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In Dining

With sauce available at the grocery store, you can try to recreate Saz's ribs at home.

Milwaukee's best ribs, 2009: Saz's State House


The votes are in, and the winners have been selected for OnMilwaukee's Best Dining 2009. The results of this readers' poll, including an editors' pick, are available in this series of articles that run all October long during Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com.

The number 13 is supposed to carry unlucky overtones.

Tell that to Steve Sazama.

Sazama is the proprietor of Saz's State House, 5539 W. State St., which defeated Speed Queen for Milwaukee's best ribs in the 2009 survey of OnMilwaukee.com readers.

Saz's margin of victory was 13 votes, making this year's ribs competition one of the closer battles in the history of the poll.

Diners are passionate about ribs. While some prefer the chewy, gnaw-off-the-bone texture that comes from smoking, others are more partial to the succulent, fall-off-the-bone variety like the pork ribs served at Saz's. (Saz's also offers a St. Louis-style rib).

Part of Saz's advantage may be his signature line of sauces, which have been available at local grocers for years, allowing home grillmasters to approximate the creations of the kitchen on State Street.

The secret to the sauce? Sazama uses real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup favored by other purveyors. "It's a sweeter sauce," Sazama said. "And you get that caramelization on the grill."

Though thousands of people consume Saz's food during the summer festival season -- particularly at Summerfest and State Fair -- the ribs provide the backbone of the menu.

"You always want to be known for something," Sazama said. "We're known for ribs."

OnMilwaukee.com Editors' choice: Jerry's Old Town

Runners-up:
2. Speed Queen
3. Jerry's Old Town
4. Pitch's
5. Five O'Clock Steak House
6. Silver Spur
7. Jackson Grill
8. Harry's
9. Bigg's Roadhouse
10. Fire Pit Sports Bar (Potawatomi)
11. Buckey's Kiskeam Inn
12. Pizza Man


Talkbacks

Crew_Dat | March 19, 2010 at 9:02 a.m. (report)

I can never figure out the love affair with Saz's. There is just nothing special about anything they have, aside from the sour cream and chive fries. Sauce is nice, but how about having some taste in the meat itself? And Bigg's Roadhouse? Once again showing that people favor quantity over anything else...

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EatWisconsin | Oct. 19, 2009 at 12:52 p.m. (report)

The fact that Ashley's BBQ on Center Street is not even mentioned is a complete embarassment. Hands down the best ribs in the City. Saz's are good but consistency is always an issue. Speed Queen shoulder is excellent, ribs are good but not great.

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brewcitypaul | Oct. 19, 2009 at 9:35 a.m. (report)

I agree with just about everything on that list except I would take Pitchs off the list and move Pizza Man up the list. Never in my life have I been so disgusted by ribs to not finish them. Last time I went to Pitches is tasted like ribs were boiled in water and then served with ketchup. Just plain awful. No offense, but I think the ribs there are for old people with dentures who can't stand spicy anything. Pizza Man has probably the most underrated ribs in the city. Definitely recommend those.

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brewcitypaul | Oct. 19, 2009 at 9:34 a.m. (report)

I agree with just about everything on that list except I would take Pitchs off the list and move Pizza Man up the list. Never in my life have I been so disgusted by ribs to not finish them. Last time I went to Pitches is tasted like ribs were boiled in water and then served with ketchup. Just plain awful. No offense, but I think the ribs there are for old people with dentures who can't stand spicy anything. Pizza Man has probably the most underrated ribs in the city. Definitely recommend those.

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