Chow Town

The 25-cent lunch special might be gone, but Rosedale Bar-B-Q still here

Burnt ends, Polish Kielbasa, fries, ribs, slaw, beans, fried okra, fried green tomatoes & Boulevard Wheat at Rosedale Bar-B-Q.
Burnt ends, Polish Kielbasa, fries, ribs, slaw, beans, fried okra, fried green tomatoes & Boulevard Wheat at Rosedale Bar-B-Q.

In the 1950s, my favorite childhood summertime treat was walking with neighborhood buddies to Old Hickory Bar-B-Q (I’ve forgotten the actual name) for a chopped beef sandwich in a hamburger bun with a small bag of potato chips and a RC Cola, all for 25 cents.

Rosedale Bar-B-Q, known back then as Rosedale Sandwich Inn, also offered a special 25-cent noonday barbecue lunches. Today the 25 cent barbecue lunch in Chow Town will cost you $6.25 or more.

Now and then I need a Rosedale Bar-B-Q fix. It’s important in today’s tempocentric hubbub to ignore what’s trending and touch base with old, steady, always-been-there-and-still-there-for-you barbecue joints like Rosedale.

Now that Rosedale’s 80th birthday on July 4 is fast approaching, it’s time to pay your respects to the oldest continuously operated barbecue restaurant in Kansas City, where you can still get heaping portions of barbecue for your money.

Thanks to the late Anthony Rieke and his brother-in-law, Anthony “Tony” Sieleman, for founding Rosedale in 1934, and thanks to Marisha Brown-Smith, Rieke’s granddaughter, and her husband and pitmaster Bill Smith for continuing the Rosedale legacy today.

We can also thank Rosedale for spawning several thriving barbecue joints in Chow Town today whose founders learned the trade at Rosedale — Earl Quick’s, Johnny’s and Wyandot to name a few. Rieke died in 1997 at age 92. His legacy is as strong as ever.

Most native Chow Towners have known Rosedale Bar-B-Q since childhood.

“Let me know if they still have those hot horseradish pickles,” implored Laura, my dental hygienist during a recent dental check-up. Sorry, Laura. Rosedale no longer has those pickles, but you can get a serving of dill pickle spears for $1.

Rieke’s hand-built brick barbecue pit went to barbecue heaven when the former building was razed and Rosedale moved into the current larger building. Smith is smoking Rosedale’s barbecue these days in Southern Pride stainless steel cookers with mostly hickory smoke, giving the meat that signature Rosedale kiss of smoke that keeps bringing customers back.

Rosedale is about barbecue — good, smoky blue collar barbecue in generous portions. Recently I got a sampler of beef burnt ends, spareribs and Polish Kielbasa with fries, slaw, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and beans. Used to be I’d get a quart of Miller Lite with my order. Now that they serve Boulevard, I got a 12-ounce bottle of Wheat. It was a tender, flavorful feast.

Gluten-free options are another perk at Rosedale for gluten-intolerant customers.

At Rosedale you get a taste of Chow Town barbecue history with every bite. The address is 606 Southwest Boulevard. Always was, always will be.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He 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’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, His most recent release book is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”