Who likes to eat? Well, just by taking one look at me you know I do. I am a big fan of food appreciation, not just binge eating to get as many calories as I can. I take the time to enjoy my food, spending hours preparing it if I cook at home or hunting down the best restaurants a city has to offer. Take Indianapolis, for example. Here in the Circle City, there are numerous places to eat. If you are in the mood for steak, I suggest heading downtown to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. Or if you are craving something a little different, then head over to The Journey for a wide selection of sushi, authentic Chinese food, and an array of American choices.
But what if you are in the mood for something a little messier, like ribs? Well, Indianapolis has a few decent rib places, but nothing compared to what you can find in Kansas City. Kansas City sits right on the edge of Kansas and mostly falls into the state of Missouri. Here, you can prepare to taste some of the best ribs and some of the world’s finest barbecue sauce. I recently returned from a weekend getaway to Kansas City and took the liberty of tasting a few of these well-known barbecue hot spots.
Arthur Bryant’s has been open for years and has seen more famous people than I could mention. Movie stars like Harrison Ford and Natalie Portman have been here. Even baseball players make this place a frequent stop when they are in town. And did I mention how many US presidents have stopped by for a bite to eat? When you are sitting inside Arthur Bryant’s, you will get not only a great meal and some delicious ribs, but you also may see a celebrity or two.
This place has also been featured in some big-name magazine publications such as Better Homes and Garden as well as Gourmet Food Magazine. Even magazines like Golf Digest and Playboy have praised the ribs that come out of this kitchen. And let me tell you. These ribs are to die for. In a dish nown as the “King of Ribs,” you will get a plate full of meat that is literally falling off the bone. Don’t ask them what is in their sauce, though. They won’t tell you. Charlie Bryant started this establishment with a secret ingredient and while Charlie is no longer with us today, his sauce lives on. You can even purchase this sauce on their website and in their stores.
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue
This place has only been around for fifty years or so, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t know how to make ribs. Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue is a little bit nicer on the inside than Arthur Bryant’s, and may even resemble fine dining to some, but don’t let that fool you. This place is nothing but a meat lover’s paradise. You can take your pick from one of three locations located in and around the southern Kansas City area.
While I was there, I enjoyed a plate of their Denver Lamb Ribs. These puppies were not your typical ribs that you get at the grocery store, and their sauce, although I would have liked more on the ribs themselves, was delicious. It was a thicker, more tart sauce, and it complemented the lamb ribs perfectly. Also, their sides were something to write home about. I ordered a side of their baked beans and they were thick and meaty enough to be a meal in themselves. The prices are a bit higher than you might want to pay for a slab of ribs, but you will leave full and satisfied.
LC’s is not what I would call fine dining. However, this place is what a lot of locals consider to be the best barbecue around. This place serves their meals up on Styrofoam plates, and loads so much on their sandwiches, I dare you to finish them all. They are actually known for their sandwiches more than their ribs. One offering, named the “Burnt Ends” sandwich, is a stack of oozing barbecued meats, seared on both ends.
Their prices are actually quite reasonable. For instance, if you order the brisket sandwich, prepare to ask for a to go box because it is a pound of meat! You can also order a side of French fries for only $3.00. If you do order the ribs, prepare to ask for some extra napkins too. They smother their ribs with sauce. But the sauce is good, almost too good, and has a tangy but sweet finish to it. Regardless of what you order, you are not going to leave hungry.
I don’t know about you, but I rarely eat dinner at a gas station. But that’s exactly the direction I was pointed in when trying to find another Kansas City barbecue staple. The place is called Oklahoma Joe’s. Not only is this place attached to a gas station, but there is also a liquor store on one side as well. Consider this a one-stop shop where you can grab gas for your truck, dinner for your tummy, and beer for your Friday night.
The locals call this place OK Joe’s and for good reason. The food here is incredible. Their Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich is one of the best-pulled pork sandwiches I have ever eaten. It is covered in their signature sauce, which is labeled in bottles for sale as the “Best Sauce on the Planet.” Now, I don’t know if it is the best sauce on the planet, but is it was pretty tasty.
These are just a few barbecue joints located in and around the Kansas City metropolitan area. There are several more places around town, but there is only so much barbecue that I can eat. But if you are around the KC area any time soon, stop into one of these restaurants and feed yourself on some authentic sauces and incredible ribs. You won’t regret it. I know I didn’t. I am still trying to finish off my gallon of barbecue sauce from LC’s.