In case you missed it last week while actually preparing to have a life during the long Memorial Day weekend, the Daily Meal released its list of America's best ribs, and it includes a pair of Washington smokehouses: Mr. P's Ribs & Fish and Hill Country.
For those keeping score at home, Washington outpaced such 'cue meccas as Memphis (one joint on the list), Kansas City (one, though it was the overall winner) and Lockhart, the self-proclaimed barbecue capital of Texas, which had a total of zero smokehouses on the list.
Despite the District's surprising performance among national food writers and critics, I'm not ready to crown Washington "the Lockhart on the Potomac." Why? Because the polling sample was tiny — five writers, total, responded to the Daily Meal survey, including yours truly, who almost single-handedly wedged Mr. P's on the list. (Daily Meal Eat/Dine Editor Dan Myers says the site researched our recommendations to confirm that other diners had given the places high marks and, I'd guess, to make sure we weren't toying with them.)
Still, you should probably consider the sample sample size when clicking through the 20 restaurants that landed on the list. Some other food writers around the country had their own opinions on the winners. Take a look.
• Leslie Brenner, restaurant critic and dining editor for the Dallas Morning News, noted that it's "not clear exactly how the ribs were chosen. The press release says the ranked list of 20 was chosen by a panel that included John T. Edge, John Mariani, Tim Carman, Alan Richman, Jonathan Gold, and Gael Greene. But the story says those writers 'submitted some of those favorites.'”
• Joe Bonwich, restaurant critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, crowed, "St. Louis was the only city with three entries, while better-rep BBQ towns Memphis and Kansas City have two (Corky's and Rendezvous) and one (Oklahoma Joe's), respectively."
• Sarah Gish, enterprise reporter for the Kansas City Star, catalogs all the love that the top winner has received: "The list of accolades that Oklahoma Joe’s has racked up in recent years is almost as long as the original location’s line on a Saturday afternoon. In 2009, Anthony Bourdain included Oklahoma Joe’s on his list of '13 Places to Eat Before You Die' for Men’s Health magazine. Bourdain also featured the restaurant prominently in a Kansas City episode of his Travel Channel show 'No Reservations.'”
I sampled Oklahoma Joe's for the first time in December, when I waited in the smokehouse's notoriously long line outside a Kansas City, Kan., gas station for a taste of almost everything on the menu. The ribs were as good as advertised: deeply smoky, a little sweet, a little piquant and designed to eat on their own, without any application of sauce, the condiment that (in part) made Kansas City famous. The place had my vote.