Q39 – Kansas City, MO

Name: Q39
Date: 6/8/21
Address: 1000 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO
Order: Beef brisket plate (with burnt ends), add pulled pork, side of white bean cassoulet (link to menu)
Pricing: $$$

Speedy: I recently embarked on a cross-country roadtrip with my brother (same parents variety, not blog-about-barbecue-with variety), which took us through Kansas City. Of course we had to find a place for ‘cue in the burnt ends capital. After a bit of research, we settled on Q39, a more up-ish-scale restaurant that is (relatively) new on the scene, opening in 2014.

We walked in on a Tuesday night, and the place was packed, but after a short wait, we were seated. Q39 has tables and a wait staff, and a large bar area, as well as outside seating. It’s decorated in a rustic fashion, and overall, was a nice atmosphere.

My order was easy – the beef brisket plate (which comes with burnt ends and slices), but I did add on some pulled pork and the Bro went with the housemade chipotle sausage plate, as well as the onion straw appetizer.

While service was good overall, the wait was a bit longer than normal for a barbecue joint (perhaps due to the crowd), but still, our food was out shortly.

Let’s not bury the lede. In Kansas City, burnt ends are king, and Q39’s burnt ends were the star of the show. Tender but not too fatty, with a nice sauce that had a hint of sweetness, every bite was flavorful and a real treat. At Q39, there is a burnt ends appetizer (which they were not serving that night), but otherwise, you cannot order the burnt ends alone – only with the brisket plate. This is too bad because the slices on the brisket place were not too exciting. They were served with sauce already applied, which was necessary on the lean brisket that was on the dry side. It still had decent flavor, but paled in comparison to the burnt ends.

Monk: Interesting that you can’t get the burnt ends without ordering the brisket. I wonder if this is the norm in Kansas City, or a case where Q39 is looking to save costs.

Speedy: Hard to know, Monk. I assume they’re cooking full briskets, so trying to sell at the same rate. I think this also explains why your brisket just comes lean – the point has already been used. The pork was also served sauced, which I felt was a mistake. The “zesty” sauce does have a vinegar base, but is also loaded with sugar, favoring sweetness over tang. The pork was cooked well and had decent flavor, but the sauce took away from the flavor for me.

Monk: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a KC barbecue joint uses a sugary sauce on their pork.

Speedy: The Bro’s sausage was my second favorite part of the meal. The homemade sausage had good flavor, nice snappy casing, and was not greasy at all. Overall a good effort. 

The white bean cassoulet is a side I’ve never seen our heard of, but from a taste standpoint, it was basically Brunswick stew. It was very hot out – so not stew weather – but I would order it again. The Bro loved his baked beans (I didn’t try any), and the onion straws (with barbecue remoulade) were really good, and worth ordering.

Overall, I would recommend a visit to Q39 to anyone in Kansas City, especially if you focus your attention on the burnt ends. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse – Flat Rock, NC

Name: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse
Date: 5/27/21
Address: 2724 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock, NC 28731
Order: Indecision plate (pork + brisket), collard greens, sautéed slaw, cornbread (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: I had heard about Hubba Hubba Smokehouse a few years ago and had always wanted to go, but due to seasonal opening and limited hours, along with being tucked away in Flat Rock, NC, I hadn’t had the chance to make it over. However, the recent retirement and move of Mama and Papa Speedy to just 20 miles away afforded me the opportunity on my latest visit.

Monk: Hopefully you heard about them when I visited a couple years ago and also when we profiled their pitmaster Spencer Purcell. But you may have also heard of them from their addition to the Historic NC Barbecue Trail a few years back.

Speedy: Hubba Hubba is tucked away in a small plaza off Greenville Highway, along with a couple of other food establishments. The building itself is a small brick building that holds the smokehouse and kitchen, with all of their seating outside. I went to the counter and placed my order, then found a seat in the courtyard.

