Arthur Bryant's is the OG (original) of the Kansas City BBQ world. They are a source of pride in Kansas history as well as the inventor of the state's most famous culinary creation. All pitmasters have their favorite wood for smoking meat, and the BBQ at Arthur Bryant's is slow-smoked with a combination of hickory and oak. The pork ribs are so popular that they sell out almost every day. They're slathered in a rich and spicy sauce created by Arthur Bryant himself, which has a hint of molasses and clings to every last morsel of meat.
Restaurants that achieve as much as Arthur Bryant's tend to rest on their laurels; they get lazy and churn out middling and disappointing versions of their previous culinary victories. Thankfully, Arthur Bryant's is as enticing as the day it opened.
Bryant originally came to Kansas City from Texas and brought with him the smoking traditions of the Lone Star State. Brisket is king in Texas, and Arthur Bryant's skill with the cut made him a legend in his new home. Arthur Bryant, the kingpin of Kansas City barbecue, passed in 1982, but his business has thrived ever since, and his legend has only grown.
All of the dishes pale in comparison to the popularity of the burnt ends, though. For decades, burnt ends were simply the charred chunks given out to hungry customers in line at Arthur Bryant’s. Then a popular national reviewer declared that burnt ends were the best item at the best barbecue restaurant in the country—the rest is history. Now in restaurants all over the world, the burnt ends are legendary and go really fast. Get to the restaurant early if you want to guarantee your share.
The sides are traditionally an afterthought at Kansas City BBQs, but at Arthur Bryant's they're perfect accompaniments to the wide variety of meats. The skin-on fries are rustic and golden, and the barbecue beans are just the right amount of rich and peppery.
The sauce at Arthur Bryant's is wildly different from most midwestern BBQ sauces. The sauce is a bright red-orange, spicy concoction that enlivens everything it touches.
Cover image by Americasroof is licensed under CC BY 2.0.