In the past decade or so, NYC has gone from being a barbecue desert to a city of world-class smoked and grilled delights. But since just about every "Best NYC Barbecue" list is the same these days, I decided to focus specifically on those most vital of all meaty options: the ribs. Which is why several non-BBQ rib spots are included, and why several familiar powerhouses, caught slipping (and badly) in this department, are not on the list. Here then, are the definitive Best Ribs in town, wet naps not included.

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Beef Rib at Hometown Barbecue ($28 lb, $38.64 pictured): Bill Durney's pit-smoked paradise near the water in Red Hook is without question the overall best barbecue restaurant in NYC. And now that CitiBike has set down docks all over the place out there—including a station right by the front door—it's easier than ever for non-locals to make the pilgrimage. Literally everything on Hometown's menu is outstanding, but if you go with a crowd make sure to order at least one Beef Rib, a massive slab of cow that's fully-fatted, extremely peppery, and smoky deep to the bone. It's almost too intense, but I have faith that your crew can handle at least a few bites each.

Hometown Barbecue is located at 454 Van Brunt Street between Reed and Beard Streets (347-294-4644;

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Pork Spare Ribs at John Brown Smokehouse ($16, half-slab): This Long Island City joint does many meaty things well (the phenomenal Burnt Ends, for example), but it's John Brown's Kansas City-style Pork Spare Ribs—fatty and tender, the tomato-y sauce on the outside fired to the exact-right crustiness—that get me swooning every time. A half-slab of these beauties after dancing all day at Warm Up, with one or two of their decent sides and maybe a root beer, eaten outside on the back patio as the sun goes down... that, my friends, is what summer feels like to me.

John Brown Smokehouse is located at 1043 44th Drive betwen 10th and 11th Streets (347-617-1120;

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Cumin Lamb Ribs at Mission Chinese ($21): Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese, with Angela Dimayuga running the kitchen, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, though I do always eat there early, to best avoid the sceney-ness. And one of my favorite dishes on the menu is the Cumin Lamb Ribs, the gamy, glistening meat fiery with spice, the meat balanced with sweetness and bite by a bed of charred onions, dates, and fennel. It tastes fantastic, and also really delivers on that animalistic satisfaction of tearing meat from bone with your teeth.

Mission Chinese is located at 171 East Broadway between Rutgers and Jefferson Streets (212-432-0311;

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Spare Ribs at Mighty Quinn's ($13.50, half rack): There are now eight Mighty Quinn locations in NYC alone (and others as far-flung as the Philippines), but thankfully the five-year-old, "slow-smoked" barbecue empire shows few signs of fatigue. On two recent visits, in fact, the Spare Ribs were better than ever, tender and rich without a hint of dryness, and the free sides of pickles, especially those spicy red chilis, still hit the spot. One complaint: they were sold out of the even better (though much more expensive) Brontosaurus Rib both times.

There are Mighty Quinn's all over the place (

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Spare Ribs at Linda's Rib Kage ($12, includes two sides): Once again, one of my most pleasant dining experiences this year has been hitting Linda's Bed-Stuy take-out spot for a massive, ridiculously inexpensive Spare Ribs platter, walking about 30 yards west to the gleefully chaotic Potomac Playground, and wolfing it all down at one of those concrete checkerboard tables, the sounds of summertime filling the air. It may not be the most polished plate of ribs in town, but it definitely is the most neighborly.

Linda's Rib Kage is located at 260 Halsey Street between Tompkins and Throop Avenues. CASH ONLY (718-230-0407)

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Barbecue Ribs at Royal Rib House ($13.75, includes two sides): Or, if it's a Thursday, a Friday, or a Saturday, continue walking on Halsey and get on line—and there WILL be a line—at Royal Rib House, which has been feeding the good people of Bed-Stuy for more than 50 years. The Barbecue Ribs here are superb, the succulent pig meat sauced-up with tangy, homemade goodness, and the sides are all first-rate too. Like Linda's, Royal is take-out only, but I'll save you a spot at Potomac.

Royal Rib House is located at 303 Halsey Street between Throop and Marcus Garvey. Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. CASH ONLY (718-453-9284;

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Spare Ribs at Big Wong ($5.50): Lots of places in Chinatown serve good roasted and/or BBQ meats, but the Spare Ribs at this Mott Street classic have been making locals (and me) supremely happy for decades. Get them any way you want—cold served over rice, hot piled high on a platter, or glistening with black bean garlic sauce—confident that Big Wong's glazed-up, hacked-up ribs nail those essential fatty/meaty, sweet/porky ratios every time. And if the greasy-ass floors don't make you nostalgic for those "edgy NYC" days, the astonishingly low prices will take you right back to that city of yore.

Big Wong is located at 67 Mott Street between Canal and Bayard Streets. CASH ONLY (212-964-0540;

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Baby Back Ribs at Georgia's Eastside BBQ ($20 for three-quarters rack plus two sides): The first thing you should know about Georgia's Eastside is that they've been quietly firing up some of the city's best ribs for about a decade now up here in a narrow, honky-tonk-looking space at the north end of Orchard Street. Juicy but with crisp burnt tips, always fall-off-the-bone tender, these baby backs have never failed to satisfy my periodic rib craving. The second thing you should know, especially right now in high summer: there is no air conditioning at Georgia's. Never had it, never will. Which lends an air of Southern roadside authenticity to the proceedings?

Georgia's Eastside BBQ is located at 192 Orchard Street between Houston and Stanton Streets. CASH ONLY (212-253-6280;

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St. Louis Ribs at Ducks Eatery ($14): Siblings Julie and Will Horowitz will happily make you one of the greatest pastrami sandwiches of all time at their take-out shop Harry and Ida's, but their first venture, the restaurant Ducks Eatery, is where you need to go for ribs. These oak-smoked, dry-rubbed wonders are meltingly soft, exploding with flavor, and cooked to crisp-coated perfection. There are lots of interesting (and very good) dishes to explore at Ducks—and the Horowitzes are poised to open a new place near City Hall, with a "stealthily" veggie-centric menu—but it's these ribs that keep me coming back.

Ducks is located at 351 East 12th Street between First and Second Avenues (212-432-3825;

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Pork Ribs at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que ($18.99 for half-rack, includes two sides and cornbread): It had been a while since my previous visits to either Dinosaur location (memories of 90-minute waits will do that), so I was surprised and delighted when I strolled up to their Gowanus spot on a recent Saturday night and was seated right away. Even more delightful: the ribs were excellent—even better than I remember: full-flavored and cooked to a satisfying tenderness. Really good sides too, and the platters are a relative bargain.

There are two Dinosaurs in NYC, one in Gowanus at 604 Union Street; the other in Harlem at 631 West 131st Street (

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Baby Back Ribs at Pig and Khao ($26): I admit that my usual order at this Clinton Street gem is the Sizzling Sisig, but if the "pig face" menu descriptor for that makes you squeamish, the Baby Back Ribs are a solid Plan B. This a hefty helping of flame-grilled meat and bone, slathered in a lively house BBQ sauce and served with a nicely-acidic "Asian slaw." I do miss the open-air backyard here though.

Pig and Khao is located at 68 Clinton Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets (212-920-4485;