Saturday, July 28, 2018
Jack Stack Barbecue (Kansas City, MO)
Since I made awesome time driving today, and since there was no point in just lounging around my hotel room alone, I figured I might as well add another Kansas City barbecue stop to my trip. I had originally wanted to try Slap's, but they close at 9:00pm, and my dinner at Joe's Kansas City took waaaayyyy longer than anticipated. Jack Stack Barbecue was open until 10:30pm, and because they seemed to be a formidable competitor as well, I decided to give their Freight House location a shot to close off my night.
My options were either an hour weight for a table or immediate seating at the bar. Easy choice, especially considering the line that I had just endured. Jack Stack offers more of an upscale, intimate restaurant setting, so I understand the wait for Saturday dinner. It's a nice place, no question about that. Most barbecue joints that I frequent have paper towels and sweet tea, not cloth napkins and a full wine list. Ironically, the annoying drunk who plopped down next to me could have definitely used more tea and less wine.
It didn't take much convincing for me to settle on the aptly-named Kansas City Combo. I took mine with brisket (which they list as "sliced meat" for some reason), sausage burnt ends (the other options were beef and pork), and spare ribs, plus some potato salad and a cheesy corn bake on the side. Everything but the side dishes came pre-sauced. At a fancy restaurant, I probably should have guessed as much.
Truth be told, I was a bit perplexed by the cheesy corn. It looked like a bowl of cheese dip. So then what did it taste like, you ask? A bowl of cheese dip...with corn inside. The corn wasn't necessarily bad, just odd. My intoxicated neighbor seemed to love the stuff, which says something I suppose. The potato salad was heavy on the mayo, but nice big slices of skin-on potatoes and crunchy veggies added a good texture contrast.
Again with the thin-sliced brisket? That must be a Kansas thing. What little bark there was to be had was salty and smoky, something I always appreciate. Lean slices aren't my preference in general. These were fairly tender but not as juicy as my preferred fatty cut would have likely been.
I'm not sure how the sausage "burn ends" really differ from regular sausage, but it was tasty at least. The slices appear to have been finished on the grill, so I guess that's what they meant. Crisp, snappy casings held juicy meat beneath. Each bite was packed with plenty of seasoning. Burnt ends or not, I enjoyed the sausage.
The crust on my ribs looked amazing. As it turns out, however, the ribs actually weren't as well-seasoned as they looked, but still good nonetheless. I tried to sample as much sauceless rib as I could. Juicy, smoky pork oozed from my mouth with each bite. The fat was crispy and well rendered, which made the ribs a real pleasure to eat.
Jack Stack Barbecue has some work to do if they're going to hang with the rest of the KC masters, but they did put out some better-than-average barbecue. Maybe they would be well served to focus less on the ambiance and more on the meat.
Jack Stack Barbecue
101 W 22nd St
Kansas City, MO 64108