Clash of the Rib Titans: Dispatch from the Texas-OU Red River Barbecue Shootout

My expectations for this event were high. I was anticipating rivalry, clashes, fury, rib-flinging and to see at least one football. Instead I turned up to a semi-deserted park, with only one tent serving ribs, several big smokers along the sides, and a Rusty Taco doing better business than the rib tent. Where's the pageantry, America? I at least wanted my server to shout at me about HOW DAMN AMAZING THESE RIBS ARE MAN, but no, he was unfailingly polite and friendly.

For my $8, I got a tray of two sets of mystery ribs, two each side, and a pretty serviceable potato salad to separate the two sides, no doubt because of all the FURY in the RIVALRY between these ANIMAL PARTS. If someone separated me from a rival using potato salad, I'd probably be calmed as well. One set of ribs (A in the accompanying photos) had a good spicy rub, the other set were more tender and fell right off the bone.

The sets were quite variable in quality, though, in my experience - I voted Rib B for its tender qualities first time round, and Rib A the second time round, when they'd got the tenderness sorted out and combined it with the delicious rib rub. Also that was the most diplomatic thing to do. I didn't want to get shouted at.

Obviously the identity of the rib-makers had to be kept a secret, as people tend to lose all objectivity when confronted with a choice between anything from a place they love and anything from a place they hate.

Given that this is a blind test, there must have been some people trying to figure out which was which and vote for that one--rather than going on quality. Imagine how bad you'd feel if you tried to do that and then voted for your rivals. "So I voted for the inferior rib on the basis it might have been from Texas, and I ended up voting for Oklahoma as well as pretending to my friends I preferred the Oklahoma rib despite its clear inferiority? FUCK EVERYTHING."

That's the kind of passion I would have hoped for from something called the Red River BBQ Shootout, but no, it was all so amiable. Maybe the Thursday night, when there are eight rib-makers competing, was the night to go to, but with only one option for BBQ purchasing I couldn't help but feel that they could have asked some of the other guys to stay on another night.

I had to leave before the results were in, but my BBQ acolyte tells me that Rib A was Texas, and Rib B was Oklahoma. Rib A won 107-93, and it was from Cousin's BBQ in Fort Worth. So at least Texas won something this weekend.

Location Info

Cousin's Bar-B-Q Cityview

5125 Bryant Irvin Road, Fort Worth, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Gavin - This is your first lesson that this whole weekend is a huge amount of hype with nothing delivered in the end. The bang to hype ration is way out of whack on the whole thing.


Nice review; I had a good time, but found the whole thing a bit mystifying as well.  Why not keep the other teams' around for Friday night and let them serve as well even if they weren't in the final competition?  Or let me buy a plate of the clearly superior A ribs after I had bought the combo plate and tasted them both.  At least Rusty Taco was there to serve me a couple of tasty tacos.  At the end of the day, the rub and smokiness of the A ribs was way better.  The B ribs were very sweet and sticky.  They were tender, but the sweetness almost made them taste like some asian-style pork invention.  And where was everyone?  I thought downtown was generally crowded and raucous on TX/OU weekend?

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @ashoe628 The city killed the downtown revelry that used to grace its streets 10-15 years ago.  then again, we also dont hear about the fights an gunshots and pickpockets that used to come along with the weekend as well

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