Dec 262008
 

I like this place. It’s bustling, unpretentious, friendly and the food is very good though I’ve only had a couple things. Quick’s is located practically next door to the glorious Boulevard Drive-in, making it a perfect joint to grab some take-out to bring to a summer double feature.

Exterior

From what I’ve read, this establishment is not to be confused with Quick’s 7th Street which by all accounts is vastly inferior, though located nearby.


This is yet another BBQ joint with table service, but the interior is very casual. There is a counter up front as you walk in where you can sit if you don’t want to deal with servers. I sat up there once and got to see the kitchen in action, the copious number of people coming in for take out, and the waitress smack-talk. As this was just before Thanksgiving, the owner was talking about making smoked turkeys for people to pick up on Wednesday. This service wasn’t advertised anywhere, but Quick’s seems to have enough regular customers that everyone is pretty well in the know.

Interior

I’ve heard of places like Quick’s, Rosedale and Woodyard referred to as “hillbilly barbecue” (as opposed to African American barbecue, presumably) and sure, the label fits. People were talking about pickup trucks after all. But just like Bryant’s or Gates on a busy day, you will see people of all stripes and persuasions mowing down on ribs and brisket.

And they know what they are doing here. I received confirmation of this when I overheard the owner say that he has no oven in the place. Yeah–no oven, just a smoker, a fryer, and maybe a grill. Maybe. That’s hardcore, because anyone who makes barbecue knows that finishing stuff in the oven is mighty tempting. But it’s also cheating.

The brisket and the ribs are both very good, expertly cooked and smoky. You can get sandwiches ($4.49) on white, wheat, rye or a bun, although I can’t imagine pulled pork on rye. Smoked turkey on rye? Perhaps I can get behind that. Like other barbecue joints, Quick’s offers sauces in sweet and hot varieties, and both have a nice balance of flavor and a good amount of tang (not the beverage). The fries weren’t my favorite, although not bad by any stretch of the imagination. They were potato wedges, lightly battered and fried. Something about battered fries bothers me unless I’m at Arby’s.

quicks
Quick’s really warrants several more trips because the menu ventures into a strange and wonderful realm with offerings like deep fried bologna and a glorious mess called “The Big Chili Dog:” a half-pound spiral cut, deep fried hot dog with chili, cheese, and onion. Oh. Yeah. I haven’t seen one (although Mr. Ferruzza has eaten one) but it sounds epic.

photo

There are a number of of other specials as well. Quick’s is definitely going on The DLC’s BBQ rotation. But I don’t hit up this part of Kansas City, Kansas very often it’s unlikely I’ll be a regular. But for those of you who live or work nearby, check it out for some good BBQ, great service and good prices. While not the best BBQ in KC, Quick’s is definitely the real deal.

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Poll Results: How do you spell it?

 Posted by at 7:52 pm
Dec 072008
 

The results are in:

The readership of KC Lunch Spots decisively prefers “BARBEQUE” with nearly twice the votes of the nearest competitor “BARBECUE.” I myself admit to being in the last category: I spell it however the hell I want to. But I had always assumed that the correct way is with a C, not a Q.

So after the poll closed I did some quick research in the illustrious Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps the most exhaustive and authoritative resource on the English language. The OED’s take?

barbecue; barbeque; bar-b-cue; bar-b-que. The first form is the predominant and the preferred spelling.

The origin of the word is indeed the Spanish “barbacoa,” which is probably why the C remains official, while the Q was added, well, because the last syllable sounds like a Q. Other, more ghetto sources simply state that either form is acceptable, with some even claiming Bar-B-Que is an approved alternative. I imagine the shorter alternative misspellings came about because of clever business people, marketers and sign makers, the same people who brought you the word “Donut” and everyone’s favorite snack treat, Chicken in a Biskit.

Nov 252008
 

This is so far west in Lenexa, it might as well be De Soto. That means it’s in the middle of nowhere as far as I’m concerned. But good food is worth traveling for so when I noticed Shorthorn’s BBQ just off K-7 (I think) on 83rd Street, I decided to give it a shot.

Well, this is basically a large bar that serves food. Frankly I was hoping for a little more of a unique atmosphere, and maybe a little local color, but there is really none to be found. The restaurant is riddled with cheesy throwaway sports/beer/babe decor and features a million television sets to boot.

The lunch time trade is slight but significant; there were maybe 20 people in the place. I sat at the bar and enjoyed very good service along with a truly mediocre beef brisket sandwich and some good onion rings. The menu has all sorts of other items, from chicken strips to meatball sandwiches to mini-corndogs (!). I like that sandwiches come with choice of Fries, Onion Rings, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, Cottage Cheese or Tater Tots all at the same price. Although I would not want cottage cheese with my BBQ. They also have steaks, pasta and salmon filet entrees if you want to throw away some more money.

There seems to be a crowd of regulars here. I overheard some of them talking about their drunk weekend shenanigans, which probably also took place at Shorthorns. The bartendress was very quick and friendly despite her tendency to shoot the shit with all the dudes handing around the bar.

Basically this is the kind of bland bar and grill I always wind up at when I’m at a conference by myself in a strange town and desperately want a meal and three beers. Sure Shorthorn’s is locally owned and maybe a little rough and tumble when the farmers get their drink on, but I’m sure it succeeds because people just want a close place to eat, drink and chat up a divorcee.

There is really very little to eat out this far west, so Shorthorn’s does the trick if you need to grab a quick lunch. But I would not go out of my way to eat here.

Aug 192008
 

There are three places in Kansas City called Smokestack and this is the only one I’ve been to. There’s one in the northland, one in South KC and this one in Not-As-Far South KC on Wornall road. Anyone know if these are the same operation or just have the same name?

Smokestack is not the best BBQ in the city but it is rather good, and there is something really appealing about the place. It’s not a dive by any stretch but it is very old fashioned. If I recall correctly, it is carpeted and the walls are wood paneled. The “entryway” is defined by a handyman’s wall made from unpainted lattice. My favorite part? The walls are covered with huge, blown-up family portraits taken circa 1973. God I really need to get my camera back, sorry folks, it was stolen by an Oregonian caterer last month. So I’ll have to steal photos from the Smokestack web site.

Looks good, eh?

There is table service at Smokestack, which blows my mind every time I witness it at a BBQ joint. But here, it really fits. This is an old school family run business and I’d say most of the folks running the show are on the older side. I think Smokestack is intended to be a place for “regular folks” to have a nice meal out in KC. In other words, just go with it. They are great servers, all business, no bullshit, big hair.

They aren’t much for presentation at this place, but they certainly give you a nice portion of smoked meat. They have everything you could possibly want in a Kansas City BBQ joint and offer a number of combinations for folks like me who just can’t decide what to try. Like most places they push the ribs in a lot of their combos, probably because they cost more than most other things. I also think ribs are a little more forgiving to the novice cook. I’ve smoked some good ribs in my day but have yet to make a brisket that’s worthy of my mailing address. Oh, have I mentioned that I don’t think the ribs are all that great at Smokestack? They are the “fall off the bone” variety which always reminds me of pot roast rather than BBQ. I like tender meat that still has some integrity and adheres to the bone. These are on the fatty side as well. They remind me of those at the Woodyard.

The beans however, are particularly good. On the sweet side for sure very sweet but tomatoey, with nice chunks of smoked pork in them. The standard side portion is 4 oz, however, which is basically useless. Do yourself a favor and get the large side or you’ll wind up with a veritable shot glass of a souffle cup full of beans. Speaking of beans, they have really good ones at McGonigles when they are out selling BBQ.

The beef and pork are both very good. They have steak fries here which I just don’t get. They don’t have to fry fresh potatoes to make me happy, but I really dislike the mealy, heavy, limp-dick quality that pre-made steak fries usually have. I always find myself eating the smaller, crispier nuggets.

Prices are fine. You’ll eat your ass off for 10-12 bucks, including tip.
There are a couple other BBQ spots that you could choose from in the general vicinity. That place Jake’s up a ways on Wornall appears to be closed and replaced with something terrible. BB’s is not far, same with the aforementioned McGonigles. But Smokestack is a nice easy stop if you work in Waldo, or are out buying random crap at Goodwill across the street (which is what I was doing).

So, it’s a decent place, probably much better for lunch than dinner Why? Well it has to do with my biggest complaint: No beer.

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Jun 022008
 

After parking, walking up and inside the Woodyard BBQ I was ready to declare it the King of all Kansas City Lunch Spots. I had heard about this place for a long time, but only recently figured out what the actual name was and where it was located. Well, it turns out to be right down Merriam Lane a bit from Grandstand in that interesting semi-industrial area where Wyandotte and Johnson Counties run together.

Basically the Woodyard is a humble barbecue operation run out of the bottom floor of a semi-dilapidated house on the South side of Merriam Lane. The place doubles as a literal woodyard, and the parking lot is basically a big gravel pit surrounded by piles of various kinds of chopped wood. The owner waved at us as we drove in. People were parked every which way, redneck style.

As we walked up the steps to a good sized wooden deck we were greeted by the owner who was fiddling around with some wood or something. We were also greeted by a gigantic brick smoker, puffing out great clouds of deliciosity right there next to the seating, which is on the deck. There is a small room with a counter through the front door. That’s where the ordering and condimenting happens. There is a cooler where you can grab the beverage of your choice and a small selection of cheap domestic beers (and corona) available cheaply. My meal came with my choice of drink, and apparently, that includes beer. Gotta love that. The prices are excellent, two of us got out for less than $18 and the portions are large.

The staff brings out your food to you on the deck or wherever you happen to be. The lady at the counter told us we could wander around, hang out, sit wherever and they would find us. There is a separate large pavilion with seating a stone’s throw away from the deck proper, complete with a roof and ceiling fans but it was empty at the time I visited. The Woodyard could throw a serious party with a lot of people if they were so inclined.

Woodyard patio

So there we were, with our car parked awkwardly in a gravel lot, drinking budweiser from a can, sitting on a deck watching a dude who looks like an ex-con flip ribs on the smoker. In other words, it’s a lot like how I spend the rest of my free time. No really, it was like going to a friends summer BBQ, or more like the summer BBQ of someone who you don’t really know that well. There was a even a set of horseshoes sitting on top of the trash can–I was tempted to set up shop there all afternoon.

On to the food:

Let’s get this out of the way first. Woodyard is NOT the best barbecue in Kansas City. It just ain’t. I’ve read and heard glowing things about it all over the place but the truth is that it does not compare favorably to Oklahoma Joe’s, Bryant’s, Jack Stack or (insert your fave bbq place here). But the food is prepared well and the experience is thoroughly enjoyable.

Burnt Ends

Beans were very good but almost certainly dressed up canned beans. The potato salad was run of the mill. The cole slaw was average. The pulled pork, however, was extremely interesting. It lacked the bite that hickory smoked woods give to meat, and was most likely cooked with some sort of fruit wood. But it had an amazing, buttery consistency and very good flavor. The ribs were similarly smoked but a little fatty for my taste. I think they could have used another hour on the smoker, because the texture of the meat was a little too…real. not that I didn’t eat them all. I liked the brisket but it was shaved so thin that it dried out quickly. Plus, I just like a thicker slice of beef, akin to that at Bryants or LC’s.

But I have to say, these are some of the most friendly and easygoing people I have ever encountered in a lunch spot. And the atmosphere is quite compelling. This is a very special place to have in KC and would be really fun to hang out at for a long while with friends. But as a lunch spot? I don’t know if it works. It seems like a place much better savored over a long time than quickly before your 1:30 meeting. It’s a destination place, and everyone should try it.

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Feb 082008
 

Oh man, this place is pretty damn good. I was really, really, really surprised because from the road it looks like pure suburban douchebaggery.

It’s in a pretty nondescript strip mall on Quivira south of Shawnee Mission parkway. Now, whenever I see BBQ in the KC area, I go. And to be frank, I had not heard of Bates City BBQ before, though i think there is a Bates City, Missouri out east of here somewhere.

This place has tremendous character. Yes, they try kinda hard, but they succeed. The first thing I noticed driving up was a sign advertising gennesee beer. You just don;t see Genny in these parts, and it was a legendary quaff among me and my associates in college. Of course, so were a dozen other cheap ass beers. Anyhow, the sign was cool, and the outside of the restaurant featured enormous stacks of wood piled high next to the entrance. I knew that they were doing some serious smoking in this place.

Inside, the service counter was basically a testament to the homespun wisdom of some guy named Tom. Probably the owner of the establishment. Anyhow, the walls and columns around the counter line are riddled with sayings written on torn pieces of brown paper bag. There were so many it’s hard to remember, but here are a couple:

“If at first you don’t succeed,
You’re average” — Tom

Bates City BBQ
“Remember that half the people you know are below average” –Tom

I recall these particular sayings because I was enamored with Tom’s obsession with putting people in their place. Tom is saying ‘get over it people, you’re not so great, you’re just friggin’ average! Deal with it!’ This resonates with me because it’s one of the unofficial themes of my life. Not that I’m average, just every one else is.

Anyway, I got a real kick out of these sayings although many of them flirted with redneckery (“The smartest thing a man ever said: ‘Yes Dear'”). The places just oozes with a sense of humor. The styrofoam cups picture a steer and a pig, arm-in-arm around a fire, smiling like sonabitches.

The places smells delicious and is quite affordable. I purchased a nice sized sandwich, fries and soft srink for 7 bucks and change. The beef was very well flavored, featuring a mighty impressive smoke ring. I could have done without the sesame roll it came on. Where’s the white bread, Tom? They are very liberal with the sauce on the sandwich, so be sure to ask for it dry if that’s the way you roll.

Pulled pork

Shawnee Southern sandwich

The fries were short little crunchy nuggets, kind of like the ass-end of the fryolator. But they were surprisingly delicious and I think this is deliberate. They are a pain to eat w/o a fork though.

Bates City

The sauce was pretty solid. Typical KC stuff here: sweet, thick, tangy, well-flavored. Not in the pantheon of sauces, but very pleasant. The place really advertises its ribs a lot, they must be a favorite. The guy next to me in line got them, and they looked a little overcooked, and again, definitely oversauced. Contrary to popular belief, rib meat should not fall off the bone. That usually means it was finished in tin foil or (*shudder*) par-boiled before smoking. But I’ll reserve ultimate judgment until I actually eat the damn things. And I will, because I’ll be back.

The clientele is kind of what you’d expect for a Shawnee, Kansas BBQ joint. I think my nondescript Toyota was having serious inadequacy issues parked in between two cocktacular pickup trucks the size of humpbacked whales. There were no women to be found in the place, just middle aged guys with mustaches. Let’s just say that Bates City is not a place where I’m inclined to talk politics.

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Dec 202007
 

It’s never a good sign when you walk into a BBQ restaurant and the first thing you see is a sign: “this is a non-smoking establishment.” I’ll say.

Exterior

Zarda’s clearly does good business and even satisfies enough people to do a nice catering trade on the side. But for real, people, you know what the sliced meats reminded me of?

Arby’s.

We’re talking really thinly-sliced meat. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself but it really takes the texture element out of eating BBQ. And like that other place, Zarda’s meat has very little smoke flavor. I have eaten both the pork and beef brisket, and was not impressed. The food is not poor quality, it’s just not great BBQ. The texture of a soft hoagie bun (blasphemy) and a pile of shaved meat is pleasant, but you might as well be eating a sandwich from Hy-Vee with barbecue sauce on it. Mediocre sauce.

Here is the key to enjoying your meal at Zarda: don’t order the sliced meats, rather opt for pulled pork or burnt ends. I ordered the pork on a whim one time and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent texture and quite a bit of hickory smoke flavor. So next time I went I ordered the burnt ends and they too were smoky though a little lacking in that definitive fatty, crunchy texture you want in burnt ends.

