Friday Find: The Best Ribs In Kansas Are Cooked And Served In A Gas Station

Monk: Food Insider’s Legendary Eats crew takes in the ribs at the gas-station-turned-barbecue-joint in Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Q. Surely a must-stop if you ever find yourself in Kansas City.

Description: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Q has been operating out of a gas station since 1996, but that doesn’t stop people from packing the crowded restaurant for lunch and dinner every day for their award-winning ribs. Come find out why you HAVE to eat here if you visit KC.

Smoke Show BBQ – Charlotte, NC

Name: Smoke Show BBQ (pop-up at Crown Station)
Order: 1/2 lb brisket, 4 St. Louis cut rib, 1/4 chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, mac and cheese, baked, beans, banana pudding (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Ever keeping my eye on new barbecue restaurants or pop-ups in Charlotte, I was caught off guard by a recent Charlotte Magazine article listing 4 pop-ups to know including one Smoke Show BBQ. The pop-up is owned and run by Brandon Belfer, a chef who attended Johnson & Wales culinary school in Charlotte and who according to that article has worked for a lot of great chefs and kitchens in Charlotte including The Stanley with Paul Verica, The Crunkleton, The Asbury under former chef Matthew Krenz and current chef Mike Long, and Kindred and Hello, Sailor under Joe Kindred and Craig Diehl.

Belfer is originally from the town of Pleasanton outside San Antonio, so he grew up around Texas barbecue and that is his focus for Smoke Show. Every 2 weeks or so, he runs his pop-up from a literal pop-up tailgating tent in the parking lot at Crown Station in NoDa (just around the corner from the former Monk residence).

And Belfer’s barbecue shows some promise but did have some issues on this day. The Creekstone brisket had a nice bark but had some issues with consistency and texture and could have used a little more trimming of the fat cap. Brandon eventually introduced himself and mentioned he was breaking in a new smoker. On top of that, for this cook he was delivered larger-than-expected briskets (16 pounds vs. his normal 12 pounders). I could tell those variables affected this particular cook but as I mentioned earlier, there is promise.

The St. Louis cut ribs were best part of the meal and had some real nice flavor, even if the ribs weren’t the meatiest. The smoked chicken was a solid option as well but probably could have benefitted from some direct heat to crisp up the skin (I’m assuming it was smoked on an offset like the rest of the meats but could be mistaken there). Beef ribs were a special, and while I didn’t order on this go round I’ll get to it eventually.

All of the sides were well made and showed off the culinary skill of Belfer; this day we got mac and cheese, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw. And to top off the meal, the banana pudding with some sort of caramelized crumble topping was awesome. I’ll be ordering that ‘naner pudding every time I come back.

Smoke Show BBQ is well worth keeping an eye on as a new player in the Charlotte barbecue scene, and I look forward to giving them another shot in a few months.

Ratings:
Brisket – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Edley’s Bar-B-Que – Nashville, TN

Name: Edley’s Bar-B-Que
Address: 908 Main Street, Nashville, TN
Order: Half rack of ribs, green beans, corn bread (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: Recently, I got a surprise call from John Tanner of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog letting me know that he and wife Nancy were coming to Nashville for a weekend and wondered if I wanted to join him for a meal. We initially decided to go to Shotgun Willie’s – a joint I’ve been meaning to get back to, with Edley’s as a backup plan if there was rain (as Shotgun Willie’s did not have indoor tables last time I was there). Well, sure enough, it was a pretty nasty Saturday, so we moved our lunch to the backup spot. 

Monk: John and I grabbed lunch last October at Midwood Smokehouse while he was in Charlotte visiting relatives so I was happy it worked out for Speedy to meet up with him. John’s a smart, cultured guy who knows his barbecue but also a heck of a lot more. I was certain he and Speedy would get along famously. 

Speedy: I don’t go by Edley’s often, as it’s not among my favorites in Nashville, but the last time I had gone, the brisket sandwich was above average, so it was time to go for a proper review. The restaurant now has four locations (three in Nashville, one in Chattanooga), and this visit was to the East Nashville location, which is a decent sized restaurant with a nice patio and good craft beer bar. 

Even arriving by 11:30, the restaurant was starting to get a little crowded. John and I went up to order while Nancy secured a table.

John and Nancy both opted for the pork plate, but I chose the half rack of ribs, as I’ve never ordered that from Edley’s before. The food came out quickly and it was time to dig in.

Unfortunately, this meal didn’t do anything to change my opinion of Edley’s. The ribs came well seasoned and drizzled with sauce, but were a bit overdone. The flavor was fine, but didn’t stand out as anything special. I did have a bit of pork as well, which came sauced with a brown sugar-y sauce that sweetened the pork a bit too much. Another average offering. The green beans were good, and included chopped bacon, and the cornbread was very good (and a little spicy!).

The highlight of the meal was definitely the company; I enjoyed hearing about John and Nancy’s travels, and particularly their visit the previous day to Ramey’s – a whole hog joint between Nashville and Memphis that I haven’t had time to visit yet (but definitely will). John, I hope we can have another ‘cue meal soon.

For more on Edley’s Bar-B-Que, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!
John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog

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

Jon G’s Barbecue – Peachland, NC (Speedy’s take)

Name: Jon G’s Barbecue
Address: 116 Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133
Order: 1.5 lbs brisket, 0.5 lbs pork, 0.5 lbs bacon burnt ends, 1lb rib, 2 Cheerwine hot links, jalapeno cheese grits, apple crisp (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: Finally, I was in the Charlotte area on a Saturday and able to make it to the Jon G’s Barbecue brick and mortar location, after Monk’s continual praise and an impressive experience with the food truck a few years back. As a non-NC resident, I am only able to pop in and out of Charlotte a few times a year, and Saturday’s are not always convenient times for a trip over to Peachland, so I have one plea: give the people what they want! More barbecue! But I digress.

Monk: I’m pretty sure Speedy gets it now, but even though they are only open Saturdays it’s not like Garren and Kelly are sitting around the rest of the week between prep, catering gigs, and the food truck. Plus, the Saturday only aspect makes it more of an experience. 

Speedy: After loading up from Charlotte around 9:15 AM, we arrived at a small building off highway 74 with a picnic shelter out back around 10:00 and found our place in line for the 11:00 opening. Even an hour early, we were about 10th in line, but we didn’t mind the wait, as we were greeted with a cooler full of (free) Burial beer. A nice touch.

Monk: You know I love free beer and the fact that it’s one of my favorite breweries (NC or otherwise) only adds to it. We each grabbed and beer and joined in on the tailgating atmosphere. This is the one thing I try to convey when convincing anyone to make a trip to Peachland – it’s an experience that’s worth the trip. After all, Saturdays are for the boys!

Speedy: Let’s start with the brisket and not bury the lede. Similar to my experience with Jon G’s food truck a couple years ago, the brisket was fantastic. With apologies to both Jim Noble and John Lewis, this is the best brisket I’ve had in the Carolinas, and rivals Owlbear for the best outside of Texas. The peppery goodness pleased me greatly. I was actually a little worried about the brisket when I saw that Jon G’s uses a rotisserie smoker instead of the Texas standard barrel offset, but it worked out just fine.

For some reason, Jon G’s brisket is still ever so slightly behind my personal Holy Quadrumvirate of brisket (Franklin’s, La Barbecue, Pecan Lodge, Killen’s) but maybe because there’s just something different about eating brisket in Texas.

Monk: Of course that rotisserie smoker is an Oyler from Texas-based J&R Manufacturing, but I get Speedy’s concern when it’s not coming from an army of offset smokers made from old propane tanks (like the original Jon G’s smoker). 

I don’t always get the pork at Jon G’s, but that’s not to say they don’t do a good job with it. And on this visit, it was up to par even if it’s not what we were there for. 

Speedy: As you loyal readers know, I’m very much a rib man. When I visited the food truck ribs were not on the menu, so I had been salivating thinking about ribs the whole drive over. The dry ribs served at Jon G’s were seasoned well and cooked nearly perfectly. I don’t think I’d change a thing and would consider this a must order meat.

Monk: Man, those ribs are so good and I couldn’t agree more. They might even merit a revisit to my Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate in the not-too-distant future.

I think they’ve really dialed in their Cheerwine hot link but I know Garren is really high on their newish Cheesy-Tex sausage made with cheese from Brown Creek Creamery in nearby Polkton So I’ll have to try that next time around when I’m not around Speedy, who is unyielding in his lack of tolerance for lactose.

Speedy: The bacon burnt ends were a special of the day. They had great flavor, as expected, but weren’t totally consistent. There were a couple pieces in our order that were a little dry. Overall, I’d still order again, but in a near perfect meal, this was my nit to pick. 

Monk: My experience with smoking my own bacon burnt ends is that the variance in cubing leads to some getting overdone while they larger ones cook through. Unavoidable but understandable. 

The jalapeno cheddar grits had a little more heat than usual on this visit, which was not unwelcome. Speedy ordered the apple crisp which I’m not sure I’ve ever had from them. It’s a simple but delicious way to end the meal. 

Speedy: Like all Texas-style Barbecue, it’s not something I can eat every day, as I was left with a bit of a gut bomb later in the day. So maybe Jon G’s has it right with the Saturday only thing. But overall, Jon G’s Barbecue is ridiculous. One of the best barbecue meals you’ll get anywhere. If you get the chance, don’t just stop by; make a plan to get there early and spend a Saturday morning out there. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Sausage – 4.5 hogs
Bacon Burnt Ends – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs