Cliff was less than enthusiastic Friday as we set out for Oklahoma Joe's. The back roads were still a little "iffy" for a car that isn't front-wheel drive. The temperatures were single-digit. However, he knows that when I get one of my hare-brained ideas, he may as well go along with it.
Kansas City is famous for barbecue. Arthur Bryant's and Gates, I believe, first established the reputation. Gates used to be my barbecue joint of choice. I've eaten at Jack Stack's a couple of times. Bates City Barbecue is close to home, but their quality isn't consistent. Once the meat even tasted a little "off" to both of us, as though perhaps it was yesterday's offerings, warmed over. In recent years, we have often accompanied some of Cliff's relatives to Smokehouse Barbecue in Independence, because it seems to be their favorite. Just don't ask for baby back ribs there, because what you get is regular ribs. I guess we should speak up about this, because it happens every time. But when it's just the two of us, we don't go there anyway.
If you think we eat too much barbecue, we really don't. All these experiences are spread out over the past forty years. The thing is, if I'm only going to have barbecued ribs a couple of times a year, I want them to be perfect.
I connected on Facebook with Jessica, a former co-worker, and noticed her frequent mentions of Oklahoma Joe's. At first I ignored her ravings, because all of their locations are in Kansas and Cliff hates to drive to Kansas for any reason. Finally, though, on one of those cold winter days that make a person long for comfort foods, I wheedled Cliff into making the trip.
It was great. If you're after beans, I'd say a few other places have them beat, but I don't to to a barbecue joint for the beans or slaw. I can eat beans at home, for pete's sake. I go for the ribs. Or the Z-man sandwich. OK, let's just say I go for the meat and barbecue sauce. Yeah. That's it!
We arrived five minutes after they opened Friday, so there wasn't as long a line as usual when we arrived. By the time we were done eating, though, the line stretched back to the door.
We had the full slab of ribs and a huge order of fries, and the tab came in just under $25. Not bad for two people. Cliff would have had a Diet Coke, but they serve Pepsi there, so we both had water. That saved us a couple of bucks. And there's nobody to tip, another five bucks saved!
We prefer the original location, the one that used to be a gas station. It really isn't that far from us, I think about a forty-five-minute drive. It's well worth it: We're still talking about it, three days later. It's probably just as well that it isn't closer.