The History of Kansas City BBQ
Although BBQ can be found in many cities, Kansas City has its own unique style that is not available in any other place in the country. The unique style of slow smoking meat over a variety of wood is combined with the coating of thick tomato and molasses sauce, both of which were created by the inventor himself, Henry Perry.
Henry Perry came up with the Kansas City BBQ concept in the early 1900s. He began preparing the food in the now famous African American neighborhood at 18th and Brooklyn. The BBQ started as slow cooked ribs costing 25¢ a slab and expanded into different areas from there. The idea was based around the BBQ found in Perry’s home city, Memphis, however, Kansas City style uses more types of meat and the sauce is thicker with a stronger flavor.
In 1940, Perry died leaving the business to employee Charlie Bryant who passed it over to his brother Arthur four years later. The restaurant became known as Arthur Bryant’s, and shortly after was moved to a different part of the neighborhood, this time close to the Municipal Stadium. In the 1950s and 1960s, the food became very popular with the baseball players at the stadium and their fans. Today, the restaurant remains open and features Bryant’s collection of memorabilia and photographs of famous people.
The original idea has spread across the city with more than 100 Kansas City restaurants now specializing in BBQ. In fact, the city is often known as the “world’s barbecue capital.” The most famous Kansas City restaurants are Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q, Curt’s Famous Meats, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ and Oklahoma Joe’s.
Kansas City restaurants widely vary their preparation of the BBQ as well as the type of meat they use, which includes pork, beef, chicken, turkey and occasionally fish. Just as important as the cooking method is the sauce; it may be sweet, tangy or spicy although the most common is a combination of sweet and spicy. Usually, Kansas City restaurants offer a number different sauces to choose from.
The Kansas City BBQ is not just about the meat itself but also the side dishes. These include the typical fries and coleslaw as well as uniquely prepared baked beans. Most Kansas City restaurants will offer other dishes even when the main focus is on the BBQ. A very popular dish is the burnt ends from smoked beef or pork brisket.
If you are coming to Kansas City, you can not miss out on this unique culinary experience.