Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Downtown BBQ Makes the Grade in KC

Winslow’s BBQ
20 E. 5th St.
Kansas City, MO

Sometimes I feel like a Kansas City barbeque failure.

I pride myself on my barbeque tasting expertise. You name the smoke shack or pig joint and chances are I’ve been there, tasted the ‘que, lived to tell you all about it and bought the shirt (or cleaned my grill with it).

I feel like I have a good handle on a wide cross section of the meat served in all the barbeque Meccas like Memphis, Columbia, Lexington and Lockhart.

But I’ve never really eaten my way through Kansas City, one of America’s great ‘que towns.

Oh sure, I’ve done the obligatory stops at Gates and Arthur Bryant’s.

Who hasn’t?

But to really get a sense of the barbeque culture of a city, you have to do more than just check off the list of places that make regular appearances on cable TV.

And that’s where I feel like I can improve my performance in Kansas City.

I need to hit up L.C.’s, Rosedale and Danny Edwards -- the lesser known pit houses where the locals go to get real KC ‘que.

Unfortunately, all those venerable authentic smoke shacks tend to congregate on the south side of Kansas City -- a place where Suit757 rarely travels.

In general, local dive barbeque shacks tend to be in the parts of town Suit757 doesn’t have much business. (I’ll let you speculate about why that might be.)

Of course geographic inconvenience has never stopped me before. But with a tight schedule, I knew venturing out to wilds of South KC wasn’t going to be in the cards on this trip either.

There’s got to be some place in this barbeque crazed city to get some ribs and burnt ends near downtown.

Sure enough, I found Winslow’s BBQ.

It’s been around for over four decades. That’s a good sign.

Won lots of awards. Another good sign.

But when I walked up to Winslow’s I quickly realized that it is located in one of those fake touristy taxpayer subsidized “festival marketplaces” downtown along with stores selling souvenir KCMO coffee cups and key chains -- and t-shirts that read “Who farted?”

Not a good sign.

And during prime dinner hour I was the only customer in the place.

Definitely NOT a good sign.

There’s no way I’m going to get any sense of authentic KC barbeque at this joint.

But you know what?

The smoked meat served at Winslow’s was downright exquisite.

Too bad I was the only one in Kanas City getting to experience it.

Fortunately, the one lady who did double duty as the lone waitress and bar tender had the TV turned to the MLB Network with the sound turned up loud.

I happily sat there alone positioned directly in front of the TV drinking a big Boulevard Pale Ale out of a plastic cup watching baseball -- just like at the bar in my home.

Only I haven’t figured out how to make barbeque this good at home.

I ordered the three meat platter for $15. It was enough food to feed a family of four.

Five big meaty ribs with pork soft and tender like butter.

The pulled pork was soft and smoky like the best you’d find in North Carolina or Tennessee.

The brisket was best of all.

Usually when you order brisket, you can choose between sliced or chopped. This was like both in one.

The beef was sliced, but it was so tender it fell apart into delicious morsels of chopped brisket with the slightest touch of my fork.

All three meats were smoked to perfection, with telltale red smoke rings.

Most extraordinary was how tender and moist all three meats were.

Dave Winslow, the original founder, hired an engineer to invent a steam pit that evaporates 50 gallons of water per day.

At Winslow’s, the meat isn’t just smoked. It’s enveloped in steam for hours, yielding fall apart moist barbeque that needs no sauce.

Of course being Suit757, I had to try it anyway.

East Coast barbeque purists love to disparage Kansas City style barbeque for the thick glops of ketchupy sauce Midwesterners supposedly like to slather onto their meat.

Here at Winslow’s, that sauce discretion is left to the barbeque eater.

Winslow’s sauce was not as thick or sweet as some Kansas City sauces.

The sauce was good -- but unnecessary.

Some purists would claim it would be a crime to cover up such perfect barbeque with sauce.

For me, the real crime was that I was the only customer in the place.

Where the heck is everybody? There should be a line out the door for barbeque this good.

I think it is the location.

Nobody goes downtown anymore.

This has been a known phenomenon in virtually every American city since the advent of the shopping mall forty years ago.

This is the type of problem politicians like to solve with our tax money.

Of course they don’t bother to consider the REASON nobody goes downtown any more.

Business owners don’t open businesses downtown because…

…wait for it…

…nobody goes downtown any more.

So here’s the solution: pay business owners to locate downtown with taxpayer financed “festival marketplaces” like KC’s River Market.

But no matter how many tax subsidized businesses locate downtown, the politicians can’t create customers out of thin air.

Because nobody goes downtown any more.

No matter how good the barbeque happens to be.

And that’s too bad.

Winslow’s deserves a wider audience than just from suits who don’t have time to venture to the south side of town.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

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  1. Thanks your Royal Suitness. I have been disappointed by every meal in KC. The meat quality has been horrible. The old days have passed. This sounds like an oasis in a land of swill.

  2. this is a good place to eat smoked meat. this is really amazing. should go there.

  3. Nice blog. Thanks for sharing with us. One of the best bbq place i have seen. Very appropriate catering services & seriously Best BBQ In Kansas City. Keep up to the great work.