brisket, Gates

Gates Bar-B-Q on 103rd and State Line in Leawood, KS

Gates brisket sandwich and fries

I’m back!  After a bout with bronchitis the quest continues!  Today I visited Gates Bar-B-Q off 103rd and State Line in Leawood, KS.  Gates has six Kansas City locations and I’m well aware that there is a debate among some people that certain locations are better than others.  I haven’t been to all of them, but I have been to a few and I believe the food is pretty much the same at each location.

According to their website, Gates began in 1946 as “Gates Ol’ Kentucky” at 19th and Vine in Kansas City.  They do have a very interesting history and I encourage you to read up on it on their site.

I arrived around 1:30 on Sunday afternoon.  When I opened the car door, the smell of barbecue and the smoker engulfed me.  I just love that.  The restaurant was still fairly busy at this time because of what appeared to be the “post-church service” crowd.  I walked in the door and was instantly greeted with their trademark “Hi, may I help you?”  I ordered a beef brisket sandwich on bun with fries.  There were about five people in line in front of me and there was a younger couple at the register getting ready to pay.  All of a sudden, the young man dropped to the floor, fainting.  The employee behind the counter asked if they should call 911 and the young lady said that they should.  There were a handful of us providing assistance and I grabbed my phone to dial 911 but before I could dial he  woke up and jumped off the floor, signed his ticket to pay, grabbed his food and walked out the door.  The rest of in line looked at each other in stunned disbelief at what just happened.  I’ve never quite seen anything like that before.  He was out for about 15 seconds and the young lady he was with woke him up and everything seemed fine.  Really strange.  Glad he appeared just fine though.

With the small incident happening, I received my food about 10 minutes after ordering.  For those that have never been to Gates, you order at the counter and you pay for your food right there and they serve you right there at the counter.  The total bill for my sandwich and fries was around nine dollars.

I found a seat in the dining area after getting my drink and barbecue sauces at the self serve drink and barbecue sauce stations.  I bit into the sandwich and instantly recognized the meat was pretty fatty and chewy.  They serve the sandwich with their “classic” sauce on it.  The brisket was thinly sliced and warm and tender, however I couldn’t tell if the meat was flavorful or not because of the sauce.  I also couldn’t tell if there was a rub on it.  There were a couple of large chunks of fat on the sandwich, so they obviously don’t trim the fat much.  At least they didn’t today.  The bun is what I would call a classic hamburger or barbecue bun.

The fries are thick cut slices.  I sampled their three sauces with my fries.  They offer their “Classic” sauce, a “Sweet & Mild” sauce and an “Extra Hot” sauce.  The “Sweet & Mild” sauce is pretty sweet with a ketchupy (is that a word?) aftertaste.  So much so that I looked up the ingredients online and realized that they use an extraordinary amount of ketchup in their sauces.  The “Classic” sauce is obviously not as sweet as the sweet sauce, but it does have a bit of sweetness to it.  The recipe online states that they use apple cider vinegar as a key ingredient and I would concur that you can taste that when eating the sauce.  The “Extra Hot” sauce obviously has a bit of a kick to it, however, with a name like “Extra Hot” I was expecting it to have a much bigger kick to it than it did.  It’s still a really good sauce if you like that extra kick in your barbecue sauce.

I’ve been to Gates many times before and have never had a bad experience or bad food.  It’s not my favorite barbecue place, but the sheer longevity of the restaurant and the multiple locations proves that they know how to do barbecue and have a following. I just wish the sandwich was less fatty and was served without sauce on it.  I’d say it’s an average brisket sandwich compared to other places I’ve visited thus far.

With this visit, it marks number 35 of 70 barbecue restaurants on my list, which means I’m halfway there!  This is a big milestone for me.  I’m looking forward to the next 35!  Follow along on my Facebook page.  Till next time….