Recently I had the pleasure of passing through The Great Plains on the way out to Western Kansas for a weekend of family fun. As with any road trip, I was immediately on the lookout for a local barbecue joint to sample the regional tastes. After passing through countless miles of waving wheat, a quick jaunt through a wind farm and battling a slowly increasing aroma of cow manure, we finally returned to the likes of civilization…Great Bend, KS. Little did I know that this small town is actually home to the 2008 Grand Champions of the Jack Daniels Invitational!!!
Okay, so maybe I already knew that 4 Legs Up BBQ was located in Great Bend (a mere miles away from where we were spending the weekend). And it’s possible that I already knew they were last year’s winner of the Jack Daniel’s Invitational. And there’s even a small chance that I coerced my wife and in-laws to go there with me for the sole purpose of writing this post. Regardless, I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to sample the creations of one of the most decorated competition teams on the KCBS circuit.
Heading into the restaurant I knew exactly what I wanted to order. Out of habit I went ahead and gave the menu a quick one-over to see if anything would sway my craving, but in the end I decided to stick with my gut and order the sliced brisket sandwich with barbecue beans. My wife went with burnt ends and potato casserole, my MIL went with pulled pork and pasta salad, and my FIL bellied up for the full slab and barbecue beans. As with any good barbecue crazed family, we were determined to sample as much of the menu as possible.
We all taste tested off of each other’s plates and the unanimous favorite was the burnt end sandwich, with the sliced brisket sammy bringing home a close second. For me, the true way to test the authenticity of a barbecue joint is by sampling their burnt ends. Many times over I’ve been handed a plate of cubed brisket flat, or even chopped pork, as a feeble attempt to pass as burnt ends. At 4 Legs Up BBQ that definitely wasn’t the case. The sandwich was 100% brisket point that had been smoked to perfection. The ends weren’t overly fatty, and when topped with Kelley’s Royal Red Sauce alongside a bowl of their bbq beans, it made for a wonderfully tasty lunch.
The pulled pork came out looking more like shredded pork, but tasty none the less. My personal preference is to have bigger “chunks” of pork as opposed to smaller stringy pieces, but shredded seems to be standard in most barbecue restaurants. As with the other two sandwiches, the pork was served atop a fresh hoagie roll. I wasn’t overly crazy about the choice of bun, but who goes to a barbecue joint for bread anyways!!!
The ribs ended up being our least favorite dish of the day. Now I have to say my opinion might be slightly biased on this one as I typically prefer brisket and pork over ribs just about any day of the week. Although the ribs were tender and juicy, they just seemed to lack the satisfaction that was given from the brisket. Seeing as this is a pretty standard opinion of mine, I’ll chalk this one up to personal preference. If you’re a rib fan that’s had the pleasure of sampling 4 Legs Up BBQ, we’d love to hear your honest opinion. Feel free to chime in with a post in our comments section below.
All in all, I was very happy with our trip out to 4 Legs Up BBQ and wouldn’t hesitate to go back and sample more of their menu. But keep in mind that the food is just one part of the 4 Legs Up experience. Their restaurant is littered with hundreds of barbecue awards from around the country, and they encourage you to wander around and take a close look at each and every one of them. I couldn’t help but notice the line of hardware on display at the front counter from the recent Great American Barbecue festival. But of course their most prized award is proudly on display right outside the front door.