Wednesday, October 24, 2012

East Cambridge Rib Fest - So Many AMAZING Ribs!

This past Sunday Nick and I spent the afternoon over in East Cambridge at the East Cambridge Business Association's Smoke This Rib Fest, where we walked up and down the street all in the name of determining which of 21 restaurants had the BEST ribs in town.  Proving I was dedicated to the cause, I rolled up my white shirt sleeves (silly decision, I know!) and tasted all 21 ribs!  That is a lot of ribs, but of course, in the midst of eating and smearing BBQ sauce all over my face, I snapped a few (or many) photos!

West Bridge's Rib - cherry mustard confit with beef ribs 
Once I checked in and checked out the map (now covered in sauce!), we decided to start with booth #1 and work our way up from there.  Most of the restaurants were from around East Cambridge and were places I was familiar with, though there were still some new places to experience!

Beautiful Rib Smoked Filled Streets
The line-up:
  1. Lizzy's
  2. New Deal Fish Market
  3. Portugalia
  4. East by Northeast
  5. Tupelo
  6. Trina's Starlite Lounge
  7. Cambridge Public Schools
  8. Filarmonica
  9. Midwest Grill
  10. East Side Bar and Grille
  11. Ole
  12. West Bridge
  13. Bambara
  14. Lord Hobo
  15. ArtBar
  16. Atwood's Tavern
  17. Catalyst
  18. Champion's
  19. Abigail's
  20. Red Bones
  21. P.F. Chang's
Lizzy's Rib set in collards and black eyed peas
One of the first surprises for me was the New Deal.  Having never been to their restaurant, I was curious.  Their rib was one of my favorites - SUPER tender with a great sweet and sour sauce, which still allowed the cumin rub to come through.  This definitely made me want to visit New Deal soon.

Soon thereafter, we stopped by East by Northeast, whose ribs had an amazing Asian flavor (naturally).  With a good amount of Five-Spice added to the mix, the taste was outstanding.

East By Northeast 
Trina's Starlight Lounge - Hoisin Rib with an amazing peanut thai slaw
Everyone wins - a gift certificate to East Side Bar & Grill and Hungry Mother!
After our spin on the prize wheel and some water, I set back to tasting.  Next up was East Side Bar & Grill, who had been the People's Choice winner for the last two years.  Right outside their restaurant they set up a huge smoker and were entertaining the crowd for the entire afternoon!  Their rib had a great combination of tenderness and a sweet sauce!

East Side's amazing smoker set up
Didn't even wait to snap a photo before eating!  So delicious
Beer Garden Outside East Side
Ole's Latin take on ribs!  The taco was a great break from the ribs.
ArtBar - tender rib with a great rosemary kick; spicy arugula and delicious croutons. The pomegranate spiced with some peper was a lovely finish 
Lord Hobo - super tender ribs (and Nick loved the pickle!)
Red Bones and their mobile smoker!
Red Bones Rib - definitely the smokiest of the ribs we had.  I didn't realized how much I missed the flavor
until I tasted this rib
The final photograph was of Abigail's rib, which was nice and tender, but the great part about these ribs was their sauces!  Nick's favorite of the day was their Korean BBQ sauce.  Their habanero sauce had and EXTREME kick to it.  I liked the their standard house sauce the best.

Abigail's and their 3 special sauces
The winner of the competition was Bambara, one I did not get a photo of.  This rib, with its sweet and sour chili was one of Nick's favorite.  Definitely on the sweeter side but the tender rib was cooked perfectly.

East Side and Tupelo won first and second, respectively, which I understand.  Both were standouts.  However, none of the official winners were my favorite, which was West Bridge!

Cooking the West Bridge Ribs
I think West Bridge was hurt in the People's Choice competition because they ran out at about 2:30, so not everyone got to have a taste.  Their ribs were surprisingly one of the only beef ribs of the competition.  The rib was amazingly tender and the cherry mustard confit was unbelievable.  So much flavor on the ribs that I just picked off the bone.

I had so much fun at Rib Fest on Sunday afternoon!  I cannot wait for it to come around next year.  How better to spend a beautiful afternoon than getting my hands and face totally messy in BBQ sauce!  The restaurants and the East Cambridge Business Association did a fantastic job with the event.

Thanks to the East Cambridge Business Association for inviting me to help judge the ribs.

While my admission to the event was free, my thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. I was so sad that I had to miss this. Now I want ribs!

  2. this looks so good. I want to recreate that thai peanut slaw

  3. I wish I had tried New Deal's rib - sounds tasty! I also can't wait for next year's!

  4. I love outdoor food events like this - and looks like you had a beautiful day for it!

  5. what an awesome event! i didn't even know new deal had a restaurant!?!

  6. Yet another event that I missed you at!! ArtBar's dish was my favorite! Loved the rosemary with the fresh tomatoes and crispy bread!

  7. I think we walked right by this last year... so not sure why we didn't stop to check it out. Sounds like an awesome event!


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