Ribs

So there’s this list out of “America’s 35 Best Ribs.” I have no idea what “The Daily Meal” is or how they put together this list or any other details about the thing. But I do know that as I went through the list I realized:

From at least one viewpoint: I have had ribs at 12 of their top 15 rib joints in America.

There are times in your life when you have to reassess. The other day I happened to glance at my Marriott Rewards account rundown. I have spent almost 1,400 nights in Marriott Hotels. Put another way: I have spent roughly FOUR YEARS of my life in Marriotts. I once wrote how much I loved the movie “Up in the Air” and the big reason was that it beautifully captures both the allure and emptiness of travel, the romance of always going places and the void of never getting there, the joy of moving and the gloom of helping your daughter with her homework over the phone.

But the point here is not to get caught up in travel talk but instead to say that as I scrolled through this list of best rib joints, I had this crazy feeling: “Yeah, I’ve been there … hey, I’ve been there too … and there … oh come on, I’ve been there .. and I’ve been there, this is getting ridicul … no, wait I’ve been there also.”

If you had asked me if I had eaten ribs in 12 different restaurants, I would absolutely have told you no. There’s no way. TWELVE? I have not eaten ribs in 12 different restaurants. Not a chance. Instead, it turns out, that not only have I eaten ribs in more than a dozen different restaurants, I’ve happened to eat in TWELVE OF THE FIFTEEN BEST rib places in America. Like I say, it’s a moment to reassess. I’ve lived one seriously lucky life.

Of course, all my rib experiences revolve around great sporting events.

Like I say: One seriously lucky life.

No. 15: HIll Country (Washington): I had ribs here when I was in town for something … don’t even remember what it was. I think it was the U.S. Open at Congressional, but I’m not sure about that. I’m sure the ribs were great, but I don’t remember them at all. The only reason I remember going is that a Washington native promised me that these were going to be the best ribs I’d ever had and I told him: “Um, I live in Kansas City.”

No. 14: 17th Street Bar and Grill. Never been.

No. 13: The Shed. We drove from New Orleans to Gulfport either at a Super Bowl or a Final Four, again, can’t remember many of the details. I remember mostly being in the car on the ride over with other sportswriters … there is nothing quite like a group of sportswriters on a mission to find good ribs.

No. 12: Montgomery Inn. Every year, at least once and often twice, my wife and I order Montgomery Inn ribs. It comes packed in dried ice, and it’s probably the best shipped food experience I’ve ever had … the ribs really do take just about as good as they do in either Montgomery or at the Boathouse near downtown Cincinnati. Fall off the bone. I suspect I’ve eaten Montgomery Inn ribs 25 times in my life, and probably more.

It is really dawning on me that I’ve eaten A LOT of ribs in my life.

No. 11: Rendezvous. Been three times. I could not even tell you why I’ve been in Memphis three times. I’m trying to remember if I’ve actually been there four times … my pal Tommy Tomlinson and I were in Memphis together once and I can’t remember if we did Rendezvous. And if we did not, I can’t remember why not. I do remember that they are fantastic ribs.

I am imagining a dear friend of mine who is a vegetarian reading this. I’m sorry. I really am.

No. 10: The Salt Lick. I’ve definitely had Salt Lick ribs but I’m not sure of the circumstances because I have not been to the restaurant itself … I think they were catered for a sporting event. But I remember having ribs and thinking they were pretty good and being told they were Salt Lick.

No. 9: Franklin Barbecue. This is in Austin. I went on a Saturday night after a Texas football game. Did not get within a mile of the place. Went back a different time … I want to say I went there the time I went down to Austin to do a big story on Dick Vitale. I went alone. It was worth it.

No. 8: Fiorella’s Jack Stack. Well, one of the reason I have been to so many of the Top 15 is that four of the restaurants are in Kansas City. I have been to EVERY barbecue place in Kansas City. I once did a story about going to every barbecue place in Kansas City.

I used to go to Jack Stack once or twice a week, every week, with people from work. I didn’t normally order the ribs — they had a flattened chicken that was a little bit like food heaven. I did try the ribs. They were fine, but not the reason to go to Jack Stack in my view.

