By Cassandra VanKeuren Special to the Herald
It’s been getting close to feeling like summer — sort of — and I have been craving great barbecue ribs.
A quick search online led me to Rainin’ Ribs BBQ &Smokehouse in Lake Forest Park, just north of Lake Washington.
We visited about 5 p.m. on a Saturday, just before the dinner rush. I ordered a full rack of ribs ($22) to share with my husband and our son. I also ordered three sides ($3 each or three for $8).
We were given a number and told to go through the doors on the left to the dining room.
The dining room is a large outdoor tent that looks out over the lake. Seating is a bunch of picnic tables. The big-screen TV was tuned to a golf tournament. The place had a casual feeling, like a barbecue joint should.
Our meal arrived quickly. The first thing I tried was the mac and cheese. The portion was fairly small, so I took one bite and gave the rest to my son. The dish was creamy and homemade, topped with fresh ground black pepper and flakes of sea salt. It was very enjoyable.
Another side dish was the fried pickles, which were dill pickle chips dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep-fried. They tasted the way you would expect: tangy and dilly. They were good, but I probably would not order them again. They are more of a curiosity than a real food.
The third dish, however, I would order again. Those were the delightful hush puppies. They tasted of honey, corn and fresh chilies. They were fried perfectly and could be quite addictive.
But the ribs were the star of the meal.
We got about 12 ribs in a basket. You could tell they had been properly smoked. The meat was all tinted pink from a long smoke. When I took my first bite, I thought immediately, “Yes. Oh, yes. This is what ribs are supposed to taste like!”
The meat was tender but still clung to the bone. The smoke flavor was perfectly balanced by the lightly sweet glaze slathered on the ribs. I dare say they were the best ribs I have ever had.
These ribs did not need any sauce, but three sauces are available. One, called “Sweet G,” had a sweet, light tang and almost no heat. The house sauce had a slight vinegar flavor but mostly tasted of warm spices. The one called “Voodoo,” as you could guess, packs a whole lot of heat with a bit of sweetness.
For dessert we ordered beignets ($3 for four). For those who don’t know, beignets are a Creole treat, basically fried dough with powdered sugar on top. Think of a light, airy doughnut. We loved them. Banana pudding is another dessert option.
Rainin’ Ribs BBQ &Smokehouse offers pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, hot links, catfish and shrimp po’ boys sandwiches and smoked prime rib.
There are a load of sides to choose from, including but not limited to sweet potato fries, fried okra and Brunswick stew.
For beverages, three microbrews, wine and fountain drinks are available.
Rainin Ribs is the perfect place for the whole family; there is something on the menu for everyone, including picky eaters.
I can’t wait to go back and try the pulled pork and the po’ boys.
Rainin’ Ribs BBQ &Smokehouse
15030 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park; www.raininribs.com; 206-362-7427.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 12 p.m. to 8:30 Sunday.