By Suzanne Orrell
It opened in 1991 in the Uptown neighborhood of Albuquerque, but since 1998 Ribs Bar-B-Q has been smoking the competition in the East Mountains. Located in the Turquoise Trail Center at 12220 Highway 14 North in Cedar Crest, Ribs is celebrating 20 years in the restaurant business. What is their recipe for success? According to Ron Decktor, founder of the restaurant, they just “want to make everybody feel comfortable, like family, and provide personal service.” The melt in your mouth slow-cooked meats and homemade Key Lime Pie don’t hurt either.
Ron Decktor, a U.S. Army veteran and UNM graduate, learned the barbecue business by working at Quarters and Powdrell’s, both located in Albuquerque. As an East Mountain resident he and his wife, Pam, decided to open a business closer to home and became the first occupants of the then newly constructed Turquoise Trail Center. Their children, Alan and Dovie, helped create the restaurant and are now its owners and operators.
Using only USDA Choice beef and Prime pork, the meats are slow-cooked over indirect heat in specially designed smokers that rotate the meat allowing the air to circulate. Ribs uses a blend of long burning oak mixed with hickory that is special ordered from Missouri. The flavor of the wood truly comes through. “This combination gives the meat a distinctive piquant quality,” says Ron. The brisket is smoked in the Texas style for about 14 hours. When done, it is fork tender. The restaurant is also known for its North Carolina-style pulled pork, hot links, smoked poultry, and, of course, succulent ribs.
Barbecue wouldn’t be barbecue without the sauce. Ribs’ is house-made from a recipe that has not changed since the restaurant opened. Other items made fresh onsite include Key Lime Pie with a graham cracker crust, fresh apple and peach cobbler, all the salad dressings, and the beans. In homage to Ron’s East Coast roots, Ribs also serves a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and has the rolls flown in from South Philly.
In 2003 the restaurant expanded into the space next door, which is now home to the Mountain High Margarita and Martini Bar. There are 15 to 20 different kinds of tequila available for patrons to customize their margarita. All are made to order using fresh limes—never prepared mix. In addition, the bar has 22 beers on tap from around the world plus 20 more bottled varieties. The bar also has a pool table and foosball available to its customers.
Ribs has not only expanded in size, but also in fun and games: in true Decktor family style, the restaurant serves up generous portions of food and recreation. Their outdoor seating wraps around to the backside of the building, which also includes a lighted, sand-filled beach volleyball court that anyone is welcome to use. With a 70 percent local customer base, Alan says, “It’s important to give people a family-friendly experience.”
Pam Decktor is in charge of Ribs’ catering services, which can provide barbecue and fixings for parties of 8 to 800 people at your choice of site, thanks to two mobile smokers with refrigeration capability.
Ribs Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q is closed on Mondays but is open for business Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11am to 9pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 10pm, and Sundays from 11am to 8pm.
For directions and to view the full menu, visit their website at: ribsbbq.com.
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