No. 7: Dreamland. One of my favorite ever barbecue experiences in part because it’s one of my first barbecue experiences. I’m guessing I was 24 or 25 and I was working for the Augusta Chronicle. We were in Tuscaloosa for what had to be an Alabama-Georgia game. A whole bunch of us found this little shack in the middle of nowhere … you would go in and the menu was this: RIBS. BEER. That was it. RIBS. BEER. They put the ribs on top of white bread; your only choice was how many ribs to get. I’m a Kansas City guy through and through, but if I had to eat ribs outside of Kansas City I’m pretty sure I’d go to Dreamland.

No. 6: Big Bob Gibson, Decatur. Never been there

No. 5: City Market. It’s in Luling, Texas. which I recall being less than an hour drive from Austin. A baseball scout told me I had to go there. I don’t remember much about it but I also don’t remember feeling disappointed.

No. 4: Gates Bar B-Q. I remember once arguing with the great Negro Leagues player and spokesman Buck O’Neil about the best barbecue joint in Kansas City. He was a Gates guy, which is a fine thing to be. But I was an Arthur Bryant’s guy. He made his strong points about Gates’ perfect sauce and the atmosphere — when you walk in someone will yell at you “Hi may I help you?” I scored a few points, I thought, about the joy of Bryant’s ribs.

Then he said: “Oh what do you know? You’re a white boy.”

No. 3: Sam’s BBQ1 Marietta. Never been there. And I’ve been to Marietta. Not sure how I missed it.

No. 2: Arthur Bryant’s. I’m not sure how this is not No. 1. This is, famously, Calvin Trillin’s “Best restaurant in the world.”

No. 1: Oklahoma Joe’s. Well, let me tell you: I like Oklahoma Joe’s. I like it a lot. I eat there more or less every time I come back to Kansas City. It is a fantastic barbecue place. But better than Arthur Bryant’s? No. It is not. Even though the original is inside a gas station, even though I have waited an hour or more to get barbecue there (beginning in the line by the gas pumps), even though it’s better than almost every other place on earth … it’s not better than Arthur Bryant’s.

Let me tell you about one more ribs place … one that somehow is not on the list. One year I was in Denver and my cab driver was Hindu. This was not be worth mentioning except for this: He was an expert on barbecued ribs. He asked me where I was from, I told him Kansas City, and you would have thought that I was the fifth Beatle. He got SO excited and began telling me how he was the only Hindu on earth who was also an expert on barbecued ribs. He mentioned this irony (or, as he called it, “blasphemy”) at least a dozen times.

“My family will not even speak to me,” he said. “But I love ribs.”

And, right off the top of his head, this guy started listing off all the Kansas City barbecue places — not just the four I mentioned above but somewhat more obscure places like Snead’s and Zarda’s and Danny Edward’s and so on. I mean he was SERIOUSLY an expert.

He was going on and on … to this day I kick myself for not getting his name and phone number. He would have made one hell of story. But I didn’t. I just took in the wonder of the moment (and this was a ride from the airport to downtown, so I was in the cab with the guy for like an hour). Finally he told me I had to go to a place called “Guy and Mae’s Tavern” in Williamsburg, Kansas. I had never heard of it. I had never heard of Williamsburg either. He made me PROMISE him I would go there.

“Best ribs in the world,” he told me.

“Well, you know, Arthur Bryant’s …”

“BEST RIBS IN THE WORLD!” he told me again, not willing to accept any argument. He had tried every place. He was not guessing. Guy and Mae’s. Best in the world.

I’m pretty sure I would still think of that whole cab ride as nothing but a dream — a Hindu cab driver who was a barbecue expert? That’s not real. — except I wrote down “Guy and Mae’s” and that night called my wife Margo and told her about it. She had heard of the place. When I got back home, we planned a trip to Williamsburg on the recommendation of the cab driver — he had told me it was no more than 30 minutes outside of Kansas City. But that turned out to be very wrong. It’s actually closer to an hour and a half from Kansas City, depending on your starting point. So we put it off.

A couple of years later, though, we were come back to Kansas City along I-35 and all of a sudden Margo barks out, “Oh, hey, I think Guy and Mae’s is right around here.” So we went to Williamsburg, which is a tiny town. We went to Guy and Mae’s which was a tiny place. We walked in and said, “Um, we want to get some ribs.” To be honest, it didn’t look like a place that would even sell ribs. It kind of looked like a bar.

They wrapped the ribs in tinfoil. No sauce on them. Said they would be good for the drive home. When we got home, we ate those ribs and I have to say … I’m an Arthur Bryant’s guy. I’m a Dreamland guy. I’m a Montgomery Inn guy. But it really is possible that the best ribs I’ve ever had were those tinfoil-wrapped ribs from little place called Guy and Mae’s. I don’t know — I’ve only had them once. But it’s possible.

For years now, I’ve wanted to track down that cab driver in Denver. I can’t imagine it would be THAT hard to find him. It seems like if you ask around for a Hindu cabbie who loves ribs, you know, you would eventually find the guy. Maybe someday I will see him again. If I ever do, I’ll tell him: Yeah, those were some good ribs.

76 thoughts on “Ribs

    1. Mike M

      Born and raised in KC but I worked for 5 summers at summer camp Williamsburg, Kansas (pop. 397) eating Guy and Mae’s easily 3x per week—I look back on that time as the best days of my life

      Reply
  1. Chris

    We drove from Lawrence one Saturday night in college for Guy and Mae’s ribs. Waited for over an hour and nearly got into a fight playing pool with the locals. Definitely great ribs. Great story again.

    Reply
  2. Ryan

    Something tells me the next time I drive back home from Austin to KC and stop in Williamsburg, there is going to be a nice long line at this place, but I will definitely wait in it.

    Reply
  3. Pat Hobby

    Arthur Bryant’s burnt ends is my favorite meal on earth but I must say that if you are every in KC get off the beaten path and go to Guy and Mae’s.

    Reply
  4. ibrosey

    I’m a vegetarian. Not a lifer, but if I live to 90 (hah!) it will be more than half my life. So I get the love of ribs. I’d remember even if I didn’t involuntarily salivate when I think about them. None of this matters, though, Joe. Reading this, I had a wonderful time. Do us all a favor – don’t ever write a phone book.

    Reply
  5. Guilherme

    Joe, you’ll have a great time if you come down for the World Cup next month. Or great meals, at least.

    Reply
  6. Mindy

    Joe, Hayward’s is back, better than ever. New owner, old recipes. The ribs were fantastic & the burnt ends were even better. Worth trying again next time you are home.

    Reply
    1. Tom Flynn

      Glad to hear this! Had it last in the late 1980s when I was living in Nebraska. Would get down to KC for baseball now and then. Had Gates, Bryants, a place named “Bowdies(?)” and Hayward’s and liked Hayward’s best of all. Heard later that it had gone downhill.

      Also got to Ruby’s on a regular basis for Soul Food. I am fairly certain that Ruby has passed on. Is her restaurant still in business?

      Reply
  7. Jud

    Johnny Carson used to have Guy and Maes ribs shipped to him in Southern California. Yep those are some good ribs.

    Reply
  8. Ryan

    Wow, I visited Kansas City once, partially to take in some baseball and partially to take in some bbq. After one visit to each, which I’m sure wasn’t enough to have the full picture I have to say I was absolutely blown away by Oklahoma Joe’s and not particularly impressed by Arthur Bryant’s. If I ever have a meal better than my one OK Joe’s experience I will be surprised.

    Reply
  9. R.E. Bellar

    Completely concur. Live in KC and been to all the BBQ joints. Guy and Mae’s hands down has the best ribs. Last time I was there was 25 years ago and my college buddies at KU and I drank way too many red beers. We finished the ribs (wrapped in newspaper back then) crashed a wedding across the street and literally got chased out of town by some locals when we danced with the bridesmaids. Best night ever.

    P.S. Z-Man and fries from Oklahoma Joe’s will be my last meal if I have any say.

    Reply
    1. Cindy

      Great story! Your comment has a bunch of us from Williamsburg curious as to whose wedding you crashed. Every wedding dance I was at always had a few out of towners come across the street from the tavern but I don’t remember any trouble. :) Do you remember any other details?

      Reply
  10. Alejandro

    Joe I’m from Guatemala and will be attending the USA-Germany game in the world cup. Will you be there? I’d love for you to sign me your book if it is possible…

    Reply
  11. Scott

    In my considered opinion:

    Best ribs = Okie Joe’s
    Best brisket = Arthur Bryant’s
    Best sausage = Heyward’s (before they closed down; haven’t been to the new one)

    I grew up in KC and live in STL (rotten BBQ town, sadly). I will drive the 4 1/2 hours for my parents, Sporting KC and BBQ (probably not in that order).

