Thursday, January 31, 2019

20th Place - Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que In Kansas City, Kansas

Number 20 on the list of best barbecue places in town is the famous Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que.  I visited on Friday, September 15th, 2017 and you can view the blog post of my visit here

This one might raise a few eyebrows with people asking why they're not ranked higher.  In fact, I have a buddy that swears that they have the best brisket in town.  I just happen to disagree and encourage him to visit the rest of the barbecue restaurants on my list. 

There's no question that Joe's has great barbecue.  They've been a huge success since starting out and that wouldn't have happened if they didn't have great food.  One reason I decided to do the quest was to not just trust what others told me was the best barbecue in town, but to figure it out on my own by visiting every barbecue place. 

You can check out their website and menu below....


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

21st Place - LC's Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, Missouri

The countdown of my top barbecue places in town begins with LC's Bar-B-Que at number 21.  I visited on September 28th, 2017 and you can view the blog post of my visit here.  I have visited one time since my initial visit and it was just as good the second time.  I want to go try the smoked wings next.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Finishing the quest

Here's my first blog post when I started the quest in June of 2017. Initially I wanted to do all the visits in a year and it ended up taking about a year and a half to get it all done. Interesting that I started with 69 on the list and ended up with 70. A lot were added along the way and a lot closed along the way. Just a reminder, I did not include national barbecue chains on my list and for local chains I only visited one location. So I didn't go to all of the Gates locations, just one of them.

I am going to announce the top 21 barbecue places on my list. Number 19, 20 and 21 had pretty close to the same score, so I decided to announce through number 21.

Please keep in mind, that while I may have tried multiple selections at some restaurants, I tried brisket at every one. I also had fries at every one that offered fries. As an amateur barbecue chef and smoker, I know that brisket is one of the most difficult cuts of meat to master. That's why I chose brisket.

I realize my taste may be different than someone else's taste and I realize I may get some push back on my choices. It's ok. I have thick skin. That being said, let's try to keep all the feedback positive. I was originally going to announce the top 10, but there ended up being 20 in my top 10, so I decided to do 20 and then decided on 21.

In judging the brisket, it had to be warm, juicy and tender with a smoke flavor to the meat. A tasty rub is a plus and I love a crunchy bark. Neatly trimmed of fat is also a plus. I'm not a fan of chewy meat and I had quite a few chewy pieces of brisket during the quest. Remember, I'm just judging the meat even though I did talk about the fries, sauces and ambiance of each restaurant in my blog.

I've been a "meat and potatoes" guy since I was a kid. I like almost every kind of meat if cooked properly. Am I a perfect judge? No, far from it. But I like to think I know what I'm talking about when searching for great barbecue.

I'm going to announce the top 21, one a day, around 5:00 every day starting tomorrow. When we get to the top four, we'll set up a day and time at each of those restaurants for a visit so we can all enjoy the barbecue together. That's what it's all about!

So stay tuned tomorrow as number 21 will be announced around 5:00. Thanks again for your support and encouragement and remember....let's keep it positive!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Vig's KC BBQ in Odessa, Missouri

Vig's brisket sandwich
My final stop on the barbecue quest took me to Odessa, Missouri and Vig's KC Bar-B-Q.  Odessa was a bit too far out off town to initially make the list of Kansas City barbecue restaurants, but I had a couple followers and readers insist that I add it to my list so I did.  I'm very glad I did.

Vig's is run by Gerald "Vig" Vigliaturo.  Upon retirement from Black and Veatch, Vig's daughter got him some business cards and a business license for his birthday to start a catering business.  The catering business evolved into a food truck and eventually grew into a restaurant location in downtown Odessa.

I arrived a little bit before 5:00 on Saturday.  I ordered a brisket sandwich combo, which comes with two sides and a drink for around 12 dollars.  The menu says "Piled high.  You should be full."  That's no joke.  As you can see in the photo above, the sandwich is humongous!

There was a family of four in the restaurant when I arrived and I was the only other person in there at this time.  Vig came out and greeted me and asked me where I was from.  When I told him Olathe, he asked what I was doing there!  I told him about my quest and he thought it was really neat that I am doing it.  He asked me to sign his "out of towners" guestbook that he has on the counter and I was happy to do that.

I ordered the baked beans and coleslaw as my side dishes and both were good.  The brisket was served thinly sliced on a bun and was a huge portion of meat.  The meat was very tender with a good hickory smoke flavor and smoke ring, but it was a bit cool temperature-wise for my taste.  There were three sauces that he offered, a spicy sauce, a mild sauce and a hot sauce.

The spicy sauce was sweet and spicy.  The mild sauce was good and the hot sauce was definitely hot, but very good as well.

When the family of four left, Vig came out and asked me if the music he was playing was ok, which was oldies music.  I told him that was fine, so he cranked up the radio a bit.  It was pretty funny.  Since there was nobody else in the place, he had a seat at my table and we talked a lot about his history, barbecue and business in general.  He was telling me about the menu and every time he mentioned something he asked if I liked it and when I said yes, he would say "ok, you have to try it" and he'd go back and get me a sample.  I sampled a lot of the menu while I was there.  He also makes sausages, soups and chili.  It was all great.  He brought out samples of the pulled pork and burnt ends.  The pulled pork was good, but the burnt ends were fantastic.  I commented how great they were and he nonchalantly said "Yeah, they're awesome, aren't they?" 

Pulled pork and burnt ends
Vig just kept bringing out samples for me to try!
Vig is very proud of his food.  He gave me some of his chili and soup to take home and both were great.  I also got a free t-shirt out of the deal!  I promised him I'd wear it to give him some advertising.

Vig's sausage
Vig is a great guy who loves what he does and he loves great barbecue.  It was a pleasure talking to him and visiting his place.  The restaurant is only a block or two off of I-70 at the Odessa exit, so if you're traveling down I-70 it would be worth your time to stop in and try it.  He is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11-9.  He offers a sampler platter that includes samples of everything on the menu and it's around $35.  It's over four pounds of meat in total, so it'll feed a few people.  Definitely check it out!
Vig and I

This stop completes the quest!  So what comes next?  I'm going to visit the top three or four places on my list to get a fresh perspective and then I'm going to announce my top 20 list!  We will have events at the top three restaurants where everyone can go and enjoy their barbecue.  It will be a great time!

Thanks for reading and following along.  This has been a blast! 

Follow along on Facebook for the revealing of the top 20.  Till next time...

Ray Rae's Rib Shack in Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Ray Rae's brisket sandwich
I visited Ray Rae's Rib Shack in Pleasant Hill on Saturday.  Ray Rae's is located on 291 highway at the intersection of 291 and 203rd street.  It is south of Lake Winnebago and West of the city of Pleasant Hill.  If you visit, make sure you put it in your GPS or you might drive right by it.  It's the only thing on that corner and it is literally a "Shack" on the side of the road!

There's not much information about this place online, but they do have a website with their menu and a short write-up:

At Ray Rae's Rib Shack, every dish is created using only the freshest, finest ingredients.  We serve only the choicest meats, freshest side dishes.  If you like fall off the bone ribs and slow-cooked brisket that makes your mouth water then this is the place for you!!

Just off 291 Highway in Pleasant Hill, Mo you'll find this gem of a place.  Get your taste of KC BBQ here!!

Family Owned and Operated.

I found out that this venture is Ray's retirement job.  It's been open for 13 years and he started it with his wife after retiring from John Deere.  They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

I arrived around 3:45 on Saturday.  There was a crew from "Arrowhead Guys" there at the time filming an interview with Ray about his business. This is a very small place with two tables in it with four chairs around each table.  I ordered a brisket sandwich with a side dish and the total was around nine dollars.  They don't offer french fries, but offer baked beans, coleslaw or potato salad as their side dishes.  There is no drink station.  They have a small cooler with bottles of pop in it.  I asked for a water and they grabbed a plastic cup and went to the sink and got me some water with no ice.  I had no problem with that, it was just interesting. Both Ray and his wife were very nice and accommodating.

I received my sandwich right after ordering.  The brisket was served thinly sliced on a bun.  It was tender with a great smoke flavor and smoke ring with a crunchy bark.  It was a bit dry, but they gave me a good helping of meat and some barbecue sauce on the side.  The sauce was nothing special, just what I'd consider a run of the mill sauce.  I ordered coleslaw as my side and it was good as well.

I have family that live in Waterloo, Iowa, and I noticed this advertisement on the wall for the "Waterloo Boy" John Deere tractors so I took a picture of it.  The photo underneath is a signed picture of Bob Johnson, who used to ride Warpaint at the Chiefs games and who visited Ray Rae's and gave them the photo.

Check out Ray Rae's if you're in the area.  It's good barbecue made by good people. 

This was visit number 69 on my quest.  Only one more to to!  Don't forget to follow along on Facebook to find out what comes next!  Till next time....

Friday, January 25, 2019

Werner's Fine Sausages in Mission, Kansas

Werner's BBQ Combo beef sandwich
Today I visited Werner's Fine Sausages in Mission, Kansas.  Werner's is more of a butcher shop than a barbecue restaurant, but when comparing lists of all the barbecue restaurants in Kansas City with various different sources, they made the list.  They offer a pretty diverse lunch menu of different sandwiches that you can view here.

Here's a little background about Werner's from their website.

Originally a Swedish store, Swanson's was founded in 1898 down on Westport Boulevard.  In 1972 Swanson's was purchased: names, recipes and all, by German born Werner Wohlert.  Major changes were on the way. First on the list was moving the business from Westport to the heart of Mission, KS, where it could be close to other German businesses.  Second, Werner incorporated his heritage, including his name and techniques that he acquired during his apprenticeship in Germany.  Werner retired in 1995.
New owners David and Judy Miller jumped in feet first.  David has been in the meat industry since 1963.  A fully trained butcher, he is very passionate about what he does.  Continuing traditions of those before him, David not only makes sausages from the original recipes handed down through the years, but he is improving and expanding the product he makes.

I arrived around 11:40 on Friday and noticed that they have a grill and smoker outside the store.  I usually don't do much research or read any reviews about the restaurants I visit beforehand so that I have a fresh perspective with no prejudice. This was a rare exception to that rule, as I wanted to make sure that they served barbecue.  The menu on the website confirmed that they do serve barbecue sandwiches so I felt better about including them in the quest.  This is not really a restaurant, but a butcher shop and meat counter that serves hot or cold sandwiches.  There are no tables inside, so you have to take your food to go.

There were three gentlemen working the counter as I walked in.  I ordered the BBQ Combo, which normally comes with beef and ham but I asked for beef only, which didn't seem to be a problem.  They asked what kind of bun I wanted and I chose a hoagie bun.  Then he asked if I wanted it it hot or cold and I said hot.  Their way of serving it hot is to stick it in the microwave.  That's fine, but as I ate the sandwich it was half hot and half cold, so not a really good experience.  The beef was thinly cut slices with a bit of barbecue sauce on the sandwich.  I'd compare it to a sandwich you might get at a fast food place like Arby's or Lion's Choice or something like that rather than a true barbecue restaurant.  They gave me a good helping of beef and the price was right at seven dollars and it filled me up pretty good, so it wasn't all bad.

If you're looking for a true barbecue brisket sandwich, RJ's and Johnny's are both within a couple blocks of this place and would probably be better alternatives.

This was visit number 68 on the quest.  Two more to go!  I'm going to try to wrap it up by next weekend, but we will see!  Thanks for reading and following along.  Till next time...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chops BBQ in Smithville, Missouri

Chop's BBQ brisket sandwich and fries
Tuesday evening I visited Chop's BBQ in Smithville, Missouri.  Chop's is another restaurant that started as a competition barbecue team that found success and eventually opened a restaurant.  It is owned by head pitmaster Dan Ulledahl.  Chop's is located right across the street from the main square in downtown Smithville.  The restaurant had an interesting start, having a fire just 12 days after the initial opening during the fall of 2016.  Four months later they reopened and have been going strong ever since.  I found a nice write-up about Chop's in Feast Magazine that you may want to check out.

