Kansas City Barbecue Tour: Jack Stack Barbecue
The last stop on my Kansas City Barbecue Tour was a lunch that I had been looking forward to since day one. When my family and I went to Joe’s, we were approached by a local. A friendly man named David came up to us and gave us some recommendations on what to order. Once we finished our meal, he stopped by our table and gave us a few more suggestions on where we should eat while in the Kansas City area. One of his suggestions was Jack Stack Barbecue. David praised not only the barbecue, but also Jack Stack’s desserts—specifically the carrot cake. David’s description stayed in the back of my family’s mind for the rest of the trip. So, a few hours before my flight back home, we headed over to Jack Stack’s Freight House location to indulge in Kansas City barbecue one last time.
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue originally began in 1957 as a storefront barbecue created by Russ Fiorella. Fiorella’s son Jack expanded the restaurant in the ‘70s, and now the popular local chain has five locations in Kansas and Missouri. Jack Stack is in the ranks with Arthur Bryant’s and Gates as Kansas City barbecue royalty.
Jack Stack’s Freight House location is in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, in the up-and-coming Crossroads Art District. Upon arrival, it was clear that this restaurant was very different than the others. This was the only full-service barbecue dining experience we had. This locale had more of a high-end feel, with 25-foot ceilings, exposed wood and a cozy fireplace.
We skipped appetizers and went straight to ordering our entrees. Typically, this is the part of the blog where I talk about what my parents ordered. To be honest, the memory of their food was completely eclipsed in my mind by my order—the baby back ribs.
I love ribs. I can inhale a rack of ribs then play with the leftover bones like a prehistoric toy. I’ve had many ribs in my life, but the ribs at Jack Stack were the best ribs I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, the ribs at Joe’s, that I had earlier that week, were delicious. But, after the first bite of Jack Stack’s fall-off-the-bone ribs, I was in heaven. The half slab got a slather of sauce across the top, and I honestly didn’t need anymore. I wanted to relish the mouthwatering flavors that come straight from the hickory-smoked meat.
For my side, I ordered the hickory pit beans. I’ve always enjoyed baked beans for their sweet flavor. Jack Stack’s beans are a bit smokier with shreds of brisket. Bush’s® Beans would go out of business if Jack Stack sold their beans in stores.
At David’s request, we had to get the carrot cake. David advised us to get it heated up in the restaurant. However, we were way too full to eat anymore, so we got it to go. Our server neatly packaged up our dessert and included heating instructions. The carrot cake is served with a dollop of cold icing on top. When you heat up the cake, the icing warms and envelops the moist cake. The icing was a bit too sweet for me, but I can see why this is such a heavily acclaimed dessert item.
As I reflect on all the barbecue I ate, I felt a little bummed that I can’t treat myself to classic Kansas City barbecue more often. The three local staples that I visited set my personal barbecue bar very high. I hope to return sooner than later to continue my tour and share my meals with you all.
Jack Stack Barbecue is located at 101 W 22nd St., #300 in Kansas City, Mo.