Chow Town

Meatless options not an afterthought at Char Bar

“Pig Tail” Mac N’ Cheese
“Pig Tail” Mac N’ Cheese Special to The Star

Did you overindulge on large helpings of Christmas Day ham, beef, turkey, chicken or game? Do you have a meat hangover? Fortunately there’s a Chow Town barbecue joint that offers superb meatless antidotes for meat hangovers.

Barbecue joints are about meat. Char Bar doesn’t let you down on that score. I applaud Char Bar, however, for stellar options that vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and pending vegetarians can enjoy without feeling like their choices play second fiddle to the meat dishes.

Char Bar goes far beyond the usual salad, fries, onion rings and pickles. They have those, plus charred romaine, iceberg wedge, roots and fruits, cornbread muffins, cheesy “hushpuppies,” fried green tomatoes, charred eggplant, creamed asparagus, “pig tail” mac and cheese, cabbage slaw, carrot-raisin slaw, kale-pecorino slaw, smoked corn succotash, beer-battered pickles, jalapeno cheesy corn bake, Anson Mill cheddar grits, broccoli rice casserole, wood-fired portabella grains galore sandwich with charred eggplant, goat cheese, caramelized onion, roasted red pepper and arugula, a smoked jackfruit sandwich with melted provolone, sliced avocado and fried jalapenos in an egg bun, or my favorite sourdough grilled pimento cheese sandwich.

Char Bar potatoes star in potato salad, hand-cut fries, sweet potato fries and crispy Jo-Jo’s. The latter rival my favorites at Moses Quartey’s Ted’s 19th Hole in Minneapolis. No baked potatoes at Char Bar thus far.

Create your own meatless menu, or ask your server for suggested combinations. For a meat hangover antidote, I recommend sharing the cheesy “hushpuppies” as a starter, followed by roots and fruits and a grilled pimento cheese sandwich. For dessert, Velvet Elvis delivers over-the-top sweet decadence. Otherwise, get the bourbon peach cobbler or burnt pudding if you must have dessert.

As Chow Town continues to attract millennials, Gen Xers, young retirees and a diverse mix of individuals with global culinary interests, savvy barbecue joints in mixed income neighborhoods will follow Char Bar’s example to meet their expectations. On the other hand, let’s never abandon the traditional Kansas City barbecue meats and sides that make Chow Town the Barbecue Capital of the World. There’s room for and a demand for both.

Char bar is located at 4050 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City. Its telephone number is 816-389-8600 and can be found on the web at

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”