Trip report--Kansas City (Food)

Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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Trip report--Kansas City (Food)

Kansas City is one of the few US cities that's a real BBQ mecca. Decided to try four of the best such spots:

Joe's Kansas City BBQ (Kansas City, KS original gas station location). For my money, this was the best such place I went to. They normally only offer burnt ends a few days a week, but they were a blackboard special that day. Got a combo plate with these and pulled pork, a self-described specialty. Both were beautifully tender, moist and smoky, and some of the best I've had anywhere. And the sides were really special. Beans were tasty, flavored with a spice combo both unusual and delicious. But believe it or not, the standout were the french fries; not only were they cooked perfectly (not too crisp, not too mushy), they were seasoned in a unique manner that combined spiciness and saltiness with just a hint of sweet -- addictively wonderful, absolutely the best fries I've ever had anywhere (believe the online reports here, they're spot on). They offer a molasses-heavy sauce that's very nice, but the meat was so good it hardly needed it.

Fiorella's Jack Stack (Country Club Plaza location). Another winner, big time. The combo gotten this time was BBQ chicken and a crown beef rib. The latter is a large Flintstones-size beef rib, beautifully fall off the bone moist and really tasty, while the chicken was tender and delicious. A side of beans was amazingly good, loaded with smoky pork bits and spiced wonderfully, while another of cole slaw was good of its kind. Tried their regular and spicy BBQ sauces, again molasses style, and again almost superfluous with such good meat, tasty as they were. This is also more of a standard sit-down dining experience than found in most BBQ places, though it's not at all a stuffy place.

Arthur Bryant's. Probably the oldest BBQ eatery in the city, and still really good (went here ca. 30 years ago, and loved it). It didn't disappoint this time, either. Ordered a combo of sliced brisket and pulled pork, both scrumptious though the brisket was not the fall-apart kind -- nice smoke flavor to both. A side of beans was a little more standard issue than those elsewhere though still well executed. Their sauce is unusual for KC, a red sauce with a more pronounced vinegar tang and a slightly gritty mouth feel, though excellent nonetheless.

Gates BBQ (the one on Main Street just south of Crown Center). Coming up number 4 on the list is no shame when the competition is this fierce, and this proved to be a very worthy dining experience for the most part. The combo gotten here was smoked turkey and sliced beef, with the former being excellently smoky and tender, though the latter was a little tougher than I prefer and not as distinctive in flavor. A side of beans was pretty standard issue though still very much worth getting. The sauces tried were excellent, though -- top notch molasses red style, really fine in flavor.

Other dining experiences:

Stroud's (Fairway, KS location). This place is known for pan fried chicken, and come hungry because they don't stint on the portions. Got a fried dark meat plate which contained two each of legs and thighs: large, moist, beautifully cooked. Each meal comes with chicken noodle soup or a salad, mashed potato and gravy, green beans, and cinnamon rolls. The beans were surprisingly delicious, not bland or boring at all, the soup had good chicken flavor, and the cinnamon roll was a decadently sweet treat.

Winstead's. A solid retro diner-style breakfast place that had a jukebox playing doo-wop oldies and surf music. Given all the BBQ eaten this trip, decided to get scrambled egg whites and oatmeal with coffee, all very nicely prepared.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:34 PM
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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I fall upon the thorns of life, I drool!
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 06:41 AM
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I've had Gates and AB's years ago. More recently I have received frozen Jack Stack by mail, which is very good. Not an expert, but I would describe the BBQ sauce they send with the frozen packages as more of vinegar flavor at least when compared to KC Masterpiece.

Love me a Winsteads hambuger. Haven't had one in years, unfortunately.
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 07:00 AM
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As a local here in KC, I loved reading both your trip report and this food review. Thanks for coming--glad you had such a good time!

Your assessment of Joe's Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe's) is spot-on, and it is always our go-to for BBQ, although we always get the ribs. The description you gave of the fries is one of the best I've ever read and nails it. Our other favorite side is the beans--not only are they seasoned well, as you mentioned, they contain a variety of beans and also small chunks of smoked meat--quite tasty.

For anyone interested in trying Joe's Kansas City by mail order, they recently started offering it, but unfortunately, the fries don't travel well: (editors: please don't consider this an ad--just trying to be helpful to any interested posters).
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Old Sep 7th, 2016, 05:12 AM
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Thanks for the kind words, folks! Musicfan, you're right about Joe's beans (meat chunks and a mix of beans including chick peas, I believe) -- they were terrific. Bitter, Joe's was the most molasses-oriented of the sauces, Bryant's the least by far; would put Gates and Jack Stack somewhere in between though more in the molasses camp. And yes, had heard that Winstead's does a really good burger -- just didn't seem right for breakfast somehow.
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Old Sep 7th, 2016, 08:42 PM
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No KC strip?
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Old Mar 31st, 2019, 05:22 AM
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Bumping to keep on site.
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Old Mar 31st, 2019, 04:37 PM
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I love Jack Stack's onion rings - so big and thick, stacked on a spindle. The first time I ever went to KC, I was there for a week and ate BBQ twice a day. One of my favs was farther south, outside Gardner - can't recall the name. But their "combo" sandwiches of 2 or 3 meats were monstrous and utterly delicious.
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Old Apr 1st, 2019, 06:18 PM
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I agree with Joes and how I miss burnt ends. Live in Oregon now and have not found anything to compare!
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