When I was in Kansas City recently, I traveled one day with an outside sales guy with ADI, a distributor of electronic parts and products. We went to see a dealer in North Kansas City and it turned out that he had an ulterior motive. He wanted to take me to one of the hidden secrets of barbecue in Kansas City, Smokin' Guns BBQ.
Smokin' Guns BBQ is located in an industrial area that is populated with a lot of light manufacturing or warehouse firms (see map). They're only open during the day through the week - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The dealer we took to lunch told me that the place is packed from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with people taking home barbecue.
For years, Phil and Linda Hopkins traveled the barbecue contest circuit piling up a number of awards. In 1999, they were the overall winner (scroll down at the link site to see their point total) of the prestigious Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Their overall point total "smoked" the competition that year. Here's a picture of Phil and Linda with their two sons after the competition.
Friends and people they did catering for kept on them to open a restaurant. Phil still wanted to do some weekend barbecue contests and cater parties. When they finally opened up in the North Kansas City location in 2002, he made the decision not to open the restaurant over the weekend. At least, that's what the dealer we had lunch with told me. And since he's literally right across the street from Smokin' Guns and eats there all the time, he should probably know.
The menu at Smokin' Guns is typical of most Kansas City barbecue places. They're heavy on the pork ribs and brisket, along with burnt ends, sausage, turkey and ham. And the ambiance of the place is just like you'd find at any family owned barbecue joint. You go into the place and place your order at the front counter. You pay and then go get your drinks and sit down at these very basic tables. A waitress will find you and bring your food to you.
I wasn't all that hungry because it was a quarter to 12 and I'd eaten breakfast not knowing if we would have time to eat lunch that day. But the ADI guy knew that we would be ending up around this dealer's place around noon and he was starving for barbecue. The dealer told me, "It's best to go early or wait until after 1:30. It gets packed in this place during the lunch hour."
I ordered up the large brisket sandwich on regular bread with no sides. One of the dealer's guys was with us and he said, "Oh, man! They have the best broccoli casserole and potato casserole in the world." I told him that I'd had breakfast and didn't know we were going to do lunch. He said, "Well, that was your first mistake this morning. Your second mistake is not getting one of the sides of casserole."
The guy from ADI got the burnt ends with the potato casserole. And the other two guys from the dealer were good ol' Catholic boys and were observing Lent. One went with the smoked Salmon and the other guy got the smoked catfish.
My sandwich was very good. A lot of meat and the sauce they had with it was rich and sweet. I went up and asked if they had any hot sauce and the waitress, who was well into her 60's, said, "We sure do!" It was good and spicy, but could have been a little more hot.
The ADI guy said that he was disappointed in his burnt ends. One of the guys from the dealer said Smokin' Guns burnt ends are "hit and miss". He just missed 'em this time.
And the guys who had the smoked fish thought they were great. And they kept raving about the potato casserole and the broccoli casserole. OK, I told them. Next time I'll get one or the other.
My sandwich was $6.95 and the Burnt Ends were $10.95. The smoked fish were both $8.95 with fries. I didn't get fries (steak fries are two bucks extra with a sandwich) but that's OK. A steak fry is a steak fry.
Yes, I'll go back to Smokin' Guns BBQ. But I didn't want to pig out with a dress shirt on and in front of guys I hardly knew. I'm looking at getting the three meat platter the next time I go to K.C.
The only negative I see with Smokin' Guns? They don't serve beer. Damn... How can you NOT have beer with good barbecue. Oh, well. Smokin' Guns is able to pull it off.