June 15, 2011
Tucked in an odd location among the fast food chains of Lake City Way between Kenmore and Olympic Hills, you’ll find possibly the best barbecue in Seattle. Rainin’ Ribs has a full menu of barbecue delicacies including: ribs, pulled meat sandwiches, chicken wings, fried catfish, po’ boys, and a complete laundry list of traditional barbecue sides.
In my opinion, there are few better comfort foods than barbecue and Rainin’ Ribs delivers. You can tell the meats have been smoked slow (“old school” style as the owner says) and all the ribs and pulled meat sandwiches taste wonderful even without sauce — although the homemade sauces are excellent. If you like spice, you should definitely try the voodoo sauce.
On my first visit I had a hard time deciding on sides so I cheated and ordered the kid’s meal, which is a great deal and allowed me to try a pulled pork slider, corn bread, mac & cheese, and even their banana pudding. I also ordered a side of hush puppies, which are incredible. These delicious fried balls from heaven are made with slightly “jalapeno-ed” cornbread batter and have a perfectly crispy shell. They are absolutely a must have, if you venture out this way.
The best part of my kid’s meal was that I was able to enjoy it with an ice cold beer! They have the usual suspects in cans and bottles, but also several good, micro brews on draft. My only disappointment was the cornbread, which was a little bland and dry. However, the rest of the meal more than made up for it.
While the main building is small with just an ordering counter and a few counters to sit at, there is a dining area on a connected deck that is open in summer and housed in a clear tent the rest of the year. The view of Lake Washington from here is gorgeous and you can also catch live acoustic music on the tiny stage a few nights a week. Who knew you could eat in such a great atmosphere on Lake City Way?
Rainin’ Ribs is owned and operated by Skylar Riley, a young entrepreneur who is local to Seattle. On some of the nights I’ve been here, his mom has worked the register while Skylar manages from behind the grills in a classic role reversal that is worth watching. His small scale operation is more than a family business though, it is also a popular family haunt, and regulars come so often they actually have soda cups with their names on them. With the barbecue season kickin’ into gear in Seattle, I expect this gem of a restaurant should be very busy and I wish Mr. Riley a lot of luck.