by Kevin Wynn
1727 Brooklyn Ave.
Kansas City, MO 64127
|Mon – Thu||10am – 9:30pm|
|Fri – Sat||10am – 10pm|
|Sun||11am – 8:30pm|
GPS coordinates- N 39º05.492′ W094º33.386′
Riding to eat is a fine tradition among long distance motorcyclists. Many think nothing of riding hundreds of miles to meet friends for lunch and then turning around and coming right back home. It’s just a days’ ride, a quick hop. And why waste perfectly good gas, food and tire money on motel rooms if it isn’t necessary? After you’ve done a few 1000-1200 mile days, lesser mileage no longer gets more than a passing thought.
Well, all that’s between you and arguably one of the top few barbeque joints on the continent is about 450 miles of I-35 and the state of Iowa.
Arthur Bryant’s has history on its side; the walls are covered with photos of the famous and influential people who have eaten there. It’s good enough to attract U.S. Presidents, Hollywood elite and sports heroes, and make people endure lines out the door during busy hours. Still it hasn’t changed. The atmosphere is the same simple dining hall it’s always been. The BBQ pit area behind the glass in back reminds me of a medieval scene from a movie, with huge slabs of meat getting tossed on fires then cut and sliced for serving as you order. It’s been done this way since the 1930s, when Arthur and his brother Charlie started working for the founder of the Kansas City barbeque phenomenon, Henry Perry. Eventually they started their own “que” joint, Bryant’s, which evolved into the legend we know today.
When you get through the line, be ready with your order cause they move fast. Listen to the people in line ahead of you to get with the program. Beef, turkey, ham, chicken or sausage. The Combos are a good choice ($7.15) because you get to try a couple different meats and will likely have much more food than you can eat in one sitting. It’s slapped and heaped on a plate with a couple pieces of white bread and fries and handfuls of pickles if you want them. Arthur Bryant’s sauces are as good as it gets and they are applied with a mop. If you don’t know which sauce you want, tell’em you want it “dry”. You can then sample the sauces in whatever quantity you want at your table. I like the “Rich & Spicy” but the warmer “Original” is really something too. Unlike some places, both are in bottles on the table so you can use as much or as little as you want.
Since I was at Arthur Bryant’s for this visit on official MMM business, I felt it my duty to also sample the short ribs ($9.35) for the first time. Somewhere beyond “succulent” and “sublime” I ran out of adjectives. These are outstanding ribs, and juicy, tender cuts of meat.
Arthur Bryant was purported to say something to the effect of “Keep it simple. If you try to get fancy, you’re likely to screw it up!” So side order choices are simple too &endash; Baked beans, fries and pickles. The fries are unpeeled and cooked in lard, seasoned and artery-popping good Beer is available by the mug or pitcher including “Boulevard Pale Ale” which sounded good enough to try, but I had many more miles to go that day. If I ever drive down with my family for a ball game or to check out the huge roller coaster north of town, I’ll give the beer a try. I’m sure it’d go well with the rest of the menu.
As you roll into KC, singing “Kansas City here I come” inside your helmet (you know you will!), stay on I-35 all the way, take the I-70 East turnoff and then the Brooklyn Avenue exit. Go south to Arthur Bryant’s. Park in the street, or on the sidewalk across the street from the restaurant, no one seems to care. Although the area is slowly on the rise, this isn’t the greatest part of Kansas City (Is there a great part of KC proper?). There is usually a hired man in a cowboy hat outside to keep an eye on the parking area. On one of my visits he was a wearing a fake badge with his hat and boots so I refer to him as “The Sheriff.” Nobody I’ve talked to has ever had any problems there at any time of the day so he must be doing his job.
After three visits to Bryant’s, I have yet to try the “burnt ends”, the sausage and the long ribs. So there are plenty of reasons for another trip. Spring is just a few short months away and you ought to have a powerful craving to eat some miles and eat some tasty food. In the name of all that’s good, get yourself to Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque as soon as you can.
Eat well. Ride well.