My task at hand, earlier this week, was to make another visit to Slap's BBQ
in Kansas City, Kansas (it's my review subject for next week), but I discovered that Slap's has a problem: it's too popular.
In June, veteran barbecue-team competitors Mike and Joe Pearce and Brandon Whipple opened the lunch-only barbecue shack, which frequently sells out of smoked meats a couple of hours after opening. That's great for Slap's (an acronym for Squeal Like a Pig, the name of this trio's barbecue team) but not so terrific for hungry customers who show up too late for a brisket sandwich.
It was on one of those days that I was driving around downtown Kansas City, Kansas, and stumbled upon the five-year-old Big Grill & More at 501 North Sixth Street. It's located in a two-story brick storefront that was, six years ago, occupied by the Skillet Licker Cafe
, a diner that made its own little fried doughnuts each day.
I'm ashamed that it has taken me so long to find this restaurant, operated by the Dantzler family, a combination barbecue restaurant and old-fashioned diner. The food is very good, and the house-made pear cobbler (made, like most of the desserts, by Jerri Dantzler Martin) is, to put it mildly, sensational.
Ray Dantzler, a native of Louisiana, had been selling his barbecue at festivals around the metro for several years, but when the space on Sixth Street became available, he knew it was time to open a brick-and-mortar business — with his siblings Jerri, Tracy, Pilmon and Lela. "It's a family business, says Ray Dantzler. "We all run it together."
The Dantzlers keep their smoker and grill busy, selling barbecue, tenderloins, catfish, chicken wings, and burgers. ("I sell a lot of burgers here," Ray Dantzler says. "It's at least 50 percent of my business.")
Last November, the Dantzler family started breakfast service and now opens at 7 a.m. from Monday through Friday to offer omelets; grits; pancakes; biscuits with sausage and gravy; and a $6 full breakfast that includes bacon, ham or sausage, two eggs, hash browns, and a choice of biscuits or toast.
Ray, Tracy, Pilmon, Jerri and Lela Dantzler know that their calling card is their Louisiana-style barbecue: ribs, beef, turkey, ham, sausage and smoked chicken wings. The Big Grill offers three sauces: hot, original and a "sweet heat" that balances fire and a molasses sweetness. Big Grill & More offers $8.50 dinner specials during the week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday night's special is smothered pork chops served with rice or mashed potatoes, a choice of cabbage or green beans, and a dinner roll. Friday night's special is fried catfish fillets served with spaghetti, green beans or cole slaw, and a dinner roll.
The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; it is closed Sunday. The phone number is 913-371-0088.