Gates Bar-B-Q (Kansas City)


Here now is my last meal report from our brief visit to Kansas City in July and quite appropriately it is of a meal eaten at one of the city’s most sanctified barbecue institutions, perhaps second only to Arthur Bryant’s in that sense. I am referring, of course, to Gates Bar-B-Q. It too traces its history back to Henry Perry—the father of Kansas City barbecue and the man whose restaurant evolved into Arthur Bryant’s. The original location of Gates was founded in 1946, with the Gates family partnering with another of Perry’s employees/students, Arthur Pinkard. Unlike Arthur Bryant’s, Gates is still black-owned and indeed still in the Gates family. That original location, at 18th and Vine, does not appear to still be extant. Gates does have six locations in the Kansas City metro now. Of those, we dined at the large restaurant on Emanuel Cleaver Blvd., selecting it for its proximity both to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, which was our previous port of call and to access to the highway back to Minnesota, which would be our next. It was a fine meal and a fine farewell to Kansas City. Continue reading

The City Market and Lunch at Pigwich (Kansas City)


I do very much enjoy walking around urban markets in cities I visit. Accordingly, a stop at Kansas City’s City Market was on our itinerary. Originally, this was supposed to be our last stop on the Thursday of our trip. It’s located in the north of the city, right by Highway 35 and the plan had been to go for a walk by the river, browse the market, eat a quick lunch at Pigwich and hit the road. All of this got thrown for a loop by my lame trip planning. I’d put a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on the agenda for Wednesday (preceded by lunch at Gates-Bar-B-Q). Of course, since I only bothered to look at the museum’s website closely on Wednesday morning I discovered rather late in the game that the Nelson-Atkins is closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays. (Isn’t all this detail fascinating?!) So we went to the Nelson-Atkins and Gates on our last day and on Wednesday started out with a walk by the river, a stroll through the City Market and lunch at Pigwich. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Arthur Bryant’s (Kansas City)


Our eating in Kansas City began at the original gas station location of Joe’s Kansas City, a few hours after our arrival. When I say the “original” location I don’t mean to suggest that this is a very old restaurant: it opened in the late 1990s. Arthur Bryant’s, where we ate lunch the next day, on the other hand goes way back to the beginnings of Kansas City barbecue, being indeed the place where the genre solidified and gained renown. The original proprietor, Henry Perry, the “father of Kansas City barbecue, had begun to sell his wares in the early decades of the 20th century, first at a stand and then to a restaurant in the 18th and Vine neighbourhood. On his death Perry’s business passed to his employee, Charlie Bryant in 1940 and his brother Arthur took over in 1946 and moved the restaurant to its current location at 18th and Brooklyn in 1949. (All this information is from Wikipedia, in case you’re wondering.) Continue reading

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Kansas City)


Okay, let’s get the Kansas City meat-a-thon going. As I said at the end of last week, we drove down to Kansas City for three days for a trip that was largely built around the eating of barbecue. As you doubtless know, Kansas City is one of the four traditional centers of barbecue in the United States—Texas, Memphis and the Carolinas being the others. The major differences between Kansas City barbecue and the others is first of all a more catholic approach to meat: there is no meat that is given emphasis over others in Kansas City. Anything that can be barbecued is. The other is the deployment of a tomato-based sauce with more than a little sweetness to it. Our main desire with the eating of barbecue was to eat at places with historical/cultural significance rather than places that top “Best of” lists. To this end I looked up reviews and articles online and canvassed recommendations on social media. We settled on Arthur Bryant’s and Gates for the historical/cultural significance. But we began our eating at the relatively much-newer Joe’s Kansas City which does often land at or near the top of those “Best of” lists. We had dinner there just a few hours after arriving in Kansas City. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 61: Rack Shack (Eagan, MN)


In the last year we may have eaten more barbecue in the Twin Cities metro than in our previous 13 years here. We’ve certainly eaten barbecue from more restaurants than ever before: Ted Cook’s 19th Hole, Smoke in the Pit, Firebox, Black Market StP. Hell, we even got barbecue at opposite ends of the spectrum from Tenant during their pandemic takeout pivot and the far humbler Quarterback Club here in our town. Some of these have been among the best restaurant meals we’ve eaten since the pandemic began; all have been at least solid. Which brings me to our latest round of takeout barbecue, which we picked up from Rack Shack in Eagan on Saturday. Located right off Cedar Avenue (on Cliff Road in the strip mall that also houses Atomic Liquors), they’ve caught my eye in the past as well and so I was interested to finally try their fare. I’m sorry to say that while there were a few things we like fine, on the whole, this was the most uneven of our barbecue outings. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 59: Black Market StP (St. Paul, MN)


The first pandemic takeout meal for May saw me driving up to St. Paul to pick up barbecue and bring it home to eat with friends on our deck. The last pandemic takeout meal for May saw me driving up tp St. Paul to pick up barbecue and bring it home to eat with friends on our deck. Three weeks ago it was Firebox’s St. Paul location on Marshall at Snelling that was my port of call. This past weekend it was Black Market StP just off the High Bridge. I wish I could tell you the name of the neighbourhood but I am terrible with my Twin Cities geography. I can tell you that it’s right where Smith meets Cherokee as you get off the High Bridge going south and that you’d have to really not be paying attention to miss it. We were paying attention and turned and parked on Cherokee and in a matter of minutes had picked up our order and were headed back home. Here’s what we thought of the food once we actually ate it. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 56: Firebox Barbecue (St. Paul, MN)


I’ve been promising (threatening?) a pandemic takeout report from the St. Paul outpost of Firebox for a while now. This past weekend the stars finally aligned and I was able to go up to pick up a large order. I’m not sure what their hours were in the Before Times but at least during the pandemic they are only open in the evenings (see the posted hours in the slideshow below). Like most barbecue restaurants they have a compact menu—even more compact, in fact, than at either Ted Cook’s 19th Hole or Smoke in the Pit. We got almost everything on it. It was our first time eating their food and it seemed like it would be a mistake to not be comprehensive (also: we were being joined on our deck by two sets of vaccinated friends and so there were a lot of mouths to fee). Well, we had no regrets. Details follow. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 16: Smoke in the Pit (Minneapolis)


Smoke in the Pit is located at 3733 Chicago Avenue in S. Minneapolis, just a hundred feet or two from 38th St.. Even if you don’t know South Minneapolis you should know that intersection. It was right by it, in front of Cup Foods, that George Floyd was murdered on May 25 of this year. The protests and unrest that followed, coupled as they were with various revelations and confirmations of racism within the industry’s own precincts, led to an outpouring of declarations of affiliation with Black Lives Matter from most of American food media. Almost two months on, it’s not very clear what’s become of all those declarations, what their afterlife will be or what forms it will take. One hopes that there will be more to the statements than a few weeks or months of conspicuous coverage. We’ll see, I guess. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 11: Tenant (Minneapolis)


Last week I had a review of takeout barbecue from a restaurant in South Minneapolis. Today I have a review for you of takeout barbecue from another restaurant in South Minneapolis. The two restaurants could not, however, be more different. Ted Cook’s 19th Hole is a 51 yo Black-owned restaurant that is takeout-only and which serves no-nonsense barbecued meats and sides. Tenant, on the other hand, is a 3 yo hard-to-get-into, cheffy prix fixe restaurant in what I call the Global Cosmopolitan school. That’s in normal times. The pandemic has caused a temporary convergence as Tenant, like most other local fine dining restaurants, has pivoted to a takeout model to keep its doors open and its staff employed. The restaurant’s bare bones structure—very few people in the kitchen, doing all the jobs—has perhaps allowed it to be more flexible in this regard than most of its fine dining peers. They’ve not, however, been serving the food people normally book six weeks in advance to eat. For the first couple of months of the pandemic they were selling takeout soup and sandwich packages; as of about a month ago they’ve pivoted to barbecue. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 10: Ted Cook’s 19th Hole (Minneapolis)


I had planned to post this review of this large takeout barbecue meal earlier this week. But the prefatory comments I’d wanted to make about American food media and race became a much longer thing, and rather than have this review disappear into that I posted those as a separate piece on Thursday. One of the things I noted in that post was how little awareness I have of Black-owned/run restaurants in the Twin Cities metro beyond Somali and Ethiopian places. Indeed, the other two that I have reviewed—Big Daddy’s* and Handsome Hog—are also barbecue restaurants, albeit at different ends of the price and ambience spectrum. Ted Cook’s 19th Hole is even more informal than Big Daddy’s—it’s takeout-only here and things are as functional as you might imagine for a takeout-only establishment: a counter where you order and pay, the kitchen behind and a few seats in the bare bones room in front for people waiting (in non-pandemic times) for their orders. There is little here that signals the history of the restaurant—it’s been around since 1969. You pick up your food, you pay, and you go on your way. Continue reading

Lunch at the Keg and Case Food Hall (St. Paul, MN)


We visited Keg and Case in March and again in September, both times to eat dinner at In Bloom (reviews here and here). On both occasions we walked by all the other food businesses without paying very close attention to them and on both occasions we resolved to come back soon with the kids for lunch and try some of them. Well, at the end of October we finally got around to doing that. We met friends there for an early lunch on a Saturday. Our main targets were Pimento, a Jamaican counter (and a branch of a more formal restaurant in Minneapolis) and Revival Smoked Meats, an outpost of the Revival empire. We did eat and drink the wares of a few other merchants as well (doughnuts, ice cream, beer, coffee) and after lunch we sauntered around the rest of the complex. I have descriptions and evaluations for you of the things we ate and pictures of everything else. Continue reading

Yoon Haeundae Galbi (New York, August 2019)


We’ve been curious about the Korean food scene in New York for a while. Koreatown in Los Angeles is usually our stomping ground when we’re there, and it is, of course, a rather hardcore Korean enclave. But New York has a sizable Korean population too and we were interested to see how the food would compare. The boys’ vote, of course, was for Korean barbecue. I looked around online to see what the options were and hit upon Yoon Haeundae Galbi, a recent’ish Manhattan outpost of a restaurant in Busan. Located in Midtown, it was the perfect pick for another evening when we needed a dinner close to a play the missus was going to and when we needed a place that would be an easy sell to some old friends that we were meeting for dinner. And a good meal it proved to be. Continue reading

Hill Country (Washington D.C.)


Our eating in DC was organized almost entirely around proximity to the Smithsonian museums (where we spent our days) and our hotel (where we spent our evenings). I’ve already reported on two of our hotel-adjacent dinners (at Baby Wale and Bantam King); here now is a report on the first place at which we had lunch: Hill Country.

As you may know, Hill Country, a specialist in Texas barbecue, started out in New York city. The flagship restaurant is still there, as is another location; DC is the only other city with a branch. It is an easy 10 minute walk from the Museum of Natural History—and you will probably walk even faster if it is drizzling, as it was on the day of our visit. Either way, I’d say it’d be well worth an even longer walk. Continue reading

Yakitori Totto (New York, August 2019)


If there is one thing our kids will reliably eat outside the home it is any kind of grilled meat. And ever since their first meal at Raku in Los Angeles they have been particularly enamoured of Japanese yakitori and related skewers. Accordingly, we’d planned to hit at least one yakitori specialist while in New York. We’d originally planned to do our skewering at Torishin but when I went to make a reservation I noted that they say that guests have to be above the age of 12. We fell back on another place not too far away from Torishin that had also been highly recommended: Yakitori Totto. Herewith the details. Continue reading

OMC Smokehouse (Duluth, MN)


It only took 12 years but we’ve finally gone further north in Minnesota than Minneapolis. Quite a bit further north, actually—all the way past Duluth, almost to Grand Marais, to a cabin right on Lake Superior. I usually take listing descriptions such as “a cabin right on Lake Superior” with a huge pinch of salt but when we got here we were pleased to discover that if this cabin were any more on Lake Superior it would be in Lake Superior. It was a four and half hour drive in total to the cabin from our little hamlet in southern Minnesota. Easily manageable as a straight shot but with our kids, our dogs and also my parents in the van, we decided to stop in Duluth for lunch at the three hour mark and do a short hop up to the cabin after that. A recommendation from Joe (who often comments on the blog) put us in OMC Smokehouse. And, on the whole, it was a successful family-friendly meal. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Ahgassi Gopchang (Los Angeles, January 2019)


Here finally is my last meal report from our trip to Los Angeles in late December/early January. And it indeed a write-up of the last meal we ate out on this trip. Our brats had wanted to eat Korean bbq on this trip and we decided to got Ahgassi Gopchang, a specialist in intestines (gopchang). No, our brats didn’t eat the intestines—you can also get more standard meat options for grilling, as well as other Korean dishes. But intestines are the star here and the adults in attendance enjoyed the hell out of them. We were joined at this meal by 50% of the Sku clan. Alas, it was probably our last meal together in Los Angeles. By the time we next get there, they will have moved across the country to Washington DC—which seems like a bit far to go to get away from me. But to the food! Continue reading

Handsome Hog (St. Paul, MN)


Let me at the very outset reassure the people of the Lowertown, St. Paul Facebook group* that I did not have any trouble finding parking before our dinner at Handsome Hog this past Saturday. No trouble at all. Lowertown, St. Paul is the best! No one can have any complaints about any aspect of Lowertown, St. Paul! Alas, you will still have complaints about me though as there are many words in this review as well.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about said dinner. But first a bit about the restaurant which opened just about three years ago. They bill themselves as a contemporary Southern restaurant and are helmed by Justin Sutherland, a Top Chef alum who is also an alumnus of local kitchens, Meritage and the late, lamented Brasserie Zentral. Sutherland has since embarked on creating a local Southern mini-empire of his own and has a new place opening soon in Minneapolis. Handsome Hog remains, for now, at least, the center of his operations. It has received strong reviews locally and we were excited to finally go. Continue reading

Revival (St. Paul, MN)


Revival opened some years ago in Minneapolis. In a metro area devoid of much by the way of Southern cooking or barbecue it received strong reviews from the get-go. We wanted to go but between our then very young children and their no-reservations policy it never quite worked out—and then they dropped off our radar. But then friends suggested it for a pre-theater matinee lunch in St. Paul last weekend and I remembered that a year or three ago they’d opened a branch in St. Paul. (Since late last year there’s also the counter service Revival Smoked Meats at the Keg & Case complex.) Revival by the way is owned and run by Thomas Boemer and crew, who also operate Corner Table and In Bloom (the high-end anchor of Keg and Case). It’s quite the meaty mini-empire they have in the Cities. Continue reading