There are a lot of great places to eat barbecue in Kansas City. Some are good, some aren't. Some are overrated and a couple don't get the recognition they deserve. However, there's one barbecue place in Kansas City that stands out among the rest. And that's any of the three locations of Fiorelli's Jack Stack Barbecue.
The orginal Fiorella's Jack Stack is located in far south Kansas City in a small town known as Martin City. Martin City has been known for years as being the "mecca" for good restaurants in the Kansas City area. The vastly overrated Jess and Jim's Steakhouse is located in Martin City, as is the vastly underrated Chiarelli's Pasta House (see map). Chiarelli's is the first place I ever had fettucine alfredo and I haven't looked back since.
Actually, I started going to Jack Stack when it was called "The Smoke Stack". I don't quite know when they changed the name to Jack Stack, but the owner of Fiorelli's is Jack Fiorelli. Jack Fiorelli's father had a barbecue place since the 1940's. In the 60's, Jack and his wife took over the place. With the glut of good barbecue places in Kansas City, Jack's wife kept saying that in order to succeed, Fiorelli's needed to take barbecue to a new level and to set themselves apart from the rest.
In the mid-70's, Jack bought the Hickory Wood Cookery in Martin City - a restaurant that cooked their foods in big brick ovens fired by hickory logs. It was an eclectic restaurant, but it wasn't too successful. After Jack bought the Hickory Wood Cookery, he changed the name to The Smoke Stack. And instead of just doing ribs and brisket, he began to smoke hams, chicken, turkey, and other types of meat that no one else in the Kansas City area was doing.
During a trip to Yugoslavia, Jack and his wife found that some of the seaside villages on the Adriatic Sea had restaurants that actually cooked seafood over hickory. They went back to Kansas City and implemented their style of cooking seafood over hickory at The Smoke Stack. Jack also perfected cooking steaks, pork chops and chicken breasts on his hickory fire grills.
It's tough to go wrong with the baby back ribs at Jack Stack. Their brisket is very good, too. However, if you have the time and the money (about $25 bucks), you have to try their Crown Prime Rib short ribs. Oh, man! That is some of the best eatin' I've ever had. They're smoked long and low and the meat is tender and tasty with a hint of hickory in every bite.
Jack Stack is famous for their burnt end pieces of pork and beef that I don't particularly care for, but they're very popular - both as a meal and as an appetizer. The burned taste is a little too much for me. But like I say, a lot of people like 'em.
I always get a small pot of Jack Stack baked beans when I go and I throw some of their "spicy" sauce on top of them. And if I go with a group, we always have to get a rack of their great onion rings. They're big and thick and have a great taste to 'em.
As I said, Jack Stack has three locations - the one in Martin City, a bigger place in Overland Park at 95th and Metcalf, and a new one just on the southern fringes of downtown Kansas City, MO. I had lunch at the Overland Park location with a buddy when I was in Kansas City earlier this year and I had the Jack Stack sandwich - two meats of your choice on a French bun. I had pork and beef on mine - one on each side of the sandwich. It was very good.
The beer is always cold and plentiful at Jack Stack - and you'll need it. There's ample parking and they take all credit cards.
Jack Stack is reknown for their barbecue throughout the United States. In fact, Zagat's Travel Guide has named Jack Stack the best barbecue restaurant in America six years in a row! Now, that's got to be saying something about the place right there.
Either Jack Stack location is good, but I'm partial to the original one in Martin City. Kansas City is a nice town. And if you go there, you've got to try Jack Stack at least one time.