A definitive ranking of the best ribs in Asheville


A definitive ranking of the best ribs in Asheville

  • Cailey McGinn

     Local journalist and writer based in Asheville, NC!

A definitive ranking of the best ribs in Asheville

A few weeks ago I came up with a mission for my friend and I to embark on. A mission of great importance and dignity. This mission: finding out who has the best rack of ribs in Asheville. So, I tasked local poet, Luke Hankins, who shares a similar love of some sweet baby back to help me find the best ribs in town.


12 Bones Barbecue
12 Bones is famously known as former persistent Barack Obama's favorite place to eat in Asheville. He has visited the restaurant 3 times in the last few years. It gained quite a good reputation around town and is probably the most well-known BBQ place in Asheville. To put it to the test, Luke Hankins, 37, founder of the local press Orison Books, and professor of poetry at Warren Willson joined me for lunch at 12 Bones. We ordered a half rack of ribs, with a blueberry barbecue rub, accompanied with mac n cheese, and a roasted potato salad.

The good:
The flavor of the rub was incredible and the first thing Hankins picked up on was some of the different sauces available to accompany the ribs. The vinegar-based sauce is definitely one of the best I have had. The ribs were cooked beautifully, with the right amount of moisture and char. Hankins convinced me to get the potato salad. I'm typically not a fan, but I have to say it was fantastic.
The bad:
After some deliberation with Hankins, we had a few hiccups with our meal. “It was very cold when we got it and it's a little pricier than most places,” says Hankins. For our meal, we paid about $25. While I understand that this is a rib ranking mission, I do have to say the mac n cheese was a major letdown. Little to no cheese flavor and some very dry noodles.

Overall we rate 12 Bones Barbeque a 6/10


Smoky and The Pig
Hankins and I were on our way to visit his mother when we spotted a small BBQ spot out near Fairview. We ended up stopping by afterward because the smell was too enticing to ignore. Smoky and the pig has been in business for the last ten years and has 127 five-star reviews on Facebook. It looked somewhat like a hole in the wall, always a good sign. We ordered a full rack of ribs with hush puppies, collard greens, and a sweet potato casserole.

The good:
Well first of all we don’t have a picture of our meal because it was absolutely decimated within a five-minute period. So needless to say it was fantastic. The ribs were cooked to perfection and fell off the bone. They offer a few different kinds of BBQ sauces, all good. As a sweet potato love the casserole was
to die for. Hankins says the collards were fantastic and full of flavor.


The bad:
Not a single damn thing.

Overall we rate 10/10


Buxton Hall Barbeque
Buxton Hall is a well-known spot around town. This was our first time here. As soon as you sit down you are greeted by warm hush puppies and great service. There is a full bar and the atmosphere is fantastic. The restaurant also offers some delicious baked items perfect for the southerner in your life. We got a Rib plate and a side of pickles, green beans, and mashed potatoes n’ gravy.

The good:
This is a great spot to have dinner with friends and family. Hankins and I shared a rib plate and it was plenty of food. The ribs have a great dry rub on them but still, retain a lot of moisture. The sides were also delicious very basic sides but flavorful and delicious. For our meal and drinks, we paid around $30 which was, in my opinion, a pretty fair and affordable price for a dinner for two.

The bad:
Not much. The food and service were fantastic.

Overall we rate 9/10


After some deliberation, Hankins and I came to the conclusion that the best rack of ribs in town belongs to... Smoky and The Pig with Buxton Hall as a close second.