4.9% ABV from a pitcher
Our trip to Kansas (beginning of course in Missouri) started off well. A brief flight on the impressive regional Midwest Airlines (first class seats and fresh-baked cookies for everyone!) before landing at the comically miniscule Kansas City International airport where the pilot hit the trunk pop button and we retrieved our belongings. Quite frankly, we were surprised KCI had interstate flights, much less international, as I’ve seen airports invaded by zombie attacks that were more bumping. The city was likewise dead, the streets so empty during “rush” hour that we were easily able to pull off several mid-highway u-turns after getting lost trying to follow their poorly labeled signs. Luckily, though the city epically sucked, we had enough preplanned activities that we figured we could easily make it through our single night in town. On hopefully the only night of our lives in Kansas City, we began at Arthur Bryant’s, often cited as the best BBQ joint in the world.
At the corner of 17th and Brooklyn we found an absolute dump, but a cafeteria-style line out the door meant the place’s reputation must surely be accurate. Waiting to order, we salivated looking at the piles of food people were retrieving on upturned shield-sized plates, while also goofing on the folks considered big enough celebrities in Kansas City to earn a framed autographed picture on their wall. Believe me, the Vice Blogger is more than famous enough for such an honor and I was sure to leave behind a dirty napkin with my signature on it. No word if it has been matted and mounted just yet.
We ordered a full slap of ribs, a pound of their noted burnt ends, a huge side of potato salad, and a pitcher of Boulevard Pale Ale, a local brew. Total cost, $32. Unbelievable. The ribs were sublime, literally falling off the bone as we scarfed them down. I would have to call them maybe the best I’ve ever had. The burnt ends were hearty and tasty and the potato salad was rich, cool, and delicious. The beer was better than expected too. A terrific smell and a decent taste. Pretty good but ultimately unremarkable. I think it could have been a truly great one if it had more hops and a higher ABV. Having said that, it was eminently drinkable.
Overall, It was a meal fit for a king. Unfortunately, there wasn’t exactly royalty in the place, every other guest in the restaurant being an obese hillbilly trying to handle their BBQ without getting any on their finest Larry Johnson t-shirt jersey while completely ignoring their rugrats. The restaurant was full of red-sauce covered brats sprinting around, making noise, and nearly touching me with their grubby paws–a prevailing theme for the weekend–but even they couldn’t ruin one of the best meals of my life.
I’m a shameless homer who will never call a BBQ joint better than Dinosaur, but Arthur’s Bryants is right up there. I encourage you to order some of their sauce, it is without question the best I’ve ever had, a flawless blend of sweet, tangy, and spicy with a most unique gritty texture due to the crushed-up dried peppers in the mix. Seriously, order it. You’ll soon enough be pouring that stuff on top of everything you eat–meat, salads, banana splits, everything–it is just that good. I can’t stop thinking about it.
With inexplicably no moist towlettes in the joint, my hands and especially cuticles would be covered in BBQ fragments for the rest of the evening, but that was fine, it left a beautiful reminder of my splendid meal as we headed off to catch the Triple-A Kansas City Royals in action.