What started as just a crazy idea – a bbq tour – unfolded into an epic adventure. We highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to get a glimpse into a major portion of the American Cuisine.
Our first stop on the bbq tour was into Kansas city. We started by sampling BBQ from Jack Stack. The combination of hunger and fatigue prevented us from visiting the original location. Nevertheless we still went big; I ordered burnt ends and my mom tried a crown rib sandwich with a side of cheesy corn. The smoke on the meat came through strong on both, but the burnt ends were tough and dry. (Apparently, I’m not the only one to share this sentiment. Both the locals as well as online critiques noted this as well.) Unfortunately they came pre-slathered in sauce; something I would have asked for on the side had I known ahead. The sauce was good, but it was quite sweet and really didn’t add much to the dish. My mom’s short rib was fantastic, with more flavor and moisture than the burnt ends. Likewise, the cheesy corn was a great mix of golden corn kernels and a fantastic creamy cheese sauce. I got a brief tour of the kitchen and learned a little bit about why the burnt ends were so dry. Jack stack uses oak because it burns hotter; their smokers act as both a searing oven and smoker with the wood providing both of these elements. But after the initial sear all items are moved on to Southern Pride ovens. These are gas and wood hybrid ovens. They use the wood for smoke and then use gas to regulate temperature. Jack stack cooks their briskets in this manner and then once they are done they remove the burnt ends and cook them for another two hours. (I’m no pit master, but this is where I believe they become dry and tough.) Afterwards, we took a quick intermission by walking around the shopping plaza before heading on to our next destination.
It was dark when we pulled into the parking lot of LC’s but the smoke permeated the air. It felt like we were in the right place, even though there were wrought iron gates over the windows and doors. As we walked into the shop things began to deteriorate quickly. The first step in the door we struggled to keep our balance as we nearly skated across the heavily greased floors. The staff was jovial and quickly took our order. Within minutes we had our food and began our feast. I would classify LC’s defining quality as inexpensive, no frills ‘cue with lots of sauce. My goal was to taste the signature dishes of each location so I opted for more burnt ends; mom ordered rib tips. Equally as smoky as Jack Stack, my first bite was pretty good. They were far more tender than the previous and had much better flavor overall. But as I worked through the boat of burnt ends, I began to notice an overwhelming amount of cumin in the sauce. I personally don’t love excessive use of cumin and I found it hard to finish the plate. Mom’s rib tips – the meaty ends of the ribs that’s trimmed off – were tough, dry and loaded with little chunks of cartilage. We didn’t stay for long and left somewhat disappointed. All in all, we were glad our first day went as it did. It gave us a few things to be prepared for: always ask for sauce on the side and don’t expect all the whole bbq tour to be amazing. It was still early and we headed back to the hotel for an early evening.
During our time in town, the locals gave us plenty of suggestions to check out the next day. Day 1 wasn’t as great as we would have hoped but it still was a fantastic glimpse into what was to come. We spent time visiting many restaurants during this trip. In order to give them the attention they deserve, we will be splitting each day into its own section. Check back later this week to find out how the bbq tour went!