Spring is finally on its way. How can we tell? No, it's not the daffodils, or the crocuses, it's the new barbecue joints sprouting up all over the place.

2005_03_food_bbqribs.jpgDaily Candy reports that R.U.B. (Rightous Urban Barbecue) is opening up this weekend. Kansas City BBQ champ Paul Kirk is making his first foray into the restaurant business, and we are thrilled that he has chosen Manhattan to make a go of it. We're looking forward to his unique twist on barbecue classics. R.U.B. is open this weekend from 5 p.m.-11 p.m, and is at 208 W. 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. 212-524-4300.

Spanky's is the brainchild of Jon Bloostein, owner of Heartland Brewery. They're going for the classic barbecue style, at least in decor, complete with a neon pig outside. The centerpiece of the restaurant (literally -- it's surrounded by seating for 15) is their smoker, which uses hickory and applewood. In addition to the more traditional ribs, brisket, chicken and pork, “We’re open to suggestions,” said Bloostein, noting the smoker can barbecue 1,000 pounds of meat at a time. “[I]f someone wants to try smoked rattlesnake, duck, lamb, or even a whole hog, we can do it.” We may hold off on the rattlesnake, at least until after we've tried the ribs. Spanky's is at 127 West 43rd Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, and is open daily from 11:30 to midnight. 212-575-5848.