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....