Arthur Bryant’s is theoretically where the sauce heavy Kansas City style of BBQ originated and is basically a MUST for anyone who seeks to know BBQ. It’s located in the historically black part of town, which means that there are some very cool museums and historic places to visit in the area near it.
The line is long and diverse, in a place like this good food is a great equalizer and regardless of your socioeconomic status, race, sex, or anything else you will be waiting in line with everyone else. This place had a total air of authenticity. I loved that they hadn’t tried to change it up but stuck with what worked so eating there was like getting in a giant time capsule.
As a Texan I am used to huge metal outdoor pits, but this pit was a force of nature. It was about 20 feet long, made of brick, and had a seemingly infinite number of racks with various cuts on different racks to get more or less direct heat. It was really pretty incredible. I was unable to get a clear shot at it but it totally reminded me of the ovens at Lombardi’s in NYC when I saw them last summer.
If you go you must try their classic cut, it’s a Burnt End. Basically it’s the flavorful ends of the meat. You can get additional stuff, but don’t forgo this staple dish. I grabbed baked beans and my partner in crime the potato salad.
These were the single best baked beans that there have ever been and I had Boston Baked Beans in Boston. The beans contain a touch of their classic sauce, molasses, and burnt ends for flavor. There are so many flavors going on in your mouth when you eat it that it’s hard to even describe.
The potato salad was not bad but it just wasn’t the baked beans. I did like that it was not too mustard filled.
Get a close look at these burnt ends. It’s a bit like East Texas Chopped Beef, but the pieces are thicker and the meat is… stouter for lack of another term. This is a serious sandwich.
The whole point of KC style BBQ is the sauce so you have no choice but to sauce the meat up because when in Rome.
Arthur Bryant’s has THREE kinds of sauce to choose from:
Original: This one does have a tang of vinegar so I was naturally a little suspicious of it and actually didn’t use it on my sandwich. It’s also a little thinner than the other two. It wasn’t bad sauce but I tried it first and wondered if the hype was warranted.
Sweet Heat: This adds a little spice and some black pepper to the mix and takes it up a notch. It’s like you took Rudy’s spicy sauce and then added a touch of angel tears.
Rich and Spicy: This is the sauce the place is known for. This is absolutely amazing, it has so many flavors-sweet, smoky, coffee like, something that tastes the way truffle oil smells and makes it earthy to balance out the sweet molasses. This stuff is really amazing, and thick, and everything you could ever want in a BBQ sauce that wasn’t heat.
Naturally I mixed the Sweet Heat and Rich and Spicy in liberal amounts and made my mouth happy. Seriously. I’m salivating writing about this.
I then devoured everything, got an extra slice of bread and sopped the plate. My cohort actually LICKED HIS SHIRT because he noticed a spot of sauce on it TWO HOURS LATER. I’m not going to lie, this particular BBQ experience has proven to me that not ALL good BBQ comes from Texas. Which is good because I did the whole ribs at the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa Alabama and was totally unimpressed. I’m actually contemplating buying bottles of this BBQ sauce to use on Texas BBQ and preferred it to the sauce at Franklin’s. There. I said it, now TMBBQ can come hunt me down.