kansas City-style ribs with just that perfect bark of dry rub, or Memphis-style pulled pork finished with a slightly sweet and vinegary sauce, a meal at Armadillo’s will be one of the best decisions you make at the festival this year. They were the Critic’s Choice Runner Up and the Big Whigs’ Award winners at the Jazz & Rib fest last year, and they have every intention of defending that title by again serving up the almost-irresistible barbecue for which they’re known, and celebrated.
Many may be familiar with Butch Lupinetti, Pitmaster Extraordinaire and lover of big ole bear hugs, originally out of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, who’s even been featured on the Food Network. He passed away in 2010, but his “Smack Your Lips” brand of barbecue is carried on by his family, and his award-winning recipes and techniques continue to please BBQ enthusiasts everywhere. Butch’s style of burning was honed over 25 years of traversing the country, ultimately combining all he knew into his signature style. His blend of spices is what really sets Butch’s barbecue apart from the rest – piquant, but not overwhelmingly so, slightly sweet, and correctly smoked. In 2010, Butch’s BBQ took the Big Whigs’ Award at the Jazz & Rib Fest. Stop by and experience the legacy, and for more on Butch’s, visit their site at http://bbqbutch.ameriwealthweb.com.
Desperado’s BBQ & Rib
If you’ve never Licked Their Ribs, you’re missing out. Desperado’s BBQ & Rib, from neighboring Hinckley, Ohio, has been serving up quality ‘cue at the Jazz & Rib festival for years. Lovers of the slow smokers can be easily identified by the bright pink stickers they attach to every satisfied guest, which invariably means you’ll be lost in a sea of pink stickers by this weekend’s end. Desperado’s is known for serving meaty ribs, which is a good thing as their sauces (again, a combination of their Hotter Than “H” and Sweet & Smokey makes for a really potent matchup) are full-flavored and demand heft in the protein for full complement. In fact, their sauce has already taken Best in Show at the Strongsville Rib Burnoff this year. For a longer look at their offerings, visit www.lickmyribs.co.
Here are three fairly new ribmasters to the Jazz & Rib Festival this year. Let’s give them a Buckeye welcome:
Howling Coyote BBQ
The Howling Coyote BBQ team is out of Chicago, Illinois, a real food town, so the talent is surely there. Their claim to fame are St. Louis-style ribs, which are larger and meatier than the preferred baby back variety, and finished off in their “Damn Good” smoked barbecue sauce. They took Second Place this year at the Wichita Ribfest, so somebody surely likes what they’re doing. You may even be one of them. For more on Howling Coyote, check out www.coyoteroadhousebbq.com.
Just North of Memphis
This will be only the second year for Just North of Memphis, which hails from Annandale, Minnesota at the Jazz & Rib Fest, where they create and serve their ‘cue “dry”: sauce always on the side, never applied on the meat, or kissed by flames. This is because their barbecue roots are purist in a sense – they don’t believing in masking the quality of their meat with sauce. Which is not to say the sauces aren’t good, as customers can choose from five different varieties. In fact, Just North of Memphis is BBQ family with Willingham’s BBQ out of Memphis, and Winners last year of Best Sauce at the Jazz & Rib Fest. Willingham’s won’t be burning this year, so stop and check out Just North of Memphis in its stead.
The Swhinery is very new in the barbecue world, only officially started in 2012. But the idea for The Swhinery, based out of McKeespart, Pennsylvania, began in 2003, and already, they’ve began to rack up the awards. They took the Grand Champion title at the 2013 Bikes, Brews, and BBQ Ribfest, and Best Sauce at the 2013 Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off. Their tagline, “The Sophisticated Pig”, indicates the time, passion, and care these grillmasters put into everything they make: their BBQ sauce is made with over 30 ingredients, their pork slow smoked for hours. Try their award-winning chicken as well at the Jazz & Rib Fest this year. For a longer look at their menu, visit www.swhinerybbq.com.
And as always, be safe, be chill, be full. Have an awesome Jazz & Rib Fest!
Photo by Briana Gunter.