By Jon Parton
Any time a politician or celebrity visits Kansas City, it seems like they go to a barbecue joint. Unfortunately for them, they usually limit themselves to Arthur Bryant’s, Gates or more recently Oklahoma Joe’s. None of those places are bad, but there is so much more to Kansas City barbecue.
Rosedale Barbecue, located at 600 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan., is as much a local tradition as it is a hole in the wall.
The neighborhood around Rosedale is a mixture of commercial and industrial, a reminder of Kansas City’s early days as a cattle town. The restaurant itself wasn’t much to look at.
The walls were decorated with an array of old newspaper clippings and other memorabilia. A couple of TVs hung on opposite ends of the restaurant, tuned into ESPN. There was no pretentious atmosphere to be found, just a simple place where you could get a meal.
My dining companion and I arrived just after the lunch hour. Only one waitress was working behind the bar, but she was quick and happy to take our order. In addition to our food, we ordered the standard Coke and Diet Coke.
“We have RC Cola and Diet Rite. Is that OK?” she asked.
RC? Diet Rite? Did we accidentally travel back in time? Could they not afford to stock Coke or Pepsi products? Rather than give myself an aneurysm thinking about it, I took my bottle of Diet Rite and shut the hell up.
I ordered the three slider plate: a combination of fries with beef, ham, and pulled pork slider sandwiches. My dining companion ordered the burnt ends with a side of corn nuggets. Between the two of us, our meals cost less than $20.
The first thing I noticed about the sliders was the size of them. Sliders are supposed to be small sandwiches that can be eaten in 2 or 3 bites. These monstrosities were piled high with meat and really could be compared to half sandwiches. The beef was the weakest of the trio, but still pretty decent. The meat was tender but rather flavorless.
On the other hand, the ham was a work of art. Good ham has a salty taste that doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat. This, my friends, was good ham.
The pulled pork was my favorite of the bunch. You could tell it was smoked just right because it required very little effort to pull the meat apart.
An important aspect of any barbecue place is the sauce. Some places throw together water and tomatoes and call it good. A lot of places tend to make their sauces overly sweet. Rather than an actual sauce, they make meat frosting.
That isn’t the case at Rosedale. Their sauce has a peppery kick to it while still maintaining the appropriate thickness of a sauce.
The fries were OK, but nothing special. They were crisp, crinkle-cut potatoes made better by dipping them in barbecue sauce. I then managed to sneak a couple of bites of the corn nuggets. My new goal in life is to learn how to make corn nuggets. Imagine deep fried creamed corn surrounded by crispy batter. The gods of high cholesterol smiled upon us that day.
As Kansas City residents, we are very fortunate to have a wide variety of barbecue restaurants. I recommend giving Rosedale a try. It doesn’t look like much from the inside, but you’ll be too happy to care.
Contact Jon Parton, managing editor, at