    Reply
    1. Cindy O'Bannion

      If you’re a KC Sporting fan consider making the drive to Williamsburg to try Guy & Mae’s ribs… there’s several Sporting KC players who visit Guy & Mae’s for the ribs.

      Reply
  12. NevadaMark

    Oh yeah? What about Adam’s Ribs in Chicago? Hawkeye Pierce had them sent all the way to Korea.

    Reply
  13. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager

    Years ago, I came across a list in some pretentious food magazine of the best pizza places in the United States. I figured I would never have been to any because I’ve lived almost entirely in small towns and those kinds of lists are big city-centric (big city exclusive, really), but I did try nearly every pizza place in the Twin Cities when I lived there, so I read it anyway. It turned out that I lived two blocks from one on the list . . . and wasn’t really that big of a fan. It was good, but there were places I liked better in town.

    I know that doesn’t have a lot to do with your post about ribs, but I kept thinking of it during your intro.

    Reply
  14. Paul White

    I have lived in KC for almost 35 years and I’m disappointed in myself for never having even heard of Guy and Mae’s. It is now on my list.

    I’ve been to the four KC joints that made this list, and this is where Joe and I must part ways….Arthur Bryant’s is wildly overrated. Sorry. Great experience to go, and I’m glad to say I’ve been there a few times, but this town has too much good BBQ to compete with (if there is such a thing as too much good BBQ), and I’ve always thought Bryant’s sort of rested on their reputation and started cutting corners, like in the quality of meat they start with. I’d take any of the other three on this list over them, and a few others too.

    Reply
  15. dlf9

    Dreamland is pretty good – at least if you go to the original shack south of Tuscaloosa with the stray dogs and banging screen door and not any of the cleaned up yuppie places that have licensed the name. But the best bbq in the Tuscaloosa area is Archibald’s, number 22 on the link Joe posted. Archibald’s is a tiny cinder block building seating less than a dozen, backing up to a lumberyard in a quasi residential part of Northport. Ribs, pulled pork, white bread and RC cola. Food perfection.

    Reply
  16. Pat

    Joe, if you ever come to Pittsburgh, I will make you the best ribs in Pittsburgh. They are KC style, since that is the only style that matters.

    Reply
  17. Alejo

    Eating meat and fat is not as dangerous as we thought (according to the latest published data). And being a little overweight, while a serious problem if you do sustain a high body fat over many decades, is not the end of the world. I mean, you can be at risk for diabetes II and certain types of cancer, but it isn´t the killer people wanted to believe.

    That said, take care of yourself. “Eating healthy” is not as healthy as some companies promote, but it is still better than stuffing you face with greasy stuff.

    I realised that when I had my kid: I want to be healthy to be with him the longest time possible.

    Reply
  18. bellweather22

    One of the franchise, or licensed Dreamlands is near me. It burned down, so I won’t be going there anytime soon. I’ve been to none of these places. Ribs are great, but they are something I ate when I was younger. But, not being young any longer, I’m not aiming to die young and leave a good looking corpse…. or worse. I do go to rib joints with my son, who absolutely scarfs them, but I choose something else.

    Reply
    1. dlf9

      The one north of Atlanta on Hwy 141? No real loss as the franchises were closer to an Applebees than a true bbq joint.

      Reply
  19. Ben Bauman

    Doc Severinson, Johnny Carson’s bandleader used to rave on national TV about Guy and Mae’s. He would stop there every time his band was in the KC area, and also have ribs shipped to Burbank.

    Reply
  20. Tampa Mike

    Wow, no comment on Big Bob Gibson’s?? Is it owned by the pitcher, named after the pitcher, nothin’?

    Reply
    1. elgringoloco

      It is not named after the pitcher…the BBQ place has been around since the 1920s, IIRC. Thing is, I don’t really think of their ribs as a big thing (although they are very good). Their main chef, Chris Lilly, has been on the Today Show cooking Boston butts.

      Reply
  21. Marco

    I suspect that the comments will end up flooded with recommendations, but the next time you find yourself in Detroit it’s worth checking out Slows in Corktown (right in the shadow of the now torn down tiger stadium). Add it to your list.

    Reply
  22. Charlie Frizzell

    Joe, I’m a KC expat living in Charleston, SC. Can’t quite get used to the mustard based sauce, but there’s yet time.

