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BBQ Roadtrip

I live in Chicago, and am going to plan a roadtrip from Chicago to Kansas City, St. Louis and back. Any suggestions for great BBQ or beer on that general route? Does that route make any sense, or should we go in another direction or take any specific roads? Memphis may be a little too far to go, since we will be using a long weekend.

Thanks

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  1. There are a lot of good BBQ joints in Kansas City, but I recommend Oklahoma Joe's. There are 2 of them in KC. One is in Olathe, KS a few minutes from I-35 (about 20 miles South of downtown KC). Anthony Bourdain has a list of the 13 places to eat before you die, and Oklahoma Joe's is #13 on his list.

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    Oklahoma Joe's BBQ & Cater
    11950 S Strang Line Rd, Olathe, KS 66062

    1. You could do a search for KC BBQ and read for a week.
      Myself, every few months I drive from Des Moines to LC' s BBQ on Blue Prkwy for Burnt Ends. The best food on earth.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bobfrmia

        Hey Shaggy, a Scooby reference perhaps? Regardless, Kansas City has the best barbeque. Tons of information available, so let's talk beer. Kansas City is home to Boulevard Brewing Co,, check out their website. They are located on Southwest Boulevard in the heart of Kansas City's historic Hispanic neighborhood. This is just west of the Crossroads and the Freighthouse district, and just southwest of downtown. Tours are available several times a week and reservations can be made online. I can't say for sure, but I believe that when you take the tour you actually get ....Free Beer! Please don't get mad at me if I am mistaken, but the tour would be entertaining regardless.
        This part of town has a number of quality restaurants, since you specify barbeque, the Freighthouse District has a Jack Stack location, but back to beer.
        The Power and Light District on the south side of downtown by the Sprint Center, has the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. This is a chain with numerous locations. They have tasty bar food and a ton of different beers. I hope that this will help you with your trip and I sincerely hope that you enjoy your time in Kansas City.

        1. re: powillie

          Also for beer. Head about 40 minutes West to Lawrence and the Free State Brewery. Excellent beers and some darn good food.

          1. re: powillie

            Boulevard does some good beers. I enjoy the Single Wide, and the Smokestack series is fun. E-mail the brewery ahead of time, and they'll probably hook you up with a good tour. One of the guys from the brewery post at Beer Advocate, and he always says if you let them know when you're coming, they'll try to hook you up.

          2. You ask "should you go in another direction" for great BBQ.

            Yes.

            Texas.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Jaymes

              Love to read your reviews of KC BBQ. Could you link to them?

              1. re: Bobfrmia

                Don't have reviews online to which I could link. At least, I don't think I do. But hey, maybe I do. I'll have to think about it. I'm old and have been eating and writing a very long time, much of it in Kansas City. And I am a member of the KCBS, and a graduate of their judging class.

                Not really a link, or a proper review, but in Kansas City, I will say that my two favorites are LC's and Oklahoma Joe's, both mentioned above, and both quite good and well worth a road trip.

                But I will add that your beloved "burnt ends" are just what we call everyday ol' bbq brisket in Central Texas.

                Which is much better.

                Perhaps you could mention, just by way of comparison, your impressions of your visits to the great barbecue temples of Central Texas.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  I'd love to, except I've never experienced Texas BBQ. I would not presume Texas BBQ isn't as good as KC BBQ, or anywhere else.
                  You directed the OP to bypass KC, and go to Texas. I just wondered why.
                  LC's "beloved" burnt ends are just everyday ol' bbq in Central Texas? I envy you. I've had burnt ends in many bbq places, and LC's takes them to a totally higher level. If that level is below your Central Texas level, well, enjoy.
                  Anyway, I think Texas takes the OP off his scheduled route.

                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                    Well, I was partly jess kiddin'. Regional pride and all that.

                    The truth of the matter is that, in my opinion, the old German meat markets in Central Texas do turn out smoked brisket that is the best anywhere, and that does include LC's burnt ends, although LC's burnt ends come in a pretty strong second. And more truth is that this brisket fit for the gods is only produced in small towns in Central Texas. Nobody else in Texas, that I have found anyway and I've done a lot of looking, can even come close. Not Dallas and most certainly not Houston. You KC barbecue fans are eating much better 'cue on a regular basis than anyone in the major metropolitan areas in Texas, unless you're talking about somebody in San Antonio that drives the half-hour or so to Luling. Or somebody in Austin that drives the 45 minutes or so to Lockhart or Taylor.

                    Central Texas sausage is also ambrosial, thanks to the Germans and Czechs that settled there around the turn of the last century. They missed their smoked meats of home, and thus began the grand tradition that lingers today.

                    However, Kansas City has Texas beat for ribs, unless y'all slather them with that cloyingly sweet sauce. And the beans at LC's are to die for. I love those beans.

                    All in all, it's probably a tie.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Good Q needs no sauce. I'm from Iowa, I go South for the Q.
                      Regional pride. Fine, I'm coming your way, and bringing the best breaded pork tenderloin sandwich you'll ever imagine.
                      Wait, Texas doesn't recognize pork.
                      This is what keeps Chowhound fun.

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          Jaymes, I am from KC and I believe that KC Barbeque is the best, although we do owe a debt of gratitute to Texas. Charlie Bryant came here from Texas where the technique was perfected to create the world's greatest barbeque. However, I would like to request your help. Several years ago, I was driving down to the Valley to visit my brother. Somewhere between Fort Worth and Austin, maybe around Waco, we stopped at a small, old-fashioned gas station, on the west side of I-35. Inside by the register was a display case filled with smoked meats Everything looked really tasty, but what caught my eye, and what I bought, was sausage on a stick. This sausage was incredible. It was a course ground german sausage with lots of garlic and black pepper. Do you kinow where this place is? What exit do I take to get there? If you can help me, I would be eternally grateful. If not, thanks for listening.

                          1. re: powillie

                            Lordy...

                            I'm not positive and I drive that highway a lot, so you think I'd know, but here's a guess.

                            It sounds like something around the little Czech town of West. The Nemecek Bros Meat Market there turns out great sausage, and several of the local stores carry it. The only thing that is giving me pause is that most of the gas stations, kolache bakeries, and the Nemecek Bros storefront itself are on the east side of I35. But it's a strong possibility that there's a combination gas station convenience store on the west side that carries it.

                            I'd strongly suggest that you post your question on the Texas boards. Texans drive a lot, and we do love our sausage, so I'm positive someone will know. Unfortunately, in their great wisdom, the powers that be here have decided not to put "Austin" on the "Texas" forum, so if I were you, I'd post my question both places - Austin and Texas.

                            I will also say that there are a great many Central Texas BBQ joints that make their own sausage and they sound a lot like what you describe. Many of them do offer mail order, so you might check Kreuz, Luling City Market (NOT the one in Houston which is not connected to the legendary place in Luling but just stole their name), Smitty's, Louie Mueller in Taylor, and two places in Elgin - Meyer's and Southside.

                            Good luck!

                            ETA - I'll be driving that road in about three weeks or so. Right now, I'm up in your neck o' the woods, but I'll head back to Texas sometime the last week of July, so I'll keep an eye out for you. There is a small old gas station/grocery store on the west side of the road a little farther south than West - at Jarrell, I think. I can't recall if they sell any smoked meats, but it's a real possibility. It's got a gravel parking lot out front, and it faces I35 at an angle. I'll check it out.

                2. Of course KC is the mecca of your BBQ pilgramage. But that journey takes you straight through Columbia where Buckinghams throws down some very credible Q.

                  1. In St. Louis, Pappy's is great. If you can find a bbq pork steak, that is a St Louis specialty but they are hard to find in a restaurant. The best imo, are cooked low and slow and sauced while cooking so it caramelizes and burns slightly. You might find one at a parking lot BBQ or if you can wangle an invite to someones backyard.