There was a moment about 18 months ago where all I wanted to eat was ribs. It was an absolute disaster. Every restaurant I went into, every Spar, even every Sports Direct - I wanted ribs. I was obsessed.
What made it worse was that I was living in Walthamstow at the time and had to trudge into Central London with all the tourists to get my fix. Now I’m back in Manchester though, it’s easy street – there’s loads of places to get involved, and here’s my pick of the best.
Cane & Grain
Probably the quintessential BBQ joint in the city, Cane & Grain is home to probably the most authentic (and delicious) ribs available, with plenty of wet stuff to wash it all down with. A personal favourite of mine are the St Louis Ribs which are cut from the belly and are proper juicy with plenty of flavour. Their Beef Short Ribs are fantastic too, and with a choice of 4 different sauces – if you don’t find yourself buying a pickup truck and some cowboy boots once you leave, you’re not human.
Cane & Grain, 49 -51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 839 7033
Lotus Veggie Kitchen
What’s a vegetarian place doing on this list I hear you ask? Well, I like to provide for everyone in the city, not just those who want to chomp on some flesh. Lotus in Withington is well known for its fantastic Chinese menu, all of it totally vegetarian or vegan, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone who has eaten from here that they do indeed offer ‘Veggie Ribs’. How can they make vegetarian ribs?! I don’t know. But just like when you used to see Paul Daniels do one of his tricks in front of Debbie McGee, I don’t care how they do it. All that matters is that it’s good. And these are very good.
Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, 536 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 4BY
0161 445 7457
El Gato Negro
I don’t think there could be more good things said about El Gato Negro that haven’t already been said by the many, many people who have visited since it opened. Fans of tapas, fans of good food and fans of a very authentic Mediterranean atmosphere have all been bowled over and now you can add fans of ribs to the list. They offer a whole rack of baby pork ribs, which have been glazed in Sherry like Michael Elfick and then chargrilled. They’re top-notch as nobody I know would ever say.
El Gato Negro Tapas, 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
0161 694 8585
Another set of ribs with an oriental twist, and Tattu pretty much represents the pinnacle of high-end Oriental dining in the city, all while surrounded by some pretty stunning decor and frankly mental cocktails. You’re sat down, you’ve got their menu in front of you and what should you go for? Straight to the Sticky Beef Short Ribs I say, and perhaps the Black Pepper and Honey Ribs if you’re feeling particularly hungry. I’m a massive fan of the Sticky Shorts though, nothing in the world will make me order anything else instead. Nothing.
Tattu, 3, 4 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB
0161 819 2060
Reds True BBQ
Situated on the rather sedate and calm edge of Albert Square, a place that showcases Manchester’s most important and influential people through history, Red’s True BBQ gives you the chance to make your own stamp on the city by scoffing your face full of meat and sauce and bevvies. They have pretty much everything you’d ever expect from somewhere in Texas including some fantastic ribs. My advice – get one of their trays and pile it high with ribs, chicken and those amazing burnt ends and you’ll be in heaven.
Red’s True Barbecue, 22 Lloyd St, Manchester M2 5WA
0161 402 0142
You may only associate Sakana with Sushi, or with a Pad Thai that is bigger than some peaks in the Pennines, but they also serve up some fantastic Chinese dishes, including some rather moorish Honey Black Pepper Ribs. Caked in Pepper, Ginger and Chilli, they have a bit of a kick to them but they are always highly satisfying. They’re perfect if you’re not really a fan of sushi, which includes myself, because while your partner slowly eats some raw fish and rice, you can sit there all smug with sauce all over your chops and sticky fingers.
Sakana, 23 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
0161 884 1292
The beginning of the year saw me grafting away at the new Odeon cinema in Oldham while I lived at my mams house. I thoroughly enjoyed myself there, although the job was frequently ruined by the old people who would come in to watch a Silver Screen film and proceed to be rude and obnoxious all day. Directly opposite the cinema is Jack’s Smokehouse who offer some fantastic Beef Short Ribs that have been slow cooked for 16 hours and literally fall off the bone. Scoffing them was the perfect antidote to my frequent old-biddy-bad-moods.
Jack’s Smokehouse, 62 Yorkshire St, Oldham OL1 3SL
0161 628 0177
I must admit to not having been into Yang Sing in quite a while, perhaps a couple of years, but I do remember eating some of their ribs and being very impressed. Yang Sing is obviously top-top Chinese food and so it’s much more of a treat than a lot of places. This shouldn’t dissuade you from going in and giving their ribs a try though, of which the Salt & Pepper ones are a clear winner. You could put Salt & Pepper seasoning on a crocodile’s back and I’d try and give it a bloody good lick – it’s amazing. On their ribs – you honestly can’t go wrong.
Yang Sing, 34 Princess St, Manchester M1 4JY
0161 236 2200
The Koreans bloody know how to cook, and I personally feel their cuisine is highly underrated, -especially in Manchester. There’s that fantastic Ban Di Bul place near the Art Gallery who do great ribs, but always a clear winner for me will be Koreana over at the bottom of King Street. Their Bibimbap is expertly put together, providing one of the most authentic (and tasty) Korean dishes anyone can ever have. Their Beef Rib Galbi are fantastic too, and although they’re a bit different than what you’d expect by being cut differently – they’re still ribs and they’re still wonderful.
Koreana, 40A King St W, Manchester M3 2WY
0161 832 4330
As you’d expect from Solita, who probably own more meat than that guy who lets Rocky train in his warehouse, have a nice selection of frankly quite brilliant ribs, alongside their huge selection of steaks, burgers and chicken products. Sure, you could go for their Baby Back Ribs, which come smothered with BBQ sauce, but if you’re a real rib aficionado you’re going to want to go for the Beef Short Rib. They ain’t cheap but what they take away from your wallet, they more than make up for with taste. Just don’t forget your toothpick.
Solita NQ, Turner St, Manchester M4 1DW
0161 839 2200
Stockport (& Rochdale’s) answer to a huge Texan BBQ restaurant, Cocka DoodleMoo may have a ridiculous name but they do take their meat very seriously indeed, including their ribs. As someone who could probably earn himself 12.5% off the St. Louis tourist board, I’m going to recommend their St. Louis ribs because they are fantastic – all thick meat and fat that melts in your mouth. Get a ‘Full Slab’ all to yourself and not only will you probably need a trip to A & E, you’ll be back a week later for some more. Probably with an Iron Lung in tow.
Cocka DoodleMoo Stockport, 157 London Rd, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 4HH
CockaDoodleMoo Rochdale, 3-5 Yorkshire St, Rochdale OL16 1BH