    If you’re ever down this way, try the ribs at Sweatmans BBQ in Holly Hill, SC (hometown of Brett Gardner). The place is famous in these parts.

    Another famous and great place is Carsons in Chicago. Incredible fall off the bone ribs.

    LC’s is the best barbecue in KC. Rosedale used to be top 5 when I lived there. The Crown Royal Ribs at Jack Stack (beef ribs) is like consuming heaven.

    Bryants has the best and most unique sauces on the planet. I’m a Bryants guy based on that alone

    Reply
  23. Mikey

    I gotta agree with Paul White. I LOVE the experience of Arthur Bryant’s. One of my favorite restaurants anywhere. But in a blind taste test I’d say Gates and Jack Stack are better.

    Nonetheless, if I had one night in Kansas City and I somehow knew that I would never be back again….I’d go to Bryant’s. Atmosphere has to count for something.

    Reply
  24. JW

    Cincinnati native here…Montgomery Inn ribs are perfectly acceptable, but they are not BBQ. They’re broiled and slapped with so much sweet sauce you barely taste the absence of smoke. Next time in Cincy, venture out and try Eli’s…actual BBQ ribs (a BYOB joint).

    Also, anyone trying to sell you on a BBQ joint by talking about their sauce is missing the point.

    Reply
    1. Grover Jones

      Yeah, but keep in mind it’s “35 best Ribs.”

      You’re probably right about it not being BBQ. The whole point is the sauce. That’s why it’s heated and added after they’re cooked. Sure, it’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. But boy, is it good wax.

      Reply
  25. Bob "One O" Post

    Lifelong Kansas City resident. In my 48+ years, I’ve been to a lot of the barbecue places in town, but I haven’t had ribs at all of them. Here are my personal rankings on local barbecue.
    Ribs – I make some mean Dr. Pepper ribs. If I’m ordering them from a restaurant, I like to get them from Johnny’s in Mission, Kansas.
    Burnt Ends – It’s really close. I LOVE Fiorella’s Jack Stack. But I also LOVE Rosedale Barbecue. Can’t lose, either way.
    Chicken – Arthur Bryants. That’s also where I met Larry the Cable Guy, so Bonus Points!
    Sandwich – The Z-Man at Oklahoma Joe’s is a food masterpiece! Sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, a couple of onion rings, a bit of barbecue sauce, all on top of a Kaiser roll. Unbelievable!
    Sandwich, if the line at Oklahoma Joe’s is too long – Super Crispy at Smokehouse is good, sloppy eating.
    Special props to Woodyard Bar-B-Que on Merriam Lane, a hidden gem.

    Reply
  26. Shawn Foster (@kcflatlander)

    Guy and Mae’s are wonderful, but for me, the best ribs are at Brobeck’s, which is owned by the folks that owned the Stillwell Smokehouse.

    So, with that, from a KC perspective.

    Best Ribs: Brobeck’s, with Smokin’ Guns and Guy/Mae’s a 2A/2B
    Best Brisket: Danny Edwards Eat It and Beat It Blvd. BBQ
    Best Chicken: Arthur Bryant’s
    Best BBQ for a Royals’ Game: Arthur Bryant’s wrapped up in butcher paper with the knowing nod from the security guy as you walk in the game
    Best BBQ for Breakfast: RJ’s Bob-Be-Que with Burnt End Hash (only on weekends)

    Reply
    1. Tom Flynn

      In Syracuse? Used to be a waitress there with a thing for silver lame miniskirts . . . and the BBQ was really good too!

      Reply
  27. Nick

    Huh, no Fat Matt’s in Atlanta mentioned among the 35? Blasphemy!

    Bludso’s in Compton is indeed amazing, though.

    Reply
    1. JazzNball

      While Bludso’s get all the attention, the best ribs in the LA area are at Jay Bee’s. They also have great links.

      Reply
  28. Ron Warnick

    I was pleasantly surprised to see 17th Street Bar and Grill on the list. The original is in Murphysboro, Ill., less than 15 miles from the Southern Illinois University campus. The guy who started it, Mike Mills, won all sorts of BBQ contests and uses apple wood — which is easily procured with all the orchards around — for the smoking.

