Chow Town

And the winner of The Star’s french fry face-off is …

Chow Town Live: How Joe’s Kansas City makes its Z-Man sandwich and fries

Sarah Gish visits the original Joe's Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan., where general manager Jerry Taylor shows off Joe's famous Z-Man sandwich, fries and other barbecue specialties.
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Sarah Gish visits the original Joe's Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan., where general manager Jerry Taylor shows off Joe's famous Z-Man sandwich, fries and other barbecue specialties.

It’s official: Joe’s Kansas City is the champion of our monthlong March Madness-style french fry tournament.

Joe’s beat BRGR Kitchen + Bar in the final round of the tourney, which started with 16 restaurants famous for their fries. The beloved Kansas barbecue joint smoked the competition with 75 percent of the popular vote.

The tournament racked up more than 8,600 votes (with about 2,100 in the final round) from readers with strong opinions about fried potatoes.

Joe’s popular side is made by frying skin-on Washington potato matchsticks until they’re crisp on the outside and creamy-soft on the inside. The golden fries are coated with a barbecue rub made with salt, brown sugar, garlic, onion, paprika and dehydrated bone broth, which beefs up the flavor.

Joe’s, which has locations in Kansas City, Kan., Leawood and Olathe, sold roughly 700,000 pounds of fries last year. The bestselling side costs $3.15 for an overflowing bag that’s big enough to share.

Last week, I visited the original location in KCK for the second episode of Chow Town Live, our new Facebook Live food show. General manager Jerry Taylor showed off the fries (which I like to dip in Joe’s sweet and spicy Night of the Living Bar-B-Q Sauce) and his process for building a Z-Man sandwich.

Throughout the tournament, we’ve been collecting write-in votes from readers who recommended restaurants that didn’t make our bracket. The clear winner of the write-in contest was Rosedale Barbeque, 600 Southwest Blvd., an 83-year-old barbecue institution where regulars go crazy for crinkle-cut fries.

Last week, I ordered Rosedale’s fries with beef on bread. The crispy, lightly salted zig-zags of potato were served so fresh and hot that they nearly burned my tongue. Luckily I had an ice-cold RC Cola to wash them down with.

Many readers also wrote in to gush about the soft, oversized fries at Gates Bar-B-Q and the beer-battered “crack fries” at HopCat.

At Gates, another famous barbecue business with restaurants in Kansas City, Independence, Leawood and KCK, I discovered that you can order the fries “crispy” if you prefer a firm, crunchy exterior. And at HopCat, a new craft beer bar at 401 Westport Road, I developed a new appreciation for what a little cracked black pepper seasoning and warm cheese dipping sauce can do for a fry. Yum.

The lesson here: Whether you crave salty shoestrings, golden crinkle-cuts, or well-seasoned matchsticks dunked in barbecue sauce, Kansas City has a fry for you.

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