Feb 082008

Oh man, this place is pretty damn good. I was really, really, really surprised because from the road it looks like pure suburban douchebaggery.

It’s in a pretty nondescript strip mall on Quivira south of Shawnee Mission parkway. Now, whenever I see BBQ in the KC area, I go. And to be frank, I had not heard of Bates City BBQ before, though i think there is a Bates City, Missouri out east of here somewhere.

This place has tremendous character. Yes, they try kinda hard, but they succeed. The first thing I noticed driving up was a sign advertising gennesee beer. You just don;t see Genny in these parts, and it was a legendary quaff among me and my associates in college. Of course, so were a dozen other cheap ass beers. Anyhow, the sign was cool, and the outside of the restaurant featured enormous stacks of wood piled high next to the entrance. I knew that they were doing some serious smoking in this place.

Inside, the service counter was basically a testament to the homespun wisdom of some guy named Tom. Probably the owner of the establishment. Anyhow, the walls and columns around the counter line are riddled with sayings written on torn pieces of brown paper bag. There were so many it’s hard to remember, but here are a couple:

“If at first you don’t succeed,
You’re average” — Tom

Bates City BBQ
“Remember that half the people you know are below average” –Tom

I recall these particular sayings because I was enamored with Tom’s obsession with putting people in their place. Tom is saying ‘get over it people, you’re not so great, you’re just friggin’ average! Deal with it!’ This resonates with me because it’s one of the unofficial themes of my life. Not that I’m average, just every one else is.

Anyway, I got a real kick out of these sayings although many of them flirted with redneckery (“The smartest thing a man ever said: ‘Yes Dear'”). The places just oozes with a sense of humor. The styrofoam cups picture a steer and a pig, arm-in-arm around a fire, smiling like sonabitches.

The places smells delicious and is quite affordable. I purchased a nice sized sandwich, fries and soft srink for 7 bucks and change. The beef was very well flavored, featuring a mighty impressive smoke ring. I could have done without the sesame roll it came on. Where’s the white bread, Tom? They are very liberal with the sauce on the sandwich, so be sure to ask for it dry if that’s the way you roll.

Pulled pork

Shawnee Southern sandwich

The fries were short little crunchy nuggets, kind of like the ass-end of the fryolator. But they were surprisingly delicious and I think this is deliberate. They are a pain to eat w/o a fork though.

Bates City

The sauce was pretty solid. Typical KC stuff here: sweet, thick, tangy, well-flavored. Not in the pantheon of sauces, but very pleasant. The place really advertises its ribs a lot, they must be a favorite. The guy next to me in line got them, and they looked a little overcooked, and again, definitely oversauced. Contrary to popular belief, rib meat should not fall off the bone. That usually means it was finished in tin foil or (*shudder*) par-boiled before smoking. But I’ll reserve ultimate judgment until I actually eat the damn things. And I will, because I’ll be back.

The clientele is kind of what you’d expect for a Shawnee, Kansas BBQ joint. I think my nondescript Toyota was having serious inadequacy issues parked in between two cocktacular pickup trucks the size of humpbacked whales. There were no women to be found in the place, just middle aged guys with mustaches. Let’s just say that Bates City is not a place where I’m inclined to talk politics.

Read more:
Bates City Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon


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  8 Responses to “Bates City BBQ: 6493 Quivira Rd (Shawnee, KS)”

  1. Well, huh. I’ve seen this place and thought it was a shitty hole in the wall, as you mention. Looks like I’ll have to bust out my so very non-cocktacular Jetta and stop on in. I’ll let you know a gal’s perspective. :-)

  2. Yes, please do. As I mentioned, a gal’s perspective is sorely needed. And honestly I’m not all that reliable.

  3. Just discovered your blog. I was surprised to find out that this post was about a new restaurant in JoCo because I grew up on the original Bates City BBQ as a kid (out in Bates City). I had forgotten all about that and haven’t had their fare in about 25 years so I’ll have to head back out and give it another try.

  4. Like Scott, I had only been to the one in Bates City but just found out today that there is one out here where I live. I looooove this place! I’ve been looking for reviews to convince my fiance to go there with me lol. I think your very wide (yet hilarious) range of vocabulary and the amazing reviews from others have convinced him to take me there on Saturday. I will definitely be checking back here often. You are too funny! lol

  5. Had lunch here today. It was good, but I think I need at least another visit to decide if I really like it. I’m a smoked turkey fiend, so I had a turkey sandwich and fries. A friend of mine had the beef. As is the case w/ any new bbq, we exchanged a fork full of meat so we could each get a test drive of the other’s smoked grub. I was surprised at how thin both the turkey and beef are sliced. So thin, that you really couldn’t taste the meat, just the smoke. I thought the portion was a little light for The Big Sandwich (at least compared to the jumbo at OK Joe’s or the turkey and a half at Gate’s). Ribs are a Sunday on the couch watching football food, and not (personally) ideal for lunch on a work day. I’d like to give them a try some day… but w/ an everyday price of $10.99 a slab, could the low price be an indicator of lesser ribs? I didn’t really get the fries either. I like the shoe string approach, but they are an odd mix of well done and not so well done, that I can see a first timer being disappointed or at least underwhelmed. Anyway, I look forward to going back next time I’m in the area. I don’t think things will change much, but I might have a better appreciation the second time around. thanks!

  6. PV as usual you are very diplomatic. No this isn’t as good as OK Joes or perhaps even Gates but it certainly beats the pants off Zarda’s, Wyandot, and other BBQ out in this neck of the woods. Mostly I love the charm and wit of Bates City. I agree on the thinness of the meat, particularly with the beef. I really like the fries though, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. Give it another try, the pulled pork is a great special.

  7. They are obviously doing something right. In a city where BBQ joints are a dime a dozen, it’s tough to get your foot in the door and even tougher to last more than a year to 18 months. So, these guys certainly deserve a visit or two. Did anyone else notice the old school Joe Montana Coors posters? Total blast from the past! Like I said, not sure they are my cup of tea, but will be heading back soon! Other than religion and politics, is there anything more subjective than food?

  8. Went back yesterday and had the short end rib lunch. Ribs were tasty, but kind of fatty. Thought they could have used a few more hours on the smoker. Having said that, they were mighty tender. They came off the bone clean w/ just a little pull. Might have to take them up on their $10.99 slab special!