Kansas City: The Big League Debut and BBQ!

I had just gotten back to Pawtucket from a week at home in Denver and I was anxiously waiting for Ryan to come out of the clubhouse after the game. Too much time had passed and I knew something unusual was going on. Finally, he came out to say that he’d gotten some interesting news. A few big league players were injured and he was flying out to Kansas City tomorrow, possibly playing his first game in the major leagues. We were stunned, excited, and so nervous that we barely spoke the entire night. He was activated and officially on the roster the next morning. It took a lot of scrambling, unpacking and repacking, but less than 24 hours later I was off to Kansas City for Ryan’s major league debut!

The weekend was packed with family, friends, and a lot of celebrating for such a momentous occasion. After our first game in Kansas City Ryan’s agent took the whole gang to Capital Grille for a lavish dinner. What started with a champagne toast turned into seafood platters, salads, steaks, and of course Ryan’s favorite- the lobster mac and cheese. Decadence was an understatement; the food was incredible and worthy of any celebration.

Once we were settled in Kansas City for the weekend, as per usual, I was off to explore great eats in the city. I’d driven through a few times and knew we were on the hunt for barbeque. Ryan’s friends had heard from a concierge that Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ was worth trying. From the moment we walked in, I knew this wasn’t my type of place. A little too fancy for barbeque and a little too polished. If I’m eating barbeque, I want sauce all over my face and I want it to be perfectly acceptable to stuff myself silly. The food was fine, but I was on a mission for something that felt more authentic.

The next day I mentioned going to Gates Bar-B-Q, a well-known “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that makes first rate barbeque sauce. Don’t let locals confuse you; they call sauce “salsa” here in the Mid West. We hopped in a cab and I immediately got into an argument with our cab driver because he insisted we shouldn’t go to Gates. In fact, he refused to drive us there. Instead, we made a u-turn and were on our way to Oklahoma Joe’s Barbeque instead. My stubborn self didn’t take well to defeat, but my senses perked up when we saw a gas station with a line clear around the corner. Two hours of waiting later we sat down for some down right delicious food. The baby back ribs were the best I’ve ever had, and a must if you go there. They are thick, juicy, and the meat falls off the bone. The coleslaw and baked beans were also terrific. We split a pulled pork sandwich, which was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. The brisket looked drool-worthy and I would order that or the burnt ends it if I get a chance to go again. Get there early in the day; it’s worth the wait.

The moral of this food story is to always keep an open mind in choosing your eating destination. If a local has an opinion, especially a strong one, there may be good reason. Cabbies tend to know where locals eat; concierges sometimes recommend where tourists eat. Don’t ever pass up a line that starts forming in the morning for lunch food. You know you’ve found a winner. I probably should mention that we all got to see Ryan’s first major league hit! It was a big story on ESPN that weekend. We got to see his second, and third as well. With an amazing weekend performance by my love and successful extreme eating by his biggest fans, we got a sweet taste of life in the big leagues.

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