Make no bones about it: Carson's knows ribs. Widely regarded as doing for ribs what greats like Lou Malnati's and Giordanos have done for deep-dish, no rib lover can claim to know all there is without an intimate knowledge of the way Carson's does it. It smokes its meat on a traditional, rotisserie barbecue pit smoke. Meats are dipped in the all-important sauce (which leans toward the sweet side), permeating the meat in a way that a quick brush job can't quite match.
"Get sauced" with BBQ baby back ribs, pork chops, combos and samplers (barbecued beef, pork and salmon sandwiches are also available). Purists can opt for NY strip steaks, filet mignon and prime rib. Fat helpings of homemade coleslaw accompany each entree; carbo-load with your choice of au gratin potatoes, double-baked potato, potato skins, giant baked potato or French fries. Lunch box specials (served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday) give the biggest bang for your buck; a half-slab of BBQ baby back ribs with sides is just $12.95.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz