Saturday, June 5, 2021

Smoked Creations BBQ In Ottawa, Kansas


Tonight I visited Smoked Creations BBQ in Ottawa, Kansas.  I have some friends that live in Ottawa that have been wanting me to try it for a long time and we all had a free Saturday evening so I made the trek south to join them for dinner.

According to their website, Smoked Creations has been around since 2010.  It's only a few blocks from the highway (I-35) and near downtown Ottawa, so it's really easy to get to if you happen to be driving through.

As I parked my car and got out I could smell the barbecue smoke from the two smokers in the back of the restaurant.  I pulled out my camera and took the above picture.  Both smokers were going and this place was already very busy at 5:00 on a Saturday.

My friends arrived before me and already had a table for us.  Our waitress was very nice and efficient, stopping by the table often to see how we were doing.  My friends ordered a full slab of ribs to split.  Since they were raving about the ribs from previous visits, I knew I wanted to try them.  I ordered a brisket sandwich and a half slab of ribs.  Our order came out within five minutes, so the service was very fast even though the restaurant was pretty busy at the time.

Full slab of ribs!

The ribs were served with barbecue sauce on them.  I'm sure you could order them dry if you wanted to, but I didn't ask.  They were excellent.  Very tender and flavorful and served on a bed of bread slices.  They're messy with the sauce, but who cares, right?

My half slab of ribs

My brisket sandwich was served on a regular-sized bun.  You can choose a slider bun, a regular bun, or a large bun.  Their meat choices are brisket, pulled pork, turkey, pulled chicken, sausage, or ham.  They said the brisket was served as "slices," but it reminded me more of chopped or shredded brisket.  It was very tender and served with barbecue sauce on it.  I wouldn't say it was my favorite brisket sandwich, but it was pretty good as far as brisket sandwiches go.

Brisket sandwich

My bill for a sandwich, half a slab of ribs, and a beer was around 26 dollars.  The sandwich was seven dollars, so that's a really good price if you just want to stop in for a sandwich.  If you're in the area, it's definitely worth the trip to stop in and try the ribs.  They know how to cook them right!

A cold mug of beer always goes well with good barbecue!

It was good to get out tonight and try a new barbecue place, even though it's a little off the beaten path for me.  It took me about 30 minutes to get there from Olathe, but  it was well worth it.  I recommend you stop in and try it if you're in the Ottawa area!

Till next time....

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Smoketown BBQ In Overland Park, Kansas


I visited Smoketown BBQ on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Overland Park yesterday.  Smoketown opened late last fall, so they are relatively new on the scene, but they boast many, many years of barbecue experience.  From their website:

Flavorful, delicious, finger-licking good barbecue is no stranger to the Kansas City area. Smoketown BBQ is family-owned and has over 40 years of experience in creating genuine and authentic barbecue, made with your taste buds in mind. There's a new pit-master in town and we're ready to showcase our talent and become your new favorite spot for barbecue.

I found an article from the Shawnee Mission Post about the opening of this restaurant and owner Shannon Hammer was quoted '“We were at a family-owned restaurant and the owner of that restaurant decided he wanted to retire and he was finished — but we were not, so, we went our own way,” Hammer said.'"  That makes me think this was started by some former employees of the Johnny's in Mission that closed down, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

I arrived around 11:30 on Friday afternoon.  There were a few people sitting in the dining room eating and there was nobody in line.  I would guess the dining room seats about 30 people and they have a couple of very nice HD televisions with the sports channels on.  I was greeted instantly by the person behind the counter, who was very nice.  I ordered my standard brisket sandwich and fries and got water to drink.  The total was around 13 dollars.  This is a place where you order at the counter then you find a table and they bring your order out when it's ready.  Once I sat down it was only a couple of minutes before my order was delivered to me.

The brisket was thinly cut and served on a hoagie bun with a bit of their standard barbecue sauce on it.  The fries were crinkle-cut and served in a separate basket.  The brisket was tender but didn't have much flavor to it and it was fatty and a bit chewy.  It tasted like it had been sitting soaking in water.

They have four different barbecue sauces as options and I tried all four with my fries.  The original sauce is a lot like ketchup, but with a little bit of a kick to it.  They have a vinegar-based sauce that they call "50/50" that has quite a kick to it and I really liked it.  They also have a hot sauce that I found to not be as spicy as the vinegar sauce.  Finally, they have a sweet sauce that I liked and was probably my favorite of the four.  It had an "after-kick" to it that I noticed as it was going down.  I'm normally not a fan of sweet sauces, but I really liked theirs.

They have quite a diverse menu, with burnt ends, chicken, ribs, hot dogs, smoked wings, a tenderloin sandwich, and chili all on the menu.  Lots of options to choose from.  I'm gonna have to go back and try something else on the menu.  I wasn't a fan of the brisket, but I'm willing to give them another shot.

Let me know if you happen across any new barbecue places in town.  I'd like to try all the new places that open up.

I also wanted to say thank you to all my readers.  I passed one hundred and fifteen thousand views on the blog this week.  I never thought I'd have that many readers when I first started doing this!  It's been quite a journey!

Till next time....

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Chef J BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri


Today I visited Chef J BBQ, which is located in the west bottoms in Kansas City, Missouri.  This is a relatively new barbecue restaurant in town that is creating quite a buzz.  As far as I can tell, they started up in March, 2020 right as the pandemic was hitting and shutdowns were starting.  They offered carryout and delivery at that time and when they were allowed to let people inside they began dine-in service in the same building that houses "The Beast" haunted house.

I found this write-up on their website that describes a little bit about how they got started:

"Chef J bbq all started with a fire that has been burning inside since he was a young child. He was raised in an Italian family where store bought stuff was a no no. He learned early on that it’s just better when you make food the right way and make what you can, yourself.

Chef J has been in the restaurant business for 19 years. He started working for a family owned restaurant when he was 14 and always had dreams of opening his own restaurant. From there he continued to hone his craft, and love of BBQ, bringing only his best.

Chef J sticks to tradition and family recipes, he finds it just tastes better. He’s taken that same approach when creating his BBQ.  He uses only the highest quality of meats to smoke. All of his sauces & rubs are made fresh and in-house as well.

Chef J’s meats are always served fresh and cut to order to ensure the utmost quality. His side dishes are no different. They are treated with the same respect and love as our meats. All made in-house, fresh daily with quality as our driving point. His smoker burns nothing but wood, only sacrificing sleep in the process.  This isn’t the easiest way to do it but it’s definitely the right way.

Chef J is excited to bring his style of BBQ to Kansas City!"
I've followed Chef J BBQ on social media for a while ever since a reader of mine gave me a heads up that they are a "newbie" to the Kansas City barbecue scene.  I finally got around to visiting.  They open at 11:30 on Saturdays and their social media posts encourage people to get there at opening time, as this is one of those places that cooks a batch of meat and when they run out they close up shop.  Because of the warning and having been burned on this before, I got there shortly after they opened.

I parked about a block away and as I stepped out of the car could smell the smoker going and my mouth started watering right away.  In my experience this means "this is gonna be good!"  I was a bit surprised to see quite a few people wandering around the streets.  There are other businesses and restaurants on that block now that I don't remember being there before.

I walked in the door and there was a line of about four or five people.  This is a place that you order at the counter and they serve and prep your food right there and give it to you at the counter.  They have a small serpentine that winds around the counter.  It's kind of like a Chipolte or a Subway.  You order at the front and work your way around the counter to order your side dish(es), sauces, and then pay at the register.  This helps keep the line moving.

I ordered a brisket sandwich combo, which includes one side dish and a drink.  I ordered the chipotle coleslaw as my side dish.  Two things that I love about some barbecue restaurants are standards at this place.  One, he cuts the brisket slices off the brisket right in front of you as you order and two, they don't put sauce on the sandwich.  It comes on the side.  I was immediately impressed.  However, I was a little surprised when they told me my total was $19.55.  Seemed a bit pricey to me, but I didn't mind.
I grabbed my drink at the self-serve drink station and found a table.  There was a steady line of people the entire time I was there, but there was never a long line out the door.  
The sandwich was served with thick-cut slices of brisket on a hamburger-style bun, which is my favorite way that a brisket sandwich is served.  The meat was very tender and flavorful and neatly trimmed of fat, but it was slightly dry.  It wasn't dry enough that I needed to put sauce on it and I scarfed the entire thing down with no problem, so that's a very minor critique.

The chipotle coleslaw was pretty good.  It had a nice kick to it that lingered long after swallowing.  Wish I had a bigger helping, but that's just because I was hungry!

As I left I snapped a picture of the "smoke shack" outside.  They use hickory wood and you can see it stacked outside the shack if you look at the picture above.  The chain link around it caused one passerby to comment to me "that's where they make the inmates cook the barbecue."  We had a good laugh about that.

I encourage all of you to check this place out when you get a chance.  I'd put them in my top 20 for sure.  There are some other unique things on the menu that I'd like to try the next time I go.  They have a bacon and blue potato salad, brisket and pulled pork mac 'n cheese, and some bacon burnt ends.  Dang, my mouth is watering again!

Till next time....

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Jousting Pigs Barbecue in Liberty, Missouri

Friday I visited Jousting Pigs BBQ in downtown Liberty, Missouri with a buddy of mine.  Jousting Pigs has partnered with 3HALVES Brewing Company to create a craft brew and barbecue experience.  It's a setup that reminds me of  the partnership of Harp Barbecue and Crane Brewing in Raytown.

Jousting Pigs is a partnership of two competition barbecue guys.  Their awards and ribbons are plastered all over the walls in the place.  From their website...

"Jousting Pigs BBQ is a husband and wife competition barbeque team from Liberty, MO.  John and Brandi Atwell have been competing for 5 years winning numerous awards including multiple perfect scores in chicken and brisket.  When the opportunity to open a restaurant in Liberty presented itself John jumped at the opportunity to join the amazing Historic Downtown community.  John is excited to bring his traditional barbeque style to Liberty, MO.

John is being joined in this venture by Rod Blackburn of RAILYARD BBQ competition barbeque team. Rod was one of the first people John met in the competition barbeque world and they quickly became friends. John and Rod have cooked together many times in competition and we are happy to have his experience and expertise. Rod has been competing since 2013 and has multiple grand and reserve grand championships plus numerous category wins and perfect scores."

One of my blog followers told me about this place sometime last year after they opened.  I think they've been in business about a year or so, but was unable to find exactly when they opened up.  Maybe someone can help me find out for sure.

We arrived around 5:30 on Friday.  There was parking available on the street(s) outside the restaurant.  There are three separate seating areas, one with a bar and one an outside large patio seating area.  The place was already bustling at this point.  Lots of people, pandemic be damned.  You are required to wear a mask anytime you are not seated at your table and all of the employees were wearing masks.  The tables were spaced to ensure social distancing and it was overall a very safe environment.

My buddy and I are both craft beer fans, so we decided to have a beer or two before ordering food.  You need to order beer from the bar and then take it to your table.  Same with the barbecue.  You order at the counter and then they give you a tabletop number and they bring your food to you when it's ready.

I need to mention that the beer was really good.  These craft brew places are all the rage now and they are hit and miss.  This one was a hit.  I tried the light beer, the wheat beer and the IPA.  The IPA was great, probably the best IPA I've had in a while.

As we were trying the beers, the line to order barbecue was getting pretty long, all the way to and out the front door.  There were 15-20 people in line at any given time.  Pretty busy for an evening during this pandemic.  It was good to see they're surviving this quite well.

