Baby Back Ribs @ Cane & Grain
I would have saved best til last, but nothing comes before Cane & Grain's ribs. They have a choice of 3 to choose from: Baby Back Ribs (no relation to Sir Mix-a-lot, these babies have a sweet touch and an even sweeter tenderness - cut straight from the loin), St. Louis Ribs (big sticks that come by the bone - meet me in a St. Louis food coma), and, Beef Short Ribs (the big-boy ladder that should only be tackled alone by professionals - of which I am one). If you judge a restaurant by its ribs, Cane & Grain might be your perfect 10.
Cane & Grain, 49, 51 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
Old Spot Belly Ribs @ Hawksmoor
Okay, it's just a starter - but these ribs are never just a starter. 'Tender' is terrified of these ribs. 'Melt in the mouth' has been kidnapped and held hostage by these ribs. 'Mouth-watering' hasn't seen the light in weeks. These perfectly balanced little blocks of meat and fat fall off the bone, in the most literal sense. I can promise there will be no cutlery scraping at the table. At all. Hawksmoor's Old Spot Belly Ribs are one of their most popular starters, and deserve to be known as one of Manchester's most popular starters ever. Bravo, pork gods.
Hawksmoor, 186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
Sticky Beef Short Ribs @ Tattu
For some reason, you can cover almost anything in crispy shallots and I'll go absolutely mad for it. It's the gastronomical version of rolling a turd in glitter. Luckily, Tattu's ribs are quite jaw-dropping by themselves - so the addition of crispy shallots sends me a bit loopy. The gastronomical version of polishing gold. Their sticky beef short rib 'small plate' sticks with their asian-inspired cuisine, cooking the tender meat slow and low before combining them with soy, chilli, and, of course, shallots. I have 0 notes on their performance. They're winning gold, in my eyes.
Tattu, 3 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB
St. Louis Ribs @ Old School BBQ Bus
What's better than eating a huge rack of ribs, getting sauce all over your face and washing it all down with a gallon of Bud Light? Nothing really, except this - ribs that have been cooked in an actual American school bus! Plonked in a random industrial estate in Oldham, the Old School BBQ Bus has been serving up some of the best meat available to man for a few years now and their outstanding St. Louis Ribs are so tender that you could probably make the meat slide off the bone just by looking at them. At £25 for a full rack too you can't go wrong.
The Old School BBQ Bus, Alford Street, Hollinwood, Oldham, OL9 7LP
Spare Ribs @ Black Dog
These are the kind of ribs you want your fingers to be forever coated in. If this rib sauce isn't in a 2-inch radius round my mouth, don't bother. They taste so good that I'm certain they can't be very good for my heart - just the way it should be (all the best food in life is this way). When you find my body surrounded by Black Dog's spare ribs, don't shed a tear for me. I will have died happy. Black Dog make the juiciest ribs for pretty decent prices, and coat their meat in a tangy orange and maple BBQ sauce - which I would drink litres of.
Black Dog, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Crispy Lemon Pepper Pork Ribs @ Red's True BBQ
Yes, their pork ribs are amazing. If you haven't had them yet, you're stupid (or vegetarian, in which case, I respect). But, I'm not here to talk about their pork ribs. I'm here to talk about their Crispy Lemon Pepper Pork Ribs. We're at that point of the list where we've ODed on meat and can't remember what anything else tastes like anymore. As a refresher, these gorgeous juice-bombs pack a little extra punch in the flavour department. And, who knew? Lemon turns out to be the perfect addition to a deeply smoked bit of pork. We all know Red's knows how to cook any meat to perfection, so it only makes sense that they know exactly how to season it too.
Red's True BBQ, 22 Lloyd St, Albert Square, Manchester M2 5WA
Salt & Pepper Ribs @ Yang Sing
The opportunity doesn't often come up, but whenever it does, Yang Sing is one of my favourite places to go in Manchester. It's not very cool, or special, or new (at all). But the food? Literally unbeatable. They stole my heart many years ago: it's my Grandad's favourite place to go on his birthday (I know - very cute). Yang Sing's salt and pepper ribs are everything you'd expect, everything you'd wish, and everything you need to fill the rib-shaped hole in your life. After I've had them, I often find myself waking up the next day, unable to think of anything else. If I ever win the lottery, the first thing I'll do is hire the Yang Sing team to be my personal chefs.
Yang Sing, 34 Princess St, Manchester M1 4JY