Like I said in my previous thread about the Texas BBQ Safari, the family and I decided to do a road trip after the 4th holiday and visit some BBQ across the midwest and mid-south. My kids have never been on a road trip, they really wanted to start visiting other states and see some landmarks, I've always wanted to visit Memphis and stay at the Peabody, and we all like BBQ (though I'm not so sure about that after eating it for 5 days straight). I'll spare the picture heavy post, but here was the route: Detroit to Kansas City (via Iowa so the kids could say they've been to Iowa) Kansas City to St. Louis St. Louis to Memphis Memphis to Louisville (with a stop in Nashville for bbq) Louisville to Detroit All told, about 2,300 miles. Kansas City: Joe's Kansas City at the iconic gas station location - For me, this was the best all-around of the trip. We had a bit of everything: brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, sausage, beans, and fries. Spoiler alert, none of the brisket on this trip was as good as Texas brisket. They're not in the same ballpark... not even playing the same sport. Most (all?) of the point goes toward burnt ends and the flat is sliced really thin, more like roast beef than the #2 pencil-thick slices you find in Texas. That said, the burnt ends were tops for me. Ribs and pulled pork were great as well. Sausage was ho-hum, as were the beans. Fries were good. Arthur Bryant's at the original location - Wife and I both had burnt ends. She liked them better than Joe's KC. I didn't. Not that they weren't good, they certainly were, I just like Joe's better. They sure do give you a lot of them though! Probably the best value of the whole trip. Interesting sauce. KC really is a city of many different sauces. Every place has their own sauce and very few of them are the same. St. Louis: Salt + Smoke - This was a late decision that wasn't originally on this list, as my first choice (Pappy's) closes early on Sunday and we couldn't make it in time. This was the only place that served brisket Texas-style. Unfortunately, there was something off about the smoke. Everything on my plate, fatty brisket from the point and dry-rub ribs, had a skunky quality to the smoke flavor. Not a good taste. Wife had their sauced ribs (what they called trashed ribs), which aren't smoked but instead cooked more quickly at a higher temp, and they were better. Pappy's - St. Louis has a cut of pork named after the city: St. Louis spare ribs. Pappy's serves back ribs. Why? Who knows! As back ribs go, they were good, but back ribs aren't my favorite pork rib. My wife and kids both gave it the thumbs up. We also had brisket and pulled pork. Pulled pork was good, but I should have ordered burnt ends instead of the brisket. Memphis: Central BBQ - We got a bit of everything here: ribs, brisket, turkey, and pulled pork. Everything was good. Brisket was sliced thin (by now I had figured out this was just how brisket was done outside Texas), but the turkey was the star here, something I didn't really expect. We kind of took a flyer on putting turkey on the plate but I'm glad we did. Germantown Commissary - Wife and I both had pork sandwiches, hers was pulled pork, mine was chopped. Great sandwich and perfect lunch. Simple and to the point, executed well. Charlie Vergos Rendezvous - I'll say this right up front: The Rendezvous isn't a bbq restaurant. Their ribs aren't smoked, they're cooked hot and quick over charcoal. As such, they don't have a smoked rib texture. They have much more chew and don't pull of the bone as readily. My wife absolutely did not like them. She actually said it was the worst of the trip. I enjoyed them. They are not my go-to favorite and I probably won't try replicating them at home, but understanding what they are and why they're different, I like them for just that reason: They're different. Beans were awesome, my favorite of the trip, and the wife liked the slaw. Nashville: Peg Leg Porker - This totally wasn't on my radar until I read and open letter the owner and pitmaster, Carey Brindle, wrote titled "To All the Armchair BBQ Critics" after Nashville was named Travel + Leisure's #1 BBQ city in America. You can read the letter here: https:/
/ After reading what he had to say, it sounded like a guy who makes BBQ I'd like to eat, so I made a mental note to visit someday. I didn't expect it to be so soon. You can tell PLP participates in competition BBQ. Wife and I had ribs and pulled pork and I wish I had tried the chicken. The ribs were eerily similar to Rendezvous, except with less chew, more like a typical smoked rib. The dry rub (like Rendezvous, PLP doesn't sauce their ribs) was really close. The pulled pork was competition-like, which is to say good, possibly my favorite of the trip. Beans were top notch too, not as sweet as some, but sweet enough.
Then there is this:
www.texasmonthly.com/ bbq/ to-all-the-armchair-bbq-critics/
He's right. After eating BBQ for every meal nearly 5 days straight, I still think Central Texas bbq is my preferred bbq. It really comes down to the brisket. Yeah, burnt ends are great, but I like a bit fatty slice off the point. Thin slices from the flat just doesn't do it for me. Texas also has sausage going for it. Ribs are a toss up. I had some really good ribs in Texas and some no-so-good ribs in Texas, but I also had some really good ribs in the midwest and mid-south. Maybe that's just it. There isn't only one best area for bbq. I could live in Austin, KC, St. Louis, Memphis, or Nashville and know I have a world-class bbq restaurant to eat at. I may not get the brisket I prefer or the ribs I like best, but there is something at each that is worth standing in line for.
Originally Posted by ArrestMeRedZ
In my mind, you've gone about this all wrong. I absolutely love Texas BBQ and think it's unmatched. I think you've already been to some of the best places in the country. You are going to be disappointed in comparing other regions to Texas