Finishing off Day 4; Osceola and KC

Headed north now to central Missouri to make a stop at Sugarfoot BBQ in Osceola. This place is a bit unique as its part of a gas station (petrol station for the Brits). We’ve arrived about 15:30 so it definitely a slow time. Only a handful of people having a late lunch.

It might be a gas station, but its clean and bright. It’s far enough away from the pumps there is no lingering smell of gasoline. None of the grease and dirt you might think of when you think gas station either.

We stopped here to check out the sides on offer as much as the meats. The horseradish coleslaw is definitely one to try. Finely chopped cabbage in a light sauce with a hint of sweetness. The horseradish adds an interesting note with a slight kick. Definitely one of the best slaws we have had. They also offer hand-cut fries which are chunky bits of skin-on baked potato that are deep fried until crunchy and then coated in a rub with a touch of sugar and heat. And their Texas toast is prepared on the griddle giving a really nice flavour.

But what you don’t want to miss from this spot are their pies. They have a wide range of them and they are amazing. We got the blackberry pie (the whole pie!) and it was definitely one of the best I’ve had in quite some time. It took me back to the days of the roadside diner.

Dean gave us a look in back and talked to us about what they do at Sugarfoot. They use a gas-fired smoker from Southern Pride that can hold about 500 lbs of meat. The gas ignites the wood and keeps the temperature steady. They use nothing but green hickory to smoke their meats giving that typical sweet yet bitter smoke taste.

They have quite an extensive menu at Sugarfoot. They offer pork spare ribs, baby back ribs, pulled pork, turkey, ham, sausage, beef brisket and burnt ends. All are available by the pound, as a meal or as a sandwich (except the ribs, of course).

They have a selection of sides that includes home cut fries, ‘Sugarfoot’ tators, smoked beans, horseradish coleslaw, potato salad, side salad and baked potato. They have a range of items for the non-barbecue lover as well. They also offer some of the lowest prices of anywhere we have been yet.

We opted for a two meat platter with beef brisket and pulled pork and sides of potato salad and ‘Sugarfoot’ tators. We just did not have the energy to tackle ribs and ham as well!

The brisket is served up sliced wafer thin. Its got a very light smoke with a good beef flavour. The pork is shredded a bit too finely, but its got an instant hit of smoke with a nice chew and a slight sweetness to the rub. Their sauce has a strong molasses base and a hint of blackberry.

And I have to say, as other reviewers have noted, make sure you get the sides as they are definitely worth it. Their tators were a great change of pace and the horseradish coleslaw is something I’m going to have to try making myself.

Overall, this was a great stop – and a chance to fill up the gas tank as well. Fueled up (us and the car), we are headed into Kansas City now to check out some of the best from my hometown.

Overall, this was a great stop – and a chance to fill up the gas tank as well. Fueled up (us and the car), we are headed into Kansas City now to check out some of the best from my hometown.

Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue

Our last stop of the day is in Kansas City – well, the KC metro area anyway.
We were headed to the highly acclaimed Harp BBQ in Raytown, but when we arrived we found they were open only on Saturday.

But no matter, this next spot is one we intended to hit on this trip anyway. We are headed to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. This is the barbecue I grew up with. My earliest memories of barbecue are of the Jumbo sandwich with brisket and ham and a side of beans — still on the menu 45 years later and still great.

The original Smokestack location, courtesy of Martin City Telegraph, 10 Oct 2019

This restaurant has come a long way from its origin on 71 Highway back in 1957. The original location opened by Russ Fiorella closed in 2006. His son, Jack, opened up the Martin City location in 1974. They now have locations in Martin City, Overland Park, Country Club Plaza and Freight House in KC and Lee’s Summit. It is the Lee’s Summit location we are headed to tonight.

Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue is not what you expect in a barbecue place – this is a what you expect from a proper restaurant. This is a place you’d be happy to take a date or even your in-laws for a great night out. They have all the trimmings of a top restaurant – great décor, good service, extensive menu and more. And despite all of that, they’ve got quite a pedigree in BBQ as well.

This is Adrian’s first taste of proper Kansas City barbecue so I hope it delivers!

