Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Kansas City

Arthur Bryant’s BBQ

Inevitably, my trip to Kansas City was going to include a trip to the stalwart of Kansas City Barbecue; Arthur Bryant’s. Similar to Rendezvous from the week before, Arthur Bryant’s is firmly established as one of the most famous barbecue joints in the country, and has been featured in reams of magazines and television shows celebrating its fame. Fame, accolades and mass appeal don’t buy a lot of credibility with me however, this is barbecue after all, not reality TV. It’s the meat on the plate that counts, so I sauntered in to Arthur Bryant’s to see if there was actual substance behind that reputation.

I arrived early at 10:00am just as they were opening the doors for the day, on a warning from Daniel over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ (who also recommended fantastic LC’s BBQ the day before). If you haven’t read Daniel’s blog before, it’s a remarkable chronicle of a true BBQ fanatic. Judging by his reviews of places I have tried, his taste buds are virtually infallible.

 

http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/

 

At this hour, the serpentine lines hadn’t formed yet, so I was able to stroll right up to the counter and promptly place my order. Brisket, ribs and burnt ends were on the docket this morning, and I gathered them back at my table while the ESPN Gameday talking heads chattered away on the big screen in front of me.

The brisket comes thin sliced in sandwich form, and while it was certainly a heavy handed portion, the brisket itself had only a hint of smoke and a consistency on the dry side. The ribs were a bit of an enigma. While having a pleasant color and well smoked flavor, they had a noticeable “gummy” texture and were discernibly chewy. This leads me to believe I may have been served leftovers from the night before. Finally, the burnt ends were rather disappointing especially juxtaposed to the jaw dropping burnt ends from LC’s BBQ the day before. This particular batch lacked the thorough smokiness found in LC’s burnt ends, and had been so thoroughly drown in Arthur Bryant’s pungent sauce (despite my firm request at the ordering window for no sauce) that they ate more like a BBQ stew than burnt ends.


In the end the barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s is average at best, and I had been thoroughly warned and prepared that this would be the case. It’s one of those places that you simply have to visit one time based solely on the virtue of its reputation and status in the barbecue world. However, if you’re a purist looking for some of the best smoked meats in Kansas City, there are far better options to be found.

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LC’s Barbecue – Burnt to Perfection

With my feet barely on the ground from the plane ride in, I dashed for the rental car counter and peeled out of the parking lot like Bo Duke in the General Lee (substitute grey Hyundai Accent for 69’ Dodge Charger). Such was my enthusiasm for my first trip to Kansas City, a town synonymous with great barbecue. The place high on my list was LC’s Barbecue, which was slightly off the beaten path from the “big two” in Kansas City; Gates and Arthur Bryant’s. While those establishments may be more famous, LC’s I was assured, had the better cue’.

After some deliberation on the menu (KC joints seem averse to the concept of a variety plate), I ordered up the usual brisket and ribs, and tossed a newcomer into the mix: Burnt Ends. Burnt Ends, as I learned, are an order of the charred crusty end pieces of brisket, prized by some and shunned by others.

 

 

As I quickly learned, the brisket in Kansas City is served thin sliced, sandwich style and slathered in sauce.After observing the pitmaster heavily ladling the sauce onto my brisket, I quickly stopped him before he garnished my ribs and burnt ends with the obfuscating liquid.This drew a raised eyebrow from the woman behind the register, an expression which bordered on both puzzled and offended.Regardless, my ribs and burnt ends were spared from the murky crimson depths, and I could give the quality of the meat a proper evaluation.

The brisket was pretty standard fare, though the thin slicing makes it chew close to deli roast beef for my taste. The strong KC style sauce also rendered it difficult to taste the meat. The ribs on the other hand, were delightful. They were quite meaty, had a beautiful pinkish smoke ring and a deep smokiness throughout the meat that pulled nicely off the bone without falling apart. These were lovingly cooked ribs.

Then there were the Burnt Ends.Oh my, Burnt Ends where have you been all my life?Subconsciously, my favorite part of the brisket has always been the end pieces that have a thick ring of charred crust, and I find myself squirreling them away for the last few bites of my meal.The fusion of smoke, beef, salty rendered fat and a chewy crunch is the pinnacle of BBQ, and why prized brisket is such a rare indulgence.Now imagine an entire order of those magnificent nuggets from heaven, every morsel bursting with the charred flavor of a smoky punch to the face, and you have an order of burnt ends from LC’s Barbecue.Each bite is heroin for the tongue.


I plowed through my brisket and ribs in fairly short order, but I savored every bite of the burnt ends and they were one of the best Barbecue dishes I have ever had. If you ever find yourself in KCK, skip the lines and hoopla of the barbecue factories and head into LC’s for some burnt end nirvana.

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