Kansas City Barbecue

When Chris’s parents come to town, we usually take them on a side trip somewhere for a weekend, and this year, we chose Kansas City. It’s an interesting city in that it belongs to both Missouri and Kansas, and because neither of us had been to Kansas before, it was another state to tick off the list (42 for me, and 44 for Chris). It’s driving distance from both the Truman and the Eisenhower presidential library and museums, and it’s also an American barbecue capital, one that we hadn’t yet had the chance to enjoy until today.

We chose to go to Joe’s Kansas City, as it was the most popular and has been rated one of the best, if not the best, barbecue restaurant in the country. Even though it was a Friday, there was still a bit of queue (a local told me that this was far shorter than usual), and so we lined up. They’re known for their beef ribs and “burnt ends” especially, and pretty much all of their sides. Burnt ends are “the thing” in Kansas City, and it’s rumored that each barbecue restaurant has their own “style” of how to make them. We ordered the beef ribs, brisket, and the burnt ends, along with spicy slaw, potato salad, dirty rice, and baked beans.

Chris and I have been fortunate to have gone to pretty much every major barbecue region in the country, and before this trip, our shared favorites were by far Texas style barbecue, and then North Carolina barbecue. One of our least favorites was actually in the state of Missouri, in St. Louis; the meat didn’t have much flavor at all, and all the focus seemed to be on the sauces… which is great, but if I’m going to eat barbecue which is supposed to take hours and hours to cook, I want really good meat first, not really good sauce. Who eat barbecue just for the sauce and not the meat, anyway? But now that we’ve had this barbecue, I can safely say that this is probably my second favorite barbecue now. The ribs were some of the best and most flavorful ribs I’ve had; they weren’t fall of the bone tender, but a good cross of fall-of-the-bone with just a bit of bite. The rub on them was also really smokey and complex. Every side we ordered was memorable.

Kansas City is impressive. I’m still salivating over those ribs and the burnt ends.

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