Arkansas is blessed with plenty of great BBQ spots, from popular barbecue restaurants in Little Rock to homey, family-owned joints that have been grilling and smokin’ for years. One way to get a lively conversation going in the Natural State is to ask about the “best” barbecue, with everyone having their favourites. As for our favourite places for BBQ ribs in Arkansas? Here’s the top picks…
Best Places For Ribs In ArkansasHow do these rankings work?
Whole Hog Cafe really does go the whole hog with their ribs, which are some of the best ribs in America. They serve up sensational dry-rubbed rib daily, and beef ribs every Tuesday. The meat is meticulously hand-rubbed, cured and slow-smoked.
The potato salad is white rather than yellow and hits the spot every time. The beans can’t be beat and the portions are reliably big. What more could you ask for?
KT’s Smokehouse is almost too good to share with the world, and we have a feeling its local fans won’t want to risk losing their seat at this homey shack. Good vibes and even better barbecue awaits. There’s St. Louis style ribs with perfectly pink wood-smoked meat that tugs off the bone. P.S. Don’t leave without an order of the peanut butter pie!
No list of the best ribs in Arkansas is complete without the locally famous baby back ribs here. It’s no frills, just simple barbecue fare done really, really well. Add on all sorts of tempting sides, including potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, fries, corn on the cob or barbecue nachos.
Craving authentic, Memphis-style BBQ in Arkansas? You’ll find it at Corky’s Ribs & BBQ. Specifically, they specialise in hickory-smoked ribs and a secret sauce that’ll have you drooling long before you ever sink your teeth into the first rib. According to Corky’s, it’s the “secret sauces, old Southern recipes and Beale Street blues” that create the unique flavour of their irresistible ribs.
In typical Southern fashion, Lindsey’s Hospitality House serves up, well, lots of Southern hospitality on top of their tasty BBQ dishes. There’s no denying that they’ve got some of the best ribs in Little Rock, amongst many other things. They’ve been slingin’ smoked meats since 1956, giving them plenty of time to perfect their recipe.
Rivertowne BBQ serves generous portions of mouth-watering smoked beef, chicken and pork, with all meats seasoned with Rivertowne’s own dry rub and smoked onsite daily. While there’s lots to be tempted by here, we urge you to make a beeline for the ribs. Tender, full of flavour and available in 1/4, half or full racks, you can’t go wrong with these.
We’re not the only publication that loves The Mean Pig BBQ – they’ve been featured on Buzzfeed, Man Vs. Food TV show and plenty more. Why are they so famous? Well, this mom and pop barbecue shop takes huge pride in smoking their meats, resulting in a seriously tasty array of meats, including divine ribs. Try the legendary ‘Shut Up Juice’ hot sauce if you dare – it’s so spicy you have to sign a waiver.
The Pink Flamingo barbecue team has won over 150 different BBQ awards since 1998, so that should give you an idea of just how good this place is. The award-winning baby back ribs are smoked ’til tender and then slathered in their signature glaze. With add-ons of soft bread, corn and all sorts of tasty sides, this is a real feast.
You don’t have to look far to find a local who says Sims Bar-B-Que is home to some of the best ribs in Little Rock, if not the entire state of Arkansas. And, it’s all about the sauce. It’s not too sweet yet not too spicy, offering up eager eaters the chance to truly dive into a rib-filled plate and get their hands and face as messy as possible. It’s okay, though, you’ll love licking your fingers clean after this meal.
For authentic Arkansas BBQ, head to the beautiful Ozark Mountains in north central Arkansas. Mikey’s Smoked Meats uses local woods to hickory smoke their meats in a wood-burning pit. Try the brisket, but save some room for the ribs. Tender and meaty, these succulent ribs are simply seasoned with Mikey’s famous dry rub, and then slow smoked to perfection.
Loaded BBQ plates here start at just $8.50, which is great value for such high quality grub. Rib Cage BBQ goes the extra mile to do things right, from smoking all their meats daily to the homemade sides and sauces. The ribs are moist with a delicious smokey char on the outside. Get here early though, as they often sell out.
As a traveller, it can sometimes be hard to find spots offering a really authentic experience complete with quality attention and down-to-earth vibes. H B’s Bar B.Q. is one such spot, and they serve ribs on Tuesdays, so you can plan a special trip here just for the occasion. The cash-only spot fills up fast, so be sure to get here early in order to snag a tasty rack of ribs.
