While nearly every Kansas City joint with a smoker will sell you the entire barnyard, each barbecue spot has its own specialty that should be the start and end of your order. And KC has more than just barbecue to offer. Consider this your guide to Kansas City's best meals, plus where to go for beer, cocktails, and more.
'Missouri' on Serious Eats
Man, did we eat some good things while driving from New York to San Francisco. Here are the delicious highlights from a 10 day trip from that took us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange's smoked beet reuben ($10) shows what might happen if the soul of a Jewish Deli was reincarnated in Kansas City. And it's vegetarian.
The legend of Boulevard Brewing's Chocolate Ale haunts Kansas City like that of Nessie or Bigfoot: Nearly everyone I spoke to had either tasted the beer months ago or at least knew someone who tried it, yet every bar was out of it or never carried it in the first place. Bartenders and barflies alike seemed to speak of this "holy grail" in hushed, reverent tones—as if the beer's existence could be shattered by the mere utterance of its name.
While brewing history in St. Louis is inextricably linked with Anheuser-Busch and lager, that's not how things started off. One of the city's founders, Auguste Chouteau, was making whiskey there by the 1790s, and John Coons was brewing and selling beer on a small scale by 1809.
This classic streamline-style diner serves up diner favorites including griddle-smashed burgers and shakes at Oak Tree Inns nationwide. Their featured burger: the 2/3-pound Build-Your-Own Monster Burger, which you can customize with as many toppings as you want for no extra charge.
Today's AHT reader recommendation comes from self-described burger addict Melissa Graham about her favorite burger joint, Carl's Drive In. We got a reader review for Carl's in 2007 as well, and a shout-out in one of our roundups of readers' favorite burgers. Thanks, Melissa! If anyone else wants to share some burger intel, email us at email@example.com or check out our review submission form. —The Mgmt.
Chester's offers its burgers two ways: a traditional half-pound, char-grilled burger with toppings, or a Stuffy, where the ingredients are packed inside the burger before it's cooked.
There's a drawing of a barn on the wall of the Backyard Burger on Marler Lane in Ozark, Missouri. I doubt very much that any of the beef served at Back Yard burger came from a farm that looked like that, despite it being domestic Black Angus. But then again, it doesn't appear that the burgers there are cooked in a charcoal fired kettle as the companies logo implies.
Town Topic opened its doors in 1937, but the locations hamburger heritage is even older than that—the turrets on the corners of the little shack on Broadway betray the fact that it was once a White Castle. And the hamburgers they serve there, more than 70 years later, are a cultural relic from that era: Small pucks of beef are pressed in to a searing griddle with onions, while the bun is steamed on top.
"I dream of those burned edges. Sometimes, when I'm in some awful overpriced restaurant in some strange town—all of my restaurant-finding techniques having failed, so that I'm left to choke down something that costs $7 and tastes like a medium-rare sponge—a blank look comes over my face: I have just realized that at that very moment someone in Kansas City is being given those burned edges free." —Calvin Trillin on the burnt ends from Arthur Bryant's.
I recently took a road trip that found me, amongst other places, in Memphis, Tennessee, and Kansas City, Missouri. I ate a bunch of burgers on the trip, but there were a couple of places that I thought looked interesting...
There's milkshakes and then there's concretes. And if you want to truly experience a concrete—the insanely thick frozen custard concoction that's so dense you can hold it upside down with the spoon still suspended—you need to visit the St. Louis institution Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard.
If you're a food-loving road-tripper driving cross country, you have to make a detour in Kansas City for some barbecue, right? A visit to Arthur Bryant's and Gates Bar-B-Q was in ordered, topped off with a double-scoop at Murray's Ice Cream & Cookies.
[Flickr: Pete Zarria] It may not be a drool-inducing burger, but I thought this photo of the fading neon sign of Town Topic Hamburgers in Kansas City, Missouri, by Pete Zarria on Flickr was lovely enough to point out....
St. Louis's Blueberry Hill is well regarded for its burgers, but they're not among the city's best. The hickory burger in particular suffers at the hands of liquid smoke. Aside from the burger, though, the restaurant is a comfortable place to hang out and features an amazing array of sports and pop culture memorabilia.
Our man in Chicago, Daniel Zemans, checks in with another piece of intel from the road. Today, St. Louis. —The Mgmt. [Photographs: Daniel Zemans] The Good Pie 3137 Olive Street, Saint Louis MO 63103 (map); 314-289-9391; thegoodpie.com Pizza Style: Neapolitan Oven Type: Wood The Skinny: A perfect blend of St. Louis and Naples, The Good Pie is a whole lot better than its modest name Price: $9 to $16 Notes: Closed Sunday When Mike Randolph and his wife moved to St. Louis to be closer to her family, the 2005 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and former cook...
Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel from the road, this time in St. Louis. —The Mgmt. Imo's Pizza 742 S 4th Street, St. Louis MO 63102 (map); 314-421-4667; imospizza.com Pizza Style: Cracker thin crust Oven Type: Convection The Skinny: St. Louis's signature pizzeria is a treat for those of us who have acquired the taste but understandably far from it to those who have not Price: 12-inch with sausage, $10.66 Gefilte fish. Chitterlings. Thousand-year-old-eggs. Provel cheese. What do these four foods have in common? To the extent that it's possible to have...
Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel from the road, this time in St. Louis. —The Mgmt. Pi Pizzeria 6144 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis MO 63112 (map); 314-727-6633; restaurantpi.com Pizza Style: Deep dish and thin crust Oven Type: Gas The Skinny: President Obama might not be a pizza expert, but Pi has some excellent deep-dish pizza. The thin crust pies, however, do not measure up as well Price: Deep dish pies start at $12 and thin crust starts at $11 Notes: Second location just opened in Kirkwood; third location in Central West End...