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Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City

  • m

Is the original location still at the top of the heap for bbq?

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  1. Let me guess, based on your posts -- did you just read American Fried?

    I'm not making fun of you. My first trip to Kansas City consisted of visiting only places mentioned in American Fried and Alice, Let's Eat.

    AB's isn't what it used to be, but I still think it's worth the trip.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dave Feldman

      I guess I'm guilty as charged, yep, started reading American Fried (for chowhounds required reading while not eating), I presumed most of the stuff in there is outdated, but just wanted to make sure. also, does anyone know if Fats Goldberg still has Goldberg's pizza in new york or is that also long gone.

      1. re: Mildred P.

        Mildred - Larry "Fats" Goldberg moved back to Kansas City in the '80s. He sold his NYC pizzeria at that time but I beleive he still had a part interest in it for a time, at least.

        Mostly he worked in Kansas City as a host at various restaurants including the legendary Cafe Lulu on 39th Street, followed by Houston's and then Ruth Chris Steakhouse (both on the Country Club Plaza).

        For a short time he owned and operated Goldberg's Pizzeria in Prairie Village in the mid-'90s, but sadly it was far from his Midtown groupies and his own comfort zone. He had to continue working his host job on the Plaza so he wasn't a constant presence in the pizzeria. Those who went there were always disappointed that he wasn't there. After about a year, the air conditioning system failed and he really couldn't justify replacing it as business just wasn't there, so he closed the shop.

        Sadly, Fats died in January 2003 at age 69 of complications from Alzheimer's.

        He was a good friend and I think about him every day.

    2. I first visited AB's in 1984, and have been going back when business gets me to KC since then. It is not like it was, but try it anyway, just to have a reference to judge other "Q".

      1. The original Bryants is still good, and the one at the casino isn't bad.

        The newest one out by the race track in Kansas City, Kansas is not very good.

        1. You need to go to the original and slip the grill guy a 5 or 10 and he will hook up the order.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Zallbag

            Maybe I'm hopelessly naive or just plain dumb, but what the heck are you talking about? What do you mean by "hook up the order" and what do you get from the "grill guy" (is there a grill in a BBQ joint?) that I haven't gotten each time I've (with pleasure) eaten at AB's?

            1. re: Zallbag

              I, too, want to know what you mean by "hook up the order". We are fans of AB and stop there whenever in the area.

              1. re: Zallbag

                I know this post is from a while back, but I was just at Bryant's a couple of months ago. When I used to go, the sandwiches seemed ridiculously huge...but this last time I went, not so much. I was told that I need to slip a $5 (or a $1 or whatever) under your plate as you hand it to the meat guy. You'll get some extra meat.

                1. re: rubinow

                  I was there a couple of weeks ago and received the same large serving I was used to having.

                  Never heard about the slipping of a tip before.

                  1. re: KansasTravel

                    I had 2 different people tell me that.

              2. Y'know, Bryants gets a lot of flack on this and other boards for not being "what it was". AB's is a KC institution. IMHO, it never was particulary consistent in any area. It is, what it is; incredibly unique and a mecca for BBQ enthusiasts. There is something soulful, raw and endearing about the place that just cannot be duplicated by any other BBQ joint. It's not just Q, it is an experience, still in a class of it's own.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dinerminer

                  I'm with dinerminer. I was just there over Thanksgiving and, to me, it was as good as ever. But I've been there times when it wasn't. You take your chances and most of the time it pays off.

                  I love it and, to me, it's always worth it just to be down there around all that history. I've never been to any of the other locations and I don't imagine I ever will.

                  My family has been going to Bryant's since my grandparents had their first date there in the 30's. So, it's the sort of place that is woven into the fabric of life in the city.


                  1. re: sallyport

                    >> Bryant's does have a mobil rating, can't be all that bad!

                    Well, so goes my respect for Mobil Guide (if I had any to begin with).

                    Whoever handed out those scores didn't buy a vowel first. Bryant's gets a 1-star rating, as does LC's -- both venerable establishments that consistently rank in the top three in this city as judged by true 'que fans, both local and visiting. And they get a measly 1-star from Mobil, the very same as that filthy Berliner Bear for which I've heard nary a word of praise or even tolerance for in more than 20 years. Hmmmmm. BTW, Andre's Confiserie Suisse only gets 1-star, too.

                    And the reknown Stroud's only gets 2-stars (out of possible 5), the same as that ersatz 'que joint Kansas City Masterpiece.

                    I don't get it.

                    I've not actually looked at the Mobile Guide in years but it's obvious that it holds absolutely no credibility for me at all after seeing these rankings.


                    1. re: KCJ

                      At least they hit the nail on the head with The American, I believe everything else on the listing needs to be knocked down one star. Just my dinning input.

                      1. re: KCJ

                        Jane, if I read that correctly, Bryant's and LC's get one star and KC Masterpiece gets two? I gotta agree with you, either they don't know 'Cue or they're smokin something other than hickory.

                        1. re: chileheadmike

                          Mobil's ratings are spelled out in black and white. It's not only about the food. KC Masterpiece has a "more upscale" interior than Arthur Bryant's or LC's so it qualifies for more stars. Food quality doesn't come into play until you get to 4 & 5 star restaurants, before that it has to do with the comfort and cleanliness of the restaurant.

                    2. I especially like the part where the guy wipes his nose then grabs a handful of fries and puts it on my plate. I like authentic just not nasty. This place is living off its rep and nothing else.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: theflytyr

                        To theflytyr-you are just FOS.
                        They wear gloves and never wipe.
                        Bryant's is the best BBQ in the nation.
                        If in KC go....go....go....
                        Downtown is the best, but all good.
                        Arthur is long gone. He sat with my father and I frequently.
                        Berbiglia's now run all places. Itallian/Black fusion BBQ.
                        Still rocks your mouth.

                        THE KING OF SAUCES!!!

                        1. re: arm53

                          What an oddly-typed, odd post.

                          Arthur Bryants has most definitely gone downhill, and I agree with theflytyr, there are times when the place seems (and tastes) downright nasty.

                          BBQ discussion in Kansas City is one of those things that can lead to fisticuffs if you're a naysayer of any particular KC "staple", but AB's just doesn't have it anymore and seems to exist more for nostalgia's sake rather than the sake of cranking out great plate after great plate.

                          That said, for my 2 cents, there's never been a dish at any other BBQ joint in KC that matches Jack Stack's burnt ends.