My name was called in short order and it was time to dig in. I judge any NC barbecue restaurant on the pulled pork, and Hubba Hubba passed that test with flying colors. The pork was tender, smoky, and moist. I didn’t add any of the sauces available, but I do think the vinegar sauce would have added a little tang (they also have a NC sweet and a mustard sauce). While I prefer finer chopped pork (Lexington style), overall, I enjoyed this pulled pork quite a lot, and will order again. 

Monk: I tried the pork with their vinegar sauce just a week earlier myself while passing through on my way to Brevard, and it was definitely a great combo.

Speedy: There have been a few places in the Carolinas doing Texas-style brisket, but Hubba Hubba’s is different. It does not have the same richness and peppery bark, but still has good peppery taste. For one bite, I prefer the Texas-style, but also there was not the same gut-bomb feeling after eating. I think this brisket is better suited for a sandwich, but still solid, if not spectacular. 

Monk: Agreed that they aren’t trying to replicate a central Texas-style brisket, but I also dug what they are doing.

Speedy: I usually just gloss over sides both when eating and reviewing barbecue restaurants, but every once in a while, there’s a side that’s just so good that it deserves some extra attention. The collard greens fit that bill. They were fresh, tangy, and delicious, with bits of pork included. Overall, these were among the very best collards I’ve had and a must order.

The sautéed slaw was not my favorite, as I like the contrast of crisp and crunchy slaw in a barbecue meal, so I’d probably skip those next time. However, pitmaster Spencer was nice enough to bring me a side of a new menu item – the Brunswick stew. According to Spencer, this will be added to the menu soon, and that’s something I’m happy about. The stew was a little sweeter than I’m used to in a Brunswick stew, but very flavorful. Another very solid item.

Monk: Looking back, I’m surprised we didn’t order the collards on my previous visit but I’ll have to get them next time along with that delicious-sounding Brunswick stew.

Speedy: Overall, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is one of the better barbecue meals that I’ve had in Western NC. I’m glad to finally have the opportunity to check it out and hope to be back soon.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 5/26/21

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Based on the book of the same name by Jessica B. Harris, “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” examines the contributions of African American cooking to today’s modern cuisine. The series is four episodes, each lasting roughly an hour, and while the fourth episode focuses on barbecue I won’t be skipping straight to it. This is definitely a series I want to watch as its presented in its entirety.

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” is available to watch now on Netflix.

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Bobby’s BBQ – Fountain Inn, SC

Name: Bobby’s BBQ
Address: 1301 N Main St, Fountain Inn, SC 29644
Order: 1/2 lb brisket, 1/2 lb pork, 1 original sausage, 1 jalapeno cheddar sausage, corn pudding, mac and cheese, green beans (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Octavius “Tay” Nelson and his wife, Sarah opened Bobby’s BBQ in Fountain Inn, SC after Tay spent a few years learning how to smoke from YouTube videos. Yes, really. Tay actually originally grew up in Fountain Inn and Bobby’s is named after both his dad and brother (Bobby Sr and Jr) who both passed away within a few months of each other in the late 00’s. Tay came up with a barbecue seasoning first in 2010 and the restaurant came later in 2018.

The restaurant is central Texas-inspired which as mentioned above, Tay learned from watching different tutorials on YouTube. The Texas of it all is evident if you take a peek into the smoke room and see two huge offset pits with stacks of wood.

As for the barbecue, I found it to be above average but not transcendent. The brisket had good flavor but was not the most neatly sliced by the meat cutter, who hacked and sliced through the end of a brisket.

The pork was dry which is almost to be expected from a Texas-style joint at this point.

On this day, they had two sausages, both an original and a jalapeno cheddar. Of the two, I preferred the jalapeno cheddar, though both were above average.

From a sides perspective, both the mac and cheese and corn pudding shone, and I particularly liked the corn pudding. The green beans were a bit bland and were cooked within an inch of their life.

Bobby’s BBQ is a great story, with food that mostly backs it up as well as a great setting. It’s worth seeking out in the greater Greenville area.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs