To celebrate the Nugget Rib Cook-off, here's everything you ever wanted to know about pork ribs . . . but didn't know to ask.


The 29th annual running of the ribs — aka the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off — gets smokin' from Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks. 

To get the most out of rubs and sauce, tender meat and sweet pops of fat, follow these tips and tactics.

■ It's hot. Bring lots of water. Drink it. Or beer. Beer goes great with ribs. There's a beer garden on Victorian Plaza near the fountain.

■ Don't be piggy. Well, yes, be piggy: Pork ribs are the point. But pace yourself. There are 22 cookers selling samples of three to four ribs. Don't fill up at the first booth.

■ Napkins can go either way. Bring extra — or embrace the messy business of ribs by sporting a snowy white T-shirt you also use as a napkin. Celebrate the spill; surrender to the stain.

■ Think strip joint. In other words, bring lots of cash. Not all vendors accept credit cards. There are ATMS, but a supply of good old-fashioned casheesh means no waiting in the ATM line.

■ The cook-off is like Thanksgiving, only hotter, so wear loose clothing. And belay the belt — you won't need it, so you won't be loosening it.



When: Aug. 30 through Sept. 4

Where: Nugget Casino Resort, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks.

Highlights: 24 cookers competing for nearly $15,00 in cash, rib samples for purchase, rib village, beer garden, live entertainment, children’s area, free shuttle to event.


■ Bring friends. Everyone visits different rib cookers, then everyone shares.

■ Use the free shuttle (and skip the parking steeplechase). Shuttles run daily from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and from the Iron Horse Shopping Center in Sparks. Visit the Best in the West website for details.

■ Relief is at hand inside the Nugget's air-conditioned bathrooms. Take a few extra steps and avoid the lines at (and pungent charms of) the portable potties.

■ Not feeling the crowds? Then hit the Ribster Lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 2 in the Rib Village. All-you-can-enjoy ribs, sides and drinks are $100 for a single seat or $800 for a table for 10. Purchase tickets at the Best in the West website.

■ Take a break from the ribs. Have a little something on the side. Like a heap of beer-battered onion rings or mac and cheese balls or fried pickles.

Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media. Join @RGJTaste on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You also can subscribe here to The Reno Taste free newsletter.

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