As far as I know, I am the current record holder for waiting the longest in line at Harp Barbecue.
On Father’s Day weekend, I figured I’d show up just a little before noon, as the first wave was walking away with their half-pounds of thick-cut, black-barked brisket. By about 2 pm, things were looking dicey. Three groups right in front of me gave up and left. I stuck it out and ended up with a chopped brisket sandwich made from the last bits of the trimmings.
When someone waits in line for three hours for lunch, I’ve learned to be a little skeptical of their assessment–including my own. But that sandwich was truly sublime. You can read more about Harp in our biennial best barbecue list, but I share this story to give you a little insight into the process. I’ve gotten to know Tyler Harp by covering him over the past two years, but when judgment day comes, my colleagues and I wait in line and pay for our food, just like anyone else.
When I started editing this magazine in early 2019, I knew barbecue coverage was something that we were going to take seriously. Far too often, I see lists that are published by people who clearly haven’t done the work of tracking new spots, revisiting old ones and chatting up the pitmasters. We do that every month, with a page dedicated to barbecue in our food section.
Every two years, we go a little crazy for a couple of months. I also work hard to keep on top of the national standards. Over the summer, I drove from Houston to Fort Worth over the summer, stopping by spots like Snow’s and Goldee’s. So I can tell you Harp’s Texas-style brisket isn’t just good for Kansas City; it’s better than Snow’s, the reigning champ of the Texas Monthly list.
This issue also features another project I’ve been meaning to tackle for a couple of years, and that’s an updated guide on where to see live jazz in Kansas City. Just like every issue has barbecue coverage from our ’Cue Card, every issue now has a jazz story on the Backbeat page of our events section. This month, jazz writer Nina Cherry went big with a list I hope to see us update every couple of years.
Going big on our coverage of barbecue and jazz is, as I see it, one of those things we have to do if we want to fulfill the mission of this magazine, which is to celebrate the things that make this city special.
It’s my sincere hope that this issue will be useful to you this month and not win a spot on the nightstand in your guest room.