Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kansas City with the Fam Day 1

July 8-10 my family went on a little road trip down to Kansas City.

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Being an Illinois boy, my understanding is that a US state ends where the river tells it to. One minute you are in Illinois, then you cross a bridge, and you're in Missouri. Easy to grasp. Kansas City was interesting to me geographically because it sits on an imaginary line between Missouri and Kansas. We would be driving around and realize we had inadvertently changed states. "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" was uttered more times than I can divulge with pride intact. I thought that was interesting. I'm sure that has all sorts of fun legal implications.

Kansas City barbecue's siren call had been pulling on Tom's soul from both the food channel and history channel for many a moon, so that was something we went for early.

Boom. Oklahoma Joe's. Supposed to be the best barbecue ever, ever.

And the restaurant shares its building with a gas station.

Opening the door and seeing the long line to order and the limited seating had us conversing over how and where we would eat our messy food. Everything moved rather quickly though, and the staff was great about getting people up off their butts and out the door when they finished eating, so seating wasn't a problem.

In order to keep things fair, I chose full rack of ribs as my benchmark for BBQ deliciousness. It was good, but best in the state it was not, I'm afraid. Another thing I've learned is to avoid the sides at a place like this. Legendary meat searing skills do not translate to potato salad.

Anthony Bordain christened this one of the 13 places to eat before you die, which strikes me as a random list, but he is the man so I'll let it slide. A 98.9 The Rock's Johnny Dare radio interview he did about Oklahoma Joe's can be found here(the audio clip begins automatically). They also talk a bit about eating guinea pigs in Peru. You can read about me rocking that delicacy here. What now, Bordain?

After a long drive and a big meal, the rest of our energy was spent on a bit of driving around downtown and exploring. The Country Club Plaza came recommended, so we headed down there. It's a really classy shopping area that covers several blocks. The shops themselves were too expensive for me (Tiffany & Co., a Rolex dealer) but it was still really enjoyable to window shop.

My favorite part was the faux European architecture. There were lots of tall spires, statues, and fountains all around us, and they looked good. I remember walking toward the first tower thinking there must be something awesome or historical underneath only to find it attached to a North Face retailer or something. Take surroundings like that, add people strolling and a street band playing on a corner, and you've got something called atmosphere.

Not too shabby for our first day.

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