The state line runs down the middle of Kansas City, one part in Kansas, one in Missouri.  And even though most of the famous barbecue joints are in Missouri, because of the proximity, you can easily vote in Kansas and eat barbecue for lunch in Missouri, or visa versa.  A little thing like the state line doesn’'t divide barbecue lovers.  Here then, is a quick run down of my favorite barbecue joints in two states and one metropolitan area.

oklahoma_joe.jpgOKLAHOMA JOE’S
3002 W.47TH AVE.
913 722-3366

Dining at Oklahoma Joe’s might be your first chance to eat sitting down in a gas station.  This unorthodox pairing has served everyone well, the food is good and it is easy to give directions as the location is unique.  This is one case of folks who won the biggest competition in the country, The American Royal, and who gave up their amateur status several years ago to open Oklahoma Joe’s.  They have become a darling of barbecue lovers and a favorite of the food press nationally.  The ribs, pork, and sauce stand out.

913 262-0343

This old time place in a blue collar neighborhood has its own cadre of supporters.  Yes, the service is brusque and the french fries are not worth ordering, but they have a chicken that is divine.  I had consumed many of these birds before I found out the secret of their crispy skin: they are smoked and then, at their moment of sale, dipped in hot frying oil briefly to crisp up before being slathered with sauce. Although the calculation of calories took the wind out of my sails temporarily, it wasn’t long before I was back for another “half to go”.  Some things in life are worth the cost and this chicken is one of those things.

gatesbbq.jpgGATE’S BARBECUE
3205 MAIN and other locations
816 753-0828

Ollie Gates has created an empire around his barbecue restaurants, including a training school for his employees, a barbecue college of  sorts.  And one of the things the Gate’s experience is known for is the standard greeting that is shouted at you the minute you arrive, “MAY I HELP YOU?”   It is both comforting and frightening, especially to a first timer.  The food is all authentic, pit roasted meats and they have enough followers in the community to be called the most popular barbecue in Kansas City, which is no mean feat.  Go for the ribs.

816 231-1123

arthursbbq.jpg This is certainly the most famous barbecue in Kansas City, known far and wide for all the presidents that have eaten there, plus Calvin Trillin.  It is a funky joint in the old African-America section of town, and it is a melting pot of white and black, rich and poor. One of the great by- products of barbecue is how it brings like minded eaters together, no matter what their politics or religion may be.  And even though Arthur Bryant is not of this world any longer, his legacy and his sauce have been maintained.  The french fries here ARE worth the calories.  I think lard is involved but I don’t want to ask.  The brisket is tender and the ribs always alluring.  The current owners have added pulled pork, which is not a Kansas City specialty, and rib tips, which should be.  The whole experience is like getting to eat a bit of history.  Be sure to top it with Arthur's famous orange sauce.


kansas_lc.gifL.C.’'S BARBECUE
816 923-4484

I have saved the best for last.  Picture this: a pot of beans tucked away on the floor of the pit smoker, just sitting there grabbing flavor, drippings and bits of meat from everything that passes through up above. Then picture a melt in your mouth beef or pork sandwich and the best fries in town.  And, of course, some of those beans.  L.C., trained long ago at the aforementioned Arthur Bryant’s, and has attained legend status himself.  If you only have time for one barbecue experience in Kansas City, let it be L.C.’s.