Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
This is one gas station that you can't pass up! Joe's Kansas City has actually been referred to as the number one BBQ restaurant in the entire world and it's for good reason. I can tell you first hand, this is no exaggeration; that's saying a lot for food at a gas station!
Here's a menu showing the many options available. As I said previously, this is quite unusual for a gas station, but it's the quality of food that makes this gas station stand out, not just a massive menu. I will admit that when I started looking over this menu I was really overwhelmed with all the variety. I actually asked for burnt ends as that is the "Kansas City staple". Unfortunately, they were all out when I arrived. The man taking my order at the counter inside the gas station offered to give me frozen burnt ends to take with me, but since I was on a trip, this was not going to work well. I decided to order the rib dinner with french fries, along with pulled pork and a side of onion rings. As you can see from the photograph below, the rib dinner comes with two slices of toast and pickles.
Now for the specifics of my meal. As I mentioned, there were no burnt ends available. I had already planned on trying the ribs in combination with that, but since there were none available, I ordered a half rack of ribs. To be clear, there's 13 ribs in a normal rack of pork ribs. If you get lucky, you might have 14, but most common is 13 ribs. This is really important to keep in mind when you go to a BBQ restaurant. I've had multiple bad dinner experiences where I order and pay for a half rack of ribs and I end up getting 5 or 6 ribs. I'd be okay with 6 and I wouldn't complain, but when you get 5 or less, then you're just getting ripped off. Knowing what you're eating is a really important. I also apologize in advance, because this is one of those things that won't bother you until you are educated about it. So in advance, I apologize for you having to count your ribs now every time you order them at a restaurant. If you notice from my photograph above, there's actually 7 ribs, YES, seven! It's clear I either got extremely lucky or Joe's Kansas City is just really generous and gives 7 ribs when you order a half rack. I guess I'll have to go back to find out if this is consistent or if I essentially won the BBQ lottery. For me, this is a win win situation because I'd go back here in a heartbeat to order the same exact entrees; it was such an amazing meal.
The quality of the meat is extremely good. There is very, very little fat on the ribs. They are very meaty and seasoned perfectly. They had a great smokey flavor with a good amount of flavor coming from the rub, and a little from the caramelized sauce on top. Most importantly, I could still taste that wonderful pork flavor. All of these aspects really compliment each other to make some of the best ribs available.
On to my side dishes...My thinking here was that their fries are advertised as the best fries in all of Kansas City. That says a whole lot, so it was a must to try them! I'd say that these fries were in the top 5 fries that I've ever eaten in my entire life. They were superb! They were cooked very well and not over seasoned. I was worried that with such big words, that all I'd taste is loads of seasoning and not actually potato. I was wrong because the seasoning was a perfect amount. I'm definitely ordering these on my next trip to this restaurant.
Next, onion rings. The reason I ordered these was that they're included on the famous "Z Man" sandwich that's known worldwide and has really placed Joe's Kansas City on the map internationally. Well, they were outstanding. As you can see, very nice and crispy! One of my biggest complaints with onion rings is when you take a bite and the entire onion comes out with that first bite, leaving all that nice crunchy crust empty. Joe's knows how to coo, their food perfectly. That goes across the board with every single item I ordered and ate. You can actually take individual bites of these rings and they stay intact. As far as seasoning, it was spot on; not too salty, but packed with tons of flavor. It was really hard for me to stop eating them because they were so delicious!
Now we get into the delicious pulled pork. Honestly, this was some of the best pulled pork I've had. I feel like I keep saying that with this review, but it's 100% true. This is definitely an entree you can to try here! The flavor of the ribs was smokey, but ribs are only smoked for 3-5 hours on average. Pulled pork on the other hand is smoked for 8-10 hours. That's a MAJOR difference and it should be extremely clear when you at the two side by side. Here, it was clear. The pulled pork had more smoke flavor. I actually didn't expect that because I rarely notice the difference in smoke and flavor between ribs and pulled pork. As product, pulled pork normally comes from pork butts, which are actually pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is actually 13 muscles all in one cut of meat. That's a ton of different flavor potential. Joe's Kansas City has the most delicious pulled pork I've eaten in any restaurant. They win this one by far. The depth of flavor is outrageous; it truly is. This is the closest to competition BBQ that I've eaten, outside of a competition. In fact, this definitely beats out lots of pulled pork I've judged at competitions. There was very little fat and tons of flavor and seasoning. After trying the pulled pork without sauce I was confident that this was true championship BBQ. I added sauce on these juicy chunks of pork and it just made the flavor intensify even more. The sauce is a great compliment to the meat. Either way you prefer it, dry or with sauce, you're in for a real treat.
As far as pricing goes, I'd easily pay the exact amount or even more for what I ate. It was 100% worth the cost and the 30 minute drive straight from the airport. Yes, this was the very first thing I did when I landed in Kansas City. You get a TON of food and it's all great quality. I really hate rating restaurants and prefer to give a more comprehensive review with details on a variety of aspects. However, this meal was such a good experience that I feel the need to say that I'd give this a 9 out of 10. I will be going back, because I'm literally craving more of those delicious items.
This review was not requested by the restaurant. Daniel Lubin has not received any financial compensation for writing this review. All food was purchased by Daniel Lubin. Daniel Lubin paid for all travel expenses in order to eat at this restaurant.