As people get to know Sarah and I they find out that though we are Memphians, we were born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri (or affectionately just “KC”). I would explain the Kansas City Missouri vs Kansas thing, but that is a topic all to itself. Almost every time I tell a fellow Memphian of our birthplace, I am asked the same question…”Who has better BBQ?” I will give you the same answer that I give to everyone else, but first I will give you a brief breakdown to the similarities and differences between the two.
One of the largest distinctions of Memphis BBQ is that it is primarily pork, although you’ll likely find brisket in most Memphis pits as well. Ribs are often dry rubbed or wet, but that just depends on your preference. The sauce is tomato based with a little tang and often a kick of heat. One thing you will not find on a KC pulled pork sandwich is coleslaw, which is a staple in Memphis. Other items I had not seen before arriving in Memphis are BBQ Nachos, which is shocking that I had not bridged that gap already, and BBQ Spaghetti, which in my opinion is a marriage that needs to be annulled.
As Memphis style is primarily pork, KC is predominately Beef, but most Joints have pork gracing their menus as well. The sauce is tomato based as well but is slightly thicker and a touch sweeter. One item on every KC menu that you seldom see in Memphis is the Burnt Ends. Once given away as samples while waiting in line, these oft discarded bits of the brisket point have achieved a delicacy status. If you enjoy brisket, these will change your life.
Kansas City and Memphis have received acclaim for their BBQ in their own rights and their respective BBQ competitions are considered to be the crown jewels of the competition circuit. I see a lot of similarities in the two styles. Having lived in two of the BBQ Capitals of the Universe, I have grown a deep love and appreciation for BBQ. I cant tell you a time that I have been unhappy eating BBQ…especially with a cold beer!
So to answer the question…I love them both! How do you compare Joe’s Burnt End Sandwich to Payne’s Chopped Pork Sandwich, or Q39 Brisket to Rendezvous Ribs. I am not trying to pander to both sides, but can you pick your favorite child? I love all BBQ! Weather it is Anchorage or Sheboygan, I can appreciate BBQ all over the map. Just don’t tell me that Texas is better than Memphis or Kansas City.