I put on a new dealer in Kansas City recently and we were talking about his favorite barbecue places. I mentioned going to Jack Stack Barbecue, of which one location is just down the street from his store. He said, "You know, a place that I sort of like, but a lot of people shy away from here in Kansas City is Smokehouse Bar-B-Que. The owner is Iranian or Iraqi and that prejudices some people here in town. But I think it's very good."
Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is a four location local chain that was started in 1986 by Darioush Ghasemi. Quite honestly, Smokehouse never registered on my barbecue scanner when it came to looking for good barbecue in K.C. There's a ton of good to great Kansas City barbecue restaurants, but my new dealer's recommendation of Smokehouse was rather intriguing.
Recently, I found that I would be driving down to Kansas City from Lincoln, NE via Interstate 29. The somewhat-new Zona Rosa shopping center is home to one of the Smokehouse Bar-B-Que locations (see map). Since Zona Rosa is right off the Interstate at Barry Road, I decided to stop in for lunch one day.
The outside of the Zona Rosa Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is pretty nondescript, but the interior looks like it could be an upscale steakhouse. The first thing you can't help but notice when you walk in the main dining area is a massive, concave, stained-glass, back-lit window in the ceiling over the middle of the room. It was rather impressive. There is a lounge area off to the left side that features a large square bar with seating on three sides, and four 42" flat screen televisions on the back wall.
Since I was a party of one, I opted to sit at the bar. The hostess ushered me to a seat and left a lunch menu on the bar for me. The bartender was quick to ask what I'd like to drink. A beer sounded good - a beer is always good with barbecue. But since I had a couple meetings in the afternoon and then a product training at my new dealer that evening, I just got water. (No pop - I have only had two Cokes in the last year. Both of those were when I was in the hospital with my hip replacement surgeries. They made me drink them so I'd pee more quickly and I could get released.)
Actually, the lunch menu isn't much different from Smokehouse Bar-B-Que's dinner menu, as both feature a number of salads, chicken entrees and, of course, ribs and brisket. Both menus feature a number of mouthwatering sandwiches along with combo meat plates. The dinner menu adds steaks and some seafood to the mix. Smokehouse Bar-B-Que's appetizer include their famous Cajun chicken wings, jalapeno cheese nuggets, and Smokehouse Bar-B-Que's thick and yummy onion rings.
I was looking at the combo plates as I wanted to try both their ribs and their brisket. I got the pork spare ribs and brisket combo. It came with french fries and cole slaw. I probably wasn't going to eat much of the fries or the slaw, but what the hell.
It wasn't long after I ordered from the bartender that my food came out. The barbecue sauce was pretty mild and served in a small bowl. I asked the bartender if he had any hotter barbecue sauce and he said he'd go get some for me. I should have said, "More spicy". Instead, he brought out a piping hot bowl of barbecue sauce. The first taste pretty much told me that it was the same barbecue sauce, only warmed up.
However, as the sauce in the hot bowl began to cool down, I noticed that the sauce had a little more kick to it than the first bowl he brought out. I figured that the hotness in temperature of the sauce masked the initial spicy bite the sauce had to offer. It wasn't bad, actually.
The pork spare ribs were meaty and flavorful. I got three in total and it was more than enough for lunch. And the brisket was cut thin, was juicy and tender, and also had great flavor to it. I was overly impressed with the barbecue. I had a couple french fries, just to try 'em and they were OK. And the cole slaw was average, at best. But the sides aren't what I came to Smokehouse Bar-B-Cue for.
In a city known for world-class barbecue, you have to be pretty good to be in business over 20 years and to have four locations. I was pleasantly surprised by Smokehouse Bar-B-Cue and told my dealer that evening of my experience there. He said, "I told you it was good. It's just not on the radar of a lot of people around here. The names of other places pop up before they talk about Smokehouse. Places that I, personally, don't think hold a candle to the food at Smokehouse."
Well, Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is on my radar now. I will definitely seek out another location on a coming trip to K.C.