Before I comment on the dining, I would like to say that KC is a jewel of a city. It is blessed with some of the friendliest people we've ever encountered during our extensive travels throughout the USA. It has so many unique points of interest and possesses a small town charm in a big city setting. We loved it and wished we could stay longer. We will return as soon as we can.
Now, the restaurants ...
We arrived Friday, 8/29, in the early afternoon via Southwest. Having taken an 8:30 a.m. flight out of LAX with only peanuts and crackers in our stomachs, we headed straight from KCI ( a most dreadful airport) to lunch at Arthur Bryant's. I was well aware of AB's sagging reputation, however, the KC Hounds advised me to order the beef sandwich, which we did. The meat was excellent. It had a nice smoky flavor and was sliced very thin with little, if any, fatty parts. The portion was more than generous. The problem, as noted on this board, was the sauce. The "original" sauce was way too heavy on the vinegar. The sauce in the bottle labeled "spicy" was anything but. It was rather bland and weak. I even tried combining the two sauces, however, my creativity was in vain. I could not leave KC without visiting this legendary place. It appears, though, that this legend has seen better days but will survive on its legendary status.
Friday dinner -- Stroud's
We visited the original location on 85th and Troost. Driving south on Troost from our hotel (Westin Crown Center), I began to wonder where the hell the restaurant was. The further south I drove, the more desolate the area became. Then, as is the case with many noteworthy restaurants, a field of parked cars suddenly emerged and I knew we were there. Upon our entry we were greeted by a gentleman (I believe his name was Mike) who informed us we were looking at a 45 minute wait. We sat in the bar area and chatted with Mike who told us he was the owner. Mike repeatedly apologized for the wait (no one ever does that in LA) and assured us it would be worth it.
Be advised that I am not a big fan of fried chicken. I often find it to be too dry and stringy. Without a doubt, Stroud's was the absolute best fried chicken I've ever tasted. The three other adults in our party (all of whom love fried chicken) said that this was among the best they've ever had. I started with the delicious chicken noodle soup with the thick noodles and hearty broth. The chicken was accompanied by the superb string beans and heavenly homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. The topper was those cinnamon rolls. I think we devoured three plates of those addictive suckers. Much to our delight, the server, without our solicitation, gave us 2 servings of rolls to take back to the hotel.
The place was so charming. The piano player was a nice touch and the service was friendly and attentive. No negative to speak of.
The last thing I saw before I dozed off later that nite was my wife, sitting bedside in her pajamas and curlers, gnawing on a thigh. In the morning, our 8 year old awakened hoping to claim the last of the cinnamon rolls. Mommy and daddy were guilty as sin but were oh so blissful.
Saturday breakfast -- Cascone's
While we were still basking in the glow of Stroud's, we would not be disappointed at breakfast. After a short wait, we were seated and were immediately greeted by a server who looked like she had worked there for years. I ordered the eggs and Italian sausage. The sausage was perfectly grilled and was excellent in taste and texture. The Italian bread for toast was a very nice touch. The coffee, essential for a breakfast joint, was outstanding. Everyone loved their breakfasts.
The resturant itself was a bit sterile for such a homey place. I'm sure the previous location across the street had more ambience although it was likely too small for the crowds.
As we left the restuarant, around 9:30, it began to ran. It would not stop raining for another 36 hours.
Saturday lunch -- LC's
After leaving Cascone's, we strolled through City Market making several purchases. We then headed to the Negro League Baseball Museum which was fabulous. We were proceeding to the adjacent Jazz Museum when a staffer advised us that we could leave and come back by 5:30. We were anxious to try some more BBQ and we headed for LC's.
LC's looks like so many BBQ joints -- nothing to look at. The aromas in the parking lot beckoned us inside where we were intoxicated by the smoke emanting from the pit behind the cash register. We ordered beef sanwiches, short end slab, beans and fries. It was all sooo freaking good!!!
The beef was succulent, the ribs were divine and the sauce was orgasmic. Places with excellent meat typically strike out on the side dishes -- but not LC. His beans were filled with meat and were the best I've ever had. The fries were perfectly cooked and had enough crispness. But, oh that meat. When we finished, we all looked at each other and, in unison, said: "That was damn good."
Before leaving, we grabbed the last 6 bottles of sauce off the rack. We knew we had just been to the mountain top.
Saturday dinner -- Fiorella's Jack Stack
In a downpour, we headed for the 22nd St. location. The building was impressive. No expense seems to have been spared. Despite the rain, we still waited 30 minutes for a table. (In LA, a tenth of an inch of rail will virtually paralyze the city.)
