KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Kansas City BBQ: Oklahoma Joe's
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
What's the Story, Morning Glory Chai?
Biodynamic Wines (sort of) explained
Rough and Red-dy: Mount Tamalpais Merlot
Food Section Roundup
Do you Grist?
It's Still Strawberry Season
The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
The French Laundry: Heavy on the Starch
B Star Bar Attempts Burmese Fusion
Cook by the Book: Mark Bittman's Quick & Easy Reci...
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Kansas City BBQ: Oklahoma Joe's
Coming back to Missouri -- the state of my childhood -- always means returning to a double life.

While I've come to terms with my family's hyphenated existence here in the Heartland, I'm only just beginning to figure out how to balance the relentless abundance of my mother's kitchen with the city's smoky, seductive barbecue.

Asian moms take it personally when you don't eat their food, even when they make more than you can humanly consume. Leaving Kansas City without eating barbecue, though, is culinary sacrilege. I've learned how to fit five full meals into one day, and still I can't fulfill both my familial responsibilities and the extensive research ("eating") that my work demands.

The first thing greeting me at my parents' home: a basket of vegetables pulled and proudly displayed just for me. If you think that CSA box is bad, try throwing away a potato your mother dug up with her own hands.

My mother doesn't have a computer, so I can confess here: I've been known to compost whole, uncooked vegetables and dump pots of soup quickly and quietly. When she asks, I make sure to say, while checking for BBQ sauce on my shirt or under my nails, how delicious everything was.

Fortunately for me, during this visit, my parents left on a trip of their own. Yesterday, I waved good-bye to my mom at the airport and then immediately called my sister for her advice: Jack Stack's? or Oklahoma Joe's?

It's a tough call. Each place has strengths and weaknesses, and only a local can offer proper guidance. Back in my day, as they say, it was mainly Arthur Bryant (for the meat) or Gates (for the sauce). This was before national attention turned each of these KC institutions into overrated marketing machines still running on fumes. Before competition cooking turned pro. Before the Kansas City Barbecue Society was around to offer not just barbecue cooking classes but barbecue judging classes.

My sister, whose ZIP code still falls inside 'cue territory, said I had to try both. But I only had time for one expedition! Back and forth we went. Did I want burnt ends or ribs? Good fries or kick-ass coleslaw? Pulled pork from heaven or beef with integrity? I couldn't decide -- I wanted it all. But when she mentioned that Oklahoma Joe's was inside a working gas station...well, that tipped the scale. I'd cross the state line for that.

A small neon pig is the only clue that beyond the gas pumps lies a working smoke pit.

Imagine a largish convenience store in which the Icee machines have been ripped out and replaced with spare tables, a few booths, a high counter for cutting meat, and a chalkboard menu.

Of the four salads offered, one actually comes without meat. Lettuce with warm pulled pork sprinkled on top impressed even this jaded pig lover.

The ribs in all their dry rub glory.

I always get long ends. Always. For those who've never ordered ribs in Kansas City, we like to divide our ribs into long ends and short ends, and maybe, if you're lucky, rib tips. The long ends are from the thin, lean, bony front part of the rack (think about the area beneath your pecs); the short ends are from the thick, meaty, fatty half (think love handles). Rib tips are the burnt edges trimmed off the racks and served to those of us who love smoky, charred, crisp bits of meat. Menus will list different prices for long and short ends, as most people are willing to pay a couple of bucks more for the short ends. As someone who loves gnawing on bones, I'm happy to pay less for my favorite cut.

The thinly sliced brisket was amazingly tender.

This time, I was tempted by assurances from my sister's husband that the beef was dream-worthy. I usually don't order brisket when I'm out -- too many disappointments and a girl learns -- but brother-in-laws are the natural experts of barbecue, so I went with a combo plate of ribs and brisket. My sister, thankfully, ordered the pork sandwich; I'd get to taste some of that, too.

Around here, pulled pork isn't topped with cole slaw. Their spicy slaw, though, is a must-try from the sides menu. I was also lovin' the fries: moist and fluffy inside, crisp and dry outside.

Like many newer barbecue places, puns proliferate, T-shirts are for sale, and sauces come wrapped in gift boxes ready to be shipped anywhere in the world. But unlike many places old and new, at Oklahoma Joe's both the meat and the sauce hold up to the test of taste.

Sauce on the table isn't really necessary, Oklahoma Joe's meat is that good, but you can add a squirt of their "Night of the Living Sauce" if you like some extra kick in your barbecue.

I couldn't finish the ribs or the brisket, so I went back to the counter to ask for a to-go box. While I was standing there I managed to order half a chicken, a quart of smoky gumbo, some baked beans and another helping of that spicy slaw.

I'm planning to live it up while my parents were away.

Back at my parents' house, onion blossoms remind me of the garden.

Oklahoma Joe's BBQ
3002 West 47th
Kansas City, KS 66103
(913) 722-3366

Labels: , , , ,



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.