Dining » Restaurant Reviews

Warming up to three barbecue upstarts on the outskirts of the metro

We visit three barbecue joints on the city's outskirts.



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It says volumes that the desserts at the four-year-old Pork 'N' Pit BBQ (1803 Northeast Colbern Road, Lee's Summit, 816-525-7427) are nearly as good as the restaurant's ribs, smoked brisket, pulled pork and fried catfish.

The house-made cheesecake slices sold here (in a variety of flavors, including Key lime, strawberry swirl and chocolate peanut butter) are so good, you're well-advised to consider skipping the fries to leave room.

It's not like you're going to go hungry here. The $12.75 basket meals include one of the hickory-smoked meats, two side dishes, a slab of Texas toast and a pickle. There are the usual thick sandwiches, too, and baked potatoes stuffed with pork or brisket. The ribs here are a little fatty, but in a good way.

It's a tiny place, easy to miss as you drive Colbern Road. "If you get to Lake Jacomo," a woman who answered the phone told me, "you've passed us." The dining area is dominated by a "sauce bar" featuring the tangy, hickory-flavored house sauce, a more interesting (but not much hotter, unfortunately) habanero version, ketchup, mustard and pickled peppers.

The Pit sells more soda than beer, but there's Boulevard here, along with $1 Miller Lite cans. The restaurant stays open only until 8 p.m. and shifts into carryout-only mode at 7:30.

Ah, but you're still wondering about the Blazin' Saddles in Leavenworth. All Slabbed Up's (405 Muncie Road, Leavenworth, 913-727-5227) baked beans, loaded with big hunks of beef, are in fact outstanding — with or without corn chips.

A sign is posted above the bar in the knotty-pine-and-corrugated-steel dining room here: "Grab a cold one if you're waiting 'cause fast food ain't what we're serving here." But the kitchen at this three-year-old barbecue shack isn't slow, and the waitresses are all veterans. Much of the food is tasty, though perhaps not as much as the many awards decorating the place suggest. Blue, red, green, pink, yellow — every prize color appears represented among the dozens of ribbons tacked up near the ceiling, from competitions such as Tonganoxie Days and the North Kansas City BBQ cook-off.

The place, as its name suggests, is best-known for ribs — modestly priced full slabs, short ends and long ends — that are meaty, with a bracing peppery rub. They're a little too chewy for greatness.

Burnt ends are meant to be fatty, crunchy scraps, but the dish at All Slabbed Up consists of chopped-up cubes of tender brisket ready to be doused with one of the two sauces served here (a jarringly sweet, molasses-based concoction that's acceptable, or a spicier version, still too damned sweet but with a low-grade punch on the back end).

I like All Slabbed Up's pulled pork, which arrives in rustic, succulent chunks that haven't been mangled to the point of unsatisfying stringiness. The brisket is also very good.

The gimmick of those beans notwithstanding, the menu at All Slabbed Up is somewhat limited (ribs, brisket, pulled pork, smoked ham and turkey). I think that's as it ought to be. When I asked one of the servers what a vegetarian might eat at All Slabbed Up, she barely took a second before firing back just right: "We have fried pickles."

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