It was almost time to head out of Kansas, but before we did, we needed some lunch. The must-eat meal of Kansas was, of course, BBQ.
Barbecue is such a regional thing that it shows up on the must-eat list several times: Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and possibly Missouri if you go that route – there are a couple of options for that one. Other states have their own regional varieties as well, but these are the big ones. For those that aren’t “in the know”, here is a brief description of the different types of BBQ in the USA:
- Kansas City – Various types of meat are hickory smoked and served with a tomato-based sauce
- Saint Louis – Pork ribs smoked while being coated in a tomato/vinegar sauce that makes them super sticky
- South Carolina – Pork (smoked and pulled) served with a mustard based sauce
- Tennessee – Specifically Memphis: Smoked meat (typically pork ribs) dry-rubbed and served with a thin, tomato and vinegar based sauce
- Texas – Smoked, rubbed brisket! Mmmm….Texas barbecue can be served with sauce, but is often without.
Different people have different favorites, but I grew up on Kansas City BBQ, so it gets my vote. As for places to go in Kansas City, there are a billion. But for the kids’ first KC trip, we chose to stop at the “original”…Arthur Bryant’s.
Food: The BBQ is no question, hands down, the best. It’s smokey and flavorful and just cannot be beat. I always have the brisket sandwich with beans. It’s served on toasted (barely) bread. I actually usually end up picking the meat off the bread and just eating it with sauce. The bread isn’t really worth filling up on. The beans are really amazing, too. I love thick sauced beans.
Atmosphere: Not much to speak of. It’s crowded, plain, and somewhat dirty. Don’t go here for the atmosphere. You want the food.
Service: Arthur Bryant’s is an experience. You go in and stand in line to order and you better know what you want when you get to the counter! The staff are very no-nonsense and so is the line of regulars. You order and get your food, then head off to find a table if you can. You never see another staff member or waiter. You are on your own. (But remember, you are here for the food.)
Tips: Honestly you can’t go wrong here no matter what you order, but the brisket is the best. Just go expecting to be underwhelmed by the service and atmosphere and you are good to go. I recommend going at a bit of an off time as the lunch/dinner rush are pretty insane.
Next up we’re heading out of Kansas and a little ways into Missouri from one more impromptu stop.