Hot Plate

Lickety-split ribs: Backyard cookout purists may sniff at barbecue-in-a-box, but it's hard to fault the Honey Jalapeno Ribs served from spotless glass cases at Yapa Kitchen Fresh Takeaway [3173 West Holcombe, (713)664-9272]. Yapa slow-roasts thick slabs of meaty country-style pork ribs, dry-rubbed with a mix of Cajun spices. "It's the slow-roasting that makes them so tender and juicy," explains enthusiastic store manager Missy Maxwell, "so they slide right off the bone." The ribs are packaged with an extra helping of the Honey Jalapeno glaze, a surprisingly light and tangy blend of honey and hot sauce, sprinkled with lemon pepper and bits of jalapeno. Ready-to-go ribs are $8.95 per pound, or do-it-yourselfers can buy the Cajun spice rub ($5.95) and glaze ($3.95) to start from scratch.

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