Kansas City: King of burnt ends BBQ

Kansas City, Missouri is a great town.  It’s not widely written about but it should be because it has much to offer.

It’s one of those off the beaten path midwestern cities that most people rarely visit, but I found it had many things to do and a rich history of American culture.  It’s a mid-size city, easy to get around and navigate for first-time visitors.

All around, the museums, eats and welcoming Midwestern type locals were a nice surprise.  I’m also a Ernest Hemingway buff.  KC is where he got his first job out of high school writing for the Kansas City Star newspaper, which was an influential newspaper at the turn of the century.

I came to KC primarily to see a band I follow (Sigur Ros) play at the historic Midland Theater in downtown.

Originally part of the Loews’ theater chain, it’s one of the grand old movie palaces built in the late 1920s.  It’s full of ghosts and remembrances of things past – it was like a museum itself.

In the style of French and Italian Baroque, it’s pretty much in original condition and it was a great venue to see live music.

It felt like going back in time a hundred years.


Kansas City, in my opinion, makes the best BBQ.

Unlike other regions, they seemingly do everything right, including the side dishes.  And, uniquely, many of the joints here specialize in “burnt ends” which is otherwise known as the “bark” on brisket.  There is only so much bark on a brisket, so they take brisket cubes and recook it to get the char on the outside.

The top two BBQ joints I experienced in KC were Oklahoma Joe’s and LC’s BBQ.

Anthony Bourdain listed Joe’s as one of the “13 places to eat before you die.”  I think he’s right.  The brisket is unreal.  The place was packed.  The word is out.

LC’s had the best burnt ends, in my opinion.  Exceptional.  Large portions.  Their giant smoking pit is awesome to see in person.  While I was there, one of the players for the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football team came and ordered a boatload of BBQ for the team.


World War I Museum: I had no idea this was here, a thought provoking museum experience.

Laugh-O-Gram Studio: it’s just an abandoned building but it once contained Walt Disney’s first business, Laugh-O-Gram, which drove him into bankruptcy after a few short years.

One can see driving around Kansas City the architectural inspirations for the small town feel that permeates main street at Disneyland.

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art: endowed by the founder of H&R Block, this is a world class museum with an amazing modern art collection and surreal outdoor modern art sculptures.

Hotels: Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City: located on outskirts the city, Ameristar is good option even if one doesn’t like to gamble.  It has several restaurants and multiplex cinema located inside.

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