Friday, November 6, 2009

Arthur Bryant's Barbeque

KANSAS CITY: Arthur Bryant's Barbeque
1727 Brooklyn Ave

Kansas City, MO 64127


Open M-Thur 10-9:30, F-Sat 10-10, Sun 11-8

Keith Jackson would call a meal at Arthur Bryant’s just like he would the Rose Bowl, the “Granddaddy of them All.” If I had to extend that metaphor a little further, I would liken their product to the Rose Bowls of the late eighties and early nineties. It doesn’t live up to the history or the hype. Oh, there may be a Mark Brunell in there but it’s mostly Ki-Jana Carter and Billy Joe Hobert. Arthur Bryant’s opened for business in 1908. They moved to their current location more recently (1958).

Saturday morning began with a trip to Arthur Bryant's to try and beat the rush. This place gets busy, and the line doesn't exactly move along briskly. Luckily our arrival at 10:10 allowed us to get through with no line to order a few huge sandwiches, including the open faced burnt end sandwich. By the time we left, a literal bus-load of hungry diners were in line.

Brisket had been sliced very thin and with the grain. It was still a bit chewy and cold, but not very flavorful. Sliced pork was much better with a great deal of well rendered fat and good smokiness. Sausage came in thin slices from a bologna sized log. It was odd, but had good seasoning. The ribs had a good crust and texture as well as great flavor, but the burnt ends were the best. Being the beginning of the day we got true bits of burnt brisket ends, and the flavor of the meat and the original sauce together was perfect. The other two sauces, one sweet and one spicy, had odd flavors that would take some getting used to.

With epic clashes like the 2006 Texas-USC game and future NFL players on virtually every roster, the Rose Bowl has again taken its rightful place in college football. Arthur Bryant’s is still well worth a visit, but it lacks the transcendent flavor that makes barbecue legendary. We can only hope they will recapture some of that magic and bring their food back the highest level.

Rating ***
Arthur Bryant's Barbeque on Urbanspoon


ribking1 said...

wow,the burnt ends sanwich looks awesome,the other sandwiches kind of look like cold cut sandwishes us ole dove hunters eat..

Anonymous said...

One trip does not a critique make. All I can say is after 37 years of KC, including 5-1/2 years of working across the steet from Bryant's, I assure anyone that they wrote the book on BBQ. I will admit that things have changed slightly since Art died, but not negatively. They have added sides they didn't used to have etc. Portions are huge compared to most places. I love the ribs and the burnt ends. The original sauce is unique and I use it often. Fries don't get any better. Highly recomend the place. They have added a couple of other locations but the original is the place to go if you can. The line can be outside the door and down the street.

sjjcrand said...

I ate at Arthur Bryant's for the first time 2 years ago. I was excited because I had heard how wonderful the BBQ was. When we arrived the line was out the door, and we waited patiently as we could smell the smoke and anticipated a great meal. However, this is some of the nastiest BBQ (I hate to even call it that!) I have ever had. I figured I could cover it up with the sauce, however the sauce had no taste. In fact, it tasted as though I was eating liquid cigarette ashes. I will never go back there again!

Anonymous said...

Been there twice, 2 years apart.

Still don't like it. Both times the meat was definitely tender, but did not seem very smoked at all- more like plain roasted. The sauces are ok- the "original" has too much thyme for my taste, but is ok.

Combine that with the thinly veiled hostility (probably racial) from the staff, and the noise and inability to actually hear what they're saying, and it doesn't really make for a particularly great bbq experience.

Anonymous said...

This is possibly the most overhyped and well below average BBQ joint in the entire United States. The thin machine sliced brisket looked more like pastrami and did not taste like REAL brisket (Texas) does at all. And they wrapped all the meat up with a bunch of greasy fries? What a joke. This is tourist BBQ at its highest art form. HORRIBLE. JR

Anonymous said...

I go to Arthur Bryant's for their ribs. They are dry rubbed and absolutely delicious. It's been 3 years since my last visit, but I've been there 2 times and have loved their food each time. I'm a rib only guy though, so I don't even worry about the other stuff. If the ribs are great, I consider the joint great.

For anyone who complains about the service, it's part of the experience. Locals don't complain about it and have come to expect it. It's not a tourist BBQ in any way, other than true BBQ lovers come to one of the worst spots in KC at night for good BBQ.

Columbaire said...

Unless you've spent enough time in Texas barbecue joints, you're liable to think they serve barbecue anyplace else. Please, before you go pitching some place outside Texas to folks who grew up outside your city limits, come down here and find out.

It's not that folks elsewhere couldn't do what gets done here, it's just that no one outside Texas much bothers to do so and their patrons don't know the difference.
It's true with Bryant's and it's true elsewhere. It doesn't have to be, but that won't change until folks stop BS'ing themselves.

Sorry to disappoint you.



Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.