My wife and I love to dine out. We’re both busy with careers and doing the dishes after a long day doesn’t always sound appealing. As she can make phenomenal meals herself we’re always looking for new restaurants and experiences (Don’t worry – I do the dishes and keep her prep area clear as we go). As anyone that’s in a committed relationship knows, it’s all about compromise. This can be an issue when you’re a Kansas Citian at heart and share a deep-rooted interest in the city’s official past-time – barbecue. Yes grilling out on your deck on a Sunday is great but I’m talking about the real stuff – burnt ends, ribs, pulled pork; fusing the flavors of meats with wood from a tree. Our cavemen ancestors would be proud. But even they had to give a little to keep their cavewomen happy.
So if you’re in Kansas City for a few nights staying at Hotel Sorella (obviously), where do you go? Does such a place exist that offers competition-level barbecue along with an atmosphere that doesn’t require you to cash in months of sweat equity cleaning out the garage, helping your in-laws move, or giving up the comfy chair on the patio to go there? That answer is now yes. Take my advice, and visit one of these local hotspots the next time you’re in Kansas City:
Q39 – Just two miles from Hotel Sorella. Pitmaster and co-owner Rob Magee takes a classic approach to his competition inspired menu including the Judges Plate featuring a multitude of meats typically judged in official barbecue contests such as the American Royal. When my wife and I went, we had to wait a bit to be seated because the place was packed – always a good sign. Of course the barbecue was great and stands on its own merits. Give the burnt ends and their macaroni and cheese a try. You certainly will not be disappointed. What makes Q39 so great though, is the experience of it all. The interior is rustic and simple, but they make great cocktails served in mason jars, and have an excellent craft beer selection on tap. Save room for dessert and try the hard root beer float which will be perfect end to a great meal.
Next up is Char Bar. This is a new favorite of mine. Advertised as smoked meats and amusements, I would describe it as gourmet barbecue. If you combine this with a happy hour atmosphere complete with croquet and an outdoor beer garden, you’ve got a wonderful early Saturday evening planned. We shared the Whomp! Platter. And by the time we were done we were truly “whomped” which included six meats, burnt ends, ribs, fries, and fixin’s. If you leave hungry it’s your fault. Did I mention it’s only a couple miles away from Hotel Sorella? Have our shuttle do the driving for you as you’ll certainly want to enjoy a cocktail in their beer garden.
Last but certainly not least – Cinder Block Brewery. A brewery that serves barbecue? Kind of… Sort of… But of all kind of, sort of’s – this one is the best. On Friday and Saturdays, you can order barbecue from the neighboring food truck – Back Rack BBQ. It’s a match made in heaven, and apparently a modern symbiotic relationship. Cinder Block knows beer and Back Rack knows barbecue. They both see no reason to step in to each-other’s wheelhouse. Order from your table, and the Back Rack waitress will bring your food right in to the brewery. The brewery’s atmosphere is industrial chic. A view right in to the makes you feel even closer to the action. While you’re there, have a Northtown Native. It’s easy to drink and will pair wonderfully with your ‘cue. Don’t forget to pick up a growler to go.
So please, take my recommendation and try one of these local up-starts. When back home you can tell tales of the hip and trendy underground barbecue scene in Kansas City – of which you’re now an expert. Your friends will be impressed with your knowledge and wow’ed by your new bbq expertise.