After a beer or two we got in line to get our food and as I was about to order a young lady from the kitchen came out with some blue tape and was placing it over certain menu items that they had run out of.  So, beware, this is a "when we run out, we're out" barbecue place!  Luckily what I wanted to order was still available.  Their brisket sandwich comes chopped, which I'm not a fan of, so I ordered a two meat plate of brisket slices and burnt ends and ordered a bun on the side.  Problem solved!  I ordered fries and coleslaw as my side dishes.  The total was about 25 bucks, but it is well worth it because they give you a lot of food.

Burnt ends.  Mouth watering yet?

We were only back at our table a couple minutes before our food arrived.  Very fast service.

I dug right into my food.  The brisket slices had a great smoke flavor and rub on them and were very tender.  They were trimmed, but they left some fat on it.  I know some people like the fat and some like it completely trimmed off.  This was kind of an in between cut.  I really liked it.

The burnt ends were very good as well.  Not fatty at all.  If you like your burnt ends VERY BURNT, they may not have been done enough for you, but they were very flavorful and tender and completely trimmed of fat.  No complaints by me!

My buddy ordered the smoked turkey and he raved about it and finally let me try it.  It was a pretty thick cut of turkey and it was very smokey flavored and tender.  Great smoked turkey!  I get the feeling that all the food here is very good.

The coleslaw is vinegar based and I loved it.  The fries were good as well.  Thick cut with a nice seasoning on them.  They offer two sauces, a regular sauce and a spicy sauce.  I tried the sauce with my fries because you definitely don't need the sauce to enjoy the meat.  The regular sauce was good and not very sweet.  The spicy sauce was not overpowering, but the spice lingered on my tongue for about 15 seconds, which was great!  My buddy liked the sauces so much that he ate the sauce with his fork.  Unfortunately I didn't get a picture or video of this.  You'll just have to take my word for it!

It was really great to try a new barbecue place that has opened since I completed my initial barbecue quest.  I've gotta say, the brisket here would definitely make my top 10 and probably even the top five in town.  I'm very glad I found this place and hope a lot of you get to try it.  Let me know what you think!  Till next time.....

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Tin Kitchen March 7, 2020

I took my Mom and Dad to Tin Kitchen in Weston last night.  They had never been there and have really wanted to try it.  I figured it was a great way to kick off part two of my quest:  trying to find out who has the best pulled pork and ribs in town!

We arrived in Weston around 5:00 and were seated as soon as we got to the restaurant.  We got there at the right time, as there was a huge line waiting for a table the entire time we were there.  It was packed.

Owner Sean O'Malley came out and said hello and it was nice chatting with him.  We didn't chat long because the place was so busy that he had to get back to work!  Every employee in this place is so nice, from the person that greets you at the door to your waitress, to the many other employees that come and check on you during your meal.  They've got great customer service from the top down.

My Mom and I split a slab of ribs and I ordered a side of pulled pork.  I ordered broccoli and coleslaw as my side dishes.  My Dad ordered ribs and brisket.

Tin Kitchen pulled pork
I already know this place has great food but wanted to try something different.  When people ask me who has the best barbecue in town and I mention Tin Kitchen I get some weird looks.  But I stick to my guns because the food is excellent and oftentimes the person that asks me has never been there or has never heard of it.

Tin Kitchen won the USA Today Reader's Choice Award for best ribs in Missouri.   The pork ribs are St. Louis Cut spare ribs, rubbed with Kosher salt and coarse black pepper, and smoked over pecan wood for five hours.  During the cook the ribs are basted with a mix of Sweet BBQ sauce and cider vinegar.  I will just say the ribs are amazing.  They are very tender and juicy, but not fatty, and had a great flavor.

