Kansas City BBQ Company
10863 Magnolia Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
I'm always leery of barbecue restaurants with the words "Memphis" or "Kansas City" in the name. It always seems like an overcompensation, or perhaps a distraction, as if somehow I'm going to like a lousy plate of barbecue more if they invoke the name of some famous barbecue city. (I once asked the waiter at a terrible barbecue restaurant with the word "Memphis" in the title what made it Memphis-style barbecue and he replied "I don't know. Is Memphis a place or a person?")
I had read some decent reviews about Kansas City BBQ Company, so I figured I would try it out. I much prefer Carolina-style barbecue, but Kansas City is one of my favorite cities in America and some of the restaurants are spectacular. I once had a plate of brisket and hot links at Gates BBQ that may well be the most perfectly cooked barbecue I have ever tasted.
KC BBQ Co. is in a small strip mall just east of Vineland. I walked in and there was no one there, just a couple people working. The floor was bare cement; the walls weren't much different. There was an unplugged jukebox against the wall and the tables were covered with faded, checkered tablecloths with a napkin dispenser and worn squeeze bottle of sauce on top. I loved the place. They had four beers on tap - including Alaskan Amber, one of my favorite amber beers in America - but I went with my usual iced tea.
I ordered a burnt ends sandwich with slaw. Ordering burnt ends outside of Kansas City is always a risky move. Spring Street Smokehouse - downtown on, well, Spring Street - once served me the best order I have ever had, but most places don't do a good job. This place was no different. There were two pieces of burnt end in the sandwich, but that's all. The rest of it was just shredded beef. Now, to be fair, it was very good beef. But I had expected burnt ends.
The sauce was very good, although they put too much of it on the sandwich. I prefer vinegar sauce with pork, but when it comes to beef I want something a little bit thicker. Gates' sauce is my favorite for beef (although my buddy Les keeps telling me I have to try Everett & Jones,) and this sauce is somewhat similar - neither too thick nor too thin, and full of spice but not hot.
I liked KC BBQ. It's not as good as the now-closed Swinging Door, but it's cheap and it was tasty. But it's not a place I ever seen myself going out of the way to visit again.