Arthur Bryant, the grand old man of Kansas City barbecue, passed away in 1982, but his business has thrived ever since; and his heirs, bless them, never went upscale. This humble smoke house remains a cafeteria-style lunch room with all the decorative charm of a bus station.
Arthur Bryant originally came from Texas, so it stands to reason that his brisket is superb, the best meat in the house. It is tender and fatty enough to fairly drip flavor. It is sliced into fallapart lengths that get heaped into white-bread sandwiches; or if you come as a large party, you can order a couple of pounds of beef and a loaf of bread. They’ll be piled on a tray so you can make your own sandwiches at the table.
Pork ribs are wonderful, too, glazed with blackened burnt edges and lodes of meat below their spicy crust. Skin-on French fries are bronze beauties and the goopy barbecue beans are some of Kansas City’s best.
Good as the meats are, what makes Arthur Bryant’s unique is the sauce. It is beautiful sauce, a gritty, red-orange blend of spice and sorcery that is not at all sweet like most Midwestern barbecue sauces. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll have a gold standard against which to measure all others.