Gates BBQ serves up best-kept lunch secret Rockhurst needs to know about

Steven Amrein, Staff Writer

“May I help you?”

People all across Kansas City instantly recognize that query as synonymous with high-quality barbecue. For those unfamiliar, it’s the sound you hear upon entering any one of the six Gates Barbeque establishments across Kansas City, Missouri.

Constantly regarded as one of the best restaurants in the barbecue capital of the world, Gates has happily served customers since 1946. With one of its locations conveniently at the corner of Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and the Paseo, the Rockhurst community is within a short drive of its delicious smoked meats, and also one the city’s best lesser-known lunch deals–music to a college student’s budget.

I am referring to what is known as the “nooner” sandwich.

Every weekday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Gates restaurant at 1325 Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard offers the nooner to customers for only $5.95. The special consists of a two-meat sandwich–your choice of beef, pulled pork, turkey or ham–with a side of fries. Burnt ends, a fatty cut of excess brisket, are always included, along with four pickles.

For those who have never tried the burnt ends from Gates, I would undoubtedly say that it is one of the single best dishes of Kansas City barbecue. Combine the sandwich and fries with one of their three dipping sauces (sweet and mild, classic and extra hot) and this lunch special is nothing less than superb.

The sandwich bun itself can barely hold the mountain of meat that is served to every customer who orders the nooner. The pile of fries hanging off the plate leaves you wondering, how you will be able to consume this much food?

The combination of falling meat and glut of fries has led to a personal invention that has become a staple of many of my Gates meals. Simply take two of the thick-cut fries and scoop up the dropped meat in order to create what we like to call a “fry sandwich.”

Recently, I had the privilege of ordering a nooner alongside three fellow Rockhurst students, including one who had never before been to Gates. (In case you needed any more evidence that this barbecue was delicious, my party of four was forced to use a total of 25 napkins.)

I polled each of my dining companions of their thoughts before, during and after our luncheon. When asked to describe their first bite, my companions used words such as “exhilarating,” “unreal” and “flavorful.”

Rend Schindler, ’18, compared the action of receiving his meal to sitting in the front row of a roller coaster at the top of a climb. His suspense continued to build as he knew he would shortly encounter something special.

As the only member of my group to have devoured the lunchtime sandwich with every type of meat, Brian Shambro, ’18, fancies himself something of a nooner expert. He is known to say, “The nooner isn’t lunch; it’s an experience.”

Shambro too highlighted the amount of food an individual receives for an unbeatable price of $6. He added he would come to Gates if he were tasked with purchasing lunch for his family or loved ones. He elaborated on the Gates atmosphere and emphasized it will always hold a special place in his heart. The friendly service, soft jazz music and the decorative 50s-style jukebox all contributed to his Gates–and nooner–passion.

Both Shambro and Schindler reminisced of the craving-inducing smells pouring from the Gates’ kitchen they can detect from their front yard when the wind is coming out of the north.

First-time Gates customer Stephanie Court, ’19, was unable to contain her ravings about the nooner.

The food looked so good that Court felt obliged before her first bite to post a picture of her meal onto her Snapchat story. With family coming into town, she said she’d recommend a return trip for another round of nooners. As for her first attempt, the large amount of food rendered her unable to finish her plate. Much to the joy of Schindler, she suggested that he indulge himself to a few of her leftover fries.

The nooner special can no longer be overlooked by the Rockhurst community. While there will always be a debate about the best barbecue in Kansas City, I strongly believe the best value is located within walking distance of campus.

Next time you’re in between classes and want to save a cafe swipe, consider making the five-minute drive to Gates and dine on a delicious nooner and fries, all for under 6 bucks.