A good rib place is hard to find, especially as far north as Cleveland. Some of the best smoked meat we’ve had locally has been at Fat Casual and Bubba’s Q, which are 30 and 40 minute drives, respectively, from our house. We were very pleased, then, to find our new favorite smokehouse within biking (or even walking) distance from our house.
The Rib Cage is an unassuming establishment a little ways south of Lopez on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights in the building that formerly housed Club Sober and a few establishments before it. The building is made of brick and there are a couple small-ish rooms with tables and a bar.
We started with the grilled shrimp appetizer ($6), which was really good. The shrimp were large and tender, and we had them with the sweet thai chili sauce, not too hot but with a definite kick. The owner also owns The Seafood Place down the street, so quality in this area wasn’t surprising.
The Rib Cage has a full bar with a numerous bourbons and a good selection of craft and import draft and bottled beer. I had a Left Hand Milk Stout, which was $1 off for happy hour.
Sarah and I split the St. Louis Ribs with greens and baked beans for our sides ($18). The ribs were outstanding, deeply smoked and perfectly tender without quite being falling-off-the-bone (which, to most rib purists, means overcooked). The quality of the meat was also excellent and not too fatty, among the best we’ve had in the area. They use local meats and as other local produce whenever possible, as noted here. We chose the traditional barbecue sauce, which was deeply flavored, not too sweet, and packed a pleasant heat.
The collards were also great, cooked just to tenderness and flavored with smoked turkey and garlic. We also all liked the baked beans, which were not overly sweet and were well-flavored with bacon and bourbon.
Jonathan ordered the smoked chicken from the kids’ menu, which he had with macaroni and cheese and baked beans. The chicken was smoky but moist, and the macaroni and cheese was outstanding, with the queso blanco and panko topping adding flavor and crunch.
Friends of ours who’ve visited have also had good things to say about the pulled pork and coleslaw, which we look forward to trying on a future visit.
We would highly recommend the Rib Cage to anyone who enjoys well-smoked, flavorful, high quality meats. We also have a personal interest in this place thriving so that we can continue to have outstanding ribs less than a mile from our house. As Jonathan, who tried the ribs, put it, they were “the ribs were the best you could get ever.” Sarah and I concur.