These hickory smoked ribs are so good you could soon find yourself coming to Lucky Luke’s BBQ on a weekly basis. When food is this tasty, how can you possibly stay away? The quality here is always consistent and you can dig into half or whole racks – come with friends and get the full! If you’re lucky, the off-the-bone rib sandwich will be on the menu as a special.
Get your hands dirty with one of the rib sandwiches here, filled with falling-off-the-bone tender meats. You’ll soon see why all the tables have huge stacks of thick napkins, as food this good will be gobbled down for a tasty but messy eat. They serve up juicy pork ribs every day, with beef short ribs on Friday and Saturday.
Smitty’s Bar-B-Que is a “descendant” of the legendary Shack Barbecue in Little Rock; opened in 1958 and is still in the same rustic space. So it’s fair to say that these folk know more than a thing or two about excellent BBQ. Locals flock here for the ribs, which are a must-order. We suggest stopping by on Wednesdays after 5pm for the all-you-can-eat ribs dinner for $13.75.
It’s hard to write any roundup of the best BBQ in Arkansas without mentioning Shorty Small’s. And, while everything here is mouthwatering, their tender, juicy ribs will have you drooling a bit extra. In fact, they’re so tender and delicious that they’ve registered the term “Jumpin’-Off-The-Bone Tender Ribs.” Get them smothered in sauce. Indulge in a few Southern sides while you’re at it.
Ole Southern Smokehouse is a family-owned food truck that grills and smokes their own premium meats, which includes some of the tastiest ribs in Arkansas. Locals say they drive up to 30 minutes out of their way just to get their hands on these bad boys. Grab your plate, take a seat at one of the picnic tables and get ready for a delicious meal.
The food at Art’s BBQ & Burgers is almost too pretty to eat, but we know you won’t be able to stop yourself. They serve up both baby back and spare ribs, both styles just as good as the other. We recommend coming with a group and ordering ’em both to sample allll the flavours. Add on their creamy slaw and smoked poblano peppers for the perfect dinner.
You didn’t think we’d forget about one of the absolute best of the best, did you? Not a chance. Platnum BBQ is a quality Little Rock BBQ spot serving up some of the tastiest ribs in the state. They serve half racks and whole racks, and even breakfast for those looking for authentic Southern breakfast food. Guests love the short ribs, which are always consistently bursting with flavour.
The Hog Pen BBQ has been an Arkansas staple for years, with a menu full of favourites, from pulled pork to catfish and cajun chicken. While there’s plenty of choice here, be sure to get the rib dinner of meaty, succulent ribs and riblets. You’ll be biting every last tasty ounce of meat off the bones and licking your fingers clean.
There’s five Big Jake’s BBQ locations across the state, making it almost a mini chain of sorts, but the quality of the meats here never falters. The ribs are a real highlight on the menu (as is the potato salad!), with meat that falls off the bone. Melt-in-the-mouth meat with a rich rub and smokey flavours combine for some of the best ribs in Arkansas.
Sassy’s Red House is a local legend when it comes to BBQ food in Arkansas. With a lively, sports bar atmosphere and droolworthy grilled and smoked meats, you’ll be a regular customer after just one visit. The ribs are a hearty, meaty rack of pure goodness and the perfect bite to eat alongside an ice cold beer.
For proper home-style BBQ in the Hot Springs area, you’ll never be disappointed here. They use their own Memphis-style dry rub to prepare some of the best ribs in the state. Finish off your feast with an order of the homebaked banana pudding. You’ll be leaving here with a huge smile on your face.
Chow down on incredible barbecue dishes to the sound of live music in the bar, or take your treats outside to sit on the sunny patio. Whatever you decide, be sure to order a portion of the ribs, either as a rack of your own or as part of the meat platter plate. If you’re a beef rib fan (aren’t we all?), Hoots BBQ has them as weekend special with garlicky mash.
In the mood for oldschool barbecue with a trendy twist? This is the place to go, where all meats are smoked over a mixture of red oak and hickory for a distinctly rich flavour to the meat. SAUCED is a stylish restaurant that serves up smoked meats, barbecue and craft brews – the perfect combination. The rib themselves are one of the must-order dishes.