East Cambridge Smoke This Rib Fest 2012

Trina's Starlight LoungeSunday was my first time attending East Cambridge’s Smoke This Rib Fest. The impressive event, now in it’s third year running, pulled together over 20 local restaurants for a massive outdoor rib competition. Ribs and other food samples were available for purchase a la carte, but a $20 tasting ticket got you ten rib samples from the restaurants of your choice and (most importantly) voting rights for the people’s choice category.

In addition to the people’s choice category, there were three celebrity judges – Kenji from Serious Eats, Tony Maws of Craigie on Main, and Dave Andelman from Phantom Gourmet – who collectively picked their own top three ribs.

While it was fun to catch a glimpse of the celebrity judges, I was beyond excited to taste each rib and judge them for myself. I love a good cooking competition.

I only tried 11 of the 21 ribs before running out of room in my stomach. Each rib was honestly very impressive. However, it was fun to be kind of nit picky and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about each rib before moving onto the next.

Here’s what I tried:

East Side Bar and Grille

East Side Bar and Grille
Dry Rubbed St. Louis Rib, Oak Smoked with a Tangy, Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce


Thai Red Curry BBQ Ribs

East by Northeast

East by Northeast
Five Spice Rubbed Pork Rib with Apple and Sweet Bean Glaze

Trina's Starlight Lounge

Trina’s Starlight Lounge
BBQ Hoisen St. Louis Ribs served over Ginger Peanut Slaw

West Bridge

West Bridge
Cherry Mustard Confit and Grilled Beef Ribs

Lord Hobo

Lord Hobo
Dry Rubbed Pork Ribs, Fennel and Cabbage Slaw, Garlic Chips, and Kool-Aid Pickles


Spiced Lemon Confit and Rosemary Ribs


Memphis Style Dry Rubbed Ribs with Wicked Killer House BBQ Sauce


Spicy Maple and Mustard Seed Confit Pork Ribs


Dry Rubbed Pork Ribs served with Thick and Sweet Table Sauce


Sweet and Sour Chili

And my favorite?

Final Vote

Tupelo! Their juicy Thai curry glazed rib, with the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, and a hint of citrus flavor, won me over.

Some of my other favorites were Trina’s, ArtBar, Abigail’s, and Bambara. Trina’s had one of the most tender pork rib I have ever tried, and the ginger peanut slaw was a delicious added bonus. ArtBar’s ribs had a unique lemon and rosemary flavor that was hard to compare against the other barbecue flavors, but were really well executed and flavorful. (We all agreed we’d love to try their lemon and rosemary seasoning on lamb chops.) Abigail’s offered a delicious selection of sauces to go with their juicy and meaty dry rubbed ribs. Like Tupelo’s, Bambara’s ribs had that sweet-spicy thing going on that was downright addicting.

I got to compare my picks to the official winners at the end. The people’s choice winner was East Side Bar and Grille, with ArtBar and Champions coming in second and third. The judges chose Bambara as their top choice, Tupelo (yay!) as their second, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School as their third. It was interesting that the people’s choice and judges’ winners didn’t overlap at all, but I was happy to see some of my favorites on both lists.

Congrats to all of the winners! And kudos to the East Cambridge Business Association for putting together such a great, well-organized event. I hope I can make it to next year’s Rib Fest!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • http://twitter.com/InAndAroundTown In and Around Town

    sorry I missed you there! It was such a great afternoon with so much Delicious food!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      Me too! I couldn’t believe how crazy it got – so many people!

  • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

    wow! what a fun event!

  • http://twitter.com/tri2cook Shannon G

    wow, what an afternoon! i’m not actually a fan of ribs, but some of these look good enough to eat 😉

  • DeliciousDish

    I can’t believe how varied and interesting all the different ribs were. What a fun way to spend an afternoon!

  • http://www.acambridgestory.com Emily

    I went to this too – so much MEAT! ArtBar was definitely my favorite. North by Northeast did a cool taco thing that was pretty tasty too!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      I know – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much meat in my life!

  • http://twitter.com/TraveleatloveMM Meghan M.

    All I can say is “yum”. 🙂

  • http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/ Joanne (eats well with others)

    Whoa! This sounds like a ton of fun! Who knew you could infuse ribs with so many different flavors and have it WORK.

  • george

    the east side bar was the best they were professional done they were smoke not in the oven

  • Popular

    • Smashed White Bean and Avocado Sandwich
    • Kale, Apple, and Ginger Smoothie
    • Spanish Tortilla
    • Roasted Carrots and Beets with Thyme (+ Some Big News!)
    • Tomato Sauce with Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Eggplant