Moving to Kansas City was a tough decision for Kristi and I, but has proven to be a great one. We love being close to her family, owning a beautiful home, and most of all, the ability to give our son Bryce a great place to grow up. That being said, there is still a lot that we miss about living in California - most of which is our friends. So, you can understand why we were so excited to have our friend and good chef, Gabe Pulido, come to visit us.
As much as Kristi will fight this... Gabe Is my friend. Kristi will say she was his roommate and that she is a sister to Gabe. All of which is true, but there is something different about a bond bros have. I don't mean Bros as in brothers, but bros as in the term often used in SoCal to describe your ride or die best friend that you would do anything for. Gabe has worn a lot of hats in our years of friendship. He was originally the guy I could not stand at work, but had to deal with because we shared a desk. His confidence vs my own confidence was a 7.0 earthquake waiting to happen. But eventually, he became my daily carpool buddy and then my tailgate companion, travel buddy, wing man, therapist, manager, bar fight savior (long story but a good one if you want to give me a call), roommate, best man and absolutely always my level ground. It seems that no matter what is going on, Gabe will be there to level me out.
Since moving, Gabe has come out once a year to visit. It started with Gabe wanting to see his Raiders play at Arrowhead. That game was under 10 degrees and all three of us watched the whole game. It did require hand warmers all over and a lot of jumping and yelling just to stay warm. We always base the trip around a sporting event and food, but this time we have no agenda. So here lies my problem. He has already been to all the best BBQ spots we have out here, and incase you are wondering the best is Kansas City Joe's. Last time he was here he packed some Joe's for his family when he got back home in Whittier.
Our first stop this trip was to a spot I have wanted to try since I first saw it on a drive to Strawberry Hill a neighborhood in Kansas City Kansas. Slap's BBQ @slapsbbq is located in an up and coming neighborhood that has some great views over the West Bottoms of Kansas City to reveal an amazing view of the downtown skyline. Upon arriving at Slap's you order at the front. Being a SoCal man these BBQ places always seem to confuse me on what to order. In this case the menu was actually really easy to read and my mouth was watering at the smell and upon reading the menu. I ended up with The Cattleman which was a great way to sample a lot of items on a first visit.
I would say the sausage, and the baked potato casarole were my favorite items. I honestly think I could eat a bucket of the casarole in one sitting. I have to say that the brisket is take it or leave it. On the other hand the burnt ends were savory, textured well, and had a ton of flavor. To my friends back home in SoCal, when you come visit this is a must try.
The next food stop was Lazia which is located in the new Crossroads Hotel in Downtown KC. This is the kind of place that you go to for the experience. The food will come out displayed like a piece of art. They have a great wine list, amazing decor, and a lively feeling. I am not sure if we just got lucky or if all of their waiting staff is simply amazing. Our entire meal was enjoyable and she even sat down and gave us a great bar suggestion to go to after our meal. She did make us promise not to tell all of our friends about this hidden bar, and I will make sure to keep that promise. What I can say is the bar was very much hidden in plain site. The first thing you will see once you walk in is a bon fire with a ton of people packed into a small area. There are two separate bars to order from, and there was not a big line at either one. If the main area is too busy for you then you can walk up a spiral staircase to a solitary room made out of a trains storage container. If you are one of my friends who can keep a secret and you catch me on a good night I just might show you this magical bar some day.
Our next dinner we decided to try Gate's BBQ located in downtown KC. This place is one of the BBQ spots everyone tells you that you have to try as soon as you get off the plane at Kansas City International Airport. Again, you walk in and order at the front and then take your food to find your own table. Everyone seemed to be ordering a slab or two of ribs, but again I wanted to get a good sample plate. So I ordered a mixed combo plate. There were ribs, brisket and ham in the plate along with french fries. I added a side of potato salad and bbq beans. The favorites were by far the ham and the bbq beans and I will be the first to tell you I did not order enough of these two. I am sure I will be back to Gate's soon, but not as quick as I will be back to Slap's. I am still thinking of that baked potato casarole right now and my mouth is watering.
On the way there we were talking about one of Gabe's friends who is a well known mural artist. Madman has done work all over the world, and seems to be in high demand. He specializes in superhero murals and amazing color combinations. Here in Kansas City we are lucky enough to have 3 of his murals, and after seeing them all I truly hope we are able to get some more.
Now I challenge all of you in KC to find these three murals and get back to me with a selfie in front of each one. There is a prize for whoever finds all three first.
The couple of days that Gabe was here just does not seem like it was long enough. We ate great food, drank just the right amount and had a lot of time to talk about life. Now he is headed back to LA to fulfill his dreams of becoming LA's greatest chef. In my opinion he is not far off. He will always be the most welcomed Raider's Fan in KC and Kristi and I can not wait to see him again next year.