Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No. 1: The beef sandwich from Arthur Bryant's

Posted By on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Beef. It's what's for every meal.
  • Beef. It's what's for every meal.

To whet your appetite for The Pitch's annual Best of Kansas City issue, we're counting down our favorite Top 50 dishes each weekday until October 7.

If you're lucky, the line doesn't stretch out the swinging screen door at Arthur Bryant's. Instead, it's just long enough for you to change your mind a dozen times while staring at the laminated articles on the wall, which cover the history of everyone who has eaten at Bryant's before you.

Stephen Spielberg is usually the moment I start craving burnt ends. James Spader is when I'll know if rib tips are an option today. Jimmy Carter is where a tourist will typically turn around and ask what to get. By the time I get to Sarah Palin, I know I'm only two minutes from handing a plate through the counter window.

It's then that I catch a glimpse of the massive smokers filled with hickory and oak, which began slowly turning brisket into gold long before I woke up this morning. It's why I'm compelled to order the beef sandwich every time I step onto the linoleum here.

Tender, thick pieces of brisket are barely contained by two slices of white bread. The lean meat has a beautiful, peppery bark, complemented by the vinegar-based barbecue sauce that sits waiting in a squeeze bottle at each table. This is beef as it was meant to be enjoyed, with the slight fiery taste of smoke.    

An Arthur Bryant's sandwich requires several strategic breaks. You need time to drink. Time to breathe. Time to shove in a few rough-cut, skin-on fries. Before my eyes glaze over, they always return to the photos and the line that continually replenishes with people. It's then that I notice how the tables and atmosphere haven't changed at Bryant's since the days of Carter.

The debate over the best barbecue in Kansas City is one that I'm excited to have for the next 50 years. But Arthur Bryant's is the discussion's starting point -- the place where you can find Kansas City's history wrapped up tightly in plain brown butcher paper. 

Our list so far:

No. 50: Chocolate Malt from Fox's Drug Store

No. 49: Il Parma from Bella Napoli

No. 48: Italian sausage and eggs from Cascone's Grill

No. 47: Orange Roll from Clock Tower Bakery

No. 46: Tacos de cochinita from Frida's Contemporary Mexican Cuisine

No. 45: Barbecued pork bun from 888 International Market

No. 44: Tableside fresh mozzarella from Jasper's

No. 43: Gyro Sandwich from Mr. Gyros Greek Food & Pastry

No. 42: Apple strudel from Grunauer

No. 41: Rice noodle bowl from dim sum at Bo Lings

No. 40: E-Crush from Hi-Hat Coffee

No. 39: Flight of Freshness from Fresher than Fresh Snow Cones

No. 38: Curried chicken salad from Cafe Provence

No. 37: Apple fritter from John's Space Age Donuts

No. 36: Pollo con limone e olive from Lidia's Kansas City

No. 35: Wedding-cake cookie from LattéLand

No. 34: Stroud's cinnamon rolls

No. 33: Smoked Polish from Werner's

No. 32: Burger and frites from Westport Cafe & Bar

No. 31: Paletas from Paleterias Tropicana

No. 30: Goat korma at New Cafe Tandoor

No. 29: Lemon cake from Café Europa

No. 28: Chocolate Mousse Torte from Napoleon Bakery

No. 27: Spring rolls from Vietnam Cafe 

No. 26: French fries from LC's Bar-B-Q

No. 25: Classic Cookie's herbed-potato-and-sausage casserole

No 24: Farmer greens salad at The Farmhouse

No. 23: Egg salad sandwich from You Say Tomato

No. 22: Waldorf Salad from Bloomsbury Bistro

No. 21: Pork tenderloin sandwich from Kitty's Cafe

No. 20: Root beer from Mugs Up Drive In

No. 19: Flank steak sandwich from Happy Gillis

No. 18: Chicken Picatta from the Hereford House

No. 17: Mom's Macaroni and Cheese from McCoy's Public House

No. 16: Fried green tomato salad from Café Roux

No. 15: Veggie burger from Room 39

No. 14: Onion rings from Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue

No. 13: Cranberry scone from Oak Street Coffee

No. 12: Chicken walnut pasta from Osteria il Centro

No. 11: Steakburger, Fifty-Fifty and a special chocolate frosty from Winstead's

No. 10: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewery

No. 9:: Ice cream-and-cookie sandwich from Murray's

No. 8: Autumn Cookies from Chacko's Eatery

No. 7: Crab cakes from Cafe Sebastienne

No. 6: The Matterhorn from Andre's Confiserie Suisse

No. 5: Cheese pizza from d'Bronx

No. 4: P.E.I. mussels from Bluestem

No. 3: Samosas from Chai Shai

No. 2: The BLT from The Peanut

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