Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kansas City BBQ

Traveling around as much as we have the past couple of years we've been able to get to most of the major BBQ areas in the country. (With the exception of Texas and we'll try to get to that this summer). In the last few weeks we traveled through Kansas city. We picked two popular local spots and set out to see what all the fuss was about. The first place we tried was Woodyard Bar-B-Que. Pretty well known, visited by many foodie TV programs including No Reservations and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

When we arrived for lunch there were only a couple of parties seated in the outdoor dining area. Fine by me, this was on of the few places we didn't have to wait in line to order.

 We looked over the menu and made our choices. Chicken, ribs, sausage and brisket for me and a combo for the Dining Companion that included ribs, turkey, brisket and burnt ends.I had the cheesy corn side and the Dining Companion had the coleslaw. Our food arrived and we dug in. Nothing was really fabulous but nothing was awful either. The food was OK but not pilgrimage worthy, in my opinion, as some people have claimed. The ribs looked good but were fairly tasteless and a bit dry. I tried the burnt ends and the few bites I had were very chewy. I'm not an expert in burnt ends by any stretch but that wasn't the consistency I expected. Tastes vary and I get that but for us the whole experience was underwhelming. Our first foray into Kansas City BBQ was nothing to write home about.

Our next stop is also a very popular spot, Oklahoma Joe's Barbeque. We went to the original location that is located in a gas station. Here we did encounter a line of folks waiting to order lunch. Not only was there a line to order food the dining room was filled about to capacity when we got there. We looked over the menu and were ready to order when we made it up to the counter.

The Dining Companion ordered the brisket plate and I ordered the ribs and sausage. Now granted, Oklahoma Joe's may not be known for their brisket but that pile of roast beef masquerading as barbeque was just sad. As for my lunch, nothing special. The ribs were OK, a little on the dry side. But that sausage, what the heck is with those little slices? I don't get that presentation at all. The best part of my lunch was the toast. Truth.


That was our maiden voyage into the world of Kansas City BBQ. Maybe we ordered wrong? Maybe there's a secret that we don't know? Whatever the case we came away underwhelmed once again.

I was informed by a couple of people that we should have tried Arthur Bryant's. If, when, we make our way back to the area we'll give it a try. I have hope that there is a shining beacon of BBQ out there that we just managed to miss.

Happy dining!


For my money this is what brisket should be like. And for the record this wasn't found in any BBQ hotspot we visited, it's from Minnesota. Review to come.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pappy's Smokehouse - St.Louis, Missouri

During our recent travels we decided to check out a few BBQ places along the way. The first place we visited was Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis. Being a fan of St. Louis style ribs (dry rubbed) I was really looking forward to giving this place a try.


Pappy's is a very popular place for BBQ in St. Louis. Knowing that and knowing that people start lining up early, we made our way there as soon as they opened for lunch. Even though we were early there was still a line of people waiting to order.

The menu is chalked on a couple of boards that hang over the register. We went in knowing what we wanted but took a moment to look things over in case anything else sounded good. In the end we ordered a combo plate with brisket and a hot link and a rib dinner.

Ribs, sweet potato fries and fried corn on the cob

First the ribs. They were great. Not to spoil future posts but these were easily the best ribs we had the whole trip. Perfectly cooked, meaty, tender without being too soft. Just really fantastic. And that corn on the cob, it's fried! I had to try it. Frying gave the corn a sweet, nutty flavor. Odd but good. The rest of the meal was rounded out with some tasty sweet potato fries. All in all very good.
Brisket and hot link combo

Next up was the brisket and hot link. This sadly was not quite the hit that the ribs were. I'm not sure how well you can see the brisket in this picture but it was not at all what we were expecting. Again, not to spoil anything, but the best brisket of the trip was found in MN. But we'll save that for a future post. The sides were very good. The coleslaw was unusual and reminded me more of kraut than coleslaw but in a good way. I'm not usually a fan but I enjoyed this version a lot.

Tasty, tasty brisket

While we were enjoying lunch one of the owners (John Matthews, wonderful customer service attitude) was walking through the dining room asking people how they were enjoying things. We mentioned that we loved the ribs but that the brisket wasn't what we were expecting. He asked why and we mentioned both cut and trim. Well no sooner did we mention that he went back to the kitchen and delivered a new order of brisket to our table. This order was EXACTLY what we expected. Beautiful smoke, fat cap in place, great flavor. Sadly we were told that most diners aren't interested in the fattier cut and that's why they serve the leaner cut as the default. Such a shame. I can't believe that people are so worried about a little fat that they prefer something dry and less flavorful. Fine by me. That leaves the good stuff for us.

Overall our visit to Pappy's Smokehouse was pretty great. If our travels take us back to St. Louis you can be sure we'll be in line at Pappy's for those wonderful ribs and a pile of that succulent brisket.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paducah, Kentucky

If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would end up spending time in Paducah, Kentucky I would have had a hard time believing it. Add to that it would become personally significant to me and I would have laughed out loud. Turns out that's exactly what happened.

Paducah  has become, at least in my mind, the gateway to the south. It's become a waypoint and a rest stop along the way.

Paducah, Kentucky is a located in the southwestern corner of the state. It is a mid-sized city, a large portion of which has been placed on the National Historical Register.

We walked around the city and stopped to take in a couple of the local attractions. The first one was the Iron Horse Memorial. I can't resist a train display. (There may also be a model train set-up in town somewhere. Next time through I'll be checking that out.)

The second place we visited was Paducah Wall to Wall. There is a large flood wall that protects historic downtown Paducah from both the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers overflowing their banks. The flood wall includes three city blocks of painted murals that capture important moments in Paducah's history. It's a very cool way to handle what could be a big, albeit helpful, eyesore.

After all of the times we traveled through Paducah, Kentucky I'm glad we finally took the time to stop and take a look around. It's a lovely town and definitely worth visiting if you plan to be in the area. There's still a bit more of the city that I want to see but that will have to wait for next time.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here and there...

We're on the road this week. Paducah, KY, St.Louis, MO, Kansas City, KS, Des Moines, IA. I'll have some new posts up and pictures of these travels in the coming weeks. Thanks for stopping by. Happy travels!