[KC] family -union station or Crown Center
My family which includes teenage nieces are coming for Thanksgiving. We will be visiting Crown Center and Union Station. Is there a moderately-priced option near either of those two places for dinner?
Also, where is Oklahoma Joe's? Is it worth it to drive from Lee's Summit for barbecue?
Jack Stack BBQ has a freight house location which is located directly behind Union Station. I, personally, think Jack Stack is really high up there for KC BBQ. It is reasonably priced, and you can split the portions. I LOVE the smoked lamb ribs and cheesy corn bake, and their famous beans. It's family friendly for sure but not too casual.
OK Joe's - it's far from Lee's Summitt..I think it's good, but it can get super busy - it's in a gas station with ample seating, but it is very busy.
Inside of Union Station they've opened the Harvey House Diner. It's a 50s style diner, complete with daily Blue Plate Specials, hand-dipped shakes and malts, breakfast served all day, and kids meals for under $3. You gotta love it. I think the place is open everyday until 4 p.m., so you should be able to grab a burger basket there while seeing the trains at the station. The burgers are all named after trains that serviced Union Station, and there are really great old photos of the place hanging inside.
As far as KC BBQ, you'll get opinions as varied as the folks you ask. In mine, while the food at Jack Stack is decent - you're paying for the location and ambiance more so than the quality or quantity of food that you'll get. Jack Stack uses real plates, real silverware, and cloth table cloths and napkins. I think the waiters even wear neckties? While the price point for a plate there is similar to other places, the trade off is that they serve much less food on each plate than their competition, and I don't find it to be as good. The smoking of their meats, to me, is incomplete. They don’t have that “finished” flavor that a good piece of BBQ gets from being in the smoker for 12-16 hours. I feel like sometimes Jack Stack slaps BBQ sauce on some lightly broiled meats and calls it BBQ.
Anyone who’s ever overlooked the West Bottoms during the first weekend in October (when the American Royal BBQ Invitational is going on) will tell you that real KC bbq is all about the smoke.
With that said, my top two picks are Gates or OK Joes, with Bryant’s in third place. None of them are pretty places, some of Gates’ and Bryant’s locations are in "less desirable" parts of town – OK Joes is inside of a gas station, and they all use paper plates and napkins, plastic silverware, no table cloths, and the servers don’t always have the best manners. But the food is darn, darn good – and worth any inconvenience you may suffer to get it. The quantity of food will leave you asking for a “doggie bag” and the quality of the food will have you licking your fingers even long after you’ve finished eating.