A Nationally Acclaimed Culinary Landmark
In KC, barbecue is king, beloved of native sons like Charlie Parker and Count Basie, and just as hot. You can queue up at any one of about ninety joints for short ribs and burnt ends (the crispy, coveted scraps of beef brisket), but legendary Arthur Bryant’s is near-unanimously considered to be the best barbecue joint in town, or maybe anywhere.
There’s no decor to speak of – never was when “King” Arthur ran the place (from 1931 till his death in 1980), never was when barbecue fan Give-’em-Hell Harry Truman dined here, and isn’t now either. But that just means there’s nothing to distract you from the signature half-pound of slow-cooked brisket slapped on plain old white bread, with a gritty herbs- and spices-flavored barbecue sauce and the best skin-on french fries in America.
Other capitals of the barbecue world specialize in particular styles, but KC (yes, even the locals call it that) prides itself on its anything-goes attitude toward the choice of meats (chicken, beef, pork, mutton, sausage) and the variety of sauce ingredients (tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, honey, maple syrup, mustard, garlic).
For a full-tilt barbecue experience, come during the two-month American Royal Livestock Horse Show and Rodeo, held every autumn since 1899.
There are parades, steer auctions, and hog pageants throughout the 180-acre former stockyards area, but all that pales when compared to the barbecue competitions, in which more than 3,000 contestants from all over the United States set up camp and fire up their meat, each tent emitting an aroma more tantalizing than the last.