Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bandana's Bar-B-Q (St. Joseph, MO)

This is the second in a series of posts on my last meals in the Kansas City area.  To start from the beginning of the series, click here.

Saint Joseph is a small city (pop. 76,780) about an hour north of Kansas City.  As far as I'm aware, St. Joe has three main claims to fame: 1) It was one of the two points of origin of the Pony Express, a mail delivery service that operated between 1860 and 1861 that connected St. Joe and Sacramento, CA; 2) Jesse James was killed there in 1883; 3) It is the current training camp of the Kansas City Chiefs.  A couple shots of a pretty part of St. Joe, by the Missouri River:

St.Joseph Riverwalk,
by the Missouri River

Missouri River at Dusk

OK, back to the topic at hand: Food.  Being a not-so-Metropolitan area in the Midwest, St. Joe does not exactly have the culinary diversity that one would expect in a larger city.  While it does have a handful of independently-owned, mom-and-pop restaurant (mostly of the meat-and-potato variety), St. Joe is mostly dominated by chains.  That's not to say I have a problem with chains, however, if they serve a good product.  In fact, one of the restaurants I enjoy visiting in St. Joe is Bandana's Bar-B-Q, which has franchise locations across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.  The one thing that has kept me coming back is their sauces, particularly the Sweet & Smoky sauce:

Barbeque sauces at Bandana's St Joseph
Bandana's sauces: Sweet & Smoky, Spicy, Chicaco Sweet, KC Style, and Original.

The Sweet & Smoky sauce is a St. Louis-style sauce that's basically a blend of the sweetness and tanginess of the Kansas City-style, the spiciness of the Texas-style, and the mustardy goodness of the Southeastern-style.  Some of the main ingredients in Bandana's Sweet & Smoky sauce are brown sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, mustard, and smoke flavor.

I usually get the combo platter at Bandana's with two meats, two sides, and two slices of garlic bread.  For my meats I usually get chicken (dark meat) and ribs, though this time around I went for the beef instead of the ribs.  I should have gotten the ribs after all as the ribs are far superior to the beef, in my humble opinion, but the chicken was excellent as ever.  In any case, they smoke all their chicken, beef, ribs, and pork in a pit of hardwood for several hours, which gives the meat a smoky flavor but it's not too overwhelming.

Combo Platter at Bandana's St Joseph
Combo Platter with Chicken and Beef

For one of the sides I always upgrade to the fried corn on the cob, served with dripping butter.  It's bad, I know, but you don't exactly go to a BBQ restaurant expecting to eat healthy. ;)  I'd have to say though, that the corn used to be better but lately they've been overcooking it.  For the other side item, I got the BBQ beans.

I claim no expertise on BBQ, and I certainly acknowledge that much of it depends on what style of BBQ and how much smokiness one prefers.  I would also admit that Bandana's isn't perfect in every way, but I do prefer it over some of the other popular BBQ chains such as Gates in Kansas City or the much larger Famous Dave's.  Luckily, it is possible to order Bandana's sauces via their website, so at least there is always an option for a taste of Bandana's at home.

Restaurant info:
Bandana's Bar-B-Q
4225 Frederick
St. Joseph, MO 64506
(816) 671-1166

Bandana's on Urbanspoon