The world is a different place. And some places that serve Barbecue…are not based in Texas tradition.
Yes, I know. Non-Texas Barbecue? Silly. Just silly.
I will grant you that the people of Kansas City take exceptional pride in their Barbecue. They look upon us Texans (and those descended from Texans) as little more than Brisket-centric heathens. But this is California, supposedly neutral ground. I have been to the epicenters of decent Barbecue in this town like Gus’s and Bludso’s. I still have to go to Lucille’s down in Long Beach. But in North Hollywood, I have heard tell and seen the Kansas City B.B.Q. Company. It was time that I darken their doors.
Located just across the street from Coley’s Caribbean Kitchen, one might be excused for almost missing it as you drive by. It’s part of a Bar/Sports Grill complex, as it is physically joined alongside the Magnolia Sports Bar and Grill.
Not literally, you can go from one to the other, and never set a foot outside.
The inside is clean and comfortable, and decorated with a blend of faux Western gear and Kansas City Memorabilia. You know, pictures of the City, and a sprinkling of Kansas City Chief Gear.
The restaurant itself has gotten high marks from places like Urbanspoon. And for the most part they are right. Looking at the Kansas City B.B.Q. Company as a straight up Food Writer, the place is okay. Heck, it’s more than okay. It’s really, really good. The rating I’m giving this place will ultimately reflect that belief
But as a Texan, or in my case, someone who was raised by Texans, as someone who feels Texas Barbecue is more than food, but a calling, a heritage, a birthright? I hate this like poison.
So read on, but grade my words on a curve.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Beneath what people think of as barbecue is actual barbecue.
What do I mean? Most people think Barbecue is all about the sauce. It’s not. IT’s what’s underneath the sauce that matters. It’s all about is the meat, the thing that’s being cooked up, whatever it is, whatever way it’s done, is what makes Barbecue Special.
Most Pit Masters working in any semblance of a Barbecue joint can handle the meat appropriately. Sure, some Pit Masters may be better the others, but for the most part, the stuff is handled effectively. Sometimes what cuts they buy, and what they choose to land on your plate can make a difference too.
Yes, the sauce matters, more its more like the cherry on top than the star of the show.
So, I can write with complete and unabashed honesty that the people at the Kansas City BBQ Company know how to prepare their meat. I got a Three Item Combo, which, unlike many other BBQ joints, came loaded with food. In my case, I went with Pork, Brisket and Burnt Ends, which is a Kansas City thing. All three were prepared pretty damn well. Someone did take a machete to the lot of them, chopping them up into little bitty bits. Even the Brisket, which in places I’m used to going to in Texas would have been a sin against God. The Pork was the most interesting though. It was like a Pork Sausage without the casing.
The problem I had, was that it all came in that Kansas City sugary, honey dipped sauce.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Colbert did a joke not too long ago, where in defending his some state of South Carolina’s Barbecue Traditions (including their Mustard sauce), he wretched every time he even thought of North Carolina Barbecue.
That’s kinda how it was for me as I ate my meal.
This is a criticism of the Kansas City BBQ style, not the Kansas City BBQ Restaurant. As a style, the Restaurant did what it was supposed to do, it faithfully recreated the BBQ stylings of Kansas City. (I wouldn’t know for sure, since I try to avoid the stuff).
When the spiciest thing on your table is the Heinz 57 Ketchup, you know you’re trouble.
I mean, do these people no heat on anything? I mean, I immediately ruled this place out as a place I could take my Father because I didn’t want him going in there, asking for Hot Sauce, and the Proprietors looking at like he just came from the moon.
Look, in terms of Barbecue, I am a Texan, and I make no apologies for saying we’ve got the best Barbecue on earth. This may be your thing. Heck, you may be from Kansas City, and love this stuff every bit as much as I love my own.
But for me, as someone raised on Texas Barbecue, this was a traumatic experience.
Seriously, if I go there again, I have to insist on bringing in my own sauce. I still got a bottle from Goode’s lying around here somewhere.
PARKING: It looks worse than it is. The Kansas City BBQ Company has its own lot, with maybe a dozen spaces tops. It’s all free. The trick is getting one of the spaces. If you got at Lunchtime, by 12:30, they’re mostly gone. And while the construction is continuing on Magnolia, I can’t in good conscience recommend parking there. You could maybe try one of the side streets, but I didn’t get a good handle on whether there’s a permit requirement or not.
The Kansas City BBQ Company
10863 Magnolia Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601