I had never been to Smithville before my visit to Chop's.  It's a neat little town.  I arrived a little before 4:00.  This is a sit down restaurant that holds about 60 people at full capacity.  There was only one other customer at the time I arrived, so when I walked in I was greeted and invited to have a seat anywhere.  I was served right away by a very nice waitress and I ordered my typical brisket sandwich and fries.  The cost was around 11 dollars.

I received my food about five minutes after ordering.  The brisket is served as thick cut slices on a bun.  I didn't realize that the thick cut brisket pieces is their signature.  Not many places slice the brisket this thick and I just happen to love it when brisket is served this way.  The meat was tender and flavorful with a nice bark, smoke ring and smoke flavor.  The sandwich was served without sauce and you definitely do not need sauce to eat it.  Sauce would ruin the flavor of this sandwich.  To be honest, when I drove up to the restaurant I thought "this is a small town joint so it's probably just average" and I wasn't expecting much.  Well my prejudice couldn't have been more wrong.  I was completely blown away by how good it was.  I'm so glad I found this place!  It's great!

Chop's offers three types of sauces at each table that you can try:  Bold, Hot and Sweet.  I tried them with my fries.  The bold sauce is a standard molasses based sauce that was really good and had a little bit of spice to it.  The hot sauce tasted like it used the bold sauce as a base with more spice added to it.  It wasn't really too spicy, but it was still pretty good.  The sweet sauce was obviously sweeter than the other two, but it wasn't too sweet at all, which I liked.  All of the sauces were really good.  The fries were served with seasoning on them and the seasoning had a little bit of kick to it.

As I was finishing my meal I noticed all of the framed ribbons and awards from various barbecue competitions hanging on the brick walls.  Dan has won his fair share of barbecue competitions!  And it appears that he serves it that way in his restaurant as well.  What a great find.  If you're in the area, or even if you're not in the area, take the trip to Smithville to check it out!

Chop's menu
This is visit number 67 on my quest.  I'm a little shocked to think I've made it this far!  Only three more to go unless any of you want to open a new barbecue restaurant in the next week or two.  I'm almost done!

Thanks for reading and following.  My Facebook page is if you'd like to follow along there.  Till next time..

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mudhole BBQ in Liberty, Missouri

Mudhole BBQ brisket sandwich and fries
Tonight I visited Mudhole BBQ in Liberty, Missouri.  Mudhole BBQ has three locations: Liberty, Kansas City on North Oak Trafffic Way and their food truck.  Mudhole started as a competition barbecue team in 2011 and they were pretty successful, winning the pork category at the American Royal barbecue contest in 2014.  Soon thereafter they started their food truck and opened both restaurant locations.

One thing I've learned about my quest is to always check the restaurant hours before driving to a place assuming they are open.  I had to make a trip up north today to pick up something from a friend, so I thought I'd eat at a couple of the barbecue places left on my list while I was there.  I was about to leave my house around 10 after two and checked online to verify the hours of Mudhole and found out that they close at 3:00 on Tuesdays.  I did a quick Google maps search and Google said it was a 45 minute drive from my house.  This would be cutting it close. I quickly jumped in the car and got on the road.  You sure notice and get more irritated by the number of drivers that drive under the speed limit in the passing lane when you're in a hurry to get somewhere, that's for sure!

I pulled into the parking lot at Mudhole BBQ in downtown Liberty at five to three.  When I walked in there was a gentleman at the counter ordering and I could tell they were getting ready to lock up and leave for the day because all the chairs were on the tables and other than the fact that the door was still open it looked like they were already closed!  I got the "are you seriously going to order something right now?" look from both workers but they were nice about it and even put some fresh fries into the fryer for me after I ordered.  Their brisket sandwich and fries costs around 13 dollars.

I received my "to go" order about five minutes after ordering.  The sandwich was served with shredded beef without sauce, but they gave me a side cup of sauce.  The fries were garlic fries and were really good.  While I much prefer sliced brisket to shredded brisket, the beef was tender and flavorful with a peppery rub.  It was served on a bun.

I tried the sauce with my fries.  The sauce was really sweet and peppery.  You'll probably like it if you like a sweet sauce.  It was a good sandwich.  Now I'll have to go back and try the pork and maybe get a table and seat next time! 

Please note that they only cook a certain amount of each kind of meat each day so when they run out they're out and you'll have to order something else.

This is visit number 66 on my quest.  After my two stops today, I've got three left!  I'm hoping to get the quest wrapped up this weekend weather permitting. 

Don't forget to follow along on Facebook if you haven't already.  Till next time....

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, Kansas

Jones Bar-B-Q brisket sandwich and fries
I visited Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, Kansas today.  I visited in the past, but they ran out of brisket the day I went so I had to come back.  This was a great visit.  Jones Bar-B-Q is run by the Jones sisters, Deborah and Mary.  A female run barbecue business in a barbecue world dominated by males!  I found out that the Jones sisters can easily hold their own and are in many ways superior to their male counterparts!

The Jones sisters were recently featured on the Steve Harvey show in a great segment talking about their story, history and barbecue.  Check it out:

I found a write-up about them by the Kansas City Star in  August, 2016.  Here's some information from the article:

"For more than three decades, the Jones sisters — Deborah and her sister Mary Jones Mosley — have devoted themselves to barbecue, working as professional pitmasters and owners of Jones Bar-B-Q. In its latest incarnation, the to-go-only spot has taken up residence in a former taco stand where customers step up to a window to place their orders.

Mary, whose family nickname is “Shorty,” calls out the order. Then Deborah, or “Little,” steps up on the firebox door and peers into the pit to ferret out the precise piece of meat required. With roasting pan in hand, Deborah pads back to the metal screen doors and into the kitchen. Together, she and Mary fix up a foam box and tie it up in a plastic grocery sack.

The outdoor smoker sits on a layer of bricks in the parking lot near Wild Woody’s Happy Foods West at 6706 Kaw Drive, in an industrial section of Kansas City, Kan., where freight trains from the tracks running parallel to Kansas 32 whistle loud enough to drown out conversations."

I wanted to make sure I was able to try their brisket today, so I decided to get there shortly after they opened at 11:00.  This is a "they're out when they run out" establishment so they only cook a certain amount of each type of meat each day.  Normally there is a very long line here, but today there were only a few in line.  This is really a "to-go" establishment, as you order and pay at the window and they call your name when your food is ready.  There are six picnic tables setup outside that you can sit and eat at, but on a cold day you'll have to take your food to go because there is no inside seating area.

The smoker at Jones Bar-B-Q.  You'll normally see Deborah sitting in front of the smoker tending to the food
I ordered a brisket sandwich and fries and the total was around 11 dollars.  I decided to sit outside and eat since it was pretty nice out for a January day in Kansas City.  I ordered sauce on the side and I did get a cup of sauce on the side but they still put some on the sandwich.  They package up your food in a Styrofoam container in a plastic bag.  The sandwich was served with thin sliced pieces of brisket on bread with sauce.  The meat was tender and had a nice smoke flavor and smoke ring.  It was also nicely trimmed of fat.  It was a great sandwich!  I was very impressed! 

I tried the sauce with my fries.  The fries were standard crinkle cut fries that you would get anywhere.  Those of you that have followed me for a while know that I am not a fan of barbecue sauce on my barbecue.  I would much rather taste the meat than have it covered with sauce.  I normally try the sauces just so I can give you an idea of what each place has.  That being said, I will say that the sauce that they make and bottle at Jones Bar-B-Q might be the best sauce I have tried to date.  I loved it.  It is brown sugar, molasses and vinegar based and has just enough sweetness and spice that it is not overpowering at all.  It is a great complement to the meat, rather than being the only thing that you taste.

Mary Jones Mosley came out and talked to me both when I was standing in line and when I was eating.  She was taking photos to post on their Facebook page and asked if it was okay to take my picture and of course I told her it was fine.  After I got my food she came out and we chatted a bit about their appearance on Steve Harvey and a little bit more about their barbecue and sauce.  I asked if they make their own sauce and she said that they do and they sell it right there.  It was only five dollars for a bottle and I liked it so much that I bought a bottle to take home.

Both Mary and Deborah are very nice and personable.  Great people that make great barbecue!  If you're a person that thinks Bryant's, Gates, Joe's, Q39, or Jack Stack have the best barbecue in town, you owe it to yourself to check out Jones Bar-B-Q to see if your opinion might change!

Photo from outside Jones Bar-B-Q
This is visit number 65 on my quest.  Five more to go!  Thanks for reading and following along.  Don't forget to follow along on Facebook.  Till next time...

Friday, January 4, 2019

P Moore and Moore BBQ in Independence, Missouri

P Moore and Moore brisket sandwich and fries
Today I visited P Moore and Moore BBQ in Independence, Missouri.  It is located a couple blocks north of I-70 on Noland Road.  I was lucky enough to meet Patricia Moore, the co-owner, and we had a brief chat.  She is very friendly and made sure to come out and greet all of the customers that visited the restaurant.  She was very excited to find out a few of us were first time visitors.

P Moore and Moore doesn't have a website.  About the only thing official I could find online was a Facebook page.  I did find a write-up about them from the Kansas City Star in April, 2017 when they opened a second location in the Adams Mark hotel across from the stadiums.  Here is a little background about how this husband/wife barbecue team got started:

"Barbecue was a long-time hobby for partner Gary Paul Moore. But after getting together with his future wife, Patricia, he stepped it up, making platters for church and family events. They married in 2007 and their church, Barker Memorial Cathedral of Praise, dubbed them the “King and Queen of BBQ.”

They opened their first restaurant at 13912 E. Noland in Independence in October 2015 and later knocked out a wall to expand. Patricia said she had a premonition that she would open a second location in 2017.

In late February, the couple opened in the Adam’s Mark space, strategically located just north of the high traffic Interstate 70 at Blue Ridge Cutoff and across from the Truman Sports Complex."

It's a great story and even though it's a relatively new restaurant on the scene, they do know how to make some good barbecue!

I arrived around 1:00 on Friday.  I drove right by it the first time since it's a left hand turn off of Noland road and my GPS told me to turn too late!  I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I drove by it.  I doubled back and parked right next to the restaurant.  As I got out of the car I could smell the thick hickory smoke from the smoker and it made my mouth water.  It smelled great!  I couldn't wait to try my sandwich.

Check out the smoker!
I walked in the restaurant and sat down at the bar.  The hostess greeted me immediately and presented me with a menu.  I noticed they had a brisket sandwich and fries for around 12 dollars so that's what I ordered.  I didn't ask for nor did I notice any other sides or options so I figured I'd just take it how they served it to me.  The pit boss came out shortly after I ordered and said they were running low on beef and he had another brisket in the smoker still cooking but that he had enough for one sandwich, so it looked like I got there in the nick of time!

The dining room had a sign on the wall saying they had a capacity of 88 people, so this restaurant would easily accommodate a large group of people.  I received my order about 10 minutes after ordering.  They gave me a very large portion of beef and fries, so that alone was well worth the price.  The sandwich was served with thin slices of brisket on slices of bread with a little bit of sauce on it.  The meat was very flavorful with a strong hickory smoke flavor and it had a nice smoke ring.  It was served at room temperature, so a bit cool, and was a bit chewy.  Some of the pieces were a bit fatty, but the meat was nicely trimmed for the most part.

The fries were thick cut fries and they didn't have any kind of seasoning on them.  I ate them with ketchup that they provided.  Nothing special about the fries.

I'm glad I finally got to try this place.  Check it out if you're in Independence.  I will be going back to try some of their other selections.  I was asked numerous times how my food was, so they do like to hear customer feedback in the effort to become better and it's a small, relatively new, family run restaurant that needs the support of barbecue fans in the area.

This is number 64 on the quest.  I had to remove another restaurant from the list, so my list is currently at 70.  Six more to go!  Thanks again for reading and following along.  Don't forget to follow along on Facebook.  Till next time...