5 of the Best Ribs Serving Restaurants in California

California, a culinary wonderland, is not only a haven for fresh produce and innovative cuisine but also boasts a thriving barbecue scene. From smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs to tender brisket, California has it all for barbecue enthusiasts. With this guide, embark on a delicious expedition to discover the top five ribs serving restaurants in the Golden State.

1. Bludso’s BBQ (Los Angeles)

  • Background and Style: Bludso’s BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue outpost, brings the authentic flavors of the Lone Star State to the heart of Los Angeles. Founded by Kevin Bludso, a native Texan, this spot keeps barbeque traditions alive.
  • Rib Specialties: Bludso’s spares no effort (or should I say ‘spares no ribs’?) when it comes to the star of the show – the ribs. Dry-rubbed and slow-smoked over oak, they achieve a tender, smoky perfection. Choose between pork and beef ribs, each with unique, bold flavors.
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Bludso’s isn’t just about the ribs; it’s a full sensory experience. From the aroma of smoked meats to the lively atmosphere, this barbecue joint transports diners straight to Texas.

2. Ribs USA (Burbank)

  • Atmosphere and History: Ribs USA delivers a classic, down-home barbecue experience. Established in 1985, this restaurant offers a nostalgic vibe with barrels of free peanuts and no-fuss décor that’s all about the food.
  • Signature Dishes: Naturally, ribs are the main attraction. Baby back ribs take center stage, glazed in Ribs USA’s signature tangy sauce. Don’t miss out on other crowd favorites like the pulled pork sandwiches.
  • The Ribs Experience: Ribs USA nails the perfect balance of juicy, tender meat and a flavorful, caramelized bark on their ribs. Expect generous portions and finger-lickin’ good barbecue.

3. Robert Earl’s BBQ (Long Beach)

  • Focus on Community: More than just a restaurant, Robert Earl’s BBQ is a beloved Long Beach institution deeply rooted in its community. The owner, Robert Earl Walker, is known for his kindness and generosity.
  • Menu Highlights: The menu features all the barbecue classics – ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and classic Southern sides like mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread. Don’t forget to try “The Works” sandwich, a towering masterpiece.
  • Ribs and Sides: Robert Earl’s ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and full of smoky goodness. The sides are equally outstanding, particularly the creamy mac ‘n’ cheese that adds a perfect comfort-food touch.

4. Phil’s BBQ (San Diego)

  • San Diego Institution: Phil’s BBQ reigns as a San Diego icon. For decades, locals and tourists alike have flocked here for classic barbecue with a California twist. Be prepared for a wait (it’s worth it!).
  • What to Order (Ribs and Beyond): While the beef ribs steal the show (massive and incredibly flavorful), Phil’s is also famous for its chicken and the addictive onion rings. Get a combo platter to sample the best of both worlds
  • The Essential Phil’s BBQ Experience: Phil’s BBQ is about big flavors, generous portions, and a lively atmosphere. The mesquite-smoked meats and house-made BBQ sauce create an unforgettable taste sensation.

5. Rib Ranch BBQ (Woodland Hills)

  • Valley Favorite: Rib Ranch has served generations of Californians for over 50 years. It’s a family-friendly spot in the San Fernando Valley.
  • Must-Try Dishes: The “Rancher’s Choice” combo is ideal for those who want a variety. 
  • Ribs and the Secret Sauce: Rib Ranch’s ribs possess a distinct smoky flavor with a perfectly caramelized exterior. Their secret weapon? The signature BBQ sauce that is both tangy and sweet.

Beyond the Ribs: Picking the Perfect Sides

While ribs are the undeniable stars of the barbecue world, a feast wouldn’t be complete without the supporting cast of sides. Here are some tips for choosing the sides that pair perfectly with the ribs at these California restaurants:

  • Creamy and Cheesy: Mac ‘n’ cheese is a classic for a reason. Its rich, cheesy goodness complements the bold flavors of smoked ribs. Both Robert Earl’s BBQ and Phil’s BBQ offer standout versions of this comforting side dish.
  • Vinegar-Based Slaw: Coleslaw adds a refreshing tang and crisp texture that cuts through the richness of the ribs. Bludso’s BBQ and Ribs USA offer tasty slaw options that balance the meal flawlessly.
  • Classic Baked Beans: A bit smoky and a bit sweet, baked beans are another barbecue staple. Their hearty flavor and softer texture complement the ribs nicely.
  • Potato Salad: For a cool, creamy side, potato salad is always a satisfying choice. Phil’s BBQ has a particularly delicious version.

Tips for the Ultimate Rib Experience

Now that you know where to find California’s finest ribs, let’s up your rib game. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t Be Afraid of Mess: The best ribs are eaten with your hands. Embrace the mess – it’s part of the fun!
  • Extra Napkins and Wet Wipes: These are your friends. Barbecue can get messy, so be prepared with plenty of napkins and wet wipes to keep things (somewhat) tidy.
  • Try Different Sauces: Many barbecue restaurants offer a variety of sauces. Don’t be shy – experiment with flavors to find your favorite accompaniment to the ribs.
  • Go with a Group: Ribs are a social food. Gather your friends and family for a barbecue feast and sample different types of ribs and sides.


California’s barbecue scene thrives with an abundance of top-notch rib joints. Whether you’re in Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Fernando Valley, or anywhere in between, there’s a delicious rib adventure waiting for you.

From the Texas-infused flavors of Bludso’s BBQ to the San Diego landmark that is Phil’s BBQ, these five restaurants are sure to deliver a rib experience you won’t soon forget. So, grab your appetite, your wet wipes, and embark on a lip-smacking barbecue adventure across the Golden State!

Note on Sources

Information for this article can be gathered from a variety of places:

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MBS Staff
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