    True story: A guy from Austria and his future wife went with us to 17th Street to get some ribs. It was their first time there. The plan was the couple would split a full order of ribs. Well, he ate just one rib and promptly ordered ANOTHER full slab of ribs for himself. Mills was working in the kitchen that day, heard what happened, and came out to shake the Austrian dude’s hand.

    Reply
  29. brian

    I went to KC a couple years ago and thought Arthur Bryant’s was really quite awful. Loved Gates and Oklahoma Joe’s, and thought BB’s Lawnside was pretty good. Preferred the Salt Lick to all of them though.

    I’ll put in a vote for Slow’s in Detroit as well.

    Reply
  30. Josh

    Guy and Mae’s is the best Rib joint I’ve been to. I grew up in that bar. Glad to see some love thrown its way.

    Reply
  31. Sharon smock

    Guy and Mae’s is the best rib joint around and the best owners in the world. I consider them friends and neighbors and have to have those ribs regularly . My children come home for a visit, the first thing they ask for is B.B.Q.

    Reply
  32. Jill

    I grew up across the street from Guy & Mae’s and worked there weekends for 3 years. People call ahead to let the family know that they’re coming, and how many slabs they want. The place runs out of ribs frequently. A wait time of 1-2 hrs on the weekends was the norm. Best. Ribs. Ever.

    Reply
  33. Robert Lemon

    I am a transplanted Kansas Citian and had ribs at Arthur Bryant’s many times. I am old enough to have gone to Charlie Bryant’s when I was a kid. This blog brought back good memories. Dreamland was, to me, almost as good as Bryant’s under the old owners. Then some white folks bought it and it’s now more marketing than soul. Sad passing in Tuscaloosa. That has been a few years back too. So I hope it is under new owners again who have been respectful of the way it once was.

    Reply
  34. Greg B

    Driving home from a Florida vacation through Atlanta, we got off the interstate due to traffic and decided to grab dinner. We ended up at Thompson Brother’s BBQ in the corner of suburban strip mall. The place didn’t look like much, but wow, those ribs! We talked to the folks running the place and found out that they were five brothers from Oklahoma – and at least one played football for the Sooners, which you could tell by the pictures on the wall. When they moved to Atlanta they were disappointed in the local BBQ selections and decided to introduce the locals to their own special style of dry rub BBQ ribs. My mouth still waters thinking about that place and their homemade sauce was spectacular.

    Reply
  35. Billy Bob

    Kreutz in Lockhart TX (near Austin). Brisket is better, but the ribs are fantastic. No sauce in the place…doesn’t need any. Salt Lick is tasty but very greasy. I was disappointed in Arthur Bryant’s…I know, blasphemy.

    Reply
  36. Herb Smith

    Memphis is mentioned a couple times on the list, but Nashville was somehow left out. I have to disagree; I don’t know how it’s possible to get better ribs than the kind they serve at Peg Leg Porker, downtown in the Gulch area. The dry rub ribs are particularly outstanding.

    And, as many of you above have stated, atmosphere counts too. This place has it. And they even do unique little things like this: every Wednesday is “Barry White Wednesday.” All Barry White music, all day. Barry White and BBQ? It’s a great combo.

    The owner, Carey Bringle, IS the Peg Leg Porker. He describes himself as a “one legged, fat, bald-headed, damn good lookin’ man.” He’s there all the time, and definitely add character to the whole experience. But none of this would work if the ribs weren’t mouthwateringly good. They are.

    Reply
  37. Brad

    Guy & Maes is hands down the best rib joint. Even though the place is a dump, I thought LC’s BBQ was superior to Bryant’s. It seems the dumpier the place is, the better the BBQ is.

    Reply
  38. Chris M

    Just got back from my first ever trip to Kansas City. Went to a Royals game and then tried to go to Oklahoma Joe’s afterward, but the line was 2 hours long! We ended up going to Jack Stack’s, and it was pretty darn good. Wish I had read this earlier though, definitely would have tried to go to Guy and Mae’s. Oh well.

    Reply
  39. Neha Kapoor

    Look, I’m a contributor for the Daily Meal, and I’ll tell you right off, that their method of compiling these lists are total garbage. I’ll get an email 1-2 times per week from HQ asking to choose from a list of about 250, various things like Best Grocery Store in the World and Best Pan Asian in the US, etc. Like anyone can even $#@!ing know that. I haven’t been to 250 dim sum restaurants in my life, and i certainly haven’t been to Jackson $#@!ing Illinois.

    In other words, the people who do vote in these lists are just clicking random names that they’re sorta-somewhat familiar with. They’ve likely been to less than 5 of them, if at all.

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    Reply
  40. Amy

    Next time your in Kansas city come down to Ottawa,KS and come to Smoked Creations. Check out their Facebook page

    Reply
  41. Jeff Circle

    The ribs at Oklahoma Joe’s are the truth. Fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, flavor explosion, mouth-gasm, no sauce needed ever – but if you do, get the spicy-sweet Night of the Living BBQ sauce. I will karate-fight anyone who tries to claim anything else is better, then we’ll go try your ribs too!

    As far as Memphis is concerned, Rendezvous was good for ribs but the real hidden gem is Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. To paraphrase Brad above, the dumpier the place the better the food. Almost never fails.

    Reply
    1. :-)

      My thought exactly. It is beef that hindus can’t eat, not pork. Are you sure he wasn’t a muslim from Pakistan?

      Reply
  42. Brett Waggoner (@BigWagg)

    Just had Guy & Mae’s for the first time yesterday. Walked in at noon and had ribs on my table in less than 5 minutes. Served on top of two slices of white bread and wrapped in foil. Had mine with a can of Dr. Pepper and a little cup of beans – which were delicious. I ate my half slab so fast that the waitress asked me if if the pile of bones was mine or left over from the previous customer. I don’t know if those are the best ribs I’ve ever had, but they were definitely in my top 5. I will go out of my way to get them, let’s put it that way. Have to throw some love to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in ATL. I devoured a full slab there last year and their atmosphere (hallway of a dining room with live music at one end) was just awesome!

    Reply
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  44. Bob Kraus

    I lived in Kansas City for almost five years. I have two major regrets that I will never be able to correct. First, I never took the time to visit the Negro Leagues museum. Second, I never took the time to seek out and meet Buck O’Neil. My loss and my regret.

    As for barbeque, you can hardly go wrong between Gates and Bryants. Either way you’ll walk away happy.

    Reply
  45. Amy

    Guy and Mae’s, I was lucky enough to grow up and know 3 generations of those behind the bar. I don’t know anywhere else where you can have moved away and fifteen years later walk in and they still know your name :-) You cant miss, order your ribs, have a red beer and spicy pickles while you wait…. and don’t forget to sign your dollar for the ceiling!

    Reply
  46. Zach

    The Woodyard is a new entry to the “Best of KC” list. I used to work at the fruit stand across the street before they went professional, and even then they were phenomenal.

    Reply
  47. Moeball

    I’ve eaten at both Arthur’s and Gates in KC – thought the ribs were overrated but actually thought the sandwiches were delicious!

    I’ve had Montgomery Inn ribs in Cincy, too, and they’re pretty good, but…back in the day, from the ’40s to the ’90s I guess, until the owner closed it down, there was a place you could only reach from an alley called the Rib Barn Pit. Had just about the most fantastic ribs I’ve ever had. You couldn’t even order anything else. You’d walk in and the waitress “Ginny” would just say “Everyone gettin’ ribs?” and turn around and go back to the kitchen and put the order in. All the locals I talked to said the place had looked the same since WWII and this was decades later. From what I’ve been told, in the days of the Big Red Machine, all the white players on the team went to Montgomery Inn, while the black players went to the Pit.

    I’m surprised a lot of the famous BBQ places don’t make better use of ballpark tie-ins. Here in San Diego we’ve got Phil’s BBQ and, starting last season, they finally opened a Phil’s stand at Petco Park. This represents a colossal upgrade to stadium food here…and apparently someone noticed. USA Today did a survey last season of ballpark food for every major league team and the winner for best food at the park was San Diego, and Phil’s was listed as the primary reason why. Does this mean KC doesn’t have Arthur’s or Gates or Guy and Mae’s at the stadium? What about other cities out there?

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  48. Jenn Yoest

    I grew up in a small town not far from Williamsburg but managed to somehow miss out on the ribs until my late teens/early 20′s. I wish I could go back in time and order myself down to Williamsburg Ribs (that’s what we called it in my hometown) for some great BBQ. The names of all of the famous ppl who have eaten there are on the walls and the ceiling now. It still astonishes me that this secret hasn’t gotten out. Proud to be from Kansas!

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