After looking over the massive menu, we decide to keep it simple and stick to what we have been sampling the whole trip rather than go off piste with some of the more exotic BBQ options. We go for a two-meat platter (beef and pork), some pork ribs and some burnt ends. And of course some coleslaw and beans.

For me, nobody makes better BBQ beans. They are smoky, meaty, a bit sweet – just the best. Their coleslaw is pretty darn good too. And they have one of the best sauces in KC too.

The restaurant stumbles a bit and manages to bring our starter with the meal. They make up for it though when before we complain the cook comes over to apologise and tell us dessert is on him tonight to make up for it. The beans deliver as expected.

When the food comes out finally it does look good.

We are hungry at this point so we do dig in. There is not a lot left when we’re done. It’s not the absolute best we have eaten so far, but this is good BBQ and this is not a place you would be ashamed to take someone special who likes BBQ – but that’s everyone, right?.

The brisket was the best offering with the burnt ends coming up second. The ribs look great and for a restaurant they were very good — the meat was very tender and fell off the bone, but in the competition world that would be considered overdone so they were scored down a bit for that. And I’ve got to say again — the beans are awesome!

It’s been a long day so we are headed to mom’s and with a bit of luck, quickly to bed! (Yeah, that’s not likely!)

Next up – Kreuz Market

Lockhart, TX

While Kreuz Market goes back to the late 1800’s, the site we are visiting has only been around since 1999. Family issues led to the original Kreuz Market being renamed Smitty’s Market and Kreuz Market opening up in new separate location. (Check out the history on their site.)

This place is massive. There are two separate dining rooms, one with a stage for live music in addition to the smokehouse area and the large prep area. These guys are set up to deliver in quantity!

We got the chance to speak with Plant Manager, Jason about how it all works. He showed use all the pits they use which was great but then took us through the entire operation. We got a chance to see it all from incoming meat to prep and marinating to sausage making, pre-cook phases, storage and shipping.

It is quite the operation they have going — but they need it to keep up with the volume providing sausage to restaurants throughout the USA and with direct sales to consumers across the country as well.

Kreuz uses indirect heat wood-fired steel-lined brick pits for most of their cooking. Their sausage is cooked separately in a large vertical cabinet smoker with an external firebox and oscillating air system. They use simple salt, pepper and cayenne rubs on all their meats (and in their sausage). Briskets are rubbed and allowed to marinate a full 24 hours before being put in the pit. They cook much of the meat to about 60% before pulling it to set and put it back in the pit in the morning to finish it off — they don’t run a night shift here.

They cook with only Post Oak which they season on-site for a minimum of one year before they use to allow it to mellow. Their wood pile is quite a sight to see! It’s pretty much the size of a football pitch.

After our tour we settle in to sample the barbecue on offer. They have a different menu than we have seen so far. They have the expected beef brisket and pork ribs, but from there the menu makes a big change. They offer beef shoulder, boneless beef prime rib, pork chops, turkey and ham — and of course, sausage. No pulled pork to be found here.

They don’t bother with sandwich offerings. You just order the type and quantity of meat you want and they serve it up with bread and a wide range of sides. They pull the meat straight from the pit and chop it up on 100-year old round butcher blocks while you watch.

We decided on beef brisket, beef shoulder, prime rib, ham and sausage. Like most places in Texas, there are no plates, just sheets of butcher paper. It is all served up with thick slices of ButterKrust bread. Sauces are strictly optional.

So you move from the pit area into the dining area and select your sides. It’s a big decision — green bean, sauerkraut, creamed corn, mac ‘n cheese, pit beans, potato salad — the list goes on. Then its pickles – four kinds – and jalapenos. We’ve kept it simple and gone for creamed corn and potato salad.

You look around the dining room and you see a broad mix of people. From obvious salesmen in suits to families with lots of kids to young couples and individuals – all brought together by good food and a great experience. Though opening in 1999, you would think you were in 1930’s Texas. Basic tables, simple country design and friendly staff. It’s what you want from a barbecue joint. There are no fancy table cloths, pretty menus or pretentious decorations here.

We settle in to try out the food. The brisket is trimmed as its served so the meat is very lean; none of the fatty portion we got at Smitty’s. There is not much smoke ring (nor smoke taste). Due to the trimming there is also not really any bark so the seasoning is quite mild. It is nicely beefy but a bit on the dry and tough side.

