Truck on over to 12 Bones, and if there’s a line out the door, resist the urge to motor on — the line moves fast, and there’s a reason for the crowd.
You’ll find plenty of options at 12 Bones, including salads and sandwiches. Their smoked chicken and turkey are solid. They also dish up mean brisket and pulled pork options. But whether you realize it or not, you came for the ribs.
In fact, 12 Bones takes its name from their full rack. You can also score a half rack of six. They offer a rotating selection of several dry rubs and are masters at combining sweet and hot, evidenced by offerings such as Blueberry Chipotle barbecue sauce. We recommend the Pineapple Habanero, which starts out sweet and rides into a slow, satisfying afterburn. Don’t like heat? You can’t go wrong with their classic Brown Sugar rub.
Some folks may think that 12 Bones cooks their ribs too quickly, sometimes requiring a knife. Others will claim that the rib meat is lean, quality fare that doesn’t have the “easy peasy” tenderness found in fattier offerings. If this is a concern, order the “3 Bones” side for just $5.50 and level up to a full plate if they’re to your liking.
The side orders at 12 Bones are shockingly good. You absolutely cannot pass on the corn pudding. Yes, you already get cornbread with your plate, so it seems redundant — but believe us, the corn pudding is a totally different experience. Other sides we highly recommend include their smoked potato salad, sweet vinegar coleslaw, and jalapeño cheese grits.
One thing we really like about 12 Bones is the “help yourself” nature of the outfit. You stand in line, order and pay, then find your own seat. If you need sauce, there’s a handy four-sauce bar. Cup runneth dry? Grab your own refill. Got leftovers? Of course you do! Help yourself to some takeout containers — there’s no need to hunt someone down to ask for them.
Although 12 Bones may not be the type of restaurant to expect staff members to constantly come by and ask if everything is OK, but they’re happy to help if needed! Some visitors may have drinks preferences, so we like to disclaim that they serve RC Cola sodas, and they have very limited hours. Both 12 Bones locations close promptly at 6 p.m. and don’t provide any table seating after 4:00 p.m. The River Arts location is closed all weekend, and their Sweeten Creek location is closed Sundays and Mondays. Just get there when they’re open, and you’ll be glad you did!
-12 Bones is vegetarian-friendly! They offer a $6 plate that includes four sides and a hunk of cornbread. While some sides are cooked with meat, such as the collard greens, there are plenty of meat-free selections to choose from. The menu clearly indicates which sides contain meat and which ones don’t.
-Due to smaller seating table sizes, your best bet would be calling ahead if you have more than 4 or 5 guests — better yet, send a “scout” to secure some tables in advance.
-If you’re not a fan of RC sodas, 12 Bones also has iced tea and tasty craft beer on tap. For more to drink, Wedge Brewery is located just next door. Simply exit through the back door that’s past the restrooms, and you’re there.
-12 Bones has it all — a fine selection of quality meats, distinctive and creative rib flavors, a solid foundation of sides, fair prices, and nice portion sizes. This local eatery is a must-try for barbecue fans everywhere.