Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Road Trip Food: Kansas City and St. Louis

Our western-Midwest road trip was prompted by Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in Omaha, but it was the food promised to us in Kansas City and St. Louis that really got us on board. Who can say no to a week of barbecue? And why would you want to?

Our first barbecue stop was our first evening in Kansas City: Gates BBQ. I'm not sure what decade the decor came from, but it wasn't any that I've been alive for. It had a decidedly old-school feel, down to the music, and the food was excellent. We shared a sampler platter of beef, ham, ribs and fries. The woman taking our order wasn't sure it would be enough for all of us, explaining that it was only about two pounds of food. Um, two pounds is fine.

Atticus at Gates

The next day's lunch was one of my highlights: Joe's KC BBQ. And judging by the long line, it's a lot of people's favorite. We shared a pound of pulled pork and a bag of some of the best seasoned fries I've ever had.

Atticus at Joe's

The barbecue joints within walking distance of our hotels in Kansas City and St. Louis were convenient, but the food was nothing to write home about. Maybe that's why I opted for the smoked tofu at Vernon's BBQ, in St. Louis. It was fine, but it was the peach barbecue sauce that really stole the show. Paul's sausage was excellent, too.

The sauces at Sugarfire Smokehouse took up nearly half a table, and I think Paul liked the unique selection of soda nearly as well as the meat. It really was delicious.

Sugarfire sauces

I didn't get a meal at Adam's Smokehouse, and I regretted it. We stopped here on our way out of St. Louis, and I wanted to save room for the frozen custard stop we were making just a short distance away. Big mistake. The Montreal-smoked meat (pastrami, Paul tells me) practically melted in my mouth. I didn't even know I liked pastrami. Luckily Paul shared.

But we didn't exclusively eat barbecue (although we came pretty close). In Kansas City, we also ate at a memorable fast-food restaurant, Runza. It's actually an Omaha thing. The eponymous food is a long hoagie-like bun willed with ground beef, cabbage and (in mine) cheese. I liked it.

In St. Louis we tried Imo's Pizza before the baseball game. I didn't know that St. Louis-style pizza existed, but this is it -- thin crust and topped with Provel, which Paul tells me is some kind of faux provolone. It was good, but I wouldn't go seeking it out.

And how could I have forgotten that St. Louis is home to one of my very favorite desserts, butter cake?! Thankfully a city-guide magazine reminded me. I stopped for a piece at Park Avenue Coffee, the cake/cream cheese/butter concoction making a perfect late-night snack that evening. Happily, I like mine better.

Let's not forget the snacks. One little girl very much enjoyed her Dairy Queen treats at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and the free popcorn machine at our hotel in St. Louis. I guess at least one person could have gone without barbecue after all.

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