Kansas City BBQ Trip Report
Hi folks - an LA 'hound here that was in KC a month ago and is just getting around to posting a report... I didn't actually NEED to ask any questions of this board because there was enough here to help me... so I want to give back.
My husband and I are affirmed BBQ 'Hounds, and Kansas City was the last stop of the "BBQ towns" so it should be pretty obvious what we ate! I used the info from this board, from a coworker who lives in KC and from GAS BBQ, which I found from a link here.
"Breakfast" our first morning was Arthur Bryant's. I've read that the sauce is a love it or leave it sort of thing - we were clearly in the Love It camp. The sandwich was beautiful - a tower of sliced meat clearly overwhelming those little wimpy slices of white bread. I was skeptical when I saw it, because I associate thin sliced meat with dry, but this was fantastic. And the fries? Were some of the best I've ever eaten. Mushy in the middle, crispy on the edges, salty - the best of all potato worlds. Washed down with a red creme soda - things were good!
Actual lunch was at LC's. We ate ribs. Big, kinda greasy (but in a good way) ribs. With a local (?) bottled lemonade that I'd like to import to CA. I liked the ribs, but I'm finding more and more that I am less of a rib girl than other cuts. That said, these were pretty tasty.
Afternoon snack was a BBQ break for Frozen Custard. Yes, in the cold, cold March afternoon. We ate it in the car... Oh, and we made it to Andre's for chocolates. Great stuff. Some of the best we've had, actually, and really nice people in the Overland Park location.
Dinner was at Fiorella's Jack Stack. It was *packed* but we managed to get a seat in the bar where we had great service and Fat Tire (another not in CA treat). Between us we tried the lamb ribs (which I loved but the husband was iffy on), the pork ribs, the brisket and the burnt ends. The burnt ends were easily the best things on the plate, though I thought the brisket was pretty respectable. The ribs were good, but not as chewy and elemental as the ones from LCs. I managed to stuff in some of their dense, hot, cooked individually carrot cake at the end, and it was pretty heady stuff. Even my husband the non-carrot-cake-eater was liking it.
The next morning we indulged in Waffle House for breakfast, and before I get any grief, I'd just like to point out that in California, you cannot get a bowl of grits the size of my head and swimming in butter. Sometimes a girl's gotta have grits.
Our last meal before we flew home was at Gates, and I think that we might have saved the single best item for last - the burnt ends at Gates were truly something special. We had the sandwich there as well, but it didn't touch the one at Arthur Bryant's - and we didn't like the sauces much there - we both felt there was an overabundance of celery salt flavor - or they were too sweet (but we're both vinegar sauce people). That said - those burnt ends were INSANE. A perfect blend of meat, fat, soft, chewy and crispy crunchy charcoal. Serious serious meat goodness.
Overall - KC gets our nod for burnt ends, all the way. I'd go back just to eat them!
Thank you so, so, so much for your write-up. Keith, pour forth those leads. My wife and I have to be in KC for a couple days in early June - she's got a conference.
I - other than visiting Kauffman stadium and the Negro league museum - plan on stuffing myself with as much BBQ as frequently as I can.
Any other KC things to do tips would be appreciated.
Matter of fact, we're making a midwest baseball tour of KC, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit. Any food, or other, leads in those cities are greatly appreciated!
In Detroit, I think the thing to do is Coney Islands. There are good ones around town (and even in the airport), but for the real experience go to either Lafayette or American Coney Island. They are side by side and were started by Greek brothers in 1917. One is still in the same family.
But getting back to KC BBQ other than the ones you tried
Although a couple of people that post here think otherwise, I like Rosedale BBQ in Kansas City, Kansas. Rosedale has been in business since 1934, though they moved into the current facility about 1990.
Great fresh made sauce, ribs as tender and tasty as you will find anywhere. The sides are good, particularly the fries which are served in a waxed paper bag. I like to sit at the counter and watch them work. The counter help do a fantastic job of juggling multiple orders without ever writing anything down.
Smokin' Joe's Barbeque in KC, MO has spectacular smoked chicken wings and does a good job on most everything else.
The original KC Masterpiece Restaurant in Overland Park also does a good job on everything. Their most popular item may be the baby back ribs, but I often go for the Carolina pork sandwich. The onion straws are a must! This one of the few places in town where you can get beef ribs.
I haven't been there for a while, but Winslows Smokehouse in KC's City Market does more in flavoring the meat and less in the sauce (which is made fresh without preservatives every couple of days). And you can enjoy the Market. The nearby Steamboat Arabia Museum is worth a special trip.
If you are looking for a little known barbeque restaurant with atmosphere, Woodyard Bar-be-que is your place. Woodyard is in an old home on the corner of a real wood yard. The barbeque pit was built in front of the house, and you walk past it to enter the restaurant. There are only a couple of tables inside, with a few more on the patio in front. Most people get their orders to go.
Woodyard is for people that want lots of smoke taste. And I mean lots! It is probably too much for many people. My mouth still tasted like charcoal hours after eating their ribs. I think the strong smoke flavor works better on their spicy wings, which are the only item I return for.
I could go on, but that should be enough:-)
For things to do, consider the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum (KC's only world class museum), the side by side Negro Leagues Museum, & Jazz Museum (the attached Blue Note Bar has good music and is smoke free), and the small but interesting Hallmark Visitors Center (which has original art and much more than you might expect).
Great report -- Thanks for tipping me off to a couple of other spots I hadn't been to...
I'm a fairly regular visitor to KC. Over the many years I've been visting, my standout fave place to go is Firorella's Jack Stack. Their baby-back ribs are orgasmatic (sigh)... Jack Stack's BBQ baked beans and cheesey corn are right up there as well. (double-sigh)
Being from Minneapolis, a Waffle House stop is always a necessity as well (not a grits fan, but I like their waffles!)... I also really like LaMar's donuts... (Mineapolis seriously lacks great donut places - except the Lone Donut Cafe in DT Minneapolis (open only on weekdays)).
My other regular favorite stops in KC:
Danny Edwards "Eat It and Beat It" - (open only on weekdays)
and of course Authur Bryant's.
I skip Gate's and KC Masterpiece - They're too "commercial" for my tastes...
Nice report. I gotta get back to the Waffle House, nothing like biscuits and gravy for the bleary eyed. There's one really close to my house. I really like Gate's sauce, especially the celery seed, and I think I'm the only one who posts here that likes their brisket, sometimes it can be too fatty.
Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed your stay.