After numerous assurances that I had not tasted true BBQ until I came to Kansas, I was thrilled to make my first midwestern excursion. This trip was big for a number of reasons...
1) Meeting the boyfriend's family.
Parents, siblings, and dogs included. At the end of five days we had watched football, attended birthday parties, spent time with home videos, played Wii together...it went smashingly (or they are very polite people)
2) Spending a non-stop 5 days with the boyf.
On the one hand, automatically awesome, but c'mon--girlfriends will know that the first time you take a vacation with the boyfriend can come along with some apprehension. There's always the lingering fear that over the course of the time you'll become suddenly boring or that all the weird quirks you manage to hide in the in-between moments will suddenly come out. BUT no need for that. i guess we sometimes underestimate how great it can be to be really close to someone.
3) In Kansas, they eat meat. Due to the over-catering of the birthday feast, we ate plentyyyyy of BBQ.
First stop, Gates. Gates is one of the oldest BBQ joints in Kansas City, and best known for the KC special--burnt ends. Apparently you cut crispy ends off of beef brisket and cook those suckers a little longer until they're fatty succulent little bits of beef. Slather in all kinds of sauce creations. On a white bread bun. Done. Heaven.
For more, you can look at the npr review: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/18/147062213/at-gates-bar-b-q-the-ultimate-flavor-lies-in-burnt-ends
Next, Oklahoma Joe's for pulled pork heaven. Also, I'd rave about their Joe's sauce any day and wish I'd had the good sense to bring some back with me to Maryland where such goodness does not exist. Tack on the qaintness of finding it tucked away in a gas station, and it's just trying not hard enough to make it awesome.