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Best Beans 

Applewood BBQ

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1003 East 23rd Street, Independence | 816-252-7753

Hunks of crackly burnt ends nestle together under the tawny surface of Applewood BBQ's beans. At most barbecue joints, sweet is a dirty word, sugar a camouflage. But at Applewood, where the meat is smoked on apple wood and a touch of hickory, sweetness balances heat to deliver good, meat-enhancing flavor. (And the place's raspberry-and-chipotle barbecue sauce provides unexpected insight into why your sweet tooth activates your carnivore urges.) The rich sweetness of molasses in Applewood's beans yields to an easy, smoky finish. Forget the spoon — bring a pail and a shovel to the red and white booths. These beans are best eaten by the scoopful.

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