Tin Kitchen ribs, broccoli and coleslaw
I also tried the pulled pork.  A lot of times when you order pulled pork at restaurants here in town it tends to be dry.  Not at Tin Kitchen.  The pulled pork was tender and juicy and had a great flavor as well.

My Dad raved about the brisket.  He is pretty picky about his barbecue, especially burnt ends, and definitely has his favorites.  He said he's never had brisket that tender and would put Tin Kitchen's brisket at or near the top.  He also commented that anyone who argues about Tin Kitchen having some of the best brisket in town has simply never tried it.  I agree!

We had another successful trip to Tin Kitchen in Weston.  I'm not in a hurry to revisit every barbecue place in town to try the ribs and pulled pork, but it's my goal to get to each one again eventually.  Hope you enjoy following along.   Till next time...

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Harp Barbecue in Raytown, Missouri

Owner Tyler Harp and yours truly
Tyler Harp of Harp Barbecue didn't start his operation in Raytown until I was already done with my barbecue quest, but I was urged by a couple of people to try it out so I visited on June 22nd.  I didn't write a blog post about it until now, so I apologize for not posting sooner.

Tyler has partnered with Crane Brewing in Raytown to provide barbecue on Saturdays starting at 11:00.  They serve until they are out of food and word is getting around, so be sure to get there early.  There is always a long line.

Tyler serves a Texas style brisket, which is a little different and unique here in Kansas City.  It is a thicker cut than you get at most barbecue places here in town, which I love.  I went with a buddy of mine and we each ordered a brisket sandwich and split a rack of ribs.  We got some cheesy corn on the side.  See the picture below!

Everything was great.  I'll have to say that I'd definitely rank the brisket in the top five I've tried.  The ribs were great as well.  It's also great being in a micro brew, so you can sample a bunch of beers with your barbecue!

I took a picture of the menu, but I think it changes week to week.  I would recommend following them on Facebook to see what they're planning to cook each Saturday.  I think the main courses stay the same but he cooks up some special stuff as well.  One Saturday recently they served beef ribs, for instance.

The serving line at Harp Barbecue
Crane Brewing is located at 6515 Railroad St, Raytown, MO 64133.  It's kind of hidden in a small industrial area, but you should be able to find it fine if you put it in your GPS.

Check out Harp Barbecue when you get a chance!  You won't be disappointed!

Friday, March 1, 2019

First Place - Tin Kitchen in Weston, Missouri

First place on my list of best barbecue places in town is Tin Kitchen in Weston, Missouri.  My initial visit happened on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018.  You can read the blog post of my visit here.

When I reread my blog post about my visit, I made note that it was the perfectly cooked brisket but that the sandwich was not quite warm enough.  When I revisited last week and had the same thing  I thought the brisket was prepared and served perfectly.  Definitely the best brisket I had on my quest.  It really is too bad I live so far from this place.  If I lived down the road I might be tempted to eat there every meal!  On my revisit I tried the ribs as well and they were great.  I went with a buddy of mine and we got there around 4:00 on a Monday and the place was packed.  I was stunned at how busy it was at 4:00 on a Monday.  Even though they were busy the service and food was all fantastic.  It's definitely a destination spot for anyone in and around Weston.  We'll schedule an event here as well, so stay tuned for details!

You can visit their website and view their menu below:


Here's the final top 21...

1.  Tin Kitchen
2.  Scott's Kitchen
3.  Char Bar
4.  Mad Man's BBQ
5.  Johnny's BBQ
6.  Hawg Jaw
7.  Smoke Brewing Company
8.  Jones Bar-B-Q
9.  Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ
10.  McGonigle's Market
11.  Jazzy B's Diner
12.  Chop's BBQ
13.  County Road Ice House
14.  A Little BBQ Joint
15.  Roscoe's Barbecue
16.  Mudhole BBQ
17.  Jack Stack BBQ
18.  Blind Box BBQ
19. Slap's BBQ
20.  Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
21.  LC's Bar-B-Que