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°F325 BBQ: Quality Meats, Passion and Creativity Celebrate Barbecue!

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When it comes to barbecue, everyone has a favorite, and people are definitely picky about their sauce! Some prefer the sweet warmth of brown sugar and molasses: others enjoy a little bite from a bit of vinegar and there’s always someone at the table who likes their barbecue to bring the heat.

Here’s great news! James and Lisa Huey opened °F325 BBQ about a year ago with a menu that has something for everyone! By blending different regional barbecue styles and flavor profiles, they’ve created something unique in Kansas City.

For those asking, “Do we really need another barbecue spot in KC?” the answer is yes. One of the many perks of visiting or, thankfully, living in Kansas City is having countless opportunities to sip and savor the diverse tastes of our town. Let’s celebrate the culture, history and influences that inspire these flavors by visiting new spots whenever we can; you may discover a new favorite and, if you ask, you may hear a heartwarming story like the one Lisa Huey shared with us.

Based on taste and the customer experience, you’d think these two had been in the restaurant business for a very long time. However, the °F325 story begins with “Corporate” James working his southern sales territory and meeting two successful barbecue competitors who had won at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue and Jack Daniels World Championship! Inspired and intrigued, James began smoking meats and developing his own recipes.

Lisa describes James as very creative and shared that he’s a musician. She also said, “He’s really smart and picks up things quick, and if he’s passionate about it, there’s no stopping him!” Eventually, James teamed up with some friends and began competing as the Smokin’ Js. Soon, James and Lisa invested in a rockin’ smoker trailer and were poised to take their barbecue competition game to the next level; it was fall of 2019 and well, we all know where this is going. In 2020, every barbecue competition was canceled due to COVID.

Time to pivot. The rockin’ smoker trailer went on the road as a food truck to serve their neighborhood. “Turns out having the food truck was the perfect way for two people with zero restaurant experience to learn about cooking, timing, sourcing and serving,” Lisa smiled. “We were both still working our corporate jobs during the week. We worked some very long days and weekends, but we loved it!”

As the world was getting back to work, opportunities began aligning like the stars. Opening their own restaurant was the next step, so James refined the menu and focused on the food while Lisa tapped into her corporate success developing efficient processes and assembling a top-shelf team. Together, James and Lisa renovated an older building to create a restaurant space that’s energetic, open and bright with a large outdoor dining area and stage for live music.

Let’s Eat!
For starters, their starters are appropriately called Shareables, plenty to share or enjoy as a meal. Yes, you could have the Pulled Pork Loaded Tots for dinner, piled high and topped with shredded cheese, green onion, bacon, sour cream and pulled pork. They will happily swap the pulled pork for burnt ends or brisket.

The house recipe Cornbread Muffins, baked with jalapeno, cheese and corn are served with house-made agave barbecue butter. These would be a great starter with an Amber Height beer, brewed next door at Cinder Block Brewery and yes, the beer is James’ own recipe! It starts like an IPA but finishes like a lager. Nice job, James!

The menu says, “Don’t ask for the recipe,” but I couldn’t help but ask, “What is in this Mac & Cheese?” The cavatappi pasta is covered with a beyond-creamy, smoked spinach artichoke cheese and the larger, thicker noodles add to the satisfaction in every bite. Since they will top any appetizer with your choice of meat, consider adding brisket like I did.

If you’re vegetarian, keeping it light or just want to try something new, they offer Pulled Jackfruit, prepared like their pork, Smoked Portobello Mushroom, Black Bean Burger and the Pitmaster Salad topped with juicy, tender smoked turkey. Consider trying another house recipe–the pineapple cider, light, not too sweet or too dry–and I’ll bet it would taste even better in the sunshine, out on the patio, near the stage while listening to live music. But for now, while it’s cold outside, consider ordering a classic cocktail made with local spirits from J. Reiger and Restless Spirit.

KC Roots with Southern Influence
James smokes with pecan wood, usually found in Texas or Memphis-style smoking. It’s mild and in my opinion gives the meat a full, round flavor rather than the sometimes sharp, heavy smoke of the traditional hickory or mesquite.

You’ll also find soulful sides such as Collard Greens and a Whiskey Sweet Potato Casserole you won’t believe! The Sweet Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich is a tip of the cap to Carolina-style barbecue, topped with crisp, creamy coleslaw and served on a brioche bun.

If you like brisket and love a great burger, order the Brisket Burger, made from hand-ground brisket, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pimento cheese and barbecue aioli. This was my favorite plate until I tasted the juicy and fall-apart-tender Royal Burnt Ends. There aren’t words to describe them; you’ll need to taste them for yourself.

Rubs, sauces and all the magic won’t matter if you’re not starting with a high-quality piece of meat. The Hueys serve only brisket and burnt ends that are certified upper two-thirds premium Black Angus beef and heritage Duroc pork from Creekstone Farms, just three hours southwest of Kansas City. The same high standards apply to the rest of their menu. °F325 is a scratch kitchen so every sauce, dressing, marinade and rub is made in-house. From their amazing hand mashed sweet potatoes to their real Southern-inspired collard greens you can’t find anywhere else, their dedication to serving diverse, delicious food is their passion in the °F325 kitchen.

More Great News!
You have just found the caterer for your next event! Whether it’s a corporate event, New Year or football feast, James and Lisa will make sure your guests are impressed. All they ask is at least 48 hours’ notice for groups over 50.

Ready? Here’s the best idea you’ve heard today. Grab some friends and head to °F325 for an epic whiskey tasting. You get eight half-ounce pours plus one meat plate for $50! It gets even better; they do this at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month!

I’m willing to bet my burnt ends that you have a friend who loves barbecue. Go ahead, call or text them now and get to 1825 Buchanan Street in North Kansas City.

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Art director, illustrator and entrepreneur Sheryl Hammontree is happiest when creating. As a freelancer, she creates visual styling and targeted messaging to strategically solve challenges for clients. As the owner of Thoughtful Threads, she creates expressive apparel to empower people and build a community of kindness. Sheryl heads outside to find energy, inspiration and calm, whether in the garden or on a trail, her soul is fed by creating memories with her husband, Joel, family and friends.