Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kansas City Again

After just being there two weeks before, I made the drive north for a second visit to Kansas City last weekend. The reason for this trip was to go to a soccer game at the brand-new Livestrong Sporting Park. And also, hopefully, to get in a bit more sightseeing and eat a lot of BBQ.

I headed up there with my friend Dave, an old friend from college who introduced me to FC Dallas (and is partially responsible for my sad and fanatic love of the team). We left Little Rock around noon, taking the scenic drive up Hwy. 65 through the Ozarks. It was a long drive – over seven hours spent in the car. But we got into town and immediately headed to the home of my cousin, who lives in Kansas City.

We then tried to find a place to get dinner, and of course we wanted to get BBQ. We decided to visit Arthur Bryant's, one of the most well-known BBQ places in KC. I ordered ribs, and have to say, I wasn't all that impressed. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Whole Hog in Little Rock, but the ribs were underwhelming and disappointing. The potato salad at Arthur Bryant's was good, but not as yummy as Whole Hog's either.

But the next day, we headed out to explore Kansas City. Our first stop was the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This is a very large and impressive art museum. There is a ton of stuff there to see, and I was impressed with the ancient works there, like sculptures from Greece that are centuries old. Or the many pieces from ancient Egypt. The only problem is that we didn't have much time to fully explore the place. So we missed some of the galleries and didn't read all the info about all the paintings and stuff. It's a lot to take in, especially when you're in a hurry. But it's free to get in.

And they did have a photography exhibit there. They didn't have all that much on display, and it was shunted off to the side. But I was happy to see photography there, nonetheless. And if the museum wanted to expand their offerings, I would be more than happy to sell a few prints....

From the museum, we drove into downtown and stopped by the Power and Light District. So now the decision was where to stop and get a late lunch. There was an Irish pub called the Dubliner, which of course piqued my interest. So we went in and were sent to a table and handed the menu. Which was small, offering a token burger, chicken fingers and fish and chips (among a few other options, but it wasn't impressive). I would have settled for the burger, but when no one bothered to take our drink order after 10 minutes we gave up. We walked out and went to find another place to eat...

It was a Sunday afternoon, so not many places were open. After almost going to eat at the Genghis Grill there (which is a great place, but we have one in Little Rock), we headed to a place called Gordon Biersch. I ate there during my previous visit a few weeks back, and it was great (if a bit pricey). But the waitress was quick to take our order, and the meal was delicious (as was the microbrew beer).

This is the view of downtown Kansas City, from the walk back to the car:

After that, we drove across the border into Kansas and made our way to Livestrong Sporting Park, the home of Kansas City's soccer team. Now the FC Dallas stadium in Texas will always be my first love, but I have to admit that the stadium in Kansas City is nice. Not just nice, but awesome. Actually annoyingly awesome.

I have made a few trips up to Kansas City before for soccer games, back when the team played in a minor-league baseball stadium. The location was temporarily, so that the team could eventually move into their new stadium. As an outside observer, the new stadium is light-years ahead of the old place in terms of quality. It isn't easy to squeeze a soccer pitch onto a baseball outfield. This was the view of one of the games I visited back in the olden days:
Community America Ballpark

Compare that to the view we had last weekend:
Which was much, much better.

After getting to the stadium, we made our way to our seats. We decided to splurge and get some seats near the center of the pitch. The downside was that we would be two lonely FC Dallas fans lurking in the middle of a bunch of Kansas City supporters. I wondered if we would encounter any hooligans out there...

But actually the people sitting around us were nice. Although they did start out heckling us with some Texas insults (which didn't faze me). We probably weren't too popular after FC Dallas scored the first goal of the game. Which, I admit, surprised me. Going into the game, I predicted that my beloved FC Dallas would lose the game 2-0. The team was missing too many of its best players to injury or national team call-ups (David Ferriera, Brek Shea, Fabian Castillo). And Kansas City is a good team.

After briefly chastising us for celebrating during the Dallas goal, the KC supporters began chit-chatting with us. They asked us about our visit to Kansas City, and actually asked if we had gotten any good BBQ up there. They didn't ask us what we thought about the food (mostly because Kansas City scored a goal a few seconds later). But I was glad that they didn't, since I didn't want to admit that I found the BBQ there underwhelming. I'm sure I could get away with badmouthing their soccer team, but insulting their BBQ would definitely get me beaten up.

After the game (which resulted in a Dallas loss, so I don't care to mention it anymore), we went to one of the best features of Livestrong Sporting Park – the bar located in the stadium that is devoted to soccer supporters. I did appreciate the comments from my fellow MLS fans there, who all wished us a safe drive back home.

The next morning, I woke up with a hangover at 8:00 am. It didn't help that I was to spend the next 7 hours driving back to Arkansas. It was a fun trip, even if my favorite team lost...


Anonymous said...

I lived in KC for ten years before recently mooving to Little Rock. I have to say that I found their BBQ to be highly overrated. A lot of it is just downright bad...

That said, if you get back up there, as your buddy to take you to Oklahoma Joes. Make sure he takes you to the original one up on 47th and Mission. It's a BBQ place in a gas station, and I think it's the best in KC. Also, they have probably the best onion rings I have ever had, bar none.

Cormackphotos said...

Thanks - I've heard that Oklahoma Joes is good, will definitely try it out next time!