Arthur Bryant’s still an icon in the KC barbecue scene

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I learned an important lesson from a food blogger in Kansas City: Talking about barbecue in these parts may involve “fightin’ words.”

Case in point: When I mentioned on Facebook that I was heading to Kansas City, one friend sent me to Arthur Bryant’s barbecue restaurant, quoting Calvin Trillin’s famous line that Bryant’s was possibly “the single best restaurant in the world.” But another friend declared Bryant’s sauce “gross.”

Meanwhile, the blogger, Mary Bloch, along with a local acquaintance, confirmed that Bryant’s has earned its kudos across the decades and remains one of the best barbecue places in town. But both felt that its top-dog status has been eclipsed by others, including Oklahoma Joe’s, Fiorella’s Jack Stack, Danny Edwards and Gates.

But what do I know about barbecue? I’m a tourist from New York, where fightin’ words are reserved for bagels, and barbecue is often disappointing. I was with my sister on our first-ever visit to Kansas City — which included classic tourist stops like the Nelson-Atkins Museum and Blue Room jazz club — so we opted for the old-school legend and headed to Bryant’s.

To further prove my ignorance about the Kansas City barbecue scene, I even called ahead for reservations. I have great respect for the person who answered and didn’t hang up laughing. Instead he paused and said, politely, “We accept walk-ins.”

They sure do. As we drove nearer, I wondered if we were lost. There wasn’t much nearby and the brick building it’s in looks like a forgotten warehouse. We stepped inside and realized why they don’t take reservations: It’s one room, cafeteria-style, with a line and counter in the back where you order, and a few tables scattered in front.

But I like holes in the wall as much as I like icons. And Bryant’s is “both the icon and the hole in the wall,” said Bloch, who writes the AroundtheBlockKC.com food blog and the Kansas City Star Restaurant Guide.

Either way, it was obvious that other diners were loving their food, chowing down and licking their chops over plates piled high with meat. We might not have ordered the turkey sandwich, but a tableful of construction workers raved about it. We also ordered a pound of mixed meat — ham, brisket and ribs — plus coleslaw, potato salad and beans. Call us ignorant New Yorkers, but we absolutely loved it — except for the stack of white bread on the side, which we ignored. It was also way too much food, so we saved the leftovers for a next-day picnic. It was even yummy cold.

Bloch later told me that Bryant’s is the undisputed “grandfather of all barbecue places in Kansas City.” Its founders, Arthur and Charlie Bryant, were African-American brothers who worked for Henry Perry, the man who opened what’s considered Kansas City’s first barbecue stand in 1908. The Bryant brothers eventually took over the business, which moved in 1958 to its current location. Calvin Trillin, the humorist and food writer who was born in Kansas City in 1935, said Bryant’s was also one of the city’s few integrated restaurants when he was growing up. And it’s a must-stop for politicians, having hosted everyone from Harry Truman to Sarah Palin to Barack Obama.

Bryant’s has also long been a favorite among baseball fans. Municipal Stadium, which was home to a Negro Leagues team and later several Major League Baseball teams, was just a few blocks away. Municipal closed in 1972, but the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is close to Bryant’s, as is the American Jazz Museum and the famous intersection of 18th and Vine, for decades the center of a thriving African-American neighborhood. Bloch says Bryant’s still “gets a line out the door” before every game at Kauffman Stadium, which replaced Municipal, even though it’s a 10-minute drive from Bryant’s on Interstate 70. With the Kansas City Royals in the World Series this year, business at Bryant’s is likely to be robust.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like