Though the pit masters manning the grills at Burnt End BBQ know a good deal about how to bring out the complex flavors of a slab of barbecue, they’re not here to tell you how to eat it. That’s why most of the dishes on the menu are mere suggestions, allowing clients some flexibility on what meat and homestyle sides they choose to chow down upon. Customers can cull from six core meats such as the signature burnt ends, brisket, or pulled pork with sides ranging from the sweet and spicy slaw to creamy cheese corn. The chefs do create a few signature sandwiches and barbecue bowls to combine the best of their smoked meats and sides over a chewy mound of cornbread, which is the kind of mound from which gingerbread men pitch. Meats and sides are also available á la carte by the pound and pint, easily combining into full meals.
Smokehouse Bar-B-Que’s dinner and lunch menus satisfy cravings across the protein spectrum with a selection of hickory-smoked beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. High-quality cuts mingle between the Junior Smokehouse’s sesame-seed buns ($8.45), which grant diners a choice of two savories such as beef brisket, polish sausage, or time-traveling triceratops shank. The Monterey chicken's 8-ounce grilled breast nestles in a corn-dust bun alongside its eponymous cheese, ham, bacon, and dijon-mustard bedmates ($9.25), and chefs catapult a 16-ounce whole catfish through a Cajun-sauce and lemon-butter waterfall before bringing it in to land gently next to a house salad and choice of side ($14.95). Also flanked by a patron-preferred side dish, the Kansas City Strip rolls a 12-ounce certified Angus beef steak down sizzling hickory logs and into eagerly awaiting mouths ($23.95).
Since 1971, the chefs at Winslow's BBQ have been preparing meats ranging from ribs to turkey with a thorough dry-rub and a slow-cook over a hickory pit smoker. Although all of the meats are cooked the same way, not all of them sport the same zesty, housemade barbecue sauce. Homestyle sides, such as creamy potato salad and crispy french fries, accompany each main entree and scare the living daylights out of Mr. Potato Head. Diners can feast amid the dining room's exposed brick walls and black leather booths, or enjoy their meals on the outdoor patio, which is open during the spring and summer months.
C. Withers serves soulful homemade wings, rib tips, pastas, and more in a warm, friendly atmosphere. The menu boasts a range of hearty foods that smoke sequestered taste buds out of hiding, like the six wings and rib tips ($14.75) and eight-wing meal with two sides ($11.84). Noodle-based entrees such as the blackened chicken and sausage pasta ($10.60) let fidgety feeders practice shoelace-tying techniques at the table, and specialty cakes and other desserts sweetly cap off savory meals. Instead of using unhealthy frying methods, the skilled staffers at C. Withers prepare all dishes in either a broiler or a smoker, which ensures tender textures and rich flavors.
Owned and operated by the Quick family since 1964, Quick’s lays out a menu of hearty, hickory-smoked vessels sailing through a savory sea of barbecue sauce. Watch chefs in action as they cook up house specialties, including the half-pound pulled-pork sandwich ($6.19), in a diner-style kitchen. Deep-fried delights such as the bologna sandwich ($3.49) are hickory-smoked before swan-diving into a taste-enhancing oil bath. Sink omnivorous teeth into the Burnt Ends dinner, a half-pound of tender beef brisket taking center stage as a trio of fries, beans, and slaw provide able accompaniment ($10.49). Meanwhile, bellies as hollow as Captain Ahab's maniacal drive for revenge can fill up with the full slab of hickory-smoked spare ribs ($16.49).
Taking a three-hour lunch break might be frowned upon when you're at the office, but not if you work for Taste of Kansas City Food Tours. The company's tour guides specialize in meals on the move, leading groups to nearby restaurants for samples of their specialties. The stops on the walking tour tend to be locally owned eateries located slightly to the left of the mainstream—though they don't shy away from a famous pizza joint or two.
One route takes guests through Crossroads, and the other explores Westport, but both fill the time between bites with facts about the neighborhood and its history. The tastings on each tour might change from day to day, so surprise is the only common ingredient. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that you'll end the afternoon with a full stomach and a stack of clean plates.