Kansas City 2017: Burgers, Barbecue, History (part 3)

For the final full day of the trip, we remained in Kansas City, taking advantage of the best the city has to offer in terms of both history and food.

Our first stop was the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which shares a building with the American Jazz Museum.

Nearly every available square foot of space in this museum was full of interesting photographs, memorabilia and valuable information. 

Olympic hero Jesse Owens poses with a couple Negro League players.

One of the photos featured Octavius Catto, a 19th century civil rights hero and Philadelphian who was also an outstanding baseball player and one of the early proponents of Negro League baseball. Two of my former colleagues – Dan Biddle and Murray Dubin – wrote a critically acclaimed book on Catto: Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (Temple University Press, 2010)

After leaving the Negro Leagues Museum, we moved on to our final major meal of the trip. I had finally had my fill of burgers and malts by this point and didn’t want to leave Kansas City without another taste of their barbecue.

While our earlier meal at Jack Stack’s was disappointing, this one exceeded expectations. Arthur Bryant’s is likely Kansas City’s most famous barbecue restaurant and one of the best-known in the country.  It has been at its current location since 1949, but its roots go back even further than that. Arthur Bryant passed away in 1982, but his restaurant still thrives. 

I had read various things about the quality of their barbecue in later years, mostly on the roadfood message boards. There were a number of reports indicating that it had gone downhill. But others claimed that trend had been reversed in recent years and that Bryant’s was again serving high-level barbecue. The second group were right. 

While I had wanted to try a small amount of several types of smoked meat, that wasn’t an option at Arthur Bryant’s. They required a minimum purchase of a half-pound per meat or a half-rack of ribs. I hadn’t anticipated that and was on-the-spot with the counter-man waiting for my decision and a small line of people behind me. I went with the ribs – a half-rack from the short end. They were as good as any spare ribs I’ve ever eaten; juicy, perfectly smoky, and with a nicely-formed bark on top. The beans I had on the side were also great. They really know how to do barbecued baked beans in Kansas City. 

These may have been the best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten.
The meat helps flavor the baked beans.

We had one final stop of significance on this trip: the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The complex received its current name in 2004, but a portion of it first opened in 1926 and was called the Liberty Memorial. 

The original memorial towers over the museum.
The view from the National WWI Museum and Memorial, which is perched atop a large hill.

This was unquestionably the greatest museum experience I’ve ever had. The sheer amount of stuff in there was staggering. The period posters alone would have been worth the visit. 

There was also great art-work.

And weaponry of various kinds, as well as protective gear.

There was even a realistic look inside of one of the war’s ubiquitous bunkers.

And there were countless bits of information and profiles of some of the War’s great figures, famous and not-so-famous.

The U.S. entered the War in large part because they discovered Germany had encouraged Mexico to invade the United States with a promise that the territory they lost during the Mexican-American War would be returned to them if Germany emerged victorious.

One could easily fill an entire day at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. There is also a National World War II Museum in New Orleans that we’d like to visit some day.

We took it easy that final night and flew home the next morning. It had been an extremely memorable vacation. As I indicated at the beginning of the first part of this report, that was the case most of all for what we did and saw, rather than what we ate; although I’ll always fondly remember my meal at Arthur Bryant’s and that coconut-cream pie at the Sommerset Hall Cafe. 

While I had burgers and malts at four different places, none of them were in my personal pantheon of hamburgers, smashed or otherwise. Town Topic came closest. The double-cheeseburger I had at Carl’s Drive-In outside of St. Louis in 2011 still sets the standard. 

I’ll get to that trip later. Thanks for reading.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

4 thoughts on “Kansas City 2017: Burgers, Barbecue, History (part 3)

  1. Excellent 3-part report, Barry! I recognized Winstead’s and Stroud’s from my 2014 KC visit; I also ate at Jack Stack but it was the Country Club Plaza location.

    Liked by 1 person

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