Let’s dispense with the gritty part first: If you’re coming from Minneapolis–St. Paul, it’s a long drive to Osseo, Minnesota. For the entirety of our 40-minute ride, we asked ourselves: Is there really much of a chance that this obscure (to us) barbecue trailer could deliver food good enough to warrant the mileage? We’ve had barbecue all up and down the state, and most of the best stuff we’ve had (OMC in Duluth, Animales in Minneapolis, Jellybean and Julia’s in Anoka) has been extremely new; The Rib Cage dates back nearly three decades.
The Rib Cage is scruffy to the extreme, a beaten-down trailer parked in an exurban parking lot dominated by a shuttered market. We take this as a good sign—scruffy old places that keep on surviving are the heart of traditional barbecue. And lo and behold, when we bite into the first rib from our quarter rack ($12.50), it’s not merely good, it’s excellent. The bark to the smoke ring, the texture of the meat, the salt level—everything’s dialed in. The rib is tender but not mushy or gelatinous, and the meat is easy to tug off the bone without fighting us or slurping off of its own accord. The house BBQ sauce has some kicky heat, but it’s in balance with the sweetness and tang, and the overall experience is about as good a classic Q bite as you can get within state lines.
Circumstances may not bring you to Osseo all that often, but use The Rib Cage as a ready excuse to swing out of your way the next time you want to range a bit. Their ribs are as beautifully classic as they come.
THE DISH: Quarter Rack of Ribs with Slaw and Beans, $12.50
THE PLACE: The Rib Cage, 1-57 Auburn Dr., Osseo, MN
THE REASON: Classic, perfectly balanced ribs that truly satisfy the BBQ part of the soul