Everyone in America has their own special Barbecue Restaurant and recipe. That is on a pretty broad scale. There are even States that make this claim. However, when you get right down to it, there are just two cities that stand out as having the best barbecue in America. Those two cities are Memphis, Tennessee and Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas. Both are known for their great barbecue cuisine.
Several years ago my wife and I, along with two other couples, decided to find out which one was the best. We loaded up a rented van and off we went. This is a brief summary of what we discovered.
The city of Memphis takes a lot of pride in their barbecue. In May, they have a World Championship Barbecue Contest. It is sometimes called the “Super Bowl of Swine”. It takes place in Tom Lee Park. there are cash prizes and awards for the areas of pork, beef, poultry, and sea food. People will travel from all over the globe to enter into this contest. This festival is held in conjunction with the activities on the famous Beale Street in the city. Like many other cities they have lots of different restaurants that take pride in their own special barbecue recipes. What makes the barbecue in Memphis standout you ask? Well they specialize with their meat. Although they use all types of meat, they especially like pork. They will smoke and slow cook it as they barbecue it. They will use the highest quality of meat only. The slow smoking will enhance the meat flavor, even without the sauces and rubs that go on the meat.
Memphis is probably know best for the use of it’s dry barbecue. It is high in flavor and less messy to eat. The dry rub usually has ingredients of garlic, cumin, paprika, and onions along with others. It is put on the meat as it is being slow smoked. When the meat starts falling off the bone, then it is ready to be served. Memphis barbecue is then served with a liquid sauce as well.
Not to be outdone is the Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas. They even have their own barbecue society. Their web site can be found at www.kcbs.us . This web site not only lets one know about barbecue activities in Kansas City, but all over the United States. That is how serious they take their barbecue.
Just like Memphis, they many restaurants that take claim to having the best barbecue in America, They even have a barbecue named after the city in Kansas City Masterpiece. There are three major contests in the KC area. They are called the “The American Royal” , “The Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle”, and the “Blue Springs Blaze Off.” The first of these being held in late June.
KC Barbecue has it’s origin from the inner city of KC in the early 1900’s. It was started at the pit of Henry Perry. Perry served slow cooked Ribs on a piece of newspaper for 25 cents. He operated out of a trolley barn. Here’s the kicker. Perry came from Shelby County in Memphis, Tennessee.
So in many ways, you could say that Kansas City got their start from Memphis. However, it has been refined many times over in Kansas City. It has been refined through three major industries. Those being Arthur Bryant, Gates, and KC Masterpiece. In some of the sauces used, a portion of molasses is used for sweetness.
Now if you ask me which one is the best? All that I can say is both cities have great barbecue recipes, restaurants, and festivals. An individual could have a great vacation in any of the two cities just enjoying the different tastes. The argument will continue for sure. That is part of the barbecue lore in America.