There are food moments in your life that stick with you. Sometimes, it's one bite; other times, the magic's in the whole meal. I've been blessed to have had several such moments. To name some: Halfway through a Mammoth Burger in college, when MF Gronk's snatched beef supremacy from the Anchor Bar for good in the Twin Ports; a pan of manicotti my mother cooked for my birthday when I was young; eating filet mignon at Haray Carey's with Ducky and Eliot on my bachelor party weekend; the time I ate a Perfect Burger at Victory 44 and changed everything about my website because of it; and my birthday meal at Vincent this year, after which Vincent himself brought out dessert.

And now, these ribs.

I sat in Oklahoma Joe's with my back to the commotion, facing a shuttered window, alone at a wall-affixed counter seat. There was nothing to see but a winsome rib rack, so perfect in appearance I still can't believe it was served to me. Look at it. Damn thing looks like it was dolled up for a Cosmo cover.

There was nothing to hear but the sounds of my own ferocity: the tearing of meat, the clatter of bare bones being piled up, an occasional grunt. I was working apart the greatest rib rack I'd had in my whole life, with zero distraction.

It was too exciting for excitement. All I could do was nod slowly to myself, suck back saliva, ready my chops, and bite again. I know it's foolish in this big world to call rib rack miraculous, but I'll just have to sound foolish today. That rack was a miracle. Even now, I shake as I recall it.

The Basics: Oklahoma Joe's indeed sits in a gas station, on the corner of West 47th and Mission Rd. in Kansas City, though it dominates the interior. Even on the convenience store side, shelves are buried in barbecue sauce. The other major item? Competitive discs. They have bottles of Coke, though, and for that I was quite grateful.

Here's the website. They're sexy and they know it. They are closed Sundays. I REPEAT: They are closed Sundays.

Similar to Arthur Bryant's, the walls of Oklahoma Joe's are brisk with awards, snips of gushing print features, and a life story mapped out with tchotchkes. Mostly, it's people: The ordering line fences in diners and snakes out the front door. Workers push meals out industriously, diners eat and talk in fast-forward, and slick feet slide between line-standers.

Well, they slid between some. The man behind me did a kick-ass job of keeping his belt buckle against my backside. There was originally a woman behind me, but this prick's kid asked her if she was anorexic. She slapped the little shit and stormed out. I know this is a bad week to print a statement like this, but good for her. If he's old enough to say something like that, he's old enough to pay for it.

The line looks intimidating but moves quickly. I was through it in probably 10 minutes. The wait for my ribs was less than two. I was given Rib Kate Upton and looked for an intimate spot in which to get comfortable. Let's have another look at her, shall we?

The meat required no extra sauce. It was perfectly sauced, perfectly tender -- not so much it falls off the bone, but the exact balance between smooth-chewing elegance and feral bone-stripping -- and meat was abundant. Whereas a few skimpy Bryant's bones allowed me to clean the whole plate on site, I left with half of Joe's. The holdovers retained almost all of their glory for two days and two state lines.

The sauce comes on with precise kick and texture. I've tried it on burgers, I've tried it on bratwurst, I've tried it on steak and I've tried it on chicken. Four aces. Put it on anything. Pour it on your arm just to lick it off. Doesn't matter.

I will of course go again, but this gave me much more than a good rack of ribs. There was an honest-to-goodness fulfillment that swept over me as I went about my predation. With every clean bone came a sense of, "God, I'm glad I got to have this at least once in my life."

Twenty-five (25) dollars, I spent. Deal of a lifetime.

I was so glad I drove seven hours and had this. I would, with no question, drive seven hours again just for this. Similar to how a Twin Ports excursion feels wasted without MF Gronk's, I couldn't imagine a KC jaunt without Joe's. I of course beseech you to try it. I'll have failed you as a friend if you never do. I don't care who you are; I really want this for you.

I'll go again and I'll sit at the railing again, back to the crowd, face to the tray. It might not feel like the first time, but it won't have to. I imagine I'll be lost in my good fortune again. "God, I'm glad I got to have this at least twice in my life." And so on.

The worst thing I could pen about Arthur Bryant's ribs would be, "It's worth waking up for."

I would absolutely pull myself out of a rented bed for these ribs. I would, without regret, pace the floors until precisely 9:50 a.m. and zip out the front door in lunatic fashion. I would navigate those metal-plated, nincompoopal Kansas City streets and leave my car in their direful parking lot for these ribs, any day. I'll gladly be the guy who pushed through the front door seconds after it's unlocked if it means I get the first rack out of the kitchen.

I'd waited 33 years for Kansas City barbecue. I didn't need to waste any more minutes.

Had I the choice again between an empty gaze at a ceiling and a rack of those life-altering pork racks and those breathtaking sauces, I would pick Arthur Bryant's without looking back.

That's the worst thing I can say about Arthur Bryant's. A meal here is a fantasy, but you get to be upright for it.

The Basics: Arthur Bryant's was started by Arthur's brother, Charlie, in the 1920s, and ... you know what, just go to their website and read the whole story. From Bryant's, I'd recommend a walk-off down 18th and Vine.

As for Arthur Bryant's interior, someone get an interior decorator in here on the double ... so he or she can see what a classic barbecue joint is supposed to look like. Too many of these new-age restos are fucking it up. The walls of Bryant's are slathered with a delectable sauce of celebrity snaps, gushing review clippings, and old-time accents. I don't mean to say they're old-time inspired; I mean to say they've been on the walls a few decades.

There's a sweet clock in one room with a painting of Arthur Bryant that reads "It's always time for Arthur Bryant's!" but it got lost with my phone a few weeks back. Other lost pics include that of a cartoon, in which God welcomes Mr. Bryant to Heaven with the caption: "Did you bring sauce?"

He had to have brought sauce -- otherwise, it wouldn't have been Heaven anymore.

Fancy chairs and tables? Nah. You'll slide up to the cheap diner table in that cheap diner chair, scraping the flimsy tile floor with the feet, and you'll like it.

The ordering window is akin to that of a food truck. On the morning on which I woke up for this, I was greeted by a booming, Mount Olympian voice. "What can I get for you, young man?!" If God takes your orders in Heaven, I already know what it's going to sound like.

Menu? Please. Sure, they've got sandwiches -- pulled pork, chicken, or turkey -- and you're in good hands if you should never need a gallon of potato salad, but yourhomeboy didn't drive seven hours for basics. Full rack of ribs! Within minutes, my plate was before me.

Notice the perfect texture of the top there. Notice the ring of magic on the sides. The meat was a bit skimpy on some bones. The meat was flavorful and tender, but I doubt I should've been able to eat this in one sitting.

I tried all three sauces, all excellent, but my pet was the Sweet Heat. It was perfect - perfect sweet, perfect heat. It didn't make your lips purse up, didn't make your nose run, and didn't leave your tongue wondering. It paired nicely with a Boulevard IPA, which can be purchased at the register for $4 per 10-oz mug. Ouch, but I ain't even mad.

Don't ask me about the plain bread and pickles. I tried them, and they tasted like bread and pickles, but I was too busy mulling over a method for mainlining Sweet Heat. The very presence of the bread and pickles left me perplexed, but I'm guessing you'd have to be from around here to know.

I tabbed out (I believe it was $30 with tip), walked it off briefly on 18th and Vine, then returned to the bed in my rented room. Being awake wasn't a choice anymore.

The grandeur of Bryant's would be dampened only five hours later, but the fact is Arthur Bryant's blends a historic ambiance and grub that lives up to its lore. If you're traveling from the Twin Cities, know that nobody in our midst can do what they do at Bryant's. Nobody. If you ever have the choice to wake up to Bryant's or put yourself back to sleep, always - ALWAYS - choose the former.

And you'll fall asleep much easier after breakfast.

"Oh, my gosh!" I heard. "WHAT is THAT?!"

I glanced up to see a pair of elderly women standing a foot away, faces frozen toward me, moaning with their hands over their mouths. I then felt the gaze of a woman sitting by herself two tables down, who must've put down her book to observe. I caught a trio of passers-by looking over. It was the burger.

I calmly explained that it was The Walking Ched: A macaroni-and-cheese-addled abomination with bacon and onions jutting out from it like bone fragments. It's a terrible creature, indeed. They asked how I even go about eating it. I told them I hadn't figured that out yet.

Look at that thing. It's the twisted make of a lunatic, a reflection of man's insatiable hunger for the carnivalesque. Its release into our world should've been judged as a crime.

That being said, I loved it and I can't wait to have it again.

The Basics: A thousand thank-yous to Stephanie March for bringing up Zombie Burger on Twitter three weeks before I set off for Kansas City. If you're headed south on I-35, Zombie is about five minutes off the freeway when you pass through Des Moines.

You can find them on the web, but make sure you've got a few minutes. There's a lot to see and it's tough to turn away from.

I was displeased but not exactly shocked at the restaurant's adornments: Lounge-boppy color scheme, trendy tracks, neons, and re-purposed movie posters decked out Zombie's interior. It isn't the apocalypse with the screaming citizens, it's the enthusiastic tween mass lining up for a walker-selfie.

I arrived at 11:00 a.m., and thank goodness for that -- by 11:30, on a Monday, the line was stretched well out the front door. I wouldn't recommend skipping the drink lab experience, but I had to this time (hold that thought). I instead ordered at the front counter and sat by a couple of zombie mannequins while I awaited my number. The swelling patronage gave way to an excess of kids rumbling about, but the commotion was toned down outside.

Until the Walking Ched was served up, that is.

Look at it on the menu. LOOK AT IT. The word "cheese" is written three times in the description! The bun is a pair of deep-fried and breaded mac-n-cheese patties. You'd struggle to fit this through a football field entrance tunnel, never mind a human mouth. It's edible handcuffs: Once your hands are on it, they can't come off until you've chomped it apart.

With every bite, a waterfall of noodles and onion lace cascaded onto my plate. By the time the "bun" crumbled away, another entree had accrued beneath my original meal. I set Beefenstein down, cleaned up my scrap meal, and refocused on the Walking Ched's carcass. Forget lifting at this point: I forked down into the burger and pulled off bites, the way you would cheesecake.

It isn't so much an adventure in taste as it is a descent into gluttony. You gum cheese, you chew beef, you suck onions, and you gnaw bacon. If you like how that tastes, excellent. If not, screw you. You could eschew the triple for a smaller size, but get real: There's no going small with a Walking Ched, so you might as well go all the way big. It's only $12!

Did you hold that thought?: Since you're in Des Moines, wash your meal down with a beer at El Bait Shop, a five-minute drive away. They've got a roster of American craft taps that must be seen to believe. The makeshift professional wrestling monument ain't too bad, either.

Zombie Burger is a can't-miss event, a special establishment serving up something you just can't get anywhere else. If you're headed even close to Des Moines, this ought to be put on the itinerary. Don't be afraid to drive out of your way. You don't want to go down for good until you've eaten one of these.

Who knows, maybe this experience will make your brains taste better when ... you know ...