DURING my annual pilgrimage home to see my family, 'Kansas City, Kansas City here I come' usually pops into my head at least once.
The 1950s rhythm and blues song, recorded by everyone from Little Richard, Fats Domino, James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr to The Beatles, is simple yet catchy - not unlike its namesake.
Understandably the riverside city, which straddles the states of Missouri and Kansas, isn't on the must-see list for most overseas tourists when they travel to the United States.
It's as Midwestern as you can get - sitting almost smack bang in the middle of the continental US - and doesn't boast as many of the big attractions of its famous neighbour to the north, Chicago. But the longer I live in Australia, going on 11 years now, the more I've come to appreciate Kansas City's charms when I go back to visit.
Founded in the 1830s as a Missouri River port and at the centre of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails, Kansas City was a critical jumping off point for settlers during America's westward expansion. Nowadays the sprawling metropolis is home to more than two million people, and there are two things that nearly all Kansas City residents have in common: food and sport. At any local bar you'll find a sports fan passionate about either the Royals (baseball), the Chiefs (gridiron), the Jayhawks (college basketball) or all three.
But it's the food, in my opinion, that makes Kansas City worth visiting.
The city's distinct style of barbecue is at the top of the list. It's all in the sauce, with a variety of meats and cooking styles used. This is not the standard, sweet sauce you'll find in Australia. It's rich, smoky, savoury and often with a strong note of vinegar.
But all barbecue restaurants offer several variations (spicy, sweet, smokey) of their original sauce to appeal to different palates. When it comes to barbecue you'll be spoiled for choice - the Missouri side of Kansas City alone as more than 100 barbecue restaurants.
My top recommendations are Arthur Bryant's, where the original downtown restaurant has been visited by everyone from Barack Obama and Steven Spielberg to Danny Glover, Gates and Jack Stack.
Skip the pulled pork, which is becoming quite commonplace in Australia now, and go for burnt ends, brisket or turkey.
But there's more to Kansas City's food scene than just barbecue. Southwest Boulevard is the hub of Mexican food; my pick of the bunch is Taqueria Mexico.
Blue Koi (two locations), run by the Chang family of Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue fame, is always busy and for good reason, serving up generous soups, noodle dishes and dipping sauces - one is literally called 'awesome sauce' - that will have you sucking the bowl dry.
For a classic American burger, try The Flea Market Burger at Westport Flea Market, The Big Cheese at 75th Street Brewery or the nearest Five Guys.
You'll need something to wash all of that grub down, and luckily Kansas City is also home to quite a few craft breweries, the most famous being Boulevard Brewing Company.
Founded in 1989, Boulevard has grown to become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. Their most famous brew is their wheat beer but there are also constantly changing seasonal beers - such as the Nutcracker Ale or the Cranberry Orange Radler - and the special Smokestack Series of barrel-aged beers. Boulevard offers free daily tours but get there early as it's first come, first serve.
If you're passing through America's Midwest, then Kansas City is definitely worth a stopover. Just make sure to bring your appetite.
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