We started with an order of onion rings. They looked better than they tasted. The batter was rather bland and it easily fell off the onion into little fragments.
I ordered the lamb ribs and burnt ends combo. The ribs were very tasty, however, I was expecting more of a lamb flavor. I guess it was masked by the sauce which was pleasant and not too overpowering. I have never eaten lamb ribs before and, for that matter, never had lamb served with any type of sauce. I did not enjoy the burnt ends which were actually chunks of dried out beef.
The others ordered the special, a KC strip steak and grilled prawns. The steak was very good. The prawns were a bit dry and could have used a sauce of their own.
The service was efficient but not too attentive. Our server had a large party and could have used some help.
Sunday breakfast -- Ranch Cafe
Thanks to Jane, we tried this popular spot. We were lucky to be seated quickly and sat down to a very fine breakfast. The biscuits, which upon first glimpse appeared to be cornbread, were very flaky and scrumpy. The would be enhanced by some hommade preserves rather than the instituional jelly packets. (Same goes for Cascone's.) I ordered a Western omelet which traditionally is comprised of diced ham, green pepper and onions. But not in KC, the meat eating capital of the free world. The omelet was filled with ham, sausage and bacon and was devoured with gusto. The eggs were so fresh, I was looking for feathers!! I was a bit disappointed with the coffee which was on the weak side. Everyone enjoyed their breakfasts immensely.
The place is a real hoot. Great people watching!! The service could have been better. The young women seemed a tad overwhelmed and forgot to re-fill our coffee cups.
Sunday lunch -- Gate's BBQ
I was not impressed with comments about Gate's here and on other internet sites. One of the persons in our party, though, had a friend who told her that Gate's was the best and that she ahd to try it.
We went to the location at Main and Lindale. I was prepared for the chorus of "Hi. May I help you?" which greeted us as soon as we stepped up to the counter. The girls behind the counter, however, were the ones who needed help. They got thoroughly confused in taking our order and we are not talking about rocket science. The girl behind the register was downright rude. She ordered me and others to step aside while we waited for our food. It was reminiscent of the "Soup Nazi" episode on Seinfeld.
I ordered a burnt ends sandwich in hopes that it would make up for the burnt ends I had the nite before at Fiorella's. The sandwich was very good. The meat was quite crispy yet tender and had a nice smoky flavor. I tried someone's sausage sandwich and found the sausage to be very mealy but with a nice spicy kick. The sides were not so good. The beans were horrible and the potato salad tasted like undoctored Smart & Final. The sauces were ok, nothing to write home about.
After lunch we headed over to Westport to get some ice cream at Murray's. My wife and I are ice cream freaks. Whenever we travel, we always seek out the best ice cream in town. Murray's ranks among the best we've ever tried. The staff was so friendly and allowed us to sample virtually every flavor. The most difficult decision of the weekend resulted in an order of a scoop of One Drunk Monk (the flavor made with my favorite liquer, Frangelico) and a scoop of their signature flavor (the name escapes me) which has flecks of chocolate in a mocha ice cream. Wow, were these good!! So rich and creamy. Yummy!!!
Sunday dinner -- room service
After Murray's we headed back to the hotel where we were to rest up before going out to BB's Lawnside for some more Q. We arrived at the hotel at 6 and proceeded to fall asleep. I awakened at 8 but the wife was down for the count. I tried to roust her out of the bed but was unsuccesful. She was really tired and I did not push it. It's not that we were really hurting for some BBQ. At around 10:30 we ordered some salads from room service and went to bed.
We had a 2:45 flight on Labor Day and were hoping to go to LC's to score some meat to take home. Much to our disappointment, LC's was closed and we decided to go to Arthur Bryant's. We got 2 pounds of beef (with no sauce) and a lb of sausage which we sampled and enjoyed (much, much better than Gate's' sausage.) We then headed back to the hotel to finish packing. We wanted to have some BBQ on the plane and were growing short on time. The cloest place to the hotel was Gate's and we stopped in there quickly to grab some burnt ends sandwiches. When we opened up our sandwiches on the plane, the aroma wafted through the cabin and we heard many comments such as "I hope they brought enough for everyone."
From a dining standpoint, KC was just outstanding. I owe it all to your recommendations. Our friends were amazed how I knew about such local places. Thanks so much. This site is what makes the Internet so useful.
In closing, I would like to repeat that Kansas City, despite the rain, was so good to us and we can't wait to return. What's it like during the holidays? (remember we're wimpy California natives.)
Since we've been home, I haven't touched beef or pork, only fish and chicken. The Arthur Bryant beef and sausage is in the fridge alongside LC's sauce. Guess what I'm having for Sunday dinner??