Burnt ends

Pulled pork

The fries are not good: cheap, frozen steak fries. Opt for the lightly battered potato wedges which are fine, but I don’t like to get fancy with fries. The beans are average but the fried pickle chips are pretty tasty (wish I had snapped a photo). Speaking of pickles, be sure to ask for a dill spear when you order; they don’t come automatically with your food.

The decor is woodsy in a fairly convincing manner, except for the light-up menu signs behind the counter which make it look a little like McDonald’s. At lunch, they get really busy, but the service is quick as hell, and I got my food in less than 5 minutes. The restaurant is frequented almost entirely by 40-ish polo-shirt-wearing JoCo types taking a break from whatever irresponsible bullshit they sell to participate in a KC tradition without having to interact with black people. I think my gut reaction to the clientele is largely what accounts for this particularly un-sunny review. They are what I used to call yuppies, but they’re really not. Yuppies were people who lived in cities, made a lot of money in cutthroat fashion, wore suspenders and drank good coffee. The new breed are people who live in suburbs or ex-urbs and live their lives as if there were no consequences. The world’s problems pale in comparison to their own financial and familial ups and downs. Thank God they are too self-absorbed to vote.

Whew. Sorry. It’s really not that bad.

Anyway, Zarda seems to have been around for a while, and is clearly well-liked. The prices are a little higher than normal. You will spend ten bucks on lunch easily–just another reason why it’s not going on the regular rotation, since there is better to be had elsewhere.

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Nov 162007
 

This is probably the best bbq I’ve had in JoCo not counting the illustrious Oklahoma Joe’s. It rivals Joe’s in many ways, and surpasses it in atmosphere which is pure tavern. I know, I know, Oklahoma Joe’s is in a friggin gas station what the hell is my problem? Well, simply put, the gas station gimmick just doesn’t do it for me. Certainly it is an unusual situation and makes for a good story. But ultimately it gives old JoCo people the impression that they are slumming it when really it’s a very boring and family-friendly place. I mean, the seating area itself looks like a Hardee’s (don’t get me started on Gates). They also have a very self-satisfied attitude about the gas station aspect, even selling cheesy t-shirts about it. Indeed, their whole sense of marketing is very cartoonish, gimmicky and dated. Remember the Far Side? Their shirts and packaging is in that vein. Only less funny. “Night of the Living Barbeque sauce!” OMG that’s hilarious! Joe’s reliance on oversized kaiser rolls and “specialty sandwiches” doesn’t endear them to me either. I feel a BBQ place should have a simple, modestly sized menu. All that being said, OK Joe’s has excellent barbeque and everything on the menu is tasty, but in other ways it’s just not that interesting.

Admittedly RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack has a stupid name. But the place is about the size and shape of a double wide trailer-a shack, basically. It could easily turn into a drinking establishment in the evening. For all I know it does. The interior is super casual, quiet but not awkwardly so. Suprisingly they offer table service–and it’s excellent service at that. I had absolutely no complaints about that–they were friendly, attentive, efficient, and no bullshit–everything you want in servers.
RJ’s advertises $2 PBR bottles and cheap draws as prominently as the daily specials, which makes it my kind of place.

Their sauce however is…unusual. I hesitate to say that I don’t like it because I do, but I think it may be a liability more than an asset to RJ’s great smoked meats. I just don’t like sauce to distract me and I fear that this one does. It is overly sweet, but also vinegary. It has a subtle flavor that I absolutely cannot identify. I’ll have to make a repeat visit or two to render absolute judgment on this one. Regardless, they offer regular and spicy versions which seem to have no discernable difference from one another. It bugs me when spicy is not spicy. Damn midwesterners.

The pulled pork here was great. Both the pork and french fries were every bit as good as Oklahoma Joe’s who I find overly salt their fries. The chicken however, is uninspired. I expected a kind of pulled chicken, but instead got thick slices of dry breast meat which did not fit comfortably on the bun. But that’s what I get for ordering a chicken sandwich at a bbq place. I really wanted brisket, but was feeling particularly cholesterol-laden.

It is interesting that I haven’t heard much about RJ’s before, perhaps it is a relatively new establishment? Regardless I will continue to make periodic visits to see if other visits measure up to the first one. Both times I have been there, the place was pretty dead–once I was the only customer at 1pm. Mr. Goodcents was hopping next door, though. What the hell is the matter with these people?

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Oct 252007
 

My first foray into the wild world of johnson county lunch cuisine was, expectedly, pretty disappointing, but for weird reasons.

Wyandot 2 BBQ

Wyandot 2 is a great little barbeque place near 75th and Metcalf. Well, great in every respect except the food. It has a casual, almost bar-like vibe to it–wooden booths, brick, and faux-wood panelling come to mind, though I’m not sure there was all three. Basically if your grandpa turned his basement into a rec room/bar in the 1970s, Wyandot 2 will remind you of it. Right down to the cheap beer.

Wyandot 2 BBQ

This place also has at least two-maybe three-televisions on. Sorry but I’m not a fan. I prefer an ackwardly silent lunch to caterwalling ESPN ‘analysts’ in shiny suits any day. At least it wasn’t “The O’Reilly Factor” which I experienced at a truck stop outside of Des Moines recently. Worst. Buffet. Ever.

Anyhow Wyandot 2 is a counter service place which is just what you want in a barbeque joint. The employees are regular folks, which I also like to see. They are maybe a tad long in the tooth, maybe spent a few too many weekends at the local JoCo watering hole, maybe had a pall mall or six before breakfast, but they are fast and perfectly friendly. The menu is very typical of other places, as are the prices. Plan on spending 8 or 9 bucks on a sandwich, fries and a delicious fountain drink.

This is the kind of place that would go on the regular lunch rotation if only the food was better. But sadly, my brisket tasted like it was cooked in an oven.

Wyandot 2 BBQ

Wyandot 2 BBQ

It looked right–pickles, wonder bread, the whole nine yards, but had virtually no smoke flavor. Come to think of it, it didn’t really smell like smoke in the restaurant at all. It didn’t taste bad, but that’s not good enough. I’m sorry, people but this is just inexcusable for Kansas City. The OP has several very good BBQ spots but this is not one of them which is a shame because it could have the complete package. All that being said, I’ll totally go back because it beats the hell out of Mr Goodcents.

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Winslow’s BBQ: City Market

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
May 252007
 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this place was actually good. See, that’s the nice thing about KC, a place like the City Market can have some crusty gems, even though it’s basically a tourist trap. No, not the best bbq is the city, but a hell of a lot better than you would expect. Winslows offers a nice selection of the usual fare, chicken, ribs, and sandwiches of the usual varieties. The have a number of good sides as well. Their sauce is pretty boring, sweetish and thick, quite unlike the incredibly outrageous, overly spiced and utterly delicious Arthur Bryant’s classic sauce or the balanced smokiness of Gates’ noble condiment. But they do a nice job on sandwiches at least, and they also offer them in large, medium and smalls.

Typical of bbq, the prices are higher than average grab and go lunch fare, but right in line with every other place in town. They also have a moderately seedy bar on one side where you can order a cold pale ale with your beef sandwich, an absolute necessity, particularly when a weekly staff meeting awaits your return to work.

Most people know Winslow’s as the place with all the outdoor seating. This is a really nice feature in the summer of course. Those of us consigned to cubicles in windowless nether regions of office buildings definitely need a daily injection of vitamin D whenever we can get it.

This place isn;t crowded at lunch time either, which is starting to become a theme for City market establishments. They must make all their money on Saturdays. It also raises the appeal quite a bit for me, because I don;t like people very much. Especially not when they are waiting in front of me taking a long time to order a freakin sandwich.

I’m also finding that the quickest way to eat lunch out is to go to a place with counter service, not waitstaff. When i am late getting back, it is without fail because I was waiting for some clueless server to bring my check, rather than waiting in line or actually waiting for my food.

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