The Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Fest, presented by Miller Lite, has become one of Pittsburgh’s favorite holidays since it started at Three Rivers Stadium in the 90’s. Each year, meat eaters from all over the region make the trip to the North Shore to enjoy free concerts, great fun and of course, some of the best ribs in the country. Heralded as one of the top Rib Festivals in the country, the Heinz Field Rib Fest has attracted the nation’s best “Ribbers” to show off their skills in an attempt to win Best Ribs, Best Sauce and Fan Favorite. Three new Ribbers have joined the ranks at the 2018 Heinz Field Rib Fest and the competition has probably never been tougher! In total, 15 of the country’s best have descended on the North Shore and we’ve got your breakdown:

1. Armadillos

Armadillos is a southern treat right here in the ‘Burgh! They take the job of providing you a delicious meal very seriously – just check that focus in the post above! They’re all about their seasoning and slow cooking. Check out these fan favorites right at the intersection of Art Rooney Ave. and General Robinson.

2. Bad Azz BBQ

These Pittsburgh locals are back-to-back-to-back Fan Favorites and looking for the four-peat. It’s a party at Bad Azz every time you step in line! This group of friends are looking to add to their trophy case… will you be the one to help them?

3. BBQ Masters

Executive Chef Eric knows a thing or two about cooking up delicious ribs… he’s been doing it for over 10 years! They’re new to the Heinz Field Rib Fest, but these pros have been on the circuit wowing customers for a loooooong time.

4. Big Boned Ribs

Last year they took 3rd place, but this year they want that #1 spot! Big Boned know that you come hungry, so they make sure to hook up every plate. Try the new Brisket Cheddar Melt, a sandwich that adds delicious cheddar cheese sauce to award-winning brisket!

5. Carolina Rib King

You probably know Carolina Rib King from BBQ Pit Masters… or you know them from years of delicious Rib Fests! We keep asking King Solomon to come back each year – because you guys keep letting us know how much you love them! This Spartanburg, SC crew will knock your socks off with delicious sides, meats and sauces.

6. Cowboy’s BBG

They’ve been here since the beginning… they’re basically family at this point! Cowboy BBQ loves Pittsburgh (even if they do call Fort Worth, TX home!) and you guys seem to love them too. You won’t miss this crew, just look for Lauren the Rib Queen bringing the party to Art Rooney Ave. If you want something a little different, check out their Lone Star Stack! Take your choice of meat and air it with Corn Bread, Mac & Cheese and pickles!

7. Fine Smoke

Fine Smoke is new to the scene in 2018! This new stand stands by their method of using real ingredients – nothing from a can or package. Everything is made from scratch and they take great pride in their recipes. The white cheese mac n cheese (don’t ask, it’s a secret) will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Their brisket? Slow cooked for hours and sliced to order. This beauty will blow you away. Pair any of their delicious meats with… more meat, and add some candied bacon to your order!

8. Howling Coyote

Howling Coyote come from Chicago with a passion for cooking. This is their first year at Rib Fest, but they’ve got over 30 years in the industry. They go with a southwest flavor in all of their meats that will leave you wanting more. Order the Howling Coyote Combo and the entire crew will let out a howl!

9. Johnson’s BBQ

Johnson’s BBQ has something for everyone! Their collard greens are better than any we’ve tried but it certainly doesn’t end there. Their sauce has won Best Sauce nationally eight times, beating out Sweet Baby Rays and many more. Don’t bother asking what’s in it… Mr. Johnson will let you that “you can get military secrets faster than BBQ secrets!” Feeling brave? Try their extra-hot sauces! CAUTION: Thermo Nuclear is not for the weak!

10. Off the Bone BBQ

Off the Bone round out our newest additions. Head cook Petey might be the youngest ribber on the block – but he cooks like a seasoned vet! These Alabama boys have a rub that brings the flavor to another level (they lovingly call it Alabama Dirt!). You won’t miss them, just look for Hank the Tank and tell him, “Hank, Hook Me Up!” The Hook Me Up Special will get you all four meats and four large sides!

11. Old Carolina BBQ

What don’t they cook up? These guys kick it up a notch and aim to bring a fresh twist to all of the Rib Fest regulars! If you’re asking us? Try those boneless BBQ sandwiches paired with their cornbread – the cinnamon vanilla honey butter is insane!

12. Pigfoot

Pigfoot focuses on providing a premium meal every time! If it’s not perfect, it’s not on a plate. With 48 years of experience, Pigfoot brings the competition each and every year. They’re our reigning champ and are looking to do it again.

13. Ribbins

Hailing from Chambersburg, PA, this family affair is one of the most fun groups on the block! It’s all smiles and laughs behind the counter… and it is probably because there is something in that sauce! In fact, they won Best Sauce just last year and bet they’ll do it again in 2018. “If the sauce ain’t great, then it ain’t worth it!”

14. Smokin T’s

Smokin T’s hardwood smokes all of their meats with a secret blend of top-notch seasoning. The brisket might be the best thing you’ve ever had… until you try their Mac N Cheese (made fresh every morning).

15. Texas Pit

Texas Pit has been coming to our Rib Fest for almost 20 years! They cook Texas style (meaning everything is HUGE) but the Ribs are Louisiana style to keep you on your toes. Try their new Pork Nachos or go crazy and get the sausage on a stick!