The beef shoulder tastes like a nice Sunday roast. There is not really any smoke flavour at all. The prime rib doesn’t really delivery either. The sausage are the best items here. Both varieties have a nice snap and good flavour.

We have to hit the road now to get to Dallas for our next stop where we are meeting up with an old friend and work colleague.

Our thanks go out to Jason and all the staff at Kreuz Market who were amazingly friendly and made our visit a truly memorable one.!

BBQ Discovery – Day One

Our road trip of BBQ Discovery kicked off with Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, TX. We arrived at about 06:45 to join the queue. We were number 24 in the queue–people had begun arriving from 05:30!

Franklin BBQ, Austin, TX

We were expecting mild Texas weather but instead found it to be only 34° F (1°C)! We were not quite ready for that. We had only light coats and empty coffee cups to start. Just after 07:00 they opened up the taco truck and we were able to get some hot coffee. At 07:30 they distributed chairs to people and we could finally sit down — the prepared one’s had chairs and blankets.

Continue reading “BBQ Discovery – Day One”

BBQ Discovery

Adrian and I are off to the USA for a road trip to discovery some the best barbeque that the USA has to offer. This is all in anticipation of our participation in the KCBS competition, Brew-n-Q, in May in Coalville, UK.

We’re taking a 6-day road trip through Texas, Arkansas and Missouri to sample some of the top award winning BBQ joints. We’ll be starting in Austin, TX – home to some of the best brisket around. You can pretty much throw a rock and hit a BBQ joint in Austin. From Austin we’ll head to Lockhart, TX then to Taylor and Dallas. From there we’ll head to Hot Spring and Littlerock, Arkansas and then up through Missouri via Springfield, Branson, Osceola and finally into Kansas City.

Our goal is to sample the best barbecue has to offer from some of the top BBQ spots in the heart of America. We’ll try out different styles of ‘Q and hopefully learn a bit from some of the masters. We will be keeping careful notes at each place we go using our “Tasting Note’s” pages put together by my wife, Angela.

We’ll also be scoring the food at each location in the same manner as KCBS competition. For those that have not been a part of barbecue competitions, there are some very strict rules and specific judging methods.

In competition, you are graded against three category: Appearance, Taste, Texture/Tenderness. Each category has a multiplier applied with taste being most important (57%, 2.2972), tenderness/texture next (28.6%, 1.1428) and appearance last (14.4%, 0.5600). You are scored 1 to 9 points for each category and then the multiplier is applied to get a final score.

Scoring lines out like this:

9 – Excellent6 – Average3 – Bad
8 – Very Good5 – Below Average2 – Inedible
7 – Above Average4 – Poor1 – Disqualified

So you apply the multiplier to each score and then add them up. Let’s say your brisket scores 9 for appearance, a 9 taste, and an 8 for tenderness. Use the multipliers and add this up and you get a score of 35.44/36.00. There are always six judges and the lowest score is thrown out giving a maximum of 180 points (36*5). Complicated isn’t it!

You can see the full KCBS rules here: KCBS 2019 Official Rules and Regulations


This is all about how the meat looks. Are the slices cleanly cut? Are the ribs even? Is the pulled pork in nice chunks or shredded until its mush? And the meat should be what shines – not the sauce. In short, it needs to look appetising.


This is the most important element of the judging. This is all about the flavour of the meat and the way it is seasoned. Surprisingly, great barbecue in a restaurant does not often earn a great score. That’s because the judges are looking for the exceptional and so something a bit different. This is the biggest element of the score though so you have to get this right.


This is the second most important element. And again it isn’t easy. Tenderness for brisket is different than for ribs. With ribs, they are looking for the meat to have enough texture to bite through without falling off the bone — most of us are looking for ribs that do fall off the bone when we go to a restaurant. And brisket should pull apart easily, but not crumble. Pulled pork needs to have a bite, not be soft or mushy.

Getting all of these perfect on any given day is the challenge! One or two is not so tough, but all three can be far more difficult.

So we are going to see how some of the best BBQ joints in America measure up and see what we can learn from it all — while trying to still make it home fitting into the clothes we take with us; I think that is going to be the biggest challenge of all!