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One night in Kansas City, MO and interested in BBQ

Hi hounds,

I will be in Kansas City, MO for one night (and one night only!) this coming Monday, and I was hoping to try some BBQ while I am there. I am by no means a BBQ expert. I can't say I know anything about all the different ways it's done (wet, dry, rubbed, smoked,...), but I can say I know I love to eat it! So I am just looking for a place serving good food, not too too far from my hotel, where a petite, alone 20 something girl wouldn't feel strange licking her fingers with a plate of meat sitting in front of her.

My research turned up the following options: Jack Stack BBQ, Arthur Bryant, LC, Oklahoma Joe's and Danny Edwards. Based on location alone (I am staying near the airport), I narrowed the options to Jack Stack (Freight House), Arthur Bryant and Danny Edwards. Amongst those three, and based on my criteria as described above, what do you all recommend? Or is there another place I should consider?

Thanks in advance for the help. I promise to pay it forward if any of y'all are ever in Baltimore.

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  1. Either Jack Stack or Arthur Byrant's are good examples of KC BBQ and very different places. I usually recomend Bryant's original location for a KC BBQ first timer, but given your comments about being young and alone, I suspect you will be more comfortable with Jack Stack.

    Enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: KansasTravel

      I ate at both Jack Stack and LC's this spring. I know you said LC's is not in your area but I did like it better than JS. JS was also VERY good though.

      FOTD

    2. Oklahoma Joes is our favorite---LC's is good too as well as Smoking Guns in North KC----but given your restrictions you will like either JS or AB

      1. I wouldn't recommend a single woman going to Bryants by herself either. Edwards is only open for lunch and isnt far from downtown. Jack Stack is one of the better known more commercial places and you can get a good idea about KC BBQ.....to me there are better places. Not too far from there up at Linwood and Main st. is Gates which is a little more authentic in taste and atmosphere. The Smokehouse is alot closer to you at the airport just off of I-29 in the Zona Rosa shopping area at Barry Rd. You can see it from the highway on the right as you head south. You will have a great expierence there and save yourself 30 min of driving each way.

        The very best BBQ in KC can't be found at a resturant...... it's in the backyards. Once you try real backyard BBQ by someone who knows what they are doing........ commercial places just dont compare.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Smokerguy

          I agree that The Smokehouse at Zona Rosa would be a good example of Kansas City Barbeque while being easy and safe. From what I have read, Smokestack and Jack Stack are related. Take I-29 south from the airport to Barry Road. Take a right and then another right into Zona Rosa. Pedestrian friendly, I hope you will enjoy the experience.

          1. re: powillie

            As you can see we all have different opinions (which is a good thing). I find Smokehouse to be average at best..

            1. re: KansasTravel

              Agreed..... it all depends on your personal tastes and likes. I will be enjoying some of my own this evening......

        2. Another good place not too far from the Northland is Winslow's in the River Market. They have very good burnt ends. You can watch them cut one up right out of the oven. I think that Smokehouse has a "chain" feel; the BBQ is alright if you can't (or don't have time) to get downtown. You might also want to take into account sides, which I don't think anyone has mentioned. Bryant's is all good, while Rosedales, which hasn't been mentioned, has really great BBQ baked beans. Winslows has a very good corn casserole. Be sure to grab a Blvd Wheat beer (if you like beer) as it is imo one of the best unfiltered wheat beers in the nation and is made right here in KC.

          1. Thanks for all the input! But what's a girl to do? I don't want anything that would be considered "average at best" or chain-y ... I mean, I don't need the ABSOLUTE BEST (and I doubt there would be a consensus even if I did!) but I do want pretty darn good. Of the places I listed, it sounds like Jack Stack is the winner. But now there are also mentions of Gates and WInslow's that sounded promising. I will have a car, so I'm not completely confined to the airport area. I just don't want to be driving 45 minutes each way, which is what I'd be doing with LC or Oklahoma Joe. Hmmm.. alright, I'll think on it a bit more. Thanks again for all the feedback! I will be sure to report back!

            2 Replies
            1. re: charmedgirl

              Oklahoma Joe's is probably 30 mins (depending on time of day) from the airport. It's not too far off of 35, easy to find, and not in a bad area of town. That'd be my recommendation. Unless you go to one of the places right near the airport (ie in Zona Rosa), I don't think you are talking too much of a difference in drive time. Plus, an extra 10-15 minutes is definitely worth it for good BBQ!

              1. re: charmedgirl

                Coming from someone who travels solo quite frequently for work, go to Jackstacks in the freighthouse. You'll like the neighborhood, and it's a pretty cool place with some other things to do in the area other than just eat (P&L, Art galleries, union station, crown center, etc). Everyone has their own opinion about KC bbq (as you can tell), and each and every recommendation here you will get great bbq.... But I think you'll feel the most comfortable at Jackstacks.

              2. So I ended up at Jack Stack! I had pretty much settled on it from the comments here, then at the end of my meeting on Monday, when I mentioned I was heading out for bbq without saying where, several people chimed in that I should go to Jack Stack, which sealed the deal for me.

                All in all, a very positive experience. I understand why some said it was "commercial"; I felt like I was in a high end bar or restaurant, rather than a bbq joint. But after a long day, the cushy booth and nice atmosphere were actually pretty welcome. The service also deserves a special nod. My waiter was personable, efficient, and helpful. A+.

                Now for the food! I orderd the combo plate of beef ribs and pork burnt ends. I subbed the cheesy corn bake and steamed vegetables for the fries and slaw. I loved, loved (did I say loved?) the burnt ends. I had never had (or heard) of burnt ends before, but they were a great mix of char and juicy meat. Didn't need the sauce. The ribs were good, but not great. The meat just wasn't as tender or flavorful as I would have liked. I don't like mushy ribs, but these were just too ... chewy. Not peeling off the bone. It did make me wonder whether I got a bad set, or whether that was how they were intended. Cheesy corn bake was also a bit of a disappointment, as I was anticipating a mix between corn pudding and cornbread, and it was more soupy than that. I ended with a few bites of bread pudding. The sauce on top was great (it's probably good for my waistline that I didn't have a spoon, I might not have been able to resist going to town), but the pudding itself was slightly egg-ier than I like.

                All in all a good experience, if for the burnt ends alone! Thanks for all the help. If I make it back that way again, I will look forward to trying out another one of the recommended places!

                4 Replies
                1. re: charmedgirl

                  LC's, LC's, LC,s.....

                  Their Ribs and Burnt Ends are MUCH better.

                  I am shocked though that you did not like the CHeesy Corn Bake.

                  I heart that...

                  FOTD

                  1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                    Ha ha! When I subbed the cheesy corn bake for the fries my waiter told me I'd love it and that it was his favorite. When he came to check on me and asked me how it was, I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth....

                    And I hear you. Next time it'll be either Oklahoma Joe's or LC's, no doubt.

                    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                      I went to LC's for the 1st time tonight. I must agree. Their burnt ends are MUCH better than Jack Stack's. There truly is a world of difference.

                    2. re: charmedgirl

                      My first Jack Stack experience included the worst, and chewiest ribs (they were of the lamb variety) I ever ate, so I'm not surprised at the rib problem.

                    3. From one Baltimoron to another, if you return to KC, 4 words: Arthur Bryant's Burnt Ends!