As a birthday treat to myself this year, I decided to take my car solo on its first long-distance trip. Considering last year’s trip to a BBQ Mecca in Memphis, going the 120 miles to KC was a no brainer.
First impression of KC as a town: who the hell designed the roads? A crack-addicted lemur? It seems like every other street downtown is a one-way, & the freeways bring to mind what would occur if a Jackson Pollock painting were mistaken for a blueprint (BTW: nice touch with the speed limits changing 3-4 times within a couple mile stretch, real cute). Huge, and easy to get lost in without a navigator (more on that later), though once you do find your way around there’s all the options that you generally only get in a big city: were it not for lacking change for meters, I would’ve just parked somewhere downtown and walked until I couldn’t.
My opening pick was Jack Stack BBQ, in the aforementioned downtown area. It apparently shares a strip with multiple other businesses, because when Tom Tom said I was there, I saw signs for everything BUT Jack Stack’s at first. A short turn revealed their parking, and onward I went…
This place came highly recommended from a friend of mine who also appreciates smoked meat. Upon entrance, I couldn’t help but notice it’s the most ballerific-looking bbq joint I’ve ever seen:
The place is large, for one. For another, the servers all appeared to have earpieces like they were in the meat equivalent of the Secret Service. Several groups of people appeared to have shown up straight from some form of formal gathering. I’m the type of guy that would gladly bring a date to grub on bbq, believing that you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them eat with their hands, but this place pretty much anybody could do so and get away with it. Don’t let that fool you into thinkin’ they’re some borgeoisie pseudo interpretation of ‘cue though — your girl has a big chance to get that cute lil dress plenty messy.
Here’s the plate I got:
I was indecisive, so I got the Ultimate Rib platter: pork spare & back ribs, LAMB ribs, & a Crown Prime beef rib. The pork ribs were basically what I expected: moist, deeply smoked, & more towards the sweet end as far as sauce character as is KC’s niche. The Lamb ribs…honestly, the first time I heard of any place doing lamb ribs I thought it’d be too hard to pull off, but these were decadently tender & unctuous.
Then, I got to this:
Well HELLO there, dinosaur-sized glistening hunk of meat! How you doin’?
This was an experience in and of itself. The depth of hickory love, the pretty much pornographic juiciness…while holding a huge piece of meat in your hands like this, I swear, for those moments you feel a bit more of a man. The rub doesn’t penetrate as deep as for the other meats, but with this it’d be beyond the point if it did.
All in all, this was well worth it.
Next up, pretty much because it was still open & I got the gist of the area from earlier, was Winslow’s BBQ. It’s in a large area known as City Market, with several restaurants and other stores sharing the same walking space.
While Jack Stack resembles a hunting lodge, this place takes on the feel of your friendly neighborhood bar, one that ooh, what do you know, we just happen to have barbecue! Have some! Don’t mind if I do…
Their thing, from what I gleaned from the menu, is sammiches — pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends, that type of thing. Seeing a beef brisket option with a “bourbon bacon” sauce — you know damn well I’m getting it. This was what came out…
I lift up the top to show just how meaty this was. And that meat…sweet frickin’ Cthulhu! Super slow’n’low smoked most of the day, this was the best brisket I’ve ever had. I’m more of a pork guy when it comes to ‘cue, but this sammich made me understand in the depths of my very soul what beef brisket can indeed be with the right care.
Back to the navigator: I don’t like its reaction time. There were two instances where the voice turn-by-turn command said to turn only as I was going straight through the light. Gotta respond faster, yo.
As for the car: ye olde 96 Cutlass is turning out a comparative beast at highway speeds. The gas gauge needle floats, so I’d been using the trip meter to supplement it; the same distance that in town was taking almost the whole tank, from home to KC & traipsing the freeways it took that & another half before I even needed to consider gas.
For the moment, this big negro is happy. Goodnight.