Monday, April 11, 2011

Best BBQ in Utah

Best BBQ in Utah 
 - Revised 22 October 2013

Check out our OTHER FOOD REVIEWS at  

We heartily endorse a similar site that rates the best BBQ in Texas:

We've tried EVERY BBQ place in Utah from Utah County northward, except a couple (out of several) in Ogden.  And there are more than you think!

As the editor, I coordinated it. (My old stomping grounds is Decatur, Alabama, home of Big Bog Gibson's BBQ, winner of Memphis in May for several items, including their famous White Sauce (see sauces  at the of this site). My hometown is actually  Memphis, home to 200 BBQ places and the world's BBQ mecca). I

BBQ places come and go like the wind in Utah, but these are the best:

Best 4 overall BBQ places:
Note that all these places have good and bad items, but these have a few great items to make them "best in state:"

1. Big Bones BBQ, Spanish Fork (best St. Louis Ribs, bone-in chicken, creamed corn, fries, top 3  baked beans plus other great things)
2. Rib City, American Fork (best baby back ribs, tied for best pulled pork, best baked beans)
3. (tie) Sonny Bryans, several Salt Lake Valley locations (tied for best St. Louis Ribs; 3rd best peach cobbler, good fresh dinner rolls made all day)
4. Famous Dave's, multiple locations

The Next Best 5 overall BBQ places:
5. Joe Morley's, Midvale (second best baby back ribs: only the Sugar House Ribs)
6. Wallaby's, LIndon (4th best baby back ribs, best house soft drink).
7. Mollie's, Provo
8. Smokin' apple, Pleasant Grove
9. Kaisers, Salt Lake City

Note: these are the winners in specific food items - We've tried all of these several times to carefully rate them:


1.  Beef brisket

( Much better when freshly out of the smoker - true of all the Top 4 below especially)

#1  Cafe 300

#2 Pulled Pork. In spring of 2013 it was tied for best, but a shorter cut method is now used..

#3: Mollies, Provo: B+ (2nd time: C+) (B+ if made that day and only if it's off the thicker "butter end."

#4: Smokin' Apple, Lindon:  A- (2nd time: B-).  Their's is great if only eaten right out of the smoker, which was about 2 or 3 PM every day - it's worth calling before you go, so time it right.  Get it off the "butter end" only! The sauce makes it worse.

 #5: Kaiser's: B+ (but they only cook dry end).

(To give you an idea of what a topsy turvy world BBQ joints are in Utah, a month ago the old #2 and #3 were D Boys and Rib Shack - both are out of business.)

2.  Pulled pork

#1 tie: Big Bones, Spanish Fork: A (with sauce: A)

#1 Cafe 300, Provo: A (with sauce: C).

#1 tie: Rib City, American Fork: A

#4: Smokin' Apple: A- (2nd time: B+.  The high grades come only when you get it with sauce.  W/o sauce, it's a B- -).

#5:  Goodwood, B+.

#6: Molly's: B+

#7:  Kaiser's: B+ (but only with pork "skin" still attached, and best served as a sandwich. Without the skin it's  B-).

#8: Sugarhouse: B (if only with sauce, otherwise, C+).

#9: Dickie's: B (w/ or w/o sauce, same grade).

#10 Sean's Smokehouse C without sauce

3.  BBQ chicken.  

 #1 Big Bones, Spanish Fork

#1 tie: Charlie Boy's (catering only)

#3: Famous Daves BBQ chicken: A-.

#4. Molly's: B+.

#5. Five Star BBQ:  B+ .

#6. Wild Mustang, Orem, fire-grilled chicken (very similar to Famous Dave's). B+  The grilled chicken is better than the BBQ chicken there because their sauce is not the best. 

#7: Famous Dave's Roast Chicken: B+.

 #8: Sugarhouse: B+ (sometimes it's a B),

#9 Rib City: B

#10. Seans Smokehouse. C+

4.  Best 7 Baby Back Ribs of 34 tested in Utah. (another group of places use full-size ribs, below).

#1  Charlie Boys (catering co. - 801-427-0600)

#1:  Rib City, American Fork: A.

#3: Joe Morley's Sugar-backed ribs (not their reg. flavor), Midvale: A-.

Those are by far the best three, garnering A's.
Down into the really good ribs, rating in the B's, are:

#4, Wallaby's, Lindon: B+

#5 Seans Smokehouse B+

#6: Smokin' Apple, Pleasant Grove: B (with sauce it's a B. W/o it's a B-.

#7 Milagro's Mexican in Orem (not smoked, but marinated for 2 days in citrus then oven-cooked with wonderful candy-like glaze, similar to top-rated Rib City for baby backs.

#8 Similar to Milagro's is LaPuente's on about 3500 south state, SLC. non-smoked but very good ribs, Mexican style.

The next 19 best  Baby Back Ribs  The "second team" gathered B's, C's, and D's. 
They are in order:
Sizzler: B
Texas Roadhouse.  "Is 5% better than Chiles" rates one reviewer and agreed upon by others.
Chilie's Texas Whiskey ribs
Chile's Dry Rub ribs
Chile's original ribs
Five Star B-.
Molly's B- -
Tommy's Texas (Heber and Provo on South University)
Tony Roma's SLC C-.
Moore's (Ogden).
Ruby River: D+
TGI Friday
Outpost, SLC:  D+.

Not rated in order, but decent, is Big Al's in Provo and Capt Len's in Alpine, which were tested after the above were tested and rated.

[Historical note: Now defunct, good place: Buffalo Joes, SLC: B++. Note: A number of other BBQ places have come and gone that we've tested, but none were any higher than a B+.  Soul and Bones B- (was #12 above)

5. Best 4 Full-size (St. Louis style) Ribs. (all the top 4 can be best on any given day; but taking into account consistency, the following is our rating:)

#1 Big Bones, Spanish Fork A

#2 Sonny Bryan's in SLC, A.

#3 Cafe 300, Provo (when they serve them): A

#4 Wild Mustang (ask for basil leaves on top). must be freshly cooked to be an A-

The next 7best Full-size (St. Louis style) Ribs, in order: (B's through D's)

#5: Sugarhuse BBQ: B+ (but only if hot)

 #6: Rib City: B (C for tough texture, A- for flavor that has very similar candy glaze sauce to Sonny Bryan's).

#7 Kaisers: B

#8: Pat's: B (when freshly cooked and with sauce; it's a B+, otherwise: B-)

#9 Famous Dave's regular: B (2nd time a B-, tough) (don't get "80 Proof ribs", which scored slightly lower at B- both times).

 #10 Dickie's (national chain from TX, throughout Utah D+.

#11: Outback::D (a year earlier they rated a B+; they're either inconsistent or have gone downhill)

6.  Beef Ribs.  

 #1: Pats  Barbecue: A+ UPDATE: HE'S QUIT SERVING THESE! (they were a mind-blower, available only on Fridays, with some left over for Saturdays). Ask him to bring them back if you want the best beef ribs this side of Kansas City.

#2: Molley's: B+ (but you must get the "deep pocket beef rib," because the regular beef rib rates only a C++).

#4 Sizzlers: B (seasonal special, all you can eat: $7.99 in 2013)

7.  Catfish. 

See the Fish and Chips post UNDER 'BEST FISH AND CHIPS IN UTAH" for details.

8.  Steaks. 

(We have a separate section for Best Steaks in Utah, but for a BBQ place . . . )

#1:  BBQ place steak is the ribeye at Goodwood BBQ. Their own seasoning as they cook it helps to make it better than most, plus it's charcoal cooked - not grilled-with-gas - like most restaurants use.

Soon to test: the Ribeye at Wild Mustang, Orem.

9.  Pork Steak.  

Kaiser's Bar B-Q: B++

10.  Fried Chicken.  

 1) Big Bones, Spanish Fork, 2) Mama's Southern Plantation: B.  (not truly a BBQ place, as they oven-cook their ribs, etc, but it's a darn good southern food place!)

11.  Smoked Sausage:  

#1 Big Bones, Spanish Fork. B-   Most places are much worse.

12.  Braised Beef: 

Molly's: B- (only place found)

13.  Crab Cakes.  

Outback: A- (when they have them)

14. Smoked Turkey

Seans Smokehouse in Saratoga Springs::B+ (great, fresh turkey flavor but non-existant smoke flavor).  .

# 1. Wallaby's. Pomegranite Limeade. A

  1. Mac and cheese.  

 #1: (non BBQ place): Red Robbin, national BBQ chain, new item June 2013: A

#2 Famous Dave's: B++ (jjalapeno, 4 cheeses, and corn)

#3 (non BBQ place:) Communal, Provo: B+ (smoked cheese, peas, ham)

#4.Big Bones, Spanish Fork: B+.  

#5 (non BBQ place) Golden Corral: B+

2. Best mashed potatoes (and gravy)

#1 (tie) (non-BBQ place: Communal Yukon Gold mashed potatoes (no gravy) A+

#1 (tie) Sugarhouse BBQ, bordering Sugarhouse, SLC. The gravy is what makes this amazing: A+  

#1 (tie) Cafe 300, Provo A+ (only if turkey gravy - must request it) A

#1 (tie) Molly's, Provo, w/Turkey gravy: A.  Tuesday is only day they serve their fresh turkey gravy.  A

#5: Pat's, Get meat-gravy only! A.  (They also have regular mashed potatoes & gravy that aren't in the same ballpark -- a B- -). 

#6: Five Star, Orem:  A (herbed).   

#7: Ruby River Steakhouse: A- (mashed & cheese), 

#8:  Goodwood, with cream gravy: B++

#9 (non BBQ place:) Golden Corral B +

#10: Famous Dave's Garlic mashed: B+

#11: Smokin' Apple, Lindon: B (garlic mashed)

#12: Smokehouse Burgers and BBQ, Orem: B 

#13: Joe Morley's: B

(Notable but now defunct: Buffalo Joes, SLC: A- (with sausage gravy).   

14. Sonny Bryan's, SLC: B

4. Baked beans

1. Rib City, AF: A

2. Pats A-

3. Big Bones, Spanish Fork A -

#4: Famous Dave's: A- 

#5: Sean's Smokehouse: B+

#6: Molly's: B+

#7: Joe Morley's: B+

#8: Sugarhouse: B. 

Others were all B- or lower (Lon's, Cedar City: B-, for example, and others)

5. Carrots.  

Molley's, Provo: A+ (2nd time: B+)  (not typical BBQ fare; giving it good flavor is the fact it is served with wine sauce)

6.  Sweet Potatoes.  

#1 tie: Goodwood: A-.  

#1 tie: non BBQ place: Station 22, Provo (not really a BBQ place), fried and seasoned wedges A -

#3:  Mollys.  B+ (we assume they're cooked with skins off; it takes that way; so we believe it could be better if the flavor weren't boiled away with the skins off when cooked)

7. Yams (similar to sweet potatoes). 

Mama's Southern Plantation, Sandy. A+ Incredible!

8.  Corn.  

#1 Black Sheep (on cob)

#2 Big Bones (creamed corn, when available)

#3 Smokin' Apple (creamed):  B+

#4  Famous Dave's (creamed): B+

9.  Onion Rings.  

#1 Station 22, Provo: B+ (non BBQ place)

#2 Famous Dave's: B+

(speaking of onion, at Milagro's Mexican Grill in Orem is the honey-infused onion: an A-, which comes as your requested side to any meal). Also check them out at Tommy's Burgers on 100 North in Provo)

10.  Green Beans.  

#1 Rocky's Rib Shack, PG: A- (now out of business, June 2013)

#2. Famous Dave's: A-

#3   Dickies A-

#4: Molly's: B+

#5 Sonny Bryan's: B

11. Cole Slaw.  

 (5 way tie:) 

#1 (tie) Charlie Boys (catering co.)

#1 (tie) Station 22 A-

#1 (tie) Sugarhouse: A-

 #1 (tie) Rib City (first time it was an A-, our 2nd time rated it only a B -)

#1 tie: Mama's Southern Plantation is not a BBQ place - it's soul food - but the slaw is among the best 

 #6 Sean's in Saratoga Springs A-

(2 others were tied for first but recently went out of business:  Smokehouse Pizza & BBQ in Provo and Q4U in West Valley. Also gone is Munchies, a B+.).  

Most  places are C's (Lon's in Cedar City, Chile's Southwest Grill (non BBQ place obviously, though they do serve ribs), and D's..

12. Caribbean Jerked Chicken Sandwich.  

Sugarhouse: B+ with white sauce, otherwise, a C w/o sauce)

13.  Cornbread. 

 #1: Famous Dave's: B+

#2: Sugarhouse BBQ: B

#3 Mama K's Southern Plantation

14. Dirty (seasoned) Rice.  

 Chile's (not truly a "dirty" rice): B-

16.  Hush Puppies

#1 Chubby's: A+ (best we've had anywhere in the country). 

#2 Mama's Southern Plantation: A

17.  Potato Salad

 #1: Five Star, Orem: A- (might be too "pickle-ish" for some)

#2: tie Pats: B+

#2 tie Cafe 300 B+

#4: Dickie's: B (whipped and different)

#5: Joe Morley's: B

18.  Greens.  

 #1 Pat's, mustard greens: B+

#2 Mama's Southern plantation collard greens B+

19.  Red Beans & Rice

 #1 Chubby's,  A-

#2 Pat's: B+

#3 (non BBQ) Boudreau's Bistro, Payson B+

#4 (non BBQ) Popeyes, Thanksgiving Point and Hill Air Force Base, Ogden: B+

20.  Fries.  - Also see our separate rating for Fries, including all places (BBQ + others)

#1 Big Bones - order it double fried, sweet and salty, with sweet and savory seasoning! Voila!

#2 Seans Smokehouse

#3 Famous Dave's: B- (big style, not our fav usually), 

(Also great are Del Taco and, if you like fresh-cut: In and Out Burger.)

21.  Dinner roll

#1 Lion House Pantry (non BBQ place, Salt Lake City)

#2 Sonny Bryans BBQ B+

#3  Smokin' Apple, Lindon: B

#4  Nedra's rolls at Wild Mustang, Orem.

22.  Rice & meaty gravy.  

Pat's: B (order the "meaty" gravy only, not the rice and regular gravy, which is another menu item)

23.  Creole Black Beans & Rice.  

 Pat's: B+

24.  Jambalaya.  

 Pat's: B+

27.  French Bread

#1:Five Star, Orem: A- 

28.  Rice Pilaf: 

 Goodwood: B (C+ 2nd time) 

29. Clam Chowder (See our category rating for Clam Chowder, which includes BBQ + others)

#1 Cafe 300 (non BBQ place, but does smoke some meats) 

#1 tie Liion House Pantry, SLC (non BBQ place)

#1 tie Station 22 (Manhatten style)

#4 Great Steak sandwich on west Geneva Rd., Provo (served only Nov - Feb)

Historical note: Munchies in Provo had best clam chowder and best mac and cheese ever, but left the food scene in early 2012, sadly. A great place.

BEST DESSERTS - see Best Desserts in Utah


Note:  Most places have more than one sauce - we only list the ones that rated an A.

1. Big Bones, Spanish Fork (it cooks up better than anybody's, but to eat alone is not that great)

2. Pats, Salt Lake City. (Sweet Heat A-)

3.  Famous Dave's, Sandy and Ogden, national chain. (Sweet & Zesty B+)

Historical note: Out of business, but they earned an A: Papa's Southern BBQ, Provo, and Munchies, Provo.

Footnote about sauces:
We've tested a hundred or so sauces - both store brands and the top BBQ places in the U.S., flying them in when we also flew in ribs, pulled pork, and chicken from 22 different rib places in the U.S.

The best known ones are:

Corky's, Rendezvous (both in Memphis), Dreamland in Alabama, Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, Carson's of Chicago, etc., etc.  We tested all their sauces and rubs.

Our fav rub anywhere: Interstate, Memphis.

Best sauce:  Big Bob Gibsons Red Sauce of Decatur, Alabama is the originator of this sauce  (which Five Star in Orem tries to immulate).

1 comment:

  1. Texas BBQ guide directs the best BBQ in Texas along with many tips
    and tricks of what to order, and where. We are especially focus on three main meats - Pork ribs, Brisket, & Sausage. texas best brisket