Denise Ward grew up nourished by soul food that her mother skillfully prepared. After learning to prepare the same recipes herself, she dreamed of sharing them with other people. That’s why she and her husband, Perry, opened a soul food café in 1985, naming it Niecies Restaurant. In 2006, they expanded to a second location.
In the early hours, cooks grill pork chops for breakfast sandwiches and prepare signature plates such as the Sunrise Breakfast, which The Pitch asserts, “may be the best way to start any morning.” Later in the day, plates of fried catfish and barbecue brisket share table space with bowls of beef stew more comforting to stomachs than teddy bears eaten whole. Homespun desserts such as peach cobbler sweeten palates.
The food gets served in a comfy diner-style setting. Thickly padded booths line two long rows of front windows, and diner stools prop up guests at the counter—in case they want to reenact scenes from their favorite road-trip movie, such as Ben-Hur. Floral wallpaper hangs cozily over wood-trim wainscoting, and plates of pancakes can be seen on the shelf between the kitchen and the dining area for that fleeting instant before servers whisk them off to tables.
Tim Griffin has come a long way from washing dishes. That first job gave set him on a path into the restaurant industry, which led to stints in almost every position including bartender, server, manager, and dish taster for visiting monarchs. He first used his experience to launch a catering company, and then kept evolving and founded his own restaurant, J.Bean's Gathering Place. Today, Tim—along with his wife Ibby and head chef Blair Johnson—welcome guests with a creative menu of dishes ranging from crab-rangoon dip to fish tacos. The two-level dining room evokes a warm, welcoming atmosphere with an abundance of hardwood furnishings and trim anchored by a stone fireplace. The establishment also often hosts special events, such as occasional live music on the patio.
Since throwing open their eatery’s doors in 2006, the Wing Busters clan has made it their mission to treat every customer like family. The chefs glaze crispy wings in 46 distinct sauces and seasonings, adding doses of garlic-parmesan, hickory-smoke-barbecue, or incendiary habanero sauce that enables diners to singe their own eyebrows with a single breath. They also craft po' boys and beefy burgers to order, plus down-home sides including jalapeño hush puppies and okra.
After ordering from the counter, guests can mosey over to one of the four-seat tables speckling the snug dining area. Dangling pennants adorn the walls alongside an array of framed pictures, memorabilia-filled shadowboxes, and freshly inspected fire extinguishers.
Dickey?s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan?s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalape?o beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant?s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
Kansas City pit-masters are a bit like wizards: with dashes of sauce and wisps of wood-smoke, they summon barbecue aficionados from across the world. But tourists aren't the only ones who hunger for their savory-sweet brisket, ribs, and burnt ends??locals do, too. Bethanie Schemel, owner of KC Barbecue Tours, gives both locals and travelers insider's access to the rich history??and deep flavor??of the city's smoked-meat scene through bus-guided food tours.
On these tours, groups visit famed barbecue hot-spots. They also make stops at beneath-the-radar barbecue joints. "We do have a couple smaller places on our tour that we tend to keep a secret because they are the hidden gems that not a lot of people know about," owner Bethanie Schemel told KCTV 5 News. Food isn't the only reason for booking a spot on one of KC Barbecue Tours' expeditions?participants also get a peek at behind-the-scenes preparation techniques, and can ask pit-masters for tips on what type of wood chips to use or how to build a xylophone from leftover rib bones.
The menu at Q's 'Que is all about smoked meat. From full slabs of ribs to pulled pork by the pound, the cuts here get treated with tender loving care before they make their way into paper-lined baskets and diners' sauce-soaked hands. There are fountain drinks and bottled beers to wash it all down, as well as to put out spice fires in unattended doggy bags.