Warning: if this is too long for some I apologize.
The following is an account of my recent trip to Kansas City. I had posted a thread on this forum “KC BBQ: best of the rest” and I would like to say thank you to all who responded to that, your information was greatly appreciated.
My trip was primarily a BBQ tasting trip but I have included a few of the other delicious food samplings I enjoyed and will premise all of this by stating that I am in no way trying to put down certain establishments or making any declaration that they are entirely not good. That is not the case because to me BBQ is probably one of the most difficult food products to produce consistently in a commercial restaurant and I have been to many BBQ’s that were bad on my first visit and great on my 2nd and vice versa. Unfortunately due to time constraints I was only able to visit each place once, with one exception (Gates because I got there too early and the mutton was not ready yet so I had to go back 2 days later), and I also was not able to visit everywhere I would have liked. With that being said I sincerely hope that someone finds some of this useful and remembers these are just my own opinions from what I had on those particular days and I appreciate that many may disagree with me but I am only trying to give an account of my own experiences. Thank you for reading and for all of the information that is supplied in these forums. They are an invaluable resource when planning trips such as this.
The BBQ restaurants I was able to visit are: Arthur Bryant’s, Winslow’s, BB’s Lawnside, Gates, LC’s, Jack Stack’s, Oklahoma Joe’s, & Rosedale. There are 3 others I would have liked to get to but was unable to: Danny Edwards, Smokin’ Guns, and Smokehouse. I also ate at Bluestem, Christopher Elbow’s, JP Wine Bar and Michael Smith’s.
Arthur Bryant’s: probably the best all around joint visited. Had the burnt ends, sausage and ribs. The sausage was different, it was sliced like sandwich meat, not in any type of casing but was very good. Ribs and burnt ends were great and I actually liked the sweet heat sauce the best while all the other sauces were very good.
Winslow’s: for those who read my earlier thread “Best of the Rest”, this was it, and I did not even ask about it in that thread. My hotel concierge recommended it and it was outstanding. This was my runner-up for best all around. Had pulled pork, ribs, sausage and burnt ends (probably the best I had). Winslow’s was a great “dining experience”, they had a band playing out on the porch and on that particular day they nailed every one of their meats, and the sauce was pretty good too.
BB’s Lawnside: the atmosphere was 2nd to none. This place probably had the coolest vibe of anywhere we visited. A band was playing and the place was packed. Ate the rib tips on a recommendation from my server. They were just ok, wish I would have got the ribs, sauce was very different, lots of apple juice, not really for me.
Gates: to me Gates had the best sauce. Ate the sausage, ribs and mutton, all were good, especially the mutton, but to me Gates is all about the sauce.
LC’s: this is a tough one because I had such high expectations. Much of what I read and a lot of KC locals raved about this place. While it was good, I felt I had much better. The highlight was the beans, they were probably the best I had, but I have to agree with some of the other comments about the burnt ends being fatty. They were much fattier than any of the others I tried. And for those who say fat is flavor, I agree, but large chunks of fat, bordering on gristle, is not necessarily flavor. The ribs were good, sauce was good, and I had the turkey which was fine but wasn’t much different than turkey at a deli. With all that being said this will be the first place I go to if I am fortunate enough to return to KC, I feel LC certainly deserves a second shot.
Jack Stack’s (Freight House location): one of our favorites. I had the 3 rib platter (pork, lamb, & crown prime beef ribs which is basically just short ribs) of which I thoroughly enjoyed the lamb and the short rib, they outshined the pork which was also good and the sauce was good as well. While this place does not have that BBQ joint feel we didn’t consider that a bad thing, especially my wife. We liked the fact that you can get really good bbq in a full service environment. The service was great, the dining room was very nice and at this point my wife was fairly filled on bbq so it was wonderful that she could get a nice glass of wine and a well cooked piece of fish with some vegetables (swordfish, which she really enjoyed) while I continued to indulge in bbq.
Oklahoma Joe’s: That may have been the best pork rib I have ever eaten anywhere. It was truly sensational. We got there at 11:10am (opened at 11) and the line was at least 20 deep already and I can understand why. Also had the sliced beef which was good, but did not compare to the ribs, the sauce was also very good, and the seasoning made the fries.
Rosedale: this may have been our least favorite which is not to say that it was bad, take into consideration the competition. I had the ribs which were slightly over cooked to were they almost seemed liked they were boiled, the sausage which was the best part of the meal, and the burnt ends which were a little dry. Sauce was good, very peppery.
Here is my wrap up:
Best BBQ restaurant: Arthur Bryant’s, with Winslow’s a close 2nd.
Best Non BBQ restaurant: Bluestem (had a fantastic meal with great service)
Best BBQ sauce: Gates
Best Ribs: Oklahoma Joe’s
Best Burnt Ends: Winslow’s
Best Beans: LC’s
Best Atmosphere: BB’s Lawnside, followed by Jack Stack’s for different reasons
Best Desert: Christopher Elbow’s chocolates, if you like chocolate you gotta try them!
Best Non BBQ item: Foie Gras torchon at Bluestem, followed by the Braised Rabbit at Michael Smith’s.
I should add that after now visiting Memphis, Austin, Lockhart, Lexington, Taylor, Owensboro and few other places in-between on a whole KC does it like none of those others. A big reason why for me is because while many of these places do certain things better than others, KC seems to do it all and they do it all really well.
Thanks again & Regards.