Kansas City Part III: Kansas City Barbecue
Lee's Summit, MO
We have had lots of barbecue all over the country. Different areas have different styles. Back east, barbecue means pork. In Texas, they raise cattle so barbecue is mainly beef. Since Kansas City was a railroad hub where animals were brought to be shipped by rail, they have both beef and pork. In Kansas City, you will frequently find turkey, sausage and chicken on the menu as well. And while they have the smoker hot, they sometimes throw in a couple of hams, too. In spite of all the variety, we usually get pulled pork, ribs, or beef brisket.
When we were in Kansas City Last year, we tried three different places for barbecue - Oklahoma Joe's, Gate's Barbecue, and Smokin' Guns. We didn't like Gate's very much (the meat was very fatty), Smokin' Guns was pretty good, and Oklahoma Joe's was by far our favorite - we went twice last year. We liked Oklahoma Joe's so much, it was a no-brainer that we would go there again this year.
The first time we went to Oklahoma Joe's last year, it was a Saturday. Big mistake. The line for the order counter was all the way around the inside of the restaurant, out the door, and across the parking lot. It took us over an hour to place our order. The photo below shows the Saturday crowd last year.
This year, we did what we did on our second visit last year and went at 2:00 in the afternoon in the middle of the week. Last year, there was almost no line. This year, we happened to arrive right behind a large group of 20 or 25 people that were together, and the line was about halfway down the length of the restaurant. In the photo below, the line started just out of view to the left and went to the order counter located about in the center of the photo.
Even with somewhat of a line, our wait wasn't too bad - it took us about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the front. We both had our favorite from last year - the Z-Man. Z-Man sandwiches are barbecued brisket, provolone cheese and fried onion rings served with barbecue sauce on a kaiser roll. The smokey brisket combined with the sweet barbecue sauce, the creamy cheese and the crunch of the fried onion rings is outstanding!
We were tempted to go back to Oklahoma Joe's toward the end of our stay, but we decided to take our 2011 Zeller Foodie Tour to a different restaurant. We considered several alternatives, and ended up going to Woodyard Bar-B-Que, which was featured on Triple D. As soon as we drove up, there was no doubt they smoke their own meats.
There are a few parking spaces in front, but they were filled, so we parked around back in the woodyard. The next photo shows only about half their wood, so not only do they smoke their own meats, they are very serious about it.
The current owner's grandfather sold firewood. He sold woods such as hickory, apple, cherry, oak, and other smoking woods to BBQ restaurants in the area. He started smoking meat himself for his lunch because by using a slow fire, he could continue working without having to spend a lot of time tending the food. Grandpa would frequently feed his customers and friends for free. The owner's father continued the in the same spirit of generosity by smoking meats for charities and church fund raisers. The father eventually gave in to many requests and opened a restaurant.
We went inside and placed our order. There is indoor seating, but we chose a table outside near the smokers...
...where we could watch the cooking process.
We went on Saturday because that's the day they have their rib special - a whole rack of baby back or spare ribs for $13.50 (regularly $15). Paul practiced his rib-eating posture while we waited for our meal to arrive.
We split a rack of baby backs and had potato salad for our sides.
Ahhhh! That's better. Now we have the real thing!
The ribs were nice and smokey and very meaty. We decided to try baby backs because they are supposed to be leaner and meatier than spare ribs. However, the extra fat in spare ribs makes them more tender. We liked the flavor of our ribs, but they were a little more chewy than we would have liked. Next time we'll order spare ribs if we have a choice.
In our next post, we'll report on some sightseeing we did in nearby Independence, MO. Stay tuned.