A guest blog post by Tracy
A couple of years ago, my boyfriend, Steve, surprised me with a weekend in Kansas City. I was initially taken aback since this wasn’t a destination I’d ever really considered. As a bit of a foodie, Kansas City – to me – symbolized barbecue first and foremost. There’s no denying the city’s long-standing reputation for terrific barbecue, so as a native Texan (where barbecue is very serious business), I was certainly intrigued. However, it soon became obvious that this destination was chosen for far more than delicious food. Well aware that I’d recently begun a love affair with photography, Steve knew that I’d be in absolute heaven in this City of Fountains. I was beyond surprised to learn that Kansas City has more fountains than in any other city outside of Rome. So, once the shock wore off that this Midwestern town, the metropolis of which straddles both Missouri and Kansas, was so artfully adorned and culturally rich, I was whole-heartedly onboard.
I could hardly wait to begin my food and photo journey through this exceptionally surprising city!
We landed in Kansas City on a Friday morning in mid-July and checked into the Sheraton Suites in Country Club Plaza, which is a very nice walkable area with upscale shopping, dining and…you guessed it…fountains! First things first though…lunch! Not just any lunch though… barbecue, of course. We walked over to Jack Stack Barbecue where we unapologetically wolfed down a plate of burnt ends. What a DELICIOUS discovery!
After lunch, we strolled around the area, stopping for the occasional glass of wine or cocktail. In case you aren’t aware, Kansas City is ridiculously hot in July. Living in Houston, I considered myself well-acquainted with summer heat, but Kansas City was out to prove me wrong (the heat index was 111). Obviously, the frequent ducking into bars was a necessity for our overall health and well-being. Safety first!
The following day, we scheduled a half-day tour with KC Barbecue Tours, during which we had some seriously mouth-watering barbecue. I can now say with conviction that Kansas City’s reputation is well-deserved!
Our tour included:
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque – Kansas City, Missouri. Arthur Bryant’s has a very long history in Kansas City (dating back to the 30’s) and is truly a must-visit if in town. Their barbecue was amazing and the sauces out of this world…my favorite was the Rich & Spicy. YUM! I was exceedingly happy to learn that this sauce can be found in various online retailers and shipped home to Texas. YES!
LC’s Bar-B-Q – Kansas City, Missouri. LC’s is a small, no-frills establishment that doesn’t look like much from the outside, but don’t let that fool you. The burnt ends (our newest obsession) were exceptional!
Woodyard Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, Kansas. Woodyard was one of my favorite stops as much for the delicious barbecue as the incredibly inviting and fun-loving atmosphere.
Gates Bar-B-Q – Kansas City, Missouri. Gates is one of the most famous of Kansas City’s barbecue spots and for good reason. Although this was our last stop of the day and I was dangerously close to a barbecue overdose, just a few bites made it exceedingly clear why Gates is so popular.
Oh, but we didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next couple of days, we made three more stops on our barbecue journey. Did I mention this stuff is REALLY good???
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, Kansas. Be prepared to stand in line, no matter the time of day! Joe’s is so unique, doubling as a gas station and convenience store on one side, and a barbecue joint on the other. We visited during what most would consider off hours and the line was out the door, snaking through the aisles of the entire store. Is it worth the wait? Unquestionably!
Rosedale Barbeque – Kansas City, Kansas. Rosedale was a charming, unassuming little spot. My impression was that this is a place frequented mostly by the locals. Friendly, downhome service with barbecue that did not disappoint.
Q39. Kansas City, Missouri. This was the newest of all the barbecue spots we visited and was actually one of our favorites. From the modern interior to the delicious food and lively bar scene, it was immediately clear why this place is so popular.
Although it may not seem possible, we did a few other things besides devour delicious barbecue. Over the course of the weekend, we explored Kansas City and continued to be pleasantly surprised by all it had to offer. I truly believe Kansas City has something for everyone. Here were a few highlights:
If you love art, don’t miss the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We were lucky enough to witness the enormous outdoor installation, The Four Seasons, by artist, Phillip Haas.
If you’re more a fan of green spaces and outdoor beauty, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Loose Park Rose Garden with its endless array of roses in nearly every color of the rainbow. I could have spent all day here photographing each and every beautiful flower.
And let’s not forget about Kansas City’s famous jazz scene! What a lovely evening spent at The Blue Room listening to live jazz and sipping martinis.
If beer is more your thing, don’t deny yourself a tasting at Boulevard Brewery.
If you’re passionate about history, a visit to the National World War I Museum would be right up your alley. And the views from the top are spectacular!
Craving great coffee? Fear not! We made several visits to The Roasterie. Two years later, I still crave their raspberry vanilla iced latte.
In need of a good wine bar? Check out Ça Va, especially on Sundays when they have their amazing mimosa bar!
And so now we finally circle back to the fountains! Our last day was spent driving all around town attempting to see (and of course photograph) as many as humanly possible before heading home. Some big, some small, but all were beautiful and meaningful in their own right. I leave you with a few of my favorites and sincerely hope you’ll give Kansas City a chance to wow you as it did me.
Tracy Thornton, Guest Blogger
Read a short bio on Tracy in Red Shoes. Red Wine.‘s Guest Contributor section here. Follow Tracy’s adventures in Travel, Wine, and Photography on Instagram: @texanstracy