It’s the Canada Day long weekend, which can mean a number of things – an extra day off work, a trip to the cottage, fireworks, or… Ribfest. Held every year in Centennial Park over the Canada Day weekend, Toronto’s Ribfest is a chance for you to stuff your face full of ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, blooming onions, and whatever else you happen to find.
Now, the setup in Centennial Park is annoying. You’re really there to eat but you have to make your way through a maze of vendors selling their cheesy wares– everything from tye-dye shirts to fake Crocs. Then you have to walk through the carnival rides and games. Do I sound cranky? It’s probably because it was 36C out with no shade, and I was hungry. I ran a five miler earlier that morning and hadn’t eaten since.
There were at least 10 ribbers in the park and the lines for most were long. I already went to the ribfest in The Beach and tried Camp 31, Bibbs and Sticky Fingers, so rather than risking dying of heat exhaustion and/or hunger, the decision was made to choose the shortest lines possible. I came to eat ribs, not stand in line. So we ended up with full racks from Texas Rangers and Silver Bullet.
The ribs from Texas Rangers were $22 for a full rack. For an extra $2, you could have beans and coleslaw added in. Their ribs had a good mix of sweet and smoky flavors. They had a good amount of sauce on the ribs so it didn’t feel like extra was needed on the side. Unfortunately, the meat was on the dry side and didn’t come cleanly off the bone. They would have had my vote otherwise.
The ribs from Silver Bullet BBQ were also $22 for a full rack. The meat on their ribs was just right – they were moist, tender and fall off the bone. Their sauce was on the sweet side and while it was good at first, the sweetness became a bit much after eating several ribs. They could have used some spice or smoke to take away from the sweetness.
It was hot and I was sweating just sitting in the shade, so we left shortly after finishing the ribs. I wasn’t even tempted by the red velvet funnel cakes or the 500 other fried dessert items at the end of it all. That said, the event is a great chance to try out ribs from a number of different ribbers. Ribfest runs